Welcome back to my Viva Las Vegas blog post series! In my first post I blogged about prepping for Viva. In this post we’ll talk about what happens when you initially get to Viva.
Getting there – Rule 1 of getting to Viva – don’t let the cab driver screw you. The cabbie we had on the way to the hotel did – he smelled newcomers and said “do you want to go the freeway route or the side roads route” – we had no clue so we told him whatever he wanted – well he went the freeway route and it cost $40! On the way back to the airport our cab driver got us from the hotel to the airport for around $15 by going through town. This year I’m telling our cab driver “Last year it cost me $20 – I don’t care how you get me there, that’s what you’re getting paid.” We’re also considering renting a car this year as we have plans to do some touristy things before Viva starts.
Flights – I start stalking flights to Vegas about 6-9 months ahead of time. Last year we went Sun Country for around $400ish a piece – remember when it use to be cheap to get to Vegas!?! I have 1 main must have when flying to Viva – direct flights. Minneapolis to Vegas is only 3 hours and I’m in a hurry to get there – I have no time to be sitting in other cities. Not to mention the risk of losing luggage goes up! I was hoping to get flights on Southwest as they have free baggage but no luck. This year we actually found the cheapest direct flights via Delta for around $350 each. I booked our flights this year in October I believe whereas last year it was around Christmas. I just kept checking prices and I wasn’t finding much direct for under $350.
The Hotel – we stayed right at the Orleans (http://www.orleanscasino.com/) where Viva takes place. Since our flight left Minneapolis before dawn we got to Las Vegas just as most people were heading to bed for the day, i.e. 8 am. It was a little early to get in our rooms so we had breakfast at the hotel and did a little walking around. The hotel staff was super nice and let us get to our rooms early (I think we got in our rooms around 11-12). First thing I did was hang up all of the clothes and ironed some things (they have an iron and board in the room). And they also had a nice area in the bathroom to hang things (with a bunch of hangers). We were on the 18th floor (of 20). My friend Julie was on the 10th. Our rooms faced the pool which was fab – we always had a nice afternoon of listening to live surf music if we were having a siesta in our rooms. Pros and cons to having a room on a higher floor – Pros: good view, slightly quieter I’m told. Cons: The elevator stops at every floor on the way up and down – BUT I look at this as a pro because of all the good vintage and hair and makeup I can stare at while stopping at every floor.
The hotel has a variety of restaurants (http://www.orleanscasino.com/dine). We tried out the Mexican place (which was good) and TGI Fridays (similar to Applebee’s or Ruby Tuesdays for those of you not familiar). There was a food court with fast food as well. We hit up Subway more than once and there may have been a late night/early morning/I’m not quite sure what time it was stop at Baskin Robbins for ice cream. We also hit up a grocery store on Thursday. It’s good to get some things to keep in the room that give you some sustained energy – granola bars, almonds, bananas, apples, and a couple bottles of water you can refill. We usually ate one big meal a day whether it be a late lunch or early dinner. The hotel has a couple “fancy” restaurants that we didn’t go to. From what I’ve heard from others they are a bit over priced. They also have a coffee shop with wifi – although rumor is there will be wifi free in the rooms this year. Let’s hope!
I definitely recommend arriving at Viva on Wednesday if you can. I loved having that day-day and a half to do other things. Julie’s brother and sister in law arrived Wednesday afternoon (they’re Viva veterans having gone 14 or 15 years – they are dancing fools!). Once everyone was freshened up we went to the Neon Sign Boneyard for a tour – it was so awesome and I highly recommend it (more on that in my next blog!). This year we’re looking to do the night tour.
Stay tuned for my third Viva blog – being a tourist in Vegas.