Live The Good Life
Lindsay K. Johnson, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Lover of Life

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I may not have the innate instinct to be a mother & have children, but I do have a STRONG desire to explore almost every mysterious inch of this beautiful World!

Join me as I share some thrills I have been blessed to experience and others I am dreaming of experiencing someday!

September 5th, 2017

"A Long Weekend in Sin City, Lost Wages, Adult Disneyland"

After living in Vegas for 3.5 years, I have a pretty good idea of how to do Vegas right, meaning when you return home from a long weekend in Vegas, you don't need a vacation from that vaction to re-boot. Below I have outlined a perfect weekned of fun, drinks, food, entertainment, spa, pool and more drinks (PG-13 version). 

1. Fly in on a Thursday, depending on the time zone plan a dinner that is close to your original dinner time to transition yourself. Drink plenty of water upon landing and the entire trip, it is the dessert! Plan to fly home on a Monday afternoon so you can enjoy Sunday in its' entirety and sleep in the next day (not miss your flight).

2. Stay at the Vdara hotel for a smoke free/casino free quite atmosphere that is tucked behind the strip's City Center, and an easy walk to all the hot spots (3 minutes to Bellagio, 5 minutes to Cosmopolitan). Staying here allows you to walk into the chaios and action but return home to a sanctuary of normalicy (see room photo above) and less fighting lines of people at breakfast and your pool. I especially love their canoes sculpture infront of the hotel. 

*If you prefer wild energy 24/7 stay at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Expect to have drunk persons in your elevator leaving the pool, and when you are cleaned up and heading to dinner another group of drunk persons still leaving from the pool, people at the black jack tables 24/7, and bling bling of the slot machines...but the sexy edgy vibe is one of a kind if you are up for it. Also the rooms with the balconies on the fountain side are well worth the extra money. 

3. Pools: Vdara's personal pool is nice for a relaxing spa like experience. Cosmopolitan has their own Boulavard Pool which is a favorite of mine because it is overlooking the strip and has varying levels of depth in the pool that you can lay back in the shallow sections or full on swim in the deep parts (photo 5). Drais Pool Club (photo 15) is my absolute favorite becuase the views look over the fountain show and the fake Eifel Tower, it is higher up than all other pools and usually has an attractive croud. If you want really private the Wynn Hotel has its own pool with a back classy section "European Style;" most likely you will need to be staying there to get in or flash a room key. Locals like to go to Moorea at Mandalay Bay for their intimate smaller "European Style" pool no room key needed however the crowd is not as classy, just pay their entrance fee and you are in. *When you arrive it is good to run into a promoter and ask to be hooked up on their guest list for pool entrances, club entrances. This can save you time in line, a group of ladies will be hooked up with free entrance, skipping long lines and often a spot at a communal "girls" table with free drinks. 

4. Food: I am in love with the vibe of Sushi Samba no matter where I travel and it is reasonably priced. It is at the Venitian hotel (see photo 18). Cheap sushi with pretty high quality and nice outdoor patio is Sushi Ra at Fashion Show Mall. STK at Cosmopolitan Hotel is a fun modern twist on Asian American fare and you get a night club lounge vibe at the same time, not the best place if you want serious conversation with your friends though. STK is also a great place for a pre or post drink, the bar is full of mature/well dressed people, book early here! Lavo at the Venetian is good Itilian food, but even better decor. Upstairs is a hall of running water pouring into sinks and lined with mirrors (photo 7) that leads to a initmate lounge (ususally not busy until 10:30pm on Fri/Sat), they also have outdoor dining looking over the strip. Scarpetta at Cosmopolitan Hotel and Frank Sinatra at the Wynn hotel are my other favorite Itilian Resturants based on the food and atmosphere. Scarpetta has a back room that looks out onto the strip, hommmade pasta and darker intimate upscale environment (quiet). Frank Sinatra "as you would guess it" plays class Sinatra as you dine in a very elegant space (a bit older crowd), outdoor optional and beautifully landscaped. Cheaper fare, hidden Pizza room in Cosmopolitan Hotel-if you can find it, you will be pleased. *Seriously too many good places to eat, as you can see I am biast to Italian and Asian cuisine. You are in good hands in Vegas when it comes to food. 

5. Drinks: Bloody Mary at Todd English Pub at Aria hotel, nice casual attire/optional outdoor space and good cheap pub food. Bond style martini or afternoon tea and desserts at Mandarin Oriential Hotel's tea lounge daytime or bar lounge evenings with a goregous views of the strip and evening live musice Friday and Saturdays. Margarita with "salted foam" by Jose Andres at China Poblano Restaurant (Asian/Mexican fusion) at Cosmo Hotel (photo 6). Rose Rabbit Lie Restaurant's middle bar area with live entertainment (more on that later, photo 1). Beer, walk through the Linq area toward the High Roller Wheel and there are pubs along the way. 

6. Lounges/Clubs: Hyde at the Bellagio. Get there before 9pm for a drink and you get to sit anywhere you want right on the fountain show. It is a Parisian Style lounge (photo 19) that sits atop the fountain show. 1/3 of the lounge is uncovered and the fountain show's mist can be felt on a windy day. If you want to stay a couple hours it will be turning into a club as the night goes on; full on bottle service with champagne bottles with sparklers attached to the top and a confettie drop at some point. It is probably one of my favorite places becuase it starts out intimate with the beautiful choreographed water show to the music, then if you feel like dancing you can. Mandalay Bay Hotel, The sky high Foundation Room, locals go here to avoid huge lines and immature drinkers. This bar is tied to a member's club restaurant to the right and the Egyptian inspired smaller club to the left with killer outdoor patios that share rooftop views of the ENTIRE strip (see photo, me smoking a cigar there). I loved going there with my best girlfriends for the exotic egyptian adorned dancers that randomly came through, the fresh breeze and a shared cigar outside, and then the cozy interior vibe. Rose Rabbit Lie is my favorite when it comes to live entertainment, drinks, well dressed croud, music and energy (see photo 1 above). I celebrated my 30th birthday here becuase I just adored the classic songs that were acted out with performers on the bar, on the piano, on your dinner table...and a small dance floor as needed. This venue is tucked in the back of the Cosmopolitan Hotel just past its buffet Wicked Spoon (which is good, unlimited wine lived there two years ago). The venue is a resturant (expensive but very tasty and creative presentation), little hidden rooms/bars, a main middle bar with piano and small dance floor (go here) and connected a theatre with cirque like shows. The performers from the show come trickling through the bar and resutrant if you decide to dine there. When the performers belt out a song, and young talent break dances on the have that moment when you tell yourself  "this is really special, I will never forget this moment in time." There are tons and tons of clubs, some have cirque performers, some amazing light shows/speaker systems, and jam packed tables with bottle service that cost ($3,000 - $10,000) depending on your location, thirst and preference. If you want this classic club experience the Marquee at Cosmopolitan is always a fun choice, and if your ears get exhuasted from the DJ you can head outside by the pool for chill vibe and drink. 

7. Spa: Mandarin Oriental has a very zen-like vibe. My favorite was this shower that had jets from every angle except the wrong angel, with your choice of color, and music that felt like a total body sport massage after. Almost every major strip hotel will have their own spa, some better than others. Cesar Palace also has a nice spa or Venitian's well know Canyon Ranch Spa which has tasty healthy food you can snack on.

8. Activities: Fountain show of the Bellagio (free), Water show of the Wynn Hotel (free), Old downtown Vegas, not a bad idea to go when it gets dark and walk through to see the overhead lights, do a zip line for fun and have a cheap drink at The Common Wealth (rooftop option). Locals go here to save money and to feel like they are in a "mini-Chicago/real city vibe." Pawn shop on your drive down to old Vegas, probaly will be a big line, but if you are a fan maybe it is worth the wait? Shopping: Cesar's Forum Shops are my favorite because of the mix between high end shops/ and affordable shops like H&M. Museum of old Las Vegas signs, I never went but in retrospect it sounds cool. High Roller at the Linq (currently World's Largest Observation Wheel). Great to do for a good overview of the stripbut many hotel rooms already provide a pretty decent view of the strip. Bellagio Conservatory (free) which is decorated seasonally with over the top gigantic talking animals or moving water fixutres and millions upon millions of flowers that are tended to daily. If you walk just past the conservatory on your right is a crepe shop with a chocolate fountain that recycles 24/7 and is a fun photo. Go see a show! There are sooo many amazing shows: Absinthe infront of Cesars is under a small tent and mixes cirqu, adult humor, comedy, and exotic all in one small space but with a BIG result. Bellagio show O is a classic beautiful aquatic that incorperates water, swings and cirqu talent. *If you are into fitness and okay with renting a car or an expensive Uber, go to Red Rock Canyon and do a morning hike or a sunset hike before indulging in dinner and drinks. If you have a love for water sports vs pools, you can rent a speed boat and captain as needed on Lake Mead (30 minute drive) and enjoy blue water, tubing, water sking/surfing/boarding. 

9. How to survive the long weekend:

 Thursday- Settle into your hotel, walk around the couple hotels to the right and left of yours to get your bearings. Go for an early dinner with a cocktail or glass of wine (your baseline intake, it is going to be a long weekend), then go for a cirqu show, go home rest. 

Friday- Go to your hotel gym for a morning workout, grab room service and head to your hotel pool around 10:00am. Relax it is vacation, right? Have a glass of champagne with your loved one/friends, order lunch at the pool. Stay at the pool until about 1pm. Go home, shower, change and walk over to Cesar Palace Forum Shops for some shopping, then walk down the Linq area to check out the High Roller wheel (just walking up to it is cool). Head back around 5:30pm take a 30 minue nap, shower and get fancy for dinner at STK. Have an awesome dinner around 7:30pm and then head over to Hyde before 9pm. Enjoy open seating and order a handcrafted cocktail until it turns into a lounge, then seatting is reserved for table service. Stay until 11:30pm and work the dance floor. Go home get some sleep.

Saturday- Wake up and swim some laps in the pool go for brunch at Todd English, enjoy a Bloody Mary. Or skip the work out and sleep in. After brunch around 9 am, head to Drais Pool Club. Bring a hat, and SPF, unless you want to pay $500 you will not have your own shady retrieve. The pool will slowly build in people and in energy and music. Go early to reserve a spot for you stuff and get a drink quickly (be aware of your "level" of alchol intake, so easy to over drink and be useless the rest of the night). This will turn into a party! Stay until about 2pm, go home nap for 1 hour and then shower. Wake up change and go to Lavo for dinner around 7pm. After dinner walk upstairs and then down he hall of mirrors and running sinks. Next walk over to the Wynn Hotel, it is walkable. Find the Parasol Down it is an area with two sets of elevators that spiral down around a bar and there is a water show just outside around 9:00pm (free). Sit outside there or go back up the escalators and there is a hidden side entrance that takes you to the upper balcony where you have a private bartender and seating to see that same water show. Play some cards afterward, if you are not "lucky" set yourself a limit of $20-$100 to gamble with. Wait in taxi line to go back to your hotel and get some sleep. 

Sunday- Go for a morning spa treatment at the Mandarin Oriental hotel or sleep in and walk over to the Bellagio for their delicious brunch buffet. Head to the Cosmo Boulavard pool 10am and stay until 1:30pm get that pool drink or two in! Go explore another hotel Mandalay Bay/Delano lobby is beautiful, Luxor (Pyramid) short taxi ride. Head home and take a nice nap, shower change for dinner. Before dinner walk through the old down town Las Vegas when it is dark (10 - 15 minute taxi ride), cool lights above. Grab that cheap drink at Common Wealth or hold off for later. Head to Vinetian for Sushi Samba dinner around 8pm. After dinner Head to Mandalay Bay Hotel for lounge, patio strip views and a cigar if you desire. Reflect on your trip thus far as you look out over the entire strip, have one last celebratory cocktail with loved ones. Head home when the night/morning takes saunters you back to your hotel room. 

Monday- Sleep in...when you wake up check in for your flight if you have not already done so the night before. Drink something without alcohol in it, and eat a good brunch. Walk to any last minute places you did not get to see, or if you really did well and have the energy and an evening flight back, go for a nice hike at Red Rock (plan on 3 hours of time needed for an hour of hiking and getting there/back). Get home safe, and HOPEFULLY you do not need a vacation from your vacation in Las Vegas!

Welcome to Istanbul, Turkey! 

I am choosing a dark olive green color to write with in symbolism of the widely used olive oil and olives in Turkish cuisine. Ahhh Istanbul, what a very very different holiday destination. In all of my travels throughout being on the European side of Turkey not the Asian side, Turkey had a very distinguished look to its architecture and the food is absolutely different. If you like "Greek" food you will be in heaven. 

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