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D&T in Paris

A week later, we're back at McCarran picking up Derek & Teresa. They spent a week with us before spending Christmas with Teresa's folks, and then heading back to the East coast.

Again, we did our homework, and sketched out a bunch of fun things to do while they're here and we're on holiday. One of these things we crossed off our list immediately: on the way home from the airport, we stopped in at Leo's Celebrity Deli and had dinner.

Basically, it was a very relaxing week: We watched lots of TV, read a lot, ate a lot... and played a lot of Pool.

Derek and Teresa also tried their best not to pass on the nasty cold they were suffering from.

After a day or so we discovered that this was Teresa's first visit to Las Vegas, so we quickly added a casino tour to the schedule.

We arranged for Stan and Jeanne to come for dinner later in the week. A request: I must make the spaghetti and meatball recipe that was much appreciated the last time I made it. Okay, but to save time I made the meatballs a few days early, sautéing them and putting them back in the sauce and into the fridge in jars.

We'll always have Paris

So one afternoon we jumped into the car and drove to Paris... at least, the parking building of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Despite having replicas of the Arc de Triomphe & Eiffel Tower on the premises, Paris is actually one of the smaller casinos on the Strip. 

It was too early for dinner, so we walked next door - that is, next city block: these hotels are deceptively big - to The Aladdin, which is - you guessed it - another casino. It has suffered financially (i.e., not made a *big enough* profit) from being architecturally gambler-unfriendly.  For a start, the main entrance is raised up so that you have to walk up some stairs to get in. It's actually a very pleasant bunch of stairs, given that the clusters of date palm trees give the whole area this wonderful sweet smell... When you get to the top, there are three "main entrances", only one of which leads to the casino proper. The other two lead you into a wonderful indoor mall called the  Desert Passage. It's similar to the Forum Shops in that it has an artificial sky, but different in that the sky effect is rather better done. Also the shops in the mall have facades designed evoke a middle-eastern merchant street. If you stop in a corner and listen, you'll hear atmospheric background loops - birds twittering, goats bleating, carpenters working, water lapping... beats typical mall muzak hands down. It's all really rather well done.

If you walk through it at just the right time, you can experience an indoor thunderstorm. Yeah, it's tacky, but it's pretty cool. And free.

If there was one shop we wanted to be sure of introducing Derek & Teresa to, it was "Build Your Own Bear". This is a shop where you can get on to the production line, choosing a "skin", then stuffing it, dressing it, etc. It looks like a lot of fun.

After walking through the Dessert Passage - we weren't in time for the indoor thunderstorm, unfortunately - we found ourselves back on the Strip. And there's one of the problems - you can enjoy the Aladdin without ever stepping foot in the casino area. Nice for us, not so nice for the Aladdin. The Aladdin has recently gone bankrupt and changed owners, so I expect the nice aspects of the architecture to be changed to be less attractive to the non-gambler.

We walked back to Paris and got in line for the buffet - sorry, that's "Le Village Buffet". It was 5:00 and in fact there was no line, and we got in at the Lunch rate.

At the risk of turning this dispatch into a non-stop food review, let me just say that the Paris buffet is pretty dam' good. Pricey, yeah, a little, but here's the strategy: go at 5:00 and pay the lunch rate, then at 5:30 they start putting out some additional "dinner" items. By which time you're ready to go up for a third main course...

Derek discovered another cool thing about the Paris buffet - it has bathrooms. This is unusual, because the norm for these all-you-can-eat places is that you have to leave to find a bathroom and then they don't let you back in.

After dinner, we walked across the road and wandered around Caesar's Palace, the Forum Shops, and the Bellagio. It would have been good if while we were walking around the Bellagio's artificial lake, the fountain would have done it's thing.

On the way out of the parking building we saw the Bellagio fountain display kick into life.  Oh well.