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.

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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.

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