Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Enjoying Reno!

Last weekend we participated in the AAU Memorial Weekend Basketball Tournament in Reno, Nevada. Well actually Jacob participated, we enjoyed relaxing on the side of the court while he ran back and forth. That's not really true either. Watching Jacob play is not very relaxing at all. His games are always so full of action that sometimes you can't enjoy it because you are so nervous that the score keeping going back and forth. Funny thing is I wouldn't have it any other way because watching him play, no matter how stressful is one of my greatest joys. Jacob's team did very well, they won 4 games and lost only 1. I have to say it was amazing how this worked. AAU (Amateur Athletics Union) set up close to 70 basketball courts in the two Convention Centers in Reno as well as the ballrooms at our hotel. Imagine playing basketball in the ballroom of a hotel. It was crazy.
Games played at the Reno Convention Center

Our hotel was the Grand Sierra about 2 miles from the Strip. The hotel is considered "family friendly". I would say that yes it was because of the various activities they had for Jacob and his friends to do. They could choose from going to the movies, bowling, the arcade, go cart races, bungee jumping and a giant adventure swing (the last two actually were not a choice I would let him make. I said no the moment I saw them). The hotel also has several restaurants to choose from and everyone on the  staff was very friendly to Alexa, always making her the center of attention. I was very grateful that Starbucks was in the hotel, I visited them quite often over the weekend.

Our stay was not perfect and there are a few things to consider if you ever choose to stay at the Grand Sierra. Since the hotel was full due to the tournament, waiting for an elevator was horrible. Our hotel room was a lower floor so every time an elevator going down would get to us it was full. There was one time I waited close to 15 minutes for an elevator. We finally decided that we would just get on an elevator going up and ride it until it headed back down again. We also experienced a slight smell problem. Turns out one of the rooms adjacent to our bathroom was occupied by someone who enjoyed an evening joint. So each night the lovely smell of marijuana permeated our bathroom causing us to get a bit lightheaded each time we needed to relieve ourselves. Certainly not a highlight and security couldn't do a thing about it but tell us to close the bathroom door and turn on the fan. I would also suggest not to bring a toddler if you are just planning to visit Reno for a relaxing vacation. There was really nothing for Alexa to do but eat and because of the amount of people in the hotel we kept her strapped in her stroller anytime we were not in the room. That got pretty boring for her.

A few other places we visited were St.Thomas Aquinas Cathedral on 2nd Street. We went for mass and while it was a beautiful church it was much smaller then we assumed it would be so it was very crowded and hard for us to move around when Alexa was antsy. We did find the most wonderful bakery and coffee shop just outside the strip call Homage Bakery on Ralston Street. The pastries were delicious, the service was excellent and the atmosphere was very relaxing and peaceful. We will certainly visit on our next trip to Reno. The final place we enjoyed was the Legends Factory Outlets in Sparks, NV. Jacob is a Nike freak and he bought shoes, socks and Jim bought a jacket for great prices at the Nike outlet. I had so much fun in Gymboree and Oshkosh finding the cutest clothes for Alexa. The Adidas outlet was having a tent sale and I was able to purchase a pair of much needed athletic shoes for only $20.00. It was a steal.
In all we enjoyed our quick trip to Reno. I will admit we wouldn't have gone if it were not for the tournament. That being said we had a wonderful time and look forward to attending the tournament next year. A few things we will remember for the future:
1. Book a suite - regular rooms do not have a fridge or microwave very hard when it came to storing Alexa's food
2. They have crib's available - we brought our own just in case but it would have been nice to have left ours at home and had the extra trunk space.
3. Take advantage of the in room massage - I really wish I had done that.
4. Bring an extra bag because the hotel has some really great stores to go shopping. My favorite was the regular hotel gift shop. They had the most unusual gift items.
5. The Starbucks line is always long so get your coffee before you start feeling withdrawal.
6. We will be checking out St. Theresa the Little Flower Church next time we go. It's actually closer to the hotel anyway.
7. Be sure to have dinner at the buffet - All you can eat crab and shrimp. Need I say more.
8. If you have kiddo's don't stay at the strip. I only heard this tid bit from other people, I didn't experience it myself but it apparently is full of riff raff at night.

If you are headed to Reno I hope my little review helps you make your decision on places to visit. Enjoy!

Until next time,

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