[Note to illiterate trolls: when I say "more later" I mean "I'll be posting more later." This would be obvious to anyone who is not illiterate. Take my word for it.]
Anyway, I traveled via Interjet, departing from Toluca airport. I hadn't used that airport in a while, and it's changed a bit since then. For one thing it's recovered some traffic (which it had lost to Mex City's airport), but is still far short from its peak in 2009 before Aerocalifornia, Taesa and Mexicana failed. It seems Volaris is happy to maintain a minimal presence there, but Interjet has moved some of it more touristy routes there. Also some other airlines have made an appearance, notably Aeromexico and Spirit.
It's a rather small airport, which means it's easy to depart from. You're always near the gate or security. There are varied stores and restaurants before the security divide. There's free WiFi. Best of all, since few international flights operate there, the security lines are short. And as traffic is relatively light, the plane just rolls off to the runway without having to wait its turn behind other departing flights.
But let's back up a bit. Though my flight left at 3:10 pm, my day began at 5 am. I had some last minute business to take care of at work, and I didn't want to meet any of my coworkers. So I arrived long before anyone else did (and left long before, too). Then I went to the bank to pay off a credit card and exchange some money. I failed at the first (the "system" was "down"), and needed a second bank for the latter (fortunately there are several nearby).
I opted for an earlier shuttle to the airport, because the highway to Toluca is prone to delays due to accidents. So better safe than sorry. It also gave me a nice buffer in case check-in took too long. As it happened, there wasn't even a line. I had time to catch up on Facebook through my cell phone, and to have a leisurely lunch as well.
The shuttle is quite nicely appointed and has lap safety belts. Pickup is at a hotel in the Santa Fe area of Mexico City, right on the highway to Toluca. This required a taxi ride from home, and eventually one back. Total cost must have been around 500 pesos, tips included, which is around US $40. That's about even compared to taxis to and from Mex City's airport, but with less traffic and definitely a shorter ride in the afternoon.
Toluca airport is small by American standards, but large by Mexican ones, excepting Mex City's airport (which is large by any standard). There are a few restaurants and shops before passing security, and also plenty of departure lounge style chairs here and there. I found one currency exchange stand and some ATMs, but no bank operates a half-service branch as many do in Mex City. Nearby there are a few hotels and, about 3 or 4 miles away, a sprawling outdoor shopping mall.
The flight was boring and uneventful. I'd stockpiled some Philosophy in Action podcasts for the flight, then on board I discovered I left my earphones at home. Had I noticed at the terminal, I could easily have gotten a new pair... <sigh> At least I managed to sleep a little.
Interjet is a low cost carrier. All it serves during flight is a small snack (in this case a choice between 30 gr. bags of chips, Fritos and Doritos) and drinks. The latter include free alcohol, just don't ask for anything complicated. If you want a mixed drink, you're better off trying to wheedle a cup of orange juice and a shot of vodka, for example. You can bring in food with you, and some of the restaurants in the departure area offer take out.
I mentioned that Interjet has a generous 50 kilo, two bag luggage allowance. And that it made packing easier as I could simply take whatever I wanted. Well, yes. But I forgot an amazing number of important items. Aside from the earphones, I forgot to bring makeup remover, perfume, deodorant, compact mirror, magnifying mirror (not lighted), and two camis I needed for two outfits. Eventually I was able to replace almost everything, though finding suitable cotton camis took over a week.
By almost I mean I couldn't find a satisfactory perfume for a reasonable price. What I forgot to take was Chanel No. 5 eau de parfum. What I wound up getting was a Liz Taylor eau de toilette. It's just not the same.
I arrived at McCarran's new Terminal 3. As usual for arrivals, for me, I tried to get out of the airport as soon as possible. I got through immigration quickly, but my bags took their sweet time arriving. There's a lot more walking involved than at the old Terminal 2, but it's all indoors and the shuttle ticket desks are inside.
By the time I arrived at the Four Queens, I was too tired and sleepy to do much. I unpacked, went to Walgreen's to get a magnifying mirror and deodorant (I hadn't realized some omissions by then yet), had dinner at Magnolia's and went to bed.
The next two days were consumed by WoVCon activities. these have been recapped elsewhere, so I won't go into them. Except to say it was a real pleasure to see old friends, to meet new ones, and to meet friends I'd only known online.
More later, though there's little else to say.
I don't keep track of my play or bankroll. I simply bring along X amount of cash and set limits on credit card expenditures (vague ones, though). That's that, and that's supposed to last me the whole trip, hopefully with a little left over. Still, this trip I think I either came ahead or even.
I did gamble every day, but at ultra-low stakes, even for me. Still, one such paid off big time in relation to the stakes involved. Which? The famous Loose Deuces machine at the infamous Ditz.
I'm thinking of another name for The D, but that would be a bit offensive to people who are not involved with it. So I'll refrain. The thing is I hate having to set foot in the main casino. It's too loud. That's all there is to it. But the slot museum on the upper floor of the casino is as near ideal to me as is possible. It's relatively quiet (none of the noise below makes it upstairs), except for the odd sound effects of the Sigma Derby machine, it has good drinks service, the slot attendants come quickly, and the background music is mostly made up of songs I've actually heard before. In fact I found myself sometimes singing along while playing VP.
Anyway, I usually played that machine daily, buying in for $20 (it's a nickel machine) and playing until it was all gone or I got tired of it. I lost it all maybe three times, the rest I ended up sightly ahead, even or a few dollars behind. Except for three occasions. In two of these I hit 4 deuces, for a total payoff of $250. And in one I hit a natural royal flush for $200.
Other than that I'd play 9/6 JoB at the Four Queens on a nickel machine with the double-up feature enabled. Not every day, but somewhat often. I tried the Sigma Derby a few times, with low buy-ins. It is a rather exciting game, for all its old, old age and primitiveness. It tended to gather large crowds of very enthusiastic people who'd cheer and urge the mechanical horses they bet on to do better. At one point I heard another player tell an onlooker "You just chose what combination to bet on, then you cheer. That's it." :) The last time I played it I hit a long shot bet of one quarter for a $11.50 I played the $1.50 and left with $10. I like to leave ahead, even by a little.
During the first week, that is from May 26th to June 1st, the weather was hot, but bearable. I visited both outlet malls and did some sight-seeing on the Strip. The next week, June 2nd to the 9th, was unbearably hot, with temps ranging up to 42+ C (about 105-110 F). This was actually easy to take Downtown under the FSE canopy during the day. That shade is worth more than the light show, IMO. But venturing to the Strip was problematic. I even considered renting a car (I didn't).
BTW I found a design flaw in the SDX buses. The A/C doesn't quite reach the accordion area where the two bus segments are joined. It does get appreciably hotter there, on days where the thermometer breaks 100 F, and when the bus is full (and why would you stand there if the bus wasn't full?) One time it was so bad, I had to shower and change when I reached my hotel.
Even venturing to the Cal and MSS with such high temps was a bit of a hardship (I know, First World Problems, right?) I think the coolest route is to head to the Binion's back exit, then cross as quickly as the light allows to the Cal. There is not one centimeter of shade in the short open area.
Did you ever get to play Dream Card?
I had my g/f snap a pic from the last trip of a Dream Card hit with you in mind, but I have ultimately been lazy about writing a TR myself from last month. She switched phones since then, but it doesn't look like she saved the pics on a computer before the switch. Bah. I was playing at Mandalay Bay next to her and got dealt 3 2's in the first 4 cards with Dream Card on and it hit the last 2. Unfortunately, I was too cheap to play more than one hand (nickel spin poker), but it was crappy 6/5 Bonus for a $10 hit! :(
Good start! Definitely jealous of your D loose deuces hits. The only time I got around playing to the machine (Dec. 2011 for about 45 minutes), I turned dealt quints into quads...doh
I very nearly turned 5 of a kind into 3 of a kind once. I tend to see two deuces and hold them and hit draw. Fortunately I've developed the habit of looking again at the hand after I hold.
Did you ever get to play Dream Card?
In Vegas I pretty much play VP only Downtown, and only with good pay tables (with two exceptions I'll get to later). I despair of finding a decent pay table on the Strip for less than $1 denomination, and that's too high for me.
But with some patience there are great deals to be had. For example, they had a good selection of Jockey cotton panties in packs of 3 at only $8. I found several nice skirts, including a lovely mint, pleated maxi I absolutely adore (even if I have to gather it when confronted with stairs and escalators). A few nice tops. 4 pairs of Maidenform T-shirt bras (my new favorite) and a few other things.
There are two branches on Las Vegas Blvd. One next to the Showcase Mall near MGM grand, and one a bit north of the Wynn on the corner of Convention Center Dr. the latter tends to have a better selection, especially in lingerie. To get there from Downtown you either take the Deuce and get off just across the street, or take the SDX to Fashion Show Mall, cross the street to the Wynn and walk the rest of the way; or you can take the Deuce from the Wynn, too.
I visited both frequently and never came out empty handed. They take returns well, too, without even asking why one is returning an item.
What they lack in is shoes. For that I had to scour the outlet malls. I got a great deal on sneakers at Reebok making use of a "buy one, get the second one 50% off" offer. And also a very comfy pair of mid heels from Nine West. Actually I found nicer shoes, some by Nine West even, at other stores, but not in my size <sigh>.
I also got my ears pierced at the Piercing Pagoda kiosk in the south outlet mall. That was great! Clip on earrings are a, literal, pain. The clips either grab too tightly and cause small lesions on the earlobe, or not tightly enough and keep falling out. On the downside, one has to wear the piercing studs, which have a wider post, for 4 to 6 weeks so the piercing will heal properly and remain open. So I was stuck with rhinestone studs for a week and a half. but this is for life, so it's worth it.
Vegas, of course, lacks nothing in the way of shopping (except bookstores). I spent many afternoons window-shopping at fashion Show, the Forum Shops, Miracle mile, and many others, too.
I didn't buy any windows, if you're interested. But at Fashion Show I ran across a large kiosk carrying the MS Surface tablet. I thought about it as I circled the Mall. In the end I decided not to even get close, lest my relaxed attitude suffer from a closer exposure.
So while window-shopping, I stayed away from Windows.
I don't expect this trend to change, even when I start making life changing money. We had a family friend who has a black card, and likes to eat at dives nearby. The waitress always remembers us lol. I'd like to end up in his position someday.
I lived off of Rosses selection of non-shirt clothing. Never understood the point in spending more money then the cheapest for pants and socks. Shirts however they do make a statement so I splurge on those. I swear I spend about 30-40% of a budget for a man, so probably 10% of a woman's ensemble.
More like 1% ;)
They do have a large mens' section, though I didn't even look at it.
BTW, at the outlet malls I found a few good bargains at Burlington Brands and Charlotte Russ. the latter is mostly targeted to a younger demographic, but they had a good selection of maxi skirts (on sale) and some nice, cheap jewelry (also on sale). It was also where I found some camis, which were 2 for 1.
I also stay at the 4 Queens whenever I'm in Vegas. I used to stay on the strip and visit downtown to gamble. Now I'd rather stay downtown and visit the strip using the bus. One of my favorite rides and views is front seat top of double decker, fantastic view of the strip as you travel. Only thing I don't like about 4 Queens is they don't comp red bull even if you are playing. I don't drink alcohol so sometimes I like a little pick me up besides a coke. So I'll head over to the D and play a little at that huge bar with the long line of video screens and get a red bull. You are right that downstairs at the D is too loud but I love that bar if a big sporting event is on. I played upstairs once on one of those old VP machines. When I cashed out, I was surprised coins starting coming out. I'm thinking WTF do I do now. I look up and an attendant is right there with a plastic cup. Great service upstairs. I think its because the machines are old upstairs, they have to watch them closely because cheaters with a special device can clean them out.
Thanks about the Ross suggestion. I needed some new shorts. There's one a short bike ride away. Just stopped up there and got couple pair of shorts and a set of sheets, great prices.
So I'd get up, make coffee and have a cup while watching TV. I'd then shower, depilate as needed (about every three days or so), then get made up and dressed in the most leisurely, lazy way, while enjoying the rest of the coffee. Then I headed out. If I had a destination in mind, I usually headed there directly. If not, I'd walk around Downtown and think about what i wanted to do or where I wanted to eat. I had no breakfast, ate the mid-day meal around 1-3 pm, and dinner around 9-10 pm. By the second week I settled into a routine of eating at the MSS or Fremont buffet at 1:30 and dinner at Magnolia's or Dupar's. But this wasn't set in stone. I ate once at McDonald's (I like the chicken ranch wrap), and sometimes I had to modify my schedule for other reasons, such as being on the Strip at 2 or taking longer at the malls than I expected.
I didn't watch what I ate at all. I simply had whatever I wanted and as much as I wanted. Just the same, i wound up losing perhaps 5 lbs. I know exactly why, too. I walked a fair deal every day, I skipped breakfast, and I had no junk food at all or any snacks between meals. Now, if I could translate that to my daily routine...
At a buffet I'd typically have some salad, with some soup if there was a tasty one (not often). Then I'd serve myself twice from the entrees and sides, concentrating on variety rather than quantity. Then I'd take dessert and coffee. I like it better when there are small pastries or even tiny portions of pie and cake, than when there are regular-sized pies and cakes. Alas, the one buffet with such desserts was the Bacchanal at Caesars. And as value for price goes, the MSS is a better deal.
I ate at the Fremont buffet a few times, both meals, and rather liked it. The quality of the food is close to that of MSS but there is less variety. They also tend to have some of the same dishes every day. The dinning room is not as nice as that of MSS, but it's cozy and comfortable enough.
I re-visited the Mob Museum to finish an article on it (coming soon), and for my own pleasure, too. I also re-visited the CSI thing at MGM. On the plus side, they do let you change the assigned crime scene without fuss. On the downside, now that you know how the game is played, and if you've seen the show, you pretty much breeze through it the second time around. I swear I spent more time getting there from Downtown, including the long, long walk inside the MGM, than solving the case.
I stay Downtown. This trip I ate a lot in my
room. There's a Mexican fast food joint
in the Plaza next to McDonalds. For 8 bucks
they make a burrito on an assembly line, you
tell them what you want on it. If you choose
right, its the size of a small football when they're
done. I never ate a whole one in one sitting.
I like eating in my room, I can watch TV and
work on the computer. Eating alone in a restaurant
has always seemed weird to me. Why do it if
I don't have to.