I awakened and immediately laced on my running shoes, excited to explore the city on foot. I soon discovered that running on the Strip is almost impossible, due to the sheer number of people crowding the sidewalks, so I found a back road and made my way up it instead.
Throughout the trip, we girls kept commenting how Vegas is like Disneyland for adults, complete with a (mostly) clean Strip, music blaring out of loudspeakers, and people dressed up in costumes. To continue the analogy, the street I ran on, then, was the backlot of Disneyland. Frank Sinatra Blvd. parallels the Strip and, as such, I saw what no one else does: shards of glass on the sidewalk, no lights or stimulating music, and certainly no lit fountains. I liked this gritty and very real side to Sin City, so my run was a very pleasant one.
|sparkly decor inside the Cosmopolitan|
When I got back from my run, the group decided to explore the Strip. We took our time, stopping here and there whenever we found something particularly interesting. At one point, we found the Bellagio fountains and waited until they went off. They are really magnificent. If you haven't had a chance to view them, be sure and find a video online at your first chance (speaking of which, a Twitter friend sent me this video he created last year!).
|this particular show was accompanied by the song "Singin' in the Rain"|
|inside the Bellagio's lobby; these are glass flowers!|
Late in the afternoon, we all got pretty hungry, as we had walked a good portion of the Strip, and, after going in and out of multiple hotels, we wanted a chance to rest our sore feet. We found a great Mexican restaurant inside The Venetian called Taqueria Canonita that offered a fantastic happy hour, so we took advantage of that and feasted. What made this restaurant particularly enchanting was the fact that it overlooked the canal. We could hear the man steering the gondola singing as we ate.
|the chips trio on the happy hour menu came with an avocado-tomatillo guacamole, pico de gallo, and roasted tomato salsa|
|the chips and dips were $6.50|
|the side salad MINUS chicken and cheese (it came with grilled veggies and lettuce), for $7|
After filling our stomachs, we were ready to move once again. The girls had purchased tickets to the Cirque show "Zumanity", but, as it just wasn't in my travel budget, I decided to take the evening for myself, and at this point, we separated for the rest of the night.
I meandered along the south end of the Strip for a few hours, weaving in and out of the hotels, taking pictures as I saw fit. I finally came to my chosen destination, located in Mandalay Place, the strip of stores and restaurants that connects Mandalay Bay with The Luxor, where I found The Burger Bar.
I know, I know, why would a vegan decide to eat at a restaurant whose menu features meat? Because, in my extensive pre-vacation research, I found that this meat-centric restaurant also featured a Vegan Burger on its menu.
Holy Cow (not literally), this burger was AMAZING. Quite possibly the best vegan "burger" I've ever had. In my life. No joke. Completely vegan. Completely gluten-free. Completely delicious.
|grilled eggplant, squash and peppers inside two marinated portobello caps, served with any fries you want (I chose the sweet potato) and a Claussen pickle, all FOR ONLY $12!!!!|
It deserves two pictures, so you can see it in all its glory and a little closer up.
|did I mention this was in Vegas? for only $12? yeah, it bears mentioning again.|
Needless to say, after eating this I was in a VERY good mood (and yes, I did ingest alcohol, so that might have contributed to the overall feeling of contentment), so I decided to try my hand at a little gambling. I took a seat in the MGM Grand casino and played $2 on a penny slot machine. I lost it all, but I wasn't really that sorry, because I enjoyed the experience.
After all the fun of the day, I headed back to the hotel room and easily fell asleep, dreaming of mushrooms and fountains.
Stay tuned for more excitement in Day 3...