a weekend in vegas

Well, nobody will call us party poopers, that’s for sure; we even flew to Vegas just to prove it! Our friends Vero and Mat were spending 10 days on the west coast and in Las Vegas, and for over a year now, we had talked about the possibility of meeting them in Vegas for the weekend at the end of their trip. Of course we wanted to, we’re both Vegas obsessed. But after we had booked a family trip to Disney for March 2019, the Vegas prices for the October long weekend started to go up, which means our hopes for an incredibly fun and crazy weekend in Vegas seemed to fade away as the days went by. BUT, never say never! While I was taking the boys Halloween pictures at the pumpkin patch, Brian booked the trip, on his phone, without even telling me. Then on our way back home, he told me to call my mom and tell her she was babysitting next weekend, cause we were going to Vegas!

 So with less than 5 days left to schedule everything with the boys, pack our suitcases and get ready, we were beyond anxious. By Wednesday night, we still hadn’t told our friends, and that’s when Brian had the crazy idea to film us “à la Love Actually” with sign cards telling them we were going to Vegas. It was so funny, both of us in the doorway holding our cards, with Liam filming and Logan laughing at our acting skills… I wouldn’t want anyone to see this, like NEVER! Yet, we still sent it to our friends and then immediately started to get flooded with boomerang videos of their excitement. It’s was simply HILARIOUS!!!

Came Friday, we drove the boys to my Mom, said our goodbyes, and then came back home for the shortest nap, before catching our flight early in the morning. Wish we had a direct flight, but 8 hours later, around lunch time (Vegas time), we finally made it to the Strip. We had booked last minute, with not too many hotel options available… so we ended up staying at the Bally’s, and I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised from the moment we walked into our room. It was super big, like it could have easily fit 2 king size beds with room to spare, it was pretty, cozy, recently renovated and located right in the middle of the strip. Oh, and we got a free room upgrade on the top floor with a really nice view! I like to think we got this cause they know I’m a famous blogger, right!?! We actually loved our experience at the Bally’s and will definitely consider staying there again in the future! They are currently renovating parts of the casino and I can’t wait to see what it will look like next time we’re in town.

So we met with Vero and Mat in the Bally’s casino and then made our way to the Linq’s Promenade for lunch and Barley & Flour. We had some delicious pizzas as well as a few drinks on a terrace before getting on our gambling journey! Over our three days in Vegas, I’d say we probably tried every type of slots machines there is, one after the others, it’s was just incredible. Of course our favs are still BUFFALO, Hangover and Sex and the City, where we actually won a few bonus rounds! The only one who didn’t win was Mat. He has the worst luck I’ve ever seen. Poor him. While Brian was raking it, he kept on losing some more, but he was a good sport about it and kept on cheering for us! Next time it will be your turn, Mat, I can feel it!

We visited the Caesar’s and the Mirage, then went back to our rooms to change and met at Mon Ami Gaby for a late diner. We got a great table on the patio, where we could watch the Fountains of Bellagio. Our server was so nice, he even spoke to us in French for most of the night after he had heard Brian’s accent. Everything about our steak dinner was perfect, but by the time we were done, it was close to midnight (3:00 am our time), and I was starting to feel the time-zone difference. So we played in the casino a little and then called it a night.

Now, here’s the tricky part about your first night in Vegas (especially if you’re from our time-zone)… well, you usually go to bed very late because you want to party as much as you can, but then you wake up very early because of your internal clock! Which sucks, especially with no kids around and pitched dark blinds. So with only a few hours of sleep, we met our friends at Giada’s restaurant at the Cromwell for a late breakfast. We had brunch there 2 years ago when we travelled to Vegas for my Mom and Frank’s wedding, and I really wanted to go back, as it’s such a gorgeous and awesome restaurant. We got another great table overlooking the strip, and some of the best looking plates you will find. Food was to die for and the best part, we got a 5$ brownie. But, wait for it, as it’s a way better story than it sounds… When we entered the restaurant, we saw a gorgeous trolley, full of beautiful glass canisters and cake stands. Full of different kinds of brownies, sauces, toppings, ice creams and candies. We all wanted one so badly, and I was certain that I had seen somewhere that it was only 5$. So even if we were super full after finishing our meal, I was able to convince them, and we decided to get one for the 4 of us. So they made us fill out a form with all of our preferences and selections. We probably asked the server about 10 times if someone was really going to bring the trolley to our table. And they did! So the trolley arrived, I was taking pictures, Brian videos, and Vero some boomerangs (while Mat wanted to get away from our crazy table)!!! Right after the waiter left, they all agreed that I had to be wrong about the price and that it had to be at least 20$, or even much more… but it was so worth it, whatever the price it was going to be! Then we got our bill, and guess what… to our surprise (and by then to my surprise), I was right!!! Let’s just say it was the best (and most delicious) 5$ ever we ever spent in Las Vegas! Finally, before we left, we took the almost-necessary picture in the famous Giada’s photo booth… well, it may have taken us 20 shots before we could have a decent one, but who cares, we were having a blast and had nothing else planned for the day. 

Yeah, absolutely no plans!  We had an awesome day in Vegas, walking around, having drinks, casino hoping, gambling here and there, checking out stores and just spending times together. We took a small break (from like doing nothing) and stopped at a Mexican cantina for margaritas and nachos. YUM!

Then, we went back to win some more money at the Mirage… let’s just say that the Mirage casino is REALLY good to us. We don’t gamble a lot, but we managed to win a few hundred dollars there. So far it was such a great Day-2 in Vegas! 

After that, we went back to our hotel for a quick outfit change, as we had some reservations at Lago by Julian Serrano at the Bellagio. And our great day became an even better one when we got ourselves a table on the terrace, right on the water, literally behind the Fountains of Bellagio. It was Magical. Every 15 minutes, the music from the restaurant would be dimmed down and the music from the fountain show would surround us. We had the best seats in the house and we knew it. It was simply breathtaking. Our server was incredible and also super funny. The table of twelve next to us had ordered 4 huge tomahawk steaks for the group, so when they saw that, Brian and Mat had to ask the waiter where they could find it on the menu. The waiter responded it was usually available only for special order, but that he could make an exception for us… for a mere 350$ each! WHAT???? No thank you! I’m surprised I didn’t die laughing right there from seeing the deception in Brian’s face. But I’m pretty sure the tomahawk wouldn’t have topped the incredibly delicious food we’ve ordered and shared that night: Burrata cheese with red peppers and garlic; Bruschetta Pomodoro; Almond-basil pesto linguini; Braised duck and cheese polenta; and a bone-in rib-eye steak. It will forever be one of the best and most amazing dinner experience I have ever had in my life. It was priceless. They could charge double the price for these tables and I would still ask to sit there. Wish I was there right now!

So, once diner was over, Brian, Mat and Vero had no more wine left, and the four of us started to discuss whether they were having more wine there while enjoying the fountains, or if we were going somewhere else. That’s when Brian decided to walk over to the other table, the one who had the expensive tomahawk steaks (and probably expensive wine), to steal two full left-over wine glasses. I would usually be sooo mad at him for doing something like this, but this time, I couldn’t even say a word as Vero and I were dying laughing as he was walking back toward us with the two glasses in his hands and a huge smile in his face! That’s when the server came out, laughing as well, telling him that left-over wine at 500$ a bottle was usually reserved for the kitchen staff! Vero and I were still laughing out loud, and I was getting very close from peeing my pants! Yeah, part of me was ashamed, but the other part was like, YOLO! 

After diner, we went to the Cosmo hotel, then to Planet Hollywood, where Brian and Mat got a 3 for one… 20$ for two margaritas and a free bull ride. I will spare you the video, but let say Mat was smart enough to drink his margarita while Brian did the ride. The girl right before him was like a pro and lasted a whole song while he lasted about 20 seconds and hurt himself while doing it. What. An. Idiot. But I love him!

After that, we walked around the strip, had more margaritas, played some more casinos, and then the time came where we had to say goodbye to our friends, as they were catching a flight back home early in the morning. Our time together was so short, wish we had at least another day with them, but we had sooo much fun, and made so much memories, and are so happy we decided, last minute, to meet with them in Vegas for the weekend. A weekend I will remember forever! 

On Monday morning, it was super nice outside, so we decided to walk to the MGM Park. Once we made it there, we decided to rent a car, not because we were lazy and didn’t wanted to walk back to the hotel, but because I wanted to scratch a few things of my to-do list. First off, Bad Owl Coffee Shop for a late breakfast. I had just recently discovered this Harry Potter inspired coffee house on Instagram and I reallllly wanted to go. And I was not disappointed! Cozy, dark, gloomy but inviting, full of memorabilia, multiple quotes on tables and walls, and it seemed like everywhere you’d looked, you could find a little something you had missed earlier. Oh, and a menu worthy of the Great Hall. As if it was faith, I had the Alan Rickman table… probably my favorite HP character, although I truly love them all! So we shared the waffles and I had the best Nutella latte ever. Wanted to stay longer, but I also wanted to scratch more off my list. So guess what I had seen on my way there: a Target! Of course I needed a Target stop. And then, after a little shopping spree, we drove to Seven Magic Mountains, which is about 25 minutes away from the Strip. You drive through the desert and then, in the middle of nowhere, you see 7 bright and colourful rock totems. This was sooo AMAZING to see. It truly was magical, and the colors on the pictures are simply amazing. Wish we had stopped 2 years prior with the boys, they would have loved it.

Once we left the desert, we made one last stop at the North Premium Outlets, and then we went back to our hotel to spend the rest of the days just walking around and enjoying the fact that we were in Vegas. As soon as we parked the car at our hotel, I was really hungry and I knew exactly what I wanted to eat! So I scratched off another thing on my list, In-N-Out Burger! Yep! We definitely should have In-N-Out Burger in Canada. I would be the first in line! Brian had the Gordon Ramsay fish and chips with a Guinness in a cup, which he definitely enjoyed! But then, after two days of being really lucky with our gambling, well we started to lose some (most) of our winnings, so Brian decided to gamble a little less and focus on all the margarita places we could find, having a drink here and there, just relaxing, walking around, and enjoying each other. Not sure when was the last time we actually went away just the two of us, but it felt great. We talked about our life, our jobs, the boys, our friends, the future trips we’d like to do, our house and how fun this weekend was. We had thought of going to a super fancy place for dinner, but the time difference was catching up on us, so we decided to not go back to the room and change, and go directly to one of our favorite restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory. We were exhausted, we had walked over 30000 steps, so during dinner I wanted to cry thinking about having to walk back to our hotel. But, as usual, we had such a great time, and once again, our server was super friendly and nice, our food was delicious, hello Bellagio Chicken, plus the to-go Godiva Cheesecake was the bribe I needed to walk back to my room! 

We played a few rounds of Buffalo on the way, then made it to our room, ate some cheesecake, packed-up our stuff and then it was time for bed. Next morning came by too quickly. We drove to the airport and then started the long journey back home. I was sooo anxious to see the boys, but it had to wait in the morning as we arrived back home past 1 am and went directly to bed as I was working a few short hours later! 

What a trip. Vegas, you were amazing to us, once again! Thanks to my Mom and Frank who took care of our boys and made this trip possible and stress free for us. And lastly, Vero and Mat, thanks for letting us tag along your 10th year wedding anniversary trip. This weekend will forever be remembered, from the video we sent you, your boomerangs, the moment I jumped into your arms when I first saw you, Brian’s incredible gambling luck, the 350$ piece of meat and wine stealing, the bull ride, all the margaritas, the ultimate brownie, the Lago diner and our singing performance by the Bellagio Fountains, the long walks, the long talks, and the countless laughs we shared with you guys. We love you so much and can’t wait for the next one! Maybe for OUR 10th year anniversary, next year?

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2018 beau’s oktoberfest: great food, great beers, and a lot of mud

Life has been crazy lately, and I still haven’t had the chance to share this year’s Beau’s Oktoberfest yet. It may seem a bit late to talk about it, given that October is already over and Beau’s Oktoberfest was actually in September, but since we loved it so much this year again, I really wanted to share our weekend in beautiful Vankleek Hill with all of you. And the good news is that we only have to wait another 11 months until the next one, instead of the usual 12!

We were sooo excited about Beau’s Oktoberfest’s 10th edition: we had bought our tickets at the brewery earlier this summer, scheduled our babysitters months ago, had made plans to meet with friends and family throughout the weekend, had prepared outfits in advance for both Friday and Saturday, and considering that in the last few years we had sunny days over 40 degree Celsius as well as rainy days closer to zero degree Celsius, we had prepared outfit options for all possible weather conditions… but NOPE, we did not! My beautiful Hunter Boots and my lovely rain jacket could not take on what stormed through our region on that Friday evening.

Never in my wildest dreams I would have thought a tornado would hit so close to home. So I left work at 4 on that Friday afternoon and I remember the sky in my rear mirror being somewhat scary. Driving home was weird, sunny in front, purple and gray on top, and pitch black in the back. Picked up the boys at school, met Brian at home, packed up the car and left, still not knowing what was about to happen in Ottawa and surrounding areas that night. Nearly minutes after we left, we got a weather warning on our iPhones and at the same time a tornado was touching down in a few towns and villages close to us. We were so lucky, some, not as much. The pictures we saw from places close to us just made me cry; and still makes me.

So we arrived safely to my Mom’s and hid there for a while hoping the wind and rain would calm down. Once we thought the storm had passed, we decided to venture to Vankleek Hill to attend our beloved Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, as we arrived, the rain had picked up again, and they had to close it down for the night due to another approaching storm. Clad in our rain boots and ponchos, a bunch of us gathered at a local restaurant and spent the evening there having a few Beau’s beers while talking about what had just hit our region, thanking our lucky star we had been spared, hoping no one had been hurt.

By next morning, we were in top shape and ready to party! So we dressed up in our best rubber boots and out of the door we were. Pretzels, craft beers and live music here we come!

I was still hungry from the night before, which I guess was a good thing, cause I had carefully planned ahead my menu for the weekend, and I still wanted to try all of it, so having to squeeze a two-day menu into a one-day event was going to be a challenge, but I was up for it! When we got there, the fairground was a mess… like, a muddy mess. Thank God we were both wearing our rubber boots. Some areas were okay, but most of it was covered with mud. If I wouldn’t have worn my Hunter boots, I wouldn’t have made it out of there alive. And by that I mean I wouldn’t have been able to get to the pretzel vendor, which was surrounded by a foot deep of mud and water… but I made it there, twice actually!

Sadly, one of my favourite vendors had to cancel due to the storm. But don’t worry, I will satisfy my raclette craving very soon as we got reservations at Meule & Caquelon next weekend! So as we were walking around the fairground, we met with friends everywhere, at every corner we turned and every tap bar we stopped at. We shared drinks, tried amazing food and listened to music I’m not used to listen to. Brian had told me there was one show he absolutely didn’t wanted to miss, so he dragged me to the small stage just in time for the show; what I didn’t know was that he was about to turn into a real groupie in front of the stage, listening to this local singer songwriter I had never really heard of. Well, Rory Taillon, you have a fan for life! And I agree with my husband, yours was the best show at this year’s Oktoberfest.

We then visited the Midway Games, definitely one of our favorite things at Beau’s Oktoberfest. After all, who can pass on a game of Plinko? Not me! Can’t remember who won but it was so much fun. We also played a game of sling shots, which we sucked at and didn’t win anything. Then played a few rounds of ring toss on the beer bottles. Then ended it with Brian’s new found favorite, Roll In Zie Hay, a balance and precision game where he won three times in a row and then wouldn’t shut up about it! Overall, we basically spent 40 bucks to win a Beau’s pin, but what the heck, Brian really wanted it, he was happy about it, so it was totally worth it!

This year’s awards for best food go to the Reuben Egg Rolls from Moose McGuire’s… those were simply AMAZING, and also to the 3 frozen ice cream treats I had from Pascale’s Ice Cream! Please don’t judge, I do not drink alcohol, but I can definitely hold my ice cream!

I may not have been able to try everything, but I definitely try many things… so I’d like to give a shout out to the Smoque Shack for their Brisket Mac and Cheese Cone, for our local favorite Vert Fourchette for their delicious Beer Battered Fish-on-a-stick, and to Hintonburg Public House for their out-of-my-mind Seed to Sausage Jalapeño & Cheese Curd Smoke Corn Dog.

We were once again in awe from all the keg toss competitions, the stein holding competitions (that Brian still didn’t do but once again said he would try ‘next’ year), and this year’s most fun to watch: the team-pulling-truck competition. Boy, I would never sign up for this, but it was truly awesome to watch! And once again, that guy on the mic is worth alone the entrance fee, as he’s just so clever and funny in congratulating and insulting the participants. Can’t wait to hear him make fun of my husband if he ever decides to do the stein holding competition!

As the tradition goes, we once again ended up at good ol’ Miss Hawkesbury, and once again, ended up doing Tequila shots… yep, they were all drunk already but found a way to convince me they had to do shots to keep the tradition alive! When the place doesn’t have enough shot glasses for 7 people, you know it’s time to go home! But they do have the best pizza and poutine in town, so I watched them doing shots while I enjoyed the last item on my previously planned Beau’s Oktoberfest weekend menu. And I agree, you don’t mess with traditions… so we’ll be back next year!!!

It was definitely another great Oktoberfest! I wouldn’t imagine an end-of-summer or beginning-of-fall season without it. It is definitely one of my favorite outside activities of the year, year after year (probably Brian’s favorite!). Finally, I’d like to add that you guys did an amazing job dealing with all the unexpected and unforeseen turn of events that happened on Friday evening. I am really proud to be a Beau’s fan, and we can’t wait for next year’s; let’s all just hope the next one will be less eventful, weather wise. Prost my friends.

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