• StevenF

Birthday Lab Rat

Today we celebrated Isaias' birthday. His real birthday is later this week, but neither of us will be able to get the day off, and since this is a normal day off for both of us, we thought it would be best to celebrate it today. Plus, my niece and great-nephews are going back home next week😞 and this was a convenient time for them to celebrate too.

Isaias specifically asked for a cake from Carlo's Bakery, which is located in the Grande Canal Shoppes at the Venetian Hotel and Casino. I had planned on getting one from Freed's Bakery, which is awesome and more convenient, but Isaias' last couple of birthdays have been kind of downers for him, so anything to make this one fun, happy, and special was going to be done, so Carlo's Bakery it was.

Now you may or may not know it, but I am directionally challenged—probably inherited from my mom. It does not take much to get me confused as far as where I am and where I am supposed to go.

Casinos are specifically designed to make people stay there a long time in the hopes that they will gamble, shop, and eat at the various properties. They do not make it easy to find your way around or get out.

And having been to the Canal Shoppes many times—Isaias used to work at the Venetian—I find them confusing anyway and get turned around very easily there, so I was not particularly excited to go to the Strip or look for Carlo's Bakery.

Parking was easy. I had driven and parked there many times when I would pick up Isaias or see Phantom of the Opera, the show Isaias worked for. Finding the entrance to the Shoppes was also easy, as I had been there many times before.

But after that, it went downhill.

First off, on the directory, there was no Carlo's Bakery. I knew I was in the right place, but no Carlo's Bakery.

Fortunately, I knew it was across from Buddy V's, a restaurant that was on the directory.

And of course, it was as far away from where I was in the Shoppes as possible. Isaias later told me it probably would have been easier if I had entered the Shoppes from the Palazzo Hotel and Casino. He was right.

Looking at the map, it looked like it would be difficult for my directionally-challenged brain to find it, but I thought maybe I could manage. I immediately could tell I wouldn't be able to figure it out, so I asked the information desk how to get there. He gave me some directions that seemed easy, but when I followed them, I literally ran back into the same man at the same desk like I was on some episode of The Twilight Zone. I think he saw me, too, which embarrassed me, so I backtracked and went a different way, and suddenly ended up at the exit to outside.

Huh? Now what?

I see a sign that says Benny V's above the exit door pointing up. Does that mean I go up some nonexistent stairs? Does it mean I go outside and to the left? I decide to do the latter since the stairs don't exist, still not sure I'm going the right way, although on the earlier map, it indicated that it was near an exit, so I venture forth.

Not much is labeled outside, so I proceed tentatively until I see a very un-prominent-looking sign that indicates that Benny V's is somewhere nearby. I finally find a door that looks like a service entrance and go inside. There's Benny V's, closed, and yes, there is Carlo's Bakery.

It's a little crowded, but I eventually get Isaias' cake. If they had told me they didn't have it ready, I would have cried.

Now I have to get back to parking. I see that the Shoppes continue from here. On the earlier map, there were two routes to get here through the Shoppe: a long way and a shorter way. The way I just took was supposedly the shorter way. Not wanting to go back outside and risking the icing melting in the Vegas heat, I opt for the longer way this time. It can't be any worse.

It was.

I really think I know where I'm going, but I get incredibly turned around. Oh, here's the canal. I saw that earlier. I'll just follow it until I find where I was.

Nope. Dead end.

Oh, this way looks promising.


How about here?

The Convention Center?! Well, now I really know I'm in the wrong place.

I ask several very nice employees, who give me what seem like clear directions, but somehow I still end up wandering around like I'm in some maze, never to get out.

One lady told me to turn right at Louis Vuitton, but there is no right that I can see. One guy told me I had to go downstairs past a LOVE sign, which I know I've seen before. But why did I have to go downstairs when I was never there in the first place.

And oh no, I'm at the Convention Center again. How?!

I ask another gentleman who points me farther into the Convention Center, which I know can't be right, and as I go farther into its bowels, I wonder if he even worked at the Venetian at all.

Another gentleman, a guest, sees me looking confused. When I ask him if he knows where the Venetian parking is, he says, shocked, "Oh, you're way off!" and sends me back another way.

I try to follow signs for "parking" or "casino," but they mysteriously disappear. I find myself crossing places I've already been but from a different direction. I feel like I'm in some devious lab experiment.

Finally...oh, finally, I see something familar—The Grand Lux Cafe! I know this. I've been here before. The escalator is right...

Wait, there used to be an escalator going up to parking here. Where's the escalator? They moved the escalator?!!!

I later remembered there are TWO Grand Lux Cafés—one at the Palazzo and one at the Venetian; I was at the one at the Palazzo, not even realizing I was no longer at the Venetian.

By this time, I have been wandering around for a half hour, no closer to my destination than I was a half hour ago.

Finally, a security guard gives me the clearest and most helpful directions I have received, and I end up in the Venetian Casino. I see signs for both the Grand Lux and parking, and I finally know where I am.

And look! There's the escalator! Thank you!

I take the escalator back up and walk to the elevators up to parking—and by the way, I was very happy to see that the Venetian still offers free parking, unlike my former employer, MGM Grand.

I am sweaty, annoyed, and frustrated, but finally free of the lab maze I was just in.

If Isaias wants Carlo's next year, sorry. I'm going to Freed's.

But the upshot was, Isaias had a much better birthday this year.

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