Thursday, October 18, 2012

How the Love Birds Do Vegas and Blogalicious - Pt. 3

Missed the previous recaps? Check out Pt. 1 and Pt 2.

Sunday, September 30

Mr. Love Bird and I woke up early with plans to get in line at the Tix4Tonight booth at Bill's Gambling Hall so we could score tickets for a Cirque Du Soleil show. We got there only to find out that Ka, the show we wanted to see, was off that night and we considered the Beatles show Love, but they only had single seats for about $130 each (CRAZY!). Instead we opted to get tickets for the Mob Attraction at the Tropicana on recommendation of the Trip Advisor trip report I mentioned in my how to do Vegas post. (Mr. Love Bird things I'm crazy, but in the car leaving Bill's I totally saw Channing Tatum running shirtless on the strip with his wife. I checked his Twitter to see if indeed he was in Vegas at the time but didn't see any recent updates. Perhaps it was just leftover fantasies after seeing Magic Mike!)

Since we spent so long in line we I checked the conference schedule and I was going to miss the Eucerin sponsored breakfast with dermatologist Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton (I later heard that it was amazing so I'm bummed I missed it). I arrived and milled around for a bit chatting with fellow attendees then attended Driving Traffic to Your Site with Tonya R. Taylor

Just Tonya's presentation and Mario Armstrong's alone were well worth the trip to Blogalicious let alone all the other awesome aspects of the conference! Tonya packed in so much useful information. At first it was a bit overwhelming as she was fast-paced, but she was great about answering questions and well-organized. My fingers were flying on my SIII capturing notes and pictures of key slides in Evernote (I adore that app!). She took us through 3 key goals of how to get found, get leads and get sales (not necessarily $ but other forms of value). She also had a blogger in the audience who had been working with her for a year who I spoke with after who gave a glowing testimonial of Tonya's services and how she had helped her grow her blog.  I stopped Tonya afterwards to tell her how amazing her presentation was. It's definitely worth checking out her site!

Harriette Cole gives closing remarks {Image Credit: Eric Payne Photography}
To close out Blogalicious we went to lunch where Harriette Cole gave closing remarks: TMI? Connecting and Being Authentic Without Oversharing. This really resonated with me as I've now started using Instagram having moved from being primarily a Facebook user, then a heavy Twitter user. I get frustrated seeing others abuse social media by overposting and I often wonder if I'm sharing too much. Harriette joked about those people who status update everything their child does. I definitely try not to be one of those people!

The most important take-away Harriette made was 4 key questions she told us to ask before we post anything to social media:
  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it kind?
  3. Is it timely?
  4. Is it necessary?
That's a wrap!
With the awkward Sunday flight times available out of Vegas, I noticed the audience had thinned out significantly. I took some time to chat with a few bloggers I hadn't had the chance to meet and speak to Harriette Cole as well. I made sure to thank Justice Fergie for such a wonderful conference and while she and her team didn't disclose yet where Blogalicious 2013 will be, it doesn't even matter cause I will be there regardless of where it is!

Our view from our table on the terrace at Yard House
Mr. Love Bird and I finally reunited after dealing with spotty cell phone service at Red Rock and had a comped pre-dinner snack at Yard House. It was a great way to decompress and talk about how we wanted to spend the rest of our time in Vegas before our Monday night flight back to NYC.  

We over-indulged a bit and ordered jambalaya, lobster, crab and artichoke seafood dip and topped it off with macadamia nut cheesecake with raspberry and caramel sauce. It was delicious and we were a little stuffed afterwards!
Next, we made our way to the strip to check out the Mob Attraction at Tropicana. Mr. Love Bird hadn't really spent a lot of time at that end of the strip - I had when I went to Vegas one year for my birthday with my girlfriend and we stayed at the Excalibur (btw I wouldn't recommend staying there, but it was free so hey!). Tropicana's had a serious upgrade since I was there and we enjoyed walking around the property for a bit. . .

The impressive registration desk
At last we got to the Mob Attraction. Apparently they said it only takes 90 minutes to go through. Not for history nerds like Mr. Love Bird and me! We spent 2 hours there and would've spent more but as it was nearing closing time they practically had to kick us out. It was an interactive experience and a museum all in one and I think that format made it such a great attraction! 

This scene had holographic actors!
I was surprised so many artifacts had been saved!
This rotunda had rooms upon rooms of information - I LOVED it!

There were recreated rooms using the gangsters' original furniture and even home movies
Loved these oversized portraits
Everything was such high quality and so well done - it kinda reminded me of Universal Studios. After getting through the improv with the actors (we were given assignments and told to pose against green screens with various scenarios told to us), there were documentaries to watch, artifacts to look at and more.  

One more funny thing to share . . . We couldn't help but purchase the silly pictures of us against the green screen. 

When the police officer pulled up the picture of me with the shawl over my head he nearly broke character cause we were all laughing so hard. I didn't understand the context of the picture before I posed. They told me we had just got off the boat at Ellis Island (there was an actual boat!), so I wrapped my pashmina around my head thinking back to high school documentaries I had to watch on immigration! Silly me!

Anyway, I highly recommend the Mob Attraction and would go back to spend even more time there. It wasn't crowded when we went, and it felt like we had the place to ourselves. I had a feeling the staff thought we were strange and probably watching us on the surveillance cameras saying, "Who are these dorks?!," but I didn't care. I was enthralled! (Mr. Love Bird and I even watched Casino when we returned home so we could identify who was who based on what we saw at the Mob Attraction. Did I mention we are nerds???)

New York, New York across from Tropicana
Once we were done at Tropicana we walked across to check out Excalibur (the castle) and Luxor (the pyramid). Mr. Love Bird was as skeeved out by Excalibur as I had been when I stayed there years ago and found the Luxor dizzying inside. Looking up kinda makes you nauseous, but it really is one of the coolest structures on the strip!

By the time we got back to the hotel Mr. Love Bird was exhausted and fell asleep way too early - well in terms of Vegas time, but I finally prompted him to get up and get a late night snack with me at In-N-Out Burger right before they closed at 1a.m. (and yes, Shake Shack is better).

From there we hung out on the strip finally made it back to the hotel so we could rest up and enjoy our last day in Vegas . . .

Monday, October 1 - Tuesday, October 2

First thing Monday we had important business to attend to . . .

A breakfast buffet!  

At least one buffet is a must while in Vegas and we went a bit off-strip to the Gold Coast's buffet. We ate there on a previous trip, and it didn't disappoint. I loved my veggie omelet! We rested for an hour then spent about 30 minutes at the pool - it was SO hot, but the pool is something I usually miss out on during my Vegas trips so it was on my must-list this time!

Next, we had to check out and mail my swag box home. Thank goodness for flat-rate shipping at the post office. I was able to fit everything in one box for only $15 and it arrived super fast in only 2 days!

Our flight was at 8:30p.m. and we had a rental car to return of course, but there was a huge hiccup: I discovered the day before that my driver's license had gone missing. I had it last at Lavo Friday night so I called back there and other places I remember showing it, but could not locate it. It was odd because the pocket of my camera bag still had all the contents there but that (cash, bluetooth and house keys). As a result I called the airport to see what I'd need to do and they said we'd have to get to the airport extra early so I could cleared for security. Thankfully because it was a domestic flight it wouldn't be too hard to get through.

Mr. Love Bird was kinda bummed about having to cut our visit at the Hard Rock short (he was having a good run at blackjack!), but better safe than sorry and we made our way to the airport. 

I couldn't find the farewell sign in the Virgin terminal, but I think this was a ploy to make us stay!
The good thing about making it to the airport so early is that there were lots of open upgradeable seats available. Mr. Love Bird turned on his charm with the ticketing agent and scored us FREE extra leg-room seats for the SFO>JFK leg of our trip. YES! 

Next, was the security challenge. Before we left for Vegas I swapped some accessories with my sister Ariane and asked her to bring my BJs ID she had borrowed. Thank God I did that because it was the only picture ID I had on me and it got me through security! 

With the extra time, we relaxed, had dinner and then took off. I slept most of the way from SFO>JFK and was so thankful for the extra room although it was more for Mr. Love Bird who's 6'8."

One last word about Virgin - they were not playing with boarding times! Everything was super on time and each leg of the flight was a breeze. We'll definitely be flying again!

We got in Tuesday morning and my sister-in-law Nnenna arrived with Nia to pick us up. Nia was under the weather I think with her molars. She wasn't overly excited to see us but said, "I'm sick mommy. I need medicine," and it broke my heart. I squeezed her extra tightly and we made our way home.

Once we got in we had a super long family nap! Overall it was one of the best trips this year, and we Love Birds were happy to be reunited at last. 

Next up, final thoughts on what I learned, tips/tricks and a few more pics to share . . .