We arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday, and dealt with chaos from the very beginning. Our flight was booked solid, so we had to sit in the middle rows, separated from each other for the 2 hour flight. I met a couple of nice enough guys, but you know how that goes. Middle seats should just automatically be 25% larger since you’re always the one who gets the shaft on armrests. At least my seat was in an exit row, so I had extra leg room.
After landing, we found the baggage carousel and watched as the cooler of our pizza ingredients slammed down onto the conveyor belt. Ouch. The cooler was sealed with tie-downs, and we noticed a few knots in them that we hadn’t made. Without wanting to examine the insides until we were situated, we hurried to find a cab.
The hustlers were in full force outside of the baggage area, telling us that cabs were going to take an hour and a half but we were lucky — only $43 for the two of us to get a Town Car to the strip. Yeah, right. I hate people like this. I begged for eye contact with another guy, bored to death at a limo rental stand, and asked him where the cabs were. He took pity on us (and probably my husband who was hauling a huge cooler plus a fully-packed giant backpack) and pointed us in the opposite direction. We found the taxi line, and walked the half mile of chained circles to get into line. Finally, finally we got a taxi packed and loaded. When the cabbie asked what was in the cooler, Whitey said with a straight face, “A kidney.” We got to the hotel pretty darn fast after that without a freeway runaround taking the long route.
We’re staying at the Aria Resort, right on the strip in Vegas. It’s a pretty fancy place with lots of chrome and marble, and orchid floral arrangements on every counter. Over a dozen check-in lines and agents were slammed with lines of guests to check-in, and the vanilla scent almost overwhelmed us. Turns out it’s pumped into the air units to mask the smoke smell of the casino. Other than that, the hotel gave a very good first impression. The restaurants on the casino level boast menus that made me immediately smile — I’m sure that we’ll be eating at least one perfect meal (besides pizza).
Our room is facing the city, not the strip, which I actually prefer. The sunsets have been beautiful.
When we got to our room, we immediately went to inspect the cooler. We didn’t need the handy TSA slip of paper to let us know that they had gone through our cargo.
Fragile notice be damned — this cooler got a workout. Our sauce container had busted open; it looked like a bloodbath.
The dough, so carefully made and packed by Whitey just that morning had definitely “shifted in flight” and I felt my nostrils flare with anger. He talked me down as we pulled everything out of the cooler to wash it and re-pack the ingredients. I wanted to put the dough in the fridge in our room, but was told that everything was on a weight sensor and we’d be charged if we moved even one item.
I couldn’t even move the camera or chips to store a dough ball. Grrrrrr. We ordered a portable fridge to be brought to our room instead, and moved the dough and sauce to it while leaving our cheese in the cooler with ice.
Then we went downstairs and I ordered a well-deserved drink.
I’m not much of a gambler, and didn’t want to have a hangover in the morning, so we ended up just touring the entire Aria property (or so we thought). Turns out that the grounds go on and on and on for miles. Just to get to the fitness center is almost a half a mile walk… although the fitness center is worth the walk. Seriously — the lounge outside of it is gorgeous, and there are probably 200 treadmills and high-tech machines for your workout.
The fire pit was the best part.
The pools on the grounds are pretty nice. I think I’ve counted three, along with three hot tubs (two of which sit outside the windows of a restaurant, which is strange).
Last night we went to a Cirque du Soleil show called Zumanity. It was unreal. This guy snapped his cape at me right when we walked in:
The performers were out and about, mingling with the guests, posing for photos and staying in character.
I’d post other photos, but even the women were topless. What a crazy show — it was really one of the best performances I’ve seen. The contortionists were extreme, the dancing was intense, and the fishbowl scene with the two ladies was absolutely mesmorizing. I highly recommend seeing this show if you get the chance. Ninety minutes of pure escapism and fantastic acts. Here’s a link to the trailer – http://www.zumanity.com
Today was the first day for exhibitors at the Pizza Expo, and I wanted to see how the traditional pizza competition would be held to give myself a better idea of what to expect tomorrow. In addition, we were able to sample a couple of the competitors pies. Everyone has different likes and dislikes, right? I don’t know — I only tried one pizza that I went “Hm. That’s good.” I gave up after five or six samples. I hope my pizza doesn’t get that same reaction from people tomorrow.
I’ll be presenting tomorrow at about 11:45 and am a bit nervous, but not as much as I was before arriving here. I had built it up to be this crazy event, and now am just thinking of it as making lunch for a few people. I do it every day. What’s different about this? It’s just lunch. I’m not fancifying it (yes, I made that word up) or sprinkling gold dust or Viagra on it. It’s what I make every day, serve every day, eat every day. KISS, right? Keep it simple stupid.
I’ll get a good night’s sleep tonight, get there early enough to do my prep tomorrow, and watch the other pies before mine come out to see how the ovens cook. Then I’ll fill my bags with shwag from the vendors, maybe score a t-shirt or two, watch the pizza acrobatics competition, drink a few beers and plan a nice night (hopefully celebrating a win) out to dinner with my husband.
So cross your fingers for me, send some good thoughts, and stay tuned my friends! I’ll try to take more photos of the event itself, too, so you can see how things go down. Ciao!