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Old 10-19-2016, 03:26 PM   #1
Bloobird
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Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Hi! I'm Bloobird, a 27 year old Brit with some mediocre poker skillz and a real love for Vegas. I'm back again for a ten day solo trip this November, four nights in San Diego followed by five nights in Vegas! I did a trip report of my previous trip last year, read it here if you want a taster of what this is going to be like. As with that trip, this will not be the place for you if you're hoping for DEGEN ACTION and STRIP CLUBS because, yeah, that's not my scene. On the other hand, if you're happy with FOOD PORN and LOW STAKES POKER and OVERLY WORDY NONSENSE then stick around, we might be able to work something out.

Ze Plan

I'm flying out on the 5th November from London to San Diego. I'm reaping the rewards of a year or so of credit card churning and using my airmiles to fly first class, because I don't get too many chances to take trips like this on my own and goddamn if I'm not going to enjoy every minute of it.

I'm then staying in San Diego from the 5th to the 9th, in an AirBnB in the South Park region. My plans for this time include seeing the sights and the beaches, doing a bit of hiking, eating loads of delicious food, and indulging as much as possible during San Diego Beer Week. Oh, and finding somewhere to lolTrump from on Election Night.

On the 9th I'm then driving from San Diego up to Vegas (would welcome any recommendations for anything to see on the drive), where I've got two nights booked at the Mirage followed by three nights at Mandalay Bay (I got some deals on both that made changing hotels mid-trip worth the bit of hassle, and I'll have the car so it won't be too hard to move my stuff over).

Plans for Vegas include plenty of poker (1/2 and 1/3, maybe 2/5 if I run good during the first few days), plenty of delicious delicious food (I have a very long list that I need to narrow down), seeing as many of the sights as possible, going to two more Cirque shows (thanks to MyVegas comped tickets), and a healthy amount of drinking (depending on your definition of healthy).

oh, and if anyone's around in San Diego from the 5th to the 8th or Vegas from the 9th to the 13th, give me a shout if you fancy a beer/meal/whatever, always up for meeting 2+2ers when I'm travelling solo

Trip Report

Should be semi-live, I found typing these things up over breakfast fun enough last time.

In advance of having anything to post so far, can I recommend In Nevada by David Thomson for anyone else who loves reading about Vegas when they can't be there. Ignore the negative Amazon reviews, this captures some of the magic of Nevada to those of us who only see that part of the world rarely.
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Old 10-19-2016, 04:16 PM   #2
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Enjoy
That BA flight SAN to Heathrow is great. Haven't done First, but business class is always great.
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Old 10-19-2016, 05:34 PM   #3
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Just a thought and maybe too late now your plans are in place, but consider breaking up your SD-LV trip with a visit to Palm Springs. You can research yourself why it's worth it but as a regular west coast visitor I'd recommend it.
Been to SD many times - can recommend Point Loma lighthouse to get a panorama of the city which really puts it into perspective..
Pay a visit to Old Town and taste some of the best Mexican food north of the border.
SD zoo is worth a visit, the old Gas Town, La Jolla, call into Oceans 11 cardroom Oceanside, go horse racing at Del Mar - so much more to do.
I didn't find the drive SD-LV particularly inspiring apart from the amazing landscapes that you see. Plenty of native American casinos to pop into.
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Old 10-20-2016, 07:37 PM   #4
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

I would go to hamiltons bar if your in to beers on tap. its close to you in south park. if u want to see the ocean and girls I would go to pacific beach, pb ale house and shore club are hot spots for drinks views and football. pb is a nice spot. light house is alright but I like sunset cliffs more, its close and easy. seven mile has a nice card room its about 15 min away from ya. also park house eatery or hash house(although they have one in vegas also), for breakfast. tons of good spots for tacos, city tacos in north parks is cool a little different and taco el gordo is a staple(also have some in vegas) yelp is your friend. can always pm me im in north park a lot over the weekends. also some nice golf courses if your into that. the drive between vegas and san diego blows nothing worth stopping for that's better then san diego or vegas.
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Old 10-21-2016, 02:24 AM   #5
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

San Diego has so much good beer, you'll have a great time. If you only visit one brewery, consider AleSmith. Fantastic beer, really the best in San Diego, and a gorgeous tasting room. Sure, there are plenty of others to visit, but everything they make at AleSmith is near perfect in every style.
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Old 10-26-2016, 02:44 PM   #6
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Ten days to go...

Thanks for the San Diego tips above! My current plan is to hit up the Stone Beer & Cheese Festival on the Sunday, spend Monday exploring downtown and the park area, and then head up to hike around Torrey Pines and visit La Jolla on Tuesday before finding somewhere closer to home to drink heavily and watch the election results.

but who knows really, I'm not exactly one for sticking to a schedule, and the fact that being able to just choose what I want to do and do it straight away is a bit of a novelty right now is a lot of the reason I really need a holiday

babies are lovely but they are pretty damn restrictive, which shouldn't really be news to anyone

It's weird, I've been massively anticipating this trip all year, but now that it's really close, I'm not feeling quite as excited as I expected to. Maybe because I'm just so damn busy that I've not had so much time to get excited, maybe because my attempts to both find a new job (current one is fine but dull) and a new house (Mrs Bloo is pregnant again, current house is fine for one Baby Bloo but not big enough for two) have both not really got anywhere over the last couple of months, maybe just that it still doesn't entirely seem real.

who knows

I'm sure it's gonna be great anyway
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Old 10-31-2016, 06:43 PM   #7
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Hey, I'm in Vegas until the 13th, if you want to grab a beer.

Also congrats on baby #2!
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Old 11-01-2016, 10:15 AM   #8
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Pregaming

Well, as you may be aware from this and my previous Trip Report, I'm a bit of a MyVegas whore, and that's come into play again. For the unaware, MyVegas is a free Facebook slot game where you can earn loyalty points that can be converted into real world 'prizes'. A lot of the prizes are pretty mediocre, but at the higher end there is some genuinely valuable stuff, and the game doesn't require much interaction and is pretty easy to run in the background during the working day. For my upcoming trip, I've got hold of free tickets for Love and Zumanity, along with one free night in Mandalay Bay. Not bad for a stupid free game I spend five minutes a day on.

Anyway, I noticed today that they'd changed the prices on their free bet prizes for the London Hippodrome, and while they're meant to be one/person/lifetime, I figured that the price change might make the system recognise them as a new reward, so tried to cash in for another £75 of free bets. And whaddaya know, it worked! So I wandered over there this lunchtime to play it through and hopefully boost my poker roll a little.

Took it to the roulette table, and started out at £15 a time on the second dozen. As soon as I put my bet down, an elderly Asian man wandered over and started jabbering on to me in what I will assume was Chinese, and put £25 of his own on the same bet. First spin hit, and he grinned, and jabbered some more. But for some reason, despite this auspicious start, he then consistently bet against me (while gesticulating that my bets were wrong and I should place them elsewhere). So while I ran good and turned my £75 of freeplay into a decent bit more, he got cleaned out. Shouldn't have lost faith in me, old man. But he still seemed happy enough about it all anyway, and shook my hand before wandering off.

In for £75 of free bets, out for...



£145, not bad! Although as I descended into the Tube, I couldn't help but feel that that seemed a bit wrong. I'd been betting multiples of £5 on bets that paid out 2-1, no way should I have ended up with an odd amount of money at the end. And for some reason, my coat was clinking a bit. And, huh, there was a hole in my coat's pocket lining, and when I eventually reached down into the bottom of the coat...



welp, lolme

back up the escalator and into the casino to cash that out as well, ultimately that's £160 from £75 of freeplay, so basically a $200 boost to my poker roll for this trip

let's hope that that's starting as I'm going to go on

FOUR DAYS TO GO! Just walking into a casino again got me a lot more hyped for this trip already, something about the smell of the place and the feel of chips is just invigorating.
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Old 11-01-2016, 10:17 AM   #9
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonkDonkDonkDonk View Post
Hey, I'm in Vegas until the 13th, if you want to grab a beer.

Also congrats on baby #2!
Definitely up for a beer! Let me work out my other plans a little, but would be great to catch up on your travels.

And thanks!
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Old 11-04-2016, 08:20 AM   #10
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

ONE DAY TO GO! (advance warning - this update mainly consists of first world problems)

So, this morning started with me finally getting the good news I'd been waiting for for a little while...



That purple line under November 14? That means Virgin Atlantic have FINALLY released an Upper Class reward flight for that date (srsly, I've been checking this every day since about January). And so all I need to do is ring up and upgrade my booking.

First phone call: Time spent on hold - 20 minutes

The very friendly operator explains that since I paid for this flight using miles from my wife's account, then any upgrade would also need to come out of her account. Which is empty. Bugger. Let's hang up and try again.

Second phone call: Time spent on hold - 20 minutes

The even more friendly operator tells me everything the previous operator told me. Guess it's time to go see if I can get miles into her account at short notice. A quick look online, and it looks like the only feasible way will be to pay a fee to transfer some miles over from my account. It's an absurd ripoff, but **** it, it's worth it to be able to get the upgrade. I transfer the miles over and ring again...

Third phone call: Time spent on hold - 10 minutes

This time I accidentally turn my phone onto mute with my face while waiting on hold, and don't realise what I've done until after the operator gives up and hangs up on me. Whoops.

Fourth phone call: Time spent on hold - 10 minutes

The very friendly operator explains that as I am not an authorised user on my wife's account, I am not able to upgrade my flight using miles from her account. I plead that the flight was originally booked using that account, and that I transferred the miles out of my account into her account for this. No dice. My wife needs to ring up and tell them to add me onto her account. Welp, guess I'm calling home then. She generally regards this whole airmiles thing as a mild eccentricity on my part that she tolerates but doesn't want to encourage, so I'm not convinced she's going to be enthusiastic about making the phone call.

Fifth phone call: Time spent on hold - n/a

my wife is rubbish at picking up her phone

Sixth phone call: Time spent on hold - n/a

come on

Sixth phone call: Time spent on hold - n/a

ok fine let's give up on this, time for plan b

Talk to the PAs that sit opposite me and ask if one of them would be OK pretending to be my wife on the phone. Turns out they're perfectly happy to be accomplices to a minor fraud, and so I write down all the answers to my wife's security questions, and ring up the helpline again, ready to hand the phone over once I'm off hold.

Seventh phone call: Time spent on hold - 5 minutes

The PA lies like a champ and gets me added onto the account. I thank her profusely and then pick up the phone for what has to be one last time, yes?

Eighth phone call: Time spent on hold - 5 minutes

The operator remains friendly, and at last everything goes through nice and smoothly.

So all in all that's eight phone calls and 70 minutes spent on hold, but I got the damn upgrade in the end. Totally worth it to be able to actually sleep on the flight home.

now I need to actually get some work done today before I'm out of the office for over a week
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Old 11-04-2016, 08:32 AM   #11
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Haha I love the upgrade story. Have fun!
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Old 11-06-2016, 09:41 AM   #12
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Live from San Diego, it's Bloobird!

So Saturday finally came around, after bidding the wife and baby Bloo a fond farewell, I was off on my way! I spent the Tube journey to Heathrow playing a game featuring someone with a curiously familiar face...



Anyway, the airport is where the magic starts. I do really love flying premium classes, it's one of those indulgences that I recognise is largely just minor perks and people blowing smoke up your ass, but **** it, it's great. Turning 12 or so hours of my life from a chore into a pleasure is definitely worth all that time building up airmiles. And the first real perk was a pre-flight massage at the airport spa.



This was about as good as you could realistically hope for from a 15 minute back massage over clothes, but hey, it was 'free'. After the massage, it was off to the Concorde Room to see how much top-shelf alcohol I could get through before the flight, and start a bit of holiday reading (pretty sure this was recommended by someone here on LVL, cheers for that, it's been a fun read so far).



After a while I realised I hadn't really eaten all day, and looking at the menu a BBQ style pulled turkey roll with sage and onion stuffing sounded bizarre enough that I had to try it.



Turns out it was really tasty! Couldn't really taste the stuffing tbh, but BBQ flavoured meat in a roll with slaw and pickle can't really go far wrong. By this point I'd moved off the champagne onto the Johnny Walker Blue. Which was a very nice dram, but still not something I fall in love with like the peaty taste of the Islay whiskies.

I was pretty damn happy at this point, but it always surprises me how many people look so miserable despite the luxury. There was an old couple sitting at the table over, and the woman spent the whole time in the lounge playing some slots game on her iPad with a sour look on her face. Didn't talk to her husband outside of saying she wanted a coffee, didn't eat anything...what's the point of flying First if you're not going to enjoy it, dammit?

Eventually my time in the lounge came to an end, and it was time to take my seat. I'd been quick off the line when check-in opened, so I'd managed to bag myself another bucket-list item - seat 1A on a 747.



They had some Air on the in-flight entertainment, which was just perfect for take-off listening. La Femme D'Argent hit as we left the ground, and when you're moderately drunk and setting off on holiday, listening to that and watching the world out the window shrink away is just ****ing euphoric. The window views in general were goddamn incredible, even if for most of the flight all I could see were clouds. But what clouds!



The flight was great....for about eight of the eleven hours. I ate pretty well (you're never going to get restaurant standard food in a plane, even in First, but what I ate was certainly tasty enough), drank extremely well (Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle mainly, but with a nice post-dinner Drambuie), rewatched The Grand Budapest Hotel (one of my absolute favourite films, not normally a big Wes Anderson fan but he nailed it with this one), and watched a couple of TV shows (and was sadly reminded about how much new Top Gear sucks).

Then eventually I think the lack of sleep, the dry, recirculated air and most importantly the ~12 hours of drinking caught up with me, and I started feeling pretty terrible. Headachey, nauseous, and just generally not all that happy. No idea what I could have done to bring that on. I watched Zootropolis to try and take my mind off it, which was enjoyable enough, but really I'd got to the point where I just wanted to be off the plane and be somewhere more suitable to being tired and hungover.

Fortunately, we landed on time, and security was super quick (I guess there's a blessing to landing at one of the smaller international airports), so all I had to do was grab a 15 minute taxi. And then the taxi driver proceeded to get utterly lost trying to find my AirBnB. Apparently the roads in South Park just mysteriously stop occasionally for canyons and stuff, and you've got to find a way around them. He didn't even know how to use his GPS properly, which was kinda annoying. We got there eventually, but what should have been a 15 minute ride had taken more like 45 minutes, when all I wanted to do was just collapse and go to sleep. He was good enough to turn the meter off when it was obvious he'd got lost and just charge me a flat $25 for the ride, which seems reasonable based on my googling now.

I forget how spoiled we are with London cabbies tbh. Insta-downloaded Lyft this morning, guess I'll use that to get around until I pick up the rental car on Monday (I'd correctly figured I'd be in no state to drive after the flight, in a rare moment of forward thinking).

Anyway, the AirBnB seems pretty nice, not that big but perfectly adequate for me on my own. Surprisingly quiet area given we're only a little way out from the city centre. I'm writing this now at about 5am because my brain's still on London time. Woke up 2 hours ago, and I've given up on getting back to sleep. Hopefully I should adjust to the time jump over the next couple of days - a 10 hour time difference is a bit of a killer.

So, the plans for today are to wait until it's actually light, explore the local area and find a convenience store to stock up on essentials, and then head to the Stone Beer and Cheese tasting. Because more alcohol is definitely what I need.
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Old 11-06-2016, 01:23 PM   #13
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

hope the hangover passes quickly and welcome to the USA!
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Old 11-06-2016, 02:47 PM   #14
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Please make sure to hit Buona Forchetta while in South Park
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Old 11-07-2016, 09:53 AM   #15
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

oh hey guess who woke up at 3am again today

this goddamn time difference is going to be the end of me

Anyway, at least it gives me downtime to write this stuff up. So after waiting until daylight actually arrived yesterday, I went for a wander around South Park. And it turns out San Diego is really very pretty!





I went to LA six years ago (I was going to say 'a few years' before realising that wait, no, ****, that was actually a long time ago now), and was utterly unimpressed, I thought it was a total dump. For us Brits, LA is presented as being the epitome of California, somewhere glamorous and sunny and chilled out and idyllic. It's inescapable culture-wise given how much television and films and music we import from the States. Well, as I found out, that's not the case. Probably the biggest disappointment of any city I've been to. And I've talked to plenty of other Brits who also thought it was a ****hole.

But, a couple of years ago, and I can't remember if it was in real life or on this forum, I was bemoaning LA for reasons that are lost in the fog of time, and someone said 'oh yeah, if you want that real southern California feel, San Diego's the place to go, it's like how Brits think LA should be'. And it turns out they were completely right. This is what I expected from California - palm trees, beautiful weather, places you might actually want to walk around in, friendly coffee shops that will sell you absurdly oversized muffins at 6:30am...



I spent a good 2-3 hours wandering around, mainly up and down 30th street where most of the shops and restaurants seemed to be. One of the things I always enjoy on holiday is looking around supermarkets in other countries, for that 'familiar but also different' thing where you try and understand a culture that wants to be able to buy 30 different kinds of kombucha (whatever that is), but only three different kinds of juice. Plus, I needed some toiletries. Oh, and at one point I took a little sidetrack down into a canyon for a while (if I see a trail wandering into a canyon it's pretty hard to resist the urge to go investigate, but it didn't seem to lead anywhere that interesting).



It hit 8am while I was down in the canyon, and from...somewhere, I don't know where, the Star Spangled Banner started playing. Is this a thing, to blast the national anthem out over public tannoy on a Sunday morning? Because it kinda reminded me of the Fallout games. Anyway, after a bit I retraced my way back to my room, rang my wife to check how everything was going on at home, and then went looking for what I'll claim was brunch to pretend like I'm eating meals at a regular time. I'd heard good things about the Mariscos food trucks, and as luck would have it there was one in the parking lot of a nearby Target. I got the Baja Trio - three tacos, one each of fried fish, fried shrimp and smoked marlin.



The smoked marlin wasn't really me tbh - a real salty flavour that kinda overwhelmed everything. Chucking chili sauce on it made it taste of salty, spicy fish, which was a bit better, but still wouldn't go for it again. But the fish and shrimp tacos were top notch - fresh, full of flavour, and not too heavy. At $7 for three generously proportioned tacos, it seemed like pretty solid value. Washed it down with a kombucha I'd picked up to try and work out why San Diego seems so mad for the stuff. It's basically just hipster iced tea, right? Someone's just made Lipton's with less sugar, put it in a glass bottle, and sold it at a 500% markup. Oh, and the nutritional information told me it had 11,200% of my RDA of Vitamin B12, lolwut.

ANYWAY IT IS BEER TIME NOW. A quick Lyft over, and I was in for my afternoon of beer, cheese and other nonsense. This was actually a really nice event. Compared to beer festivals I've been to in the UK, I was unsurprised that the crowd was generally younger, but a bit more surprised to see a far more even split of men and women than you'd ever get at a UK beer festival.



Only one guy there has a beard as well, what kind of beer festival do you call this? I was probably there for over four hours, working my way around the various stands. Virtually all the beer was in excess of 7% ABV, and probably about a quarter of it broke the 10% ABV line, which means that my memory of exactly what I drank is a little hazy. But I do remember the Alesmith Horny Devil being particularly good, along with the Stone 20th Anniversary Citracado. What was really great was that all the cheese and other nibbles were top notch too, the 'pairings' seemed somewhat arbitrary tbh, but there was plenty of it and it was all delicious. I think the chili goat cheese you can see below was possibly my favourite, but everything was great. All in all it was an extremely pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Didn't seem to be many other foreigners in attendance, apart from a group of Australians (who were both as friendly and as wrecked as you'd expect a group of ozzies at a beer festival to be).





Anyway, once this wound down and I'd finished exploring the Stone store in general, I came to the realisation that I was pretty damn tired, and for some reason I didn't want anything more to eat or drink. So I headed back to my room to watch Oakland play Denver, because, hey, I enjoy a good game of 'football' every now and again, and it's pretty hard to follow over in the UK. Barely kept my eyes open to the end of the game (my arbitrary decision to support Oakland because I was in California was vindicated though), and was dead to the world before 9pm. Feeling better about my decision not to go straight to Vegas, tbh. Hopefully by the time I get there my body clock will have sorted itself out.

Today - exploring Balboa Park and downtown, picking up my rental car, and hopefully staying awake long enough to actually head out for dinner somewhere. Buena Forchetta looks like a decent recommendation, cheers, will consider that if I'm in the mood for Italian.

Also trying to work out whether it's best to watch the election tomorrow night in a bar, or back in my room on the TV. The bar should have a bit more atmosphere, but then back here I can follow all the online fallout a lot more easily, which should be fun if Hillary does win fairly comfortably.
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Old 11-09-2016, 11:40 AM   #16
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

two days

one update

Monday

So Monday started far too early, given I was wide awake at 3am again. But fortunately there was a coffee shop nearby that opened super early, so I went there to sit and caffeinate. Kind of a weird place tbh, had a shabby hipsterish vibe about it but then everyone else I saw there was at least ten years older than me. They had a piano that someone actually played for a bit. Who does that? Not entirely convinced this place was real and not just my imagination.



Once I'd made it to a more sensible time in the morning, I headed downtown for a proper decadent American breakfast. Pork belly eggs benedict should do the trick...



Actually this was kind of a disappointment tbh. Too sweet, and had a weird flavour on the pork that I couldn't identify but didn't really get on with, it reminded me of some kinda odd sweet or something. It was meant to be maple glazed but I definitely wasn't tasting maple. Oh well.

After that I spent a lot of time wandering around downtown, poking my head into shops and attractions. I started off in the Gaslamp District, then wandered through Seaport Village, up along the shoreline past the USS Midway, and then on into Little Italy. And it was all very, well, nice. Nothing there that made me go 'oh wow this is incredible', nothing that piqued my interest enough for me to linger too long at it, but just a nice US downtown area.









lunch was a salad in an attempt to slightly compensate for the sheer calories I'd eaten for breakfast, although I'm not sure this salad is particularly healthy either. Oh well, it was tasty.



After lunch, I wandered around a bit more, before heading to pick up my rental car. Now, last time I drove in America, I found it a bit terrifying for the first couple of days, but fortunately Vegas was really easy to drive in. Whereas in San Diego, I wandered straight onto the Interstate out of the car rental and felt very much



I always feel a bit confused driving an automatic, I keep looking for a clutch that isn't there and worrying about stalling. I'll get the hang of it yet. Anyway, eventually me and my new trusty Ford Fiesta made it back to the house with only minor diversions from the intended route.



after that, I needed a beer to calm my nerves, so I headed over to Thorn St Brewing in North Park, where they were doing some kind of beer and chocolate matching:



The beer wasn't super great if I'm honest. It was fine, it was beer and perfectly drinkable, but tasted surprisingly thin for stuff that was 7%+. The chocolates were good. I hadn't planned on staying, but then I got chatting to another guy sitting at the bar (this is one of the things I love about America, being able to actually strike up a conversation with a stranger without looking like a weirdo), and hung around chatting and drinking and watching Monday Night Football until I was too tired to do anything other than stumble home and fall into a drunken stupor.

Tuesday

oh thank god I slept through until 6am

unfortunately the blinds in this airbnb apartment are ****, so seems unlikely I'm gonna manage to sleep past then

Anyway, the plan for today was to head out to La Jolla, and just chill out on the beach there. Which is what I did. Not a super exciting day, but a very enjoyable one - thought La Jolla was a really nice little town overall, and the beaches were great for lounging and people watching. This couple won my award for 'best Californian stereotype'.



oh, and there were seals, which was kinda cool



lunch was a pretty good pizza in a place I forget the name of, I'd skipped breakfast so was too hungry to take a photo before eating a quarter of it



and then I headed back home in the mid-afternoon, picked up a six pack of Alesmith .394 beer (highly recommended, this was ****ing lovely beer), some snacks, and set myself up to watch the election results come in

which, hah, good job america

I guess this about summed it up:
Quote:
BRITAIN: Brexit is the stupidest, most self-destructive act a country could undertake.
USA: Hold my beer.
like I posted on here last night, I'm less SHOOK than I expected to be, guess I've got somewhat inured to this kinda thing a little after the last two years of election results in the UK, here's hoping he turns out a bit less awful than I feared

anyway, I'm off to Vegas now, which is probably one of the better places to be when the real world might have just gone to ****

not gonna let this kill my holiday vibe
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Old 11-09-2016, 12:14 PM   #17
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Loving this trip report. Detailed, lots of picture, and a jet-lag I can relate to as a fellow European who travels semi-regularly to LA/Vegas.

Enjoy the trip and good luck in Vegas!
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Old 11-09-2016, 02:15 PM   #18
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)


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Old 11-09-2016, 03:01 PM   #19
crystalcitygangsta
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

I'm actually in Vegas on vacation right now but am driving out to San Diego tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon to spend a couple of days there. Any suggestions - in particular on breweries and restaurants? Here are a list of places I'll probably/possibly be checking out but any other suggestions very welcome, thanks:

Breweries: Alpine Beer, Ale Smith, Ballast Point
Balboa Park
Del Mar (race track)
Phil's BBQ (have been here before and it was excellent)
possibly Pizza Port (have been here before and liked it a lot)

any other suggestions welcome, thanks! not too much of a beach person so not considering heading out to the beach (except maybe to drink LOL)...
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Old 11-09-2016, 06:53 PM   #20
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Great TR Bloobird keep it coming.

SD is a beautiful city and I agree with you that it is more of the California that us Brits have come to believe through a childhood of west coast US TV shows/music.

I have to LOL at hiring a car in the states and getting a Ford Fiesta. C'mon really! Take it back and get something bigger.

That picture of La Jolla beach captures it well.
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Old 11-10-2016, 09:23 AM   #21
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Very enjoyable read so far.

Would you mind going into some detail on the credit card churning to rack up the airmiles please?
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Old 11-10-2016, 12:10 PM   #22
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Flyertalk.com is the best place to learn about credit card churn.
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Old 11-10-2016, 12:50 PM   #23
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloobird View Post
One of the things I always enjoy on holiday is looking around supermarkets in other countries, for that 'familiar but also different' thing where you try and understand a culture that wants to be able to buy 30 different kinds of kombucha (whatever that is), but only three different kinds of juice.
Haha, I do exactly the same thing. It's both thrilling and frustrating when you're searching for that one item you take for granted where you come from that is just not a thing in another culture. You can learn an awful lot about the place you're visiting by wandering their grocery aisles.

Enjoying the trip report, hope you have a great time in Vegas. No need to worry about the election results, you will be well gone by the time our new president takes office and institutes the Purge.
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Old 11-10-2016, 02:29 PM   #24
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Wednesday

Wednesday was my day of travel, and following my outstanding navigational prowess last time I was driving in the States, I'd actually bothered to sort out my phone's GPS this time, which made life a million times easier. Although it was a fairly simple drive overall (get on interstate, drive for five hours, get off interstate), I'd planned a couple of pit-stops on the way, mainly prompted by one of my favourite threads to lurk on 2+2.

So, half an hour into my drive, I pulled up outside a Chick-Fil-A to see just what all the hype was about. Chicken biscuit, hash browns, honey mustard, let's do this.



Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand I don't get it. Not that this was bad at all - it was solidly enjoyable, would be very happy to eat it for breakfast again, and it does probably beat any other fast food breakfast I've had (although I'd definitely take a proper bacon roll with brown sauce over it). Just maybe a bit overhyped compared to the actual thing itself, which was perfectly serviceable but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

Anyway, back on the interstate. Once I was out of the San Diego sprawl, the driving got a lot easier and the scenery a lot more interesting. I do love just how far you can see a lot of the time in America, it really does lead to some stunning views. And there's so many of them that they just seem to get taken for granted! I drove past easily more than 25 vistas that, were they in the UK, would have been an attraction in their own right, with a tea room and one of those signs that tells you what the things way off in the distance are. Here it was just another view from the road.

I made it into Barstow by 12, and then stopped for my second American fast food adventure. Surely after Chick Fil-A was a minor disappointment, In N Out burger won't let me down, right? Double-double animal style, coming right up...



OK yeah this delivered 100%, this is everything I could possibly want a burger to be. Genuinely can't believe there's fast food restaurants putting out burgers this good, I've paid north of £10 for burgers that can't hold a candle to this in the UK, this is just...wow. I was actually expecting this one to be overhyped, to be 'just a burger', and yeah, it is just a burger, but it absolutely blew me away. I'm actually considering heading to the In N Out in Vegas for another one, that's how good it was. BELIEVE THE HYPE.

so after that religious experience, I drove on towards Vegas through the great nothingness of the Mojave. Having now arrived in Vegas by three different methods for my three different journies (bus from LA the first time, flight the second time, and now by car), car is definitely the best one. You get that proper build of excitement as it gets closer and closer, you can listen to the ****ty radio stations that are specifically broadcasting to people driving to Vegas (I love that this is a thing that exists), going past the slightly sad-looking casinos in places like Primm just gets you more and more excited until you hit town. And then you park the car and realise with a moment of clarity that destroys all of your excitement in one go that you left your coat in the AirBnB in San Diego.

bugger. I liked that coat.

OK, fine, check in, email the AirBnB woman and see if she can post the coat on to me so I can have it back before I fly home, and try to ignore the feeling that my vibe's been totally squashed. The room at the Mirage is fine but nothing to get excited about, with a reasonable view of the Strip (who likes badly taken photos where I'm holding my hand out of the window and trying not to drop my phone?).



Anyway, I came here to play poker, so let's go get on that, with any luck I'll win a few pots and things'll be looking a bit better. I headed down to the room at the Mirage - this was closed last time I was in Vegas, and I thought I'd quite like to check it out, and it's a nice easy option for my first session.

Poker Session One: Mirage

This was pretty much the opposite of an action table, and mainly a load of old men shuffling the chips around. However, it was a pretty friendly, chatty table, and that'd do for me for now, and it's far easier to start off with a passive, low-variance game.

My stack dwindled a bit early on, after one awful piece of play where I floated someone out of position with air on a low board and folded to his turn shove. The first decent hand I got was AQo in the CO (although we were 4 handed at this point, so I guess I was UTG?). I raised to $10, and only the BTN called, a really nice guy who worked on his family's farm in Oklahoma. The flop came QQ9, I bet out $12 and he called. The turn was a second 9. I figured it was going to be hard to get value by betting here, but figured he'd never check back a boat, so check/called $20, with the intention of check/raising river. Unfortunately he checked it back and showed Ace high, not sure I really can get any more money out of him there.

A few rounds later I'm holding K2o in the BB and end up in a five-way limped pot. I flop two pair and bet it pretty aggressively, but correctly shut down when the river counterfeits me and probably lose the minimum to a guy who'd been calling down with TPWK.

Then, sitting in the SB, I call $7 with 22, and we go five ways to the beautiful flop of A72r. I check/call $15 from the pre-flop raiser (standard old-man nit), and Oklahoma in the BB comes along as well. I check the 4 on the turn, and Oklahoma bets out $30. The old-man folds, and I fake tank before making a raise to 80. He puts it all in, and I didn't come to Vegas to fold sets. River is a blank, he flips up A4o, and I show him the bad news. Was sad to bust him out really, because he was a properly nice guy, and had been really fun to chat to for the last couple of hours.



Won one more medium pot when I made it $25 pre with Queens, got called twice, and then took it down with a cbet, but by then it was gone 7pm, and I was starting to feel a bit hungry, that burger was a long time ago now. In for $300, cashed out for $527, so a nice $227 profit on my first session, pretty much entirely from that hand with ducks. I'll take it! And, even better, the AirBnB host had got in touch to let me know she'd be happy to post the coat back to me if I paid the postage, which almost put me in a better mood than the win. It's not a super expensive coat or anything (although worth more than the postage obv), it just fits really well, and is the first coat I've ever owned that I've REALLY liked, so I'd be sad to see it left behind in a city where no-one would even have a need for it ever.

Thanks to taking advantage of the Crown and Anchor deal (protip - for anyone like me who has no real status with any Vegas casinos, this deal can often work out as a really good offer, particularly for shorter stays), I had $150 resort credit to burn through in my two nights at the Mirage, so it was off to Japanais for dinner, because it seemed like the most interesting of the options available. Sat up at the bar, which is always nice to be able to do - it does make being a lone diner seem a lot less awkward.

I started out with a soba noodle salad, mainly because, uh, soba noodles were a major plot point in one of the cases in the most Phoenix Wright games, and I've never tried them and LOOK DON'T JUDGE ME OK



Pleased I went with this choice for totally arbitrary reasons, as it was delicious - relatively light but very flavourful, and a decent amount of it for a <$10 starter in a Strip restaurant. For the main, I'd gone for Le Quack Japonais, because I always find it very hard to choose something else if duck is an option on the menu.



The photo doesn't show the flatbread that came with this - you basically assembled your own wraps from the duck, greenery, hoi sin sauce and the mango salsa (this was really nice btw, had a decent kick to it). This was good but not great - and at $34 list price, I'd been maybe hoping for something that blew me away a little more. Although it was apparently intended for two. Oops. I was feeling pretty damn full after finishing this, and so decided it'd be good to walk my dinner off a bit before heading back to the poker tables.

So, I had a nice walk down the Strip (walking the Strip at night remains excellent just every time I've done it, it's warm, there's tonnes to look at, and you overhear all manner of gloriously stupid drunk conversations). Obligatory Strip photos are below.





Once my stomach was feeling a bit less distended, I wandered into Planet Hollywood, as I'd heard some good things about their 1/2 game. And even if it wasn't a great game, it overlooks their party pit, so you can watch some of the most disinterested, grumpy looking table dancers I've seen.

Poker Session Two: Planet Hollywood

I sat down, and got a seat on the right a guy who introduced himself as Bobby. Two things became obvious within about a minute of sitting down. Firstly was that Bobby was a bit of an *******. An aging guido stereotype, he wanted to be the big man at the table, and was wandering back and forth between friendly chattiness and slightly more aggressive posturing. Secondly was that Bobby was a massive, massive fish. He wanted to be the big man at the table, running people over, calling things blind, trying to bully people out of pots...all that kind of stuff.

Third hand in, I look down at AKs under the gun, and raise to $12. Bobby 3bets it up to $40 instantly, and the SB calls. I'm on $200, the SB has probably $100ish total, and Bobby covers. I fake-tank for a second and then shove it in. Both snapcall. Board runs out with an ace on it, and that's enough for me to take it down against T8o and 85o. This is going to be a fun table.



And so it continues, really. The table's split between three types of player. Bobby is the first type, a being to himself. There's then myself and a couple of other competent players who are at least full-stacked and playing stack-a-donk with Bobby. And then there's the rest, a load of loose-passive guys who mostly have <$100, and who are getting utterly run over by Bobby's aggression.

As you can expect, it's a high variance game. I go card dead for a while and slowly bleed chips away, while Bobby catches a few cards and quickly runs his stack up to $1500 or so (although he's in for not much less than that at this point).

A couple of hours in, I look down at A7ss in the SB in a rare limped pot. It's easy to see when Bobby's preparing to bet, he's not doing anything, so I complete, and we go five ways to the flop of K62ss. It checks around to the BTN who bets $11, which everyone calls. Turn is the beautiful 9 of spades. I check, and Bobby throws out $30, to which everyone else folds. I hem and haw a bit, and then make it $100, hoping he goes mad with some pair+flush drawn hand or something. He gives me the speech about 'I know you ain't got it', and calls. River is the Ace of diamonds. He asks if I want to check it down, and I tell him I'm not going to be able to do that now he's shown he's scared, and bet out $200. He gives it a bit of the fake tank, but it didn't look like he was ever seriously thinking about calling. After that hand my stack's up above $600, and I'm pretty pleased with my decision to wander down here!



It only took another couple of rounds for me to get into it with Bobby again. A load of limpers to me on the button with A8ss, I limp along with them. Bobby makes it $12, and we go five-ways to the flop of AJ8dd. Everyone checks this to me, and I bet out $30 with my two pair. Bobby calls, along with a black guy who started the hand with ~$100. The turn comes the six of clubs, Bobby insta-shoves, and the black guy insta-calls. I'm calling off nearly $600 here, but it wasn't even a decision, I'm way ahead of his range. River comes a blank card, and Bobby triumphantly turns up ATo. The black guy mucks his missed flush draw, and my two pair is good for a $1300 pot - the biggest single hand I've ever won (I think - I won a €1000 pot in Barcelona a few years back when I was a total poker fish, no idea what the exchange rate woulda worked out as then).

I'm not feeling so bad about leaving that coat behind anymore.



I stuck around for another hour or so, but Bobby'd been getting more and more belligerent after having to rebuy again (I'd estimate it was less than an hour between him having a $1500 stack, more than twice anyone else at the table, and him needing to rebuy). Plus, one of the other competent players on the table was now sitting on ~$750 himself, and had position on me, and given that we were now past midnight and I could see myself crashing at some point in the future, I figured it was a good time to rack up. Lost one last hand playing QQ out of my rack when an Ace hit on the flop, and then cashed out $1260 from a $200 buyin.

wooooooooooooo

I wander back up the strip, and back into the Mirage, where there's still a limpfest of a game going on, and I figure I might as well join it for an hour or so before heading to bed.

Poker Session Three: Mirage

This was a relatively unexciting session tbh. I won $100 or so when I shoved the nut flush draw when a turn overcard hit, and the guy I was up against folded. I lost some back, again, playing QQ out of my rack when an Ace hit on the flop. I mainly drank white russians and chatted to the friendly, over-exuberant Mexican kid a couple of seats over, who was just so absurdly happy to be in Vegas. At some point I realised it was gone 2am and I should probably sleep, so I cashed out $240 from my $200 buyin, and called it a night.

Overall Day One Poker Results: +$1,327

which is far better than I'd even dreamed I'd run, this has been one hell of a heater

thanks to everyone who's commented or is following along btw, I'm crediting you all with providing some good vibes to fuel that rungood

now to go eat breakfast, writing this up took way longer than I meant it to, fortunately I've not got too much to do on a Vegas morning
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Old 11-10-2016, 02:33 PM   #25
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Re: Return of the Bloo - San Diego and Las Vegas (5-14 November)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mackem790 View Post
Very enjoyable read so far.

Would you mind going into some detail on the credit card churning to rack up the airmiles please?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForLease View Post
Flyertalk.com is the best place to learn about credit card churn.
Flyertalk's good, but Head For Points is more useful for Brits - there's some really well written articles on there that lay it all out very clearly. It's pretty comprehensive, and the guy who runs it is often happy to answer questions if people email them to him.

I mainly get points through churning the Amex Gold - if you have a partner you can refer for it, you can then cancel and they can refer you again six months later. If you can hit the spending targets (£2k in 3 months), and make sure you keep track of when your six months are up, you can easily clear 66,000 airmiles a year with this alone.
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