A Weekend in Vegas

IMG_4221.jpgLas Vegas is always fun. ALWAYS. A quick weekend trip to Sin City was just what I needed after a long week of sitting in a room full of accountants for my office’s biannual employee training. Many people think Vegas is the worst place to visit as a solo traveler, but I think the exact opposite. It’s actually one of the best places to visit as a solo traveler because there is always a convention or some company’s annual conference occurring. These aren’t the types of events that get attended with friends and family, so there’s naturally going to be people in the city by themselves.

I only had two things on my itinerary this weekend: see Jennifer Lopez at her newly-opened residency and have a frozen white hot chocolate at Serendipity 3. Everything else was spontaneous – just as it should be in this city. January is considered low season for Vegas due to it’s cooler temperatures, but there were just as many people around as the last time I went in April 2015.

I arrived Friday morning at 9 am, and took a shuttle transfer to the strip. At the recommendation of a friend, I strutted into Hash House A Go Go inside Linq Hotel for the first time to enjoy brunch. Everyone had the same idea as me because the place was crowded! I thought I would be able to use my solo traveler privilege and be seated as soon as I arrived, but the small bar with about eight seats was fully occupied. After waiting for about 15 minutes, I found an unoccupied seat at the bar and ordered the world famous chicken and waffles with a spiked kiwi watermelon lemonade

The drink wasn’t that tasty mainly because it isn’t watermelon season. The chicken and waffles, though?! OMG, I felt like I was on an episode of Man vs. Food! I wasn’t even expecting greatness with this meal because I’m from the south, where we invented and perfected chicken and waffles. It couldn’t possibly be better in Vegas. It was 2 whole chicken breasts with 1 full waffles separated into four large portions and filled with bacon. I was so overwhelmed by the massive size of it.

Who created this calorie-filled delectable mess?! I need to shake this person’s hand. I only ate 1/4 of the waffle and 1 chicken breast. A chatty gentlemen sitting next to me who ordered the same thing and also failed to eat it all mentioned that we should have shared. I agreed with that statement.

I needed to walk that off so I purchased a 24-hour pass for the SDX bus for $8, and took the bus to Downtown Las Vegas so that I could stroll around the area. I never venture away from the strip, so this was my first time in the less glamorous section of Las Vegas. There wasn’t too much happening, save for a handful of weirdos trying to make money and several people of Asian decent taking their chances on the slot machines. There really should be a study on the significant percentage of Asians in the casino. I saw it firsthand during my college years as an intern. I bought my house from a Vietnamese couple who never transferred their mail, and I still get marketing flyers from every casino within a 3-hour drive. It’s compelling, I tell you.

My current employer does business with the gaming control board, and I’m not allowed to gamble or play the lottery in my state. Since I was in Nevada, all bets were off. Now, I’m not very fond of casinos because I know the probabilities of winning very one-sided – especially on slot machines. Still, I found an extra $10 in my budget and decided to entertain myself for a bit. I don’t understand how people find joy in gambling. I was legit mad at how quickly it took me to lose those $10 as if it was actually $10,000. I knew I would walk away with nothing, but at least let me get a good 30 minutes of fun out of it!

After enough aimless wandering downtown, I checked into my hotel. I had a free hotel offer through my credit card, but it was near the Las Vegas Convention Center instead of on the strip. That didn’t bother me; I’d done the strip already, and found that it wasn’t necessary for me to be in the midst of all the action for the entire weekend.

Once I got settled, I started prepping for my night with J-Lo.. It was about to go down. It was cool out, but I didn’t want to just wear a sweater and jeans. I found a black and white bodycon dress from Asos that I bought forever ago, and paired it with a red envelope clutch. It wasn’t exactly the warmest ensemble, but it was appropriate for the event of the night.

Before the show, I stopped for dinner at Piero’s Italian Cuisine. It was a quiet place near the convention center with a romantic vibe. I arrived about an hour after they opened, and the parking lot seemed empty. Once inside, I realized how deceitful the parking lot was because there was a number of people having dinner inside. I ordered osso bucco, and it was outstanding. The meat was so tender and juicy, and the bone marrow was very flavorful. When I returned home, I spent a good bit of time searching for restaurants in my city that served this, but I couldn’t find any. I doubt it would have tasted as good as Piero’s version anyway, so I look forward to trying it again on my next visit to Vegas. ​​

That dinner really wore me out. As I headed to Planet Hollywood’s Axis Theater for the main event, I hoped that a case of “the itis” didn’t put me to sleep. The venue had a few of her ensembles on display, most notably her green Versace dress that she wore to the 2000 Grammy Awards. Sixteen years later, I can say that thing was fugly. Sexy, yet fugly.

I walked the “red carpet” and had my photo taken before browsing the souvenir sections. None of the always overpriced memorabilia pulled at my heart strings, so I continued into the theater. Inside, I did some people-watching until the show began. I’m always interested in the crowd mix at shows, and Jennifer had a good mix. I saw senior citizens and young college students, people from various races and nationalities, those with friends, and those on dates. It couldn’t hold a candle to the mix of people that showed up to Miguel’s Wildheart Tour, but it came close.

One thing is for sure: money is being made for this residency. I don’t know if it was a sold out show, but I didn’t see any vacant seats. Even if a percentage of those were complimentary, the revenues should still be impressive. I’m interested in seeing the numbers.

The show was supposed to begin at 9PM, and I was already yawning because of the osso bucco and the time change. She didn’t hit the stage until 9:15, which is pretty good since I’ve waited longer for Beyonce and Lauryn Hill. She opened the show with my favorite song of hers, “If You Had My Love,” and I was so thrilled that this song found its way onto her setlist. Naturally, I’ve been playing her albums repeatedly since the show.

There was a point in the middle of the show where things slowed down for just a bit too long, and I started glancing at my watch. She sung “Feel The Light,” her song from the film Home, and did a cover of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” as a dedication to her twins. We all know Jenny doesn’t have much vocal prowess, and she should have just left those songs alone. Those background singers were her saving grace.

Just when I was starting to get a little too fidgety, she drew me back in when she did a shorter version of her Celia Cruz tribute from the 2013 American Music Awards. The moment “Quimbara” started, I rose to my feet. ¡Viva Celia!

Listen, Jenny looks good. No, she doesn’t look good “for her age.” She looks good period. I really need to moisturize more often, and increase my intake of green leafy vegetables because that woman came on that stage ready to serve, and she did. With her residency, Shades of Blue, and American Idol all happening simultaneously, I was worried that she wouldn’t be on her A-game. I was wrong. She entertained me for the near two hours that she graced the stage, and I got my money’s worth. If invited again, I’d go. Bravo to her and everyone else who was a part of this experience!

One of the things I love most about Vegas is the high creativity and the production level with shows. There are ideas that just can’t come to life on a tour that is in a new city everyday. I couldn’t help but wonder how amazing Beyonce’s residency would be in about 10-15 years. You know it’s inevitably going to happen. Kanye also needs to get a residency as well. Each and every one of those shows would sell out with quickness.

Saturday, all of my plans were thrown out of the window when I developed a migraine. I had a small breakfast at my hotel and headed to the Forum Shops to purchase some makeup at Inglot and NARS. It was at NARS that I smelled a candle that immediately triggered the migraine. The fragrance didn’t smell bad and wasn’t particularly strong; it was actually very subtle, so I find it weird that it resulted in such an instant pain. I couldn’t get back to my hotel fast enough. I stopped by CVS and purchased Excedrin for migraines, and headed to my temporary home for the rest of the day. I was feeling much better by the nighttime, and hung out with members of the National Guard at the hotel’s bar for a few hours until I was ready to return to bed.

Sunday, I decided to have a champagne brunch at a hotel across the street. It was meh, but I’ve discerned that I don’t like buffets in general. At some point in the day, I decided I was going to splurge on a pair of premium denim pants since I’m an adult now and Forever XXI $12 skinny jeans should no longer be an option. After a good bit of  time searching in Neiman Marcus at Fashion Show, I realized that premium brands don’t cater to short-legged girls. Every pair that I found was too long for me and not worth the trouble to hem.  Upon cancelling that idea, the only thing I had left on my itinerary was a frozen white hot chocolate from Serendipity 3.

Bruh, why are those things so good and so expensive?! There’s no way I would buy that on a non-vacation day. After getting a piece of heaven in a cup, it was time for me to go. Vegas had been good to me. Despite the setback with the migraine, I accomplished the only two things on my itinerary, and enjoyed others along the way.

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