Friday, February 20, 2015

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4

Welcome to Day 4 of my vacation recap!  If you missed the previous posts, you can check out Day 1Day 2 (our trip to the Grand Canyon), and Day 3.  This post isn't quite as picture heavy as the last two, but does contain a lot of reviews and information.  As before, a comprehensive list of links and information will be at the bottom of this post in case you are planning a future trip to Las Vegas.

Day 4 was all about Titanic The Artifact Exhibition, Shark Reef Aquarium, running into Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys, having dinner at Gordon Ramsey Steak, and checking out the Zombie Burlesque show.  Let's get started!

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 - DivineMrsDiva.com


The morning of day four was when I learned my limits for a "go-go-go" vacation schedule.  Lack of sleep, super long and active days, and inadequate food for fuel caught up with me by day four.  I woke up that morning sore and stiff from all the walking.  My legs had started to itch like crazy from (most likely) the detergent used on the sheets.  Blisters covered my pinky toes and ached when anything touched them.  I took a hot shower and drank some more water, but the migraine throbbing in my head just made me cry.  Sean insisted we take it easy, so I took a nap for an hour and half.  I realized that my threshold for a super busy vacation with little sleep was three days maximum.  Later on, I would find out that my ability to deal with throngs of stupid people maxes out at four days. lol

I woke up from my nap at nine o'clock.  Feeling a bit refreshed, I finished getting ready and we set a plan in motion for the day.  Initially, we were going to stay close to the Luxor on Day 5, as that was concert day and I wanted time to get ready.  But with my migraine and our later start, we moved those plans to Day 4.  There is a discount package offer in which you can choose three out of the seven attractions available for $57: Shark Reef Aquarium (reg. $18), Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat (reg. $20), CSI: The Experience (reg. $28), The Roller Coaster (reg. $14), Bodies The Exhibition (reg. $32), Titanic The Artifact Exhibition (reg. $32), or The Adventuredome (reg. $30).  This discounted price does actually save you money and offered three of our top choices.

We waited until we were in Las Vegas to buy our chosen passes.  There was a ticket booth across of the Titanic exhibit in the Luxor where we bought the special discounted package and chose our three attractions.  I am pretty sure any box office at these particular attractions offers the opportunity to purchase the 3-fer deal.  The ticket booth employee placed our tickets safely in an envelope and told us we had a week from the purchase date to use the tickets.

Titanic The Artifact Exhibition

First up, was the Titanic The Artifact Exhibition.  Initially, I didn't know what to expect.  It is an obviously tragic and depressing event.  When you first hand over your ticket, you are each presented with a piece of paper with the name of an actual passenger aboard the Titanic.  This paper presents the age and class of the passenger, who they were traveling with, and extra information about why they were aboard the Titanic.  After viewing the entire exhibit, there is a large wall with all the passenger names so you can see if your person lived or perished.  To me, this helped the experience become more immersive, as you could think about what your person had to endure in terms of status and place on the ship in general.

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Titanic The Artifact Exhibition at the Luxor) - DivineMrsDiva.com

There were the obligatory photos taken of you first, like a cheesy "I'm flying, Jack" scenario, in hopes that you will buy these at the end of your tour.  I will point out, at $20 a 5X7 with a free digital copy emailed to you, these were the cheapest souvenir photos we came across.  (You are not permitted to take photos inside the exhibit.) Once you enter the exhibit, there are black walls with quotes about the Titanic on the walls of the hall that lead into the various rooms.  It was much bigger than it looks from the outside.  While it isn't a massive exhibit, we walked through slowly (could have gone slower) and made it out in about an hour and a half.  We were both very fascinated by the exhibit and didn't want to rush through, even with our strict time schedule.

The exhibit starts with what life was like in the early 1900s to show why the Titanic was such a big deal.  From the concept of the ship to building it, there are photos and artifacts, descriptions and information about the builders and suppliers, etc.  Jaunty music of the time plays overhead, lending a more carefree, exuberant emotion that is also conveyed in the information you are reading.  The way this exhibit was thought out and executed is really phenomenal.  The sensory aspects and abundant information makes it such a memorable and informative experience.

Along the exhibit, you see artifacts pulled up from the ships wreckage - every day items used by the passengers, money of the time, dishware, shoes, equipment, parts of the ship, and so on.  Relevant, and often times intriguing, information about the objects accompany their display.  What also stands out to me are the recreations of cabins from the various classes.  Again, the way this exhibit is presented as an immersive experience makes it so special.  Walking down a bare and cold hallway that replicates the third class area of the ship, you hear the noise of the engine as the passengers would have heard it.  A small, prison-cell sized cabin is set up with bunk beds on each side.  The stark room is typical for what the poorer class would have been traveling in.  There are also representations of the second and first class areas for comparison.

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Titanic The Artifact Exhibition at the Luxor) - DivineMrsDiva.com

The Grand Staircase and flooring were reproduced to scale.  The carved wood is exquisite and breath-taking.  This is another opportunity to have your picture taken for purchase later.  When we were there, a very wonderful and knowledgeable employee answered questions and provided information about the staircase and the ship itself.  In the movie Titanic, the staircase had to be scaled up to accommodate Leonardo DiCaprio's height.  People in the early 1900s were just not 6'2".  Also, the original floor tiles were going to be marble, but linoleum was new and more expensive at the time, so it was used instead.

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Titanic The Artifact Exhibition at the Luxor) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Leaving the staircase, you enter a chilly room made to look and feel like the promenade deck of the ship.  It is absolutely beautiful and well-done.  From here, things turn sour for the Titanic as you learn more about the impending tragedy and events.  In one particular room, there is a 9-by-16 foot "iceberg" for you to touch and get an idea of just how cold the water would have been. Models of the wreckage and items found amongst it are displayed.  Passengers belongings are also on display.  At the end of the exhibit is a 15-ton, 13-by-30-foot chunk of the hull of the ship that was pulled up from the wreckage in 1998.  Glass is still in some of the portholes.  It is a very real reminder of the enormity of the tragedy.  In an exhibit like this, I feel very sensitive and empathic.  Combined with seeing real objects and putting yourself in the place of a passenger, I did have a real sense of sadness and dread at the end.  It was kind of hard to shake off for a while.  It is overwhelmingly sad.  So when we came to the end of the tour and the small gift shop, I was really taken aback by the souvenirs on sale.  I just think a gift shop in this instance was in very poor taste.  I can see huge Titanic buffs wanting to purchase a White Star Line blanket or china, but a snowglobe with a sinking ship in it?  Or a children's book about a sad polar bear?  I found most of the "gifts" completely offensive in light of such a tragic event.

Gift shop aside, this was an incredibly fascinating and informative look at the Titanic.  The exhibits within were well thought out, offering varied views of life at the time and how that translated to things aboard the ship.  I will absolutely go to more exhibits like it (Seattle has a Pompeii exhibit by the same company that just opened up); and I think it is worth full-price admission if the 3-fer package isn't your thing.

After the Titanic exhibit, we made our way over to Mandalay Bay (next door) to go to the aquarium.  On the way, I scoped out the area where the Nick and Knight concert would be the following day.  I knew Jordan Knight had a fan-based lunch/happy hour thing that day, so I joked to Sean to be on the lookout for Jordan or Nick as we walked towards the aquarium.  Be advised that the aquarium is at pretty much the farthest point possible from the Luxor.  It took so long to get there, we thought we were lost.  Follow all the signs towards the conference room areas and you will eventually find the aquarium.

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 - DivineMrsDiva.com

Shark Reef Aquarium

The Shark Reef Aquarium is relatively small and doesn't take a whole lot of time to go through.  After your cheesy souvenir picture poses, head on towards the lizards.  Jellyfish, piranhas, and a hands-on area where you can feel on various creatures follow.  There are lots of fish to watch, which I always find really entertaining.  The large shipwreck area and tunnel are great for watching sharks and fish and are the cherry on top of this aquarium cupcake.  As with any kid-friendly attraction, be prepared for all the little children who haven't been taught proper manners.  While this was a fun excursion, I am glad we didn't pay full price.  If you love aquariums and watching animals, this is a great choice; but if you are on a budget, you may want to skip it otherwise.

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay) - DivineMrsDiva.com

As I said before, we were on a tight time table and the aquarium was way farther out than we thought.  We still had to get back to our hotel, potty and change clothes, walk the mile to the monorail, and ride it down the Strip to our dinner location.  As we got closer to the Luxor, I was power-walking with my eyes on the staircase. As usual, we were in a hurry.

Meeting Nick Carter

Suddenly, Sean grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled me back.  We were right in front of the cashier area of the casino.  I looked at him like he was crazy.  He knew we were running late again!  He nodded towards the wall and I looked around.

"What?" I asked.

He nodded again.  "Is that Nick Carter?"

You should have seen my face when my eyes fell on the hot blonde guy at the counter.  It was Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, indeed.  I had been so focused on getting back to the hotel that I hadn't noticed him at all, and he was only about twelve feet away!  I turned around to face Sean, my back to Nick, so I could silently freak out for a moment.  I've been a Backstreet fan since 1997, with Nick being my favorite.  While I have been within a few feet of him before, I never had the chance to meet him.  Sean kept telling me to go over and say hi, even going so far as to push me toward Nick.  I resisted and waited as casually as I could without drawing attention to myself.  Sean just didn't want me to miss the opportunity; and I just didn't want to look like an overzealous dummy.  Plus, Nick and his bodyguard were talking to the cashier so they could go gamble.  I wasn't about to interrupt them.  I stayed stuck to the place I was standing and waited for Nick to turn around and leave the counter.

He made eye contact with me, so I said "Hi" and waved - still in my same spot.  I wasn't about to rush him.  When he smiled and waved back, I stepped forward and asked if I could get a picture with him.  His bodyguard paused for a moment.  Nick said, "Sure" with a smile and came towards me.  I immediately stepped into action, opening my purse, whipping out my camera, and handing it to Sean in record time.  As I turned back to Nick, I said something about being thrilled to meet him and surprised since I never run into anybody I recognize.  He was right in my ear and said, "It's nice to meet you."  I could have passed out!

We put our arms around each other and Sean snapped the picture.  I turned back to Nick, thanked him for his time, and told him I would be at the concert the next night...and that I was really excited.  His hand lingered on my arm and ran down the length of it as he started to walk away.  "I look forward to seeing you tomorrow," he said.  And then he was gone.  Off into the casino he went as my legs turned to jelly.  Some girls walked by whispering that he was a Backstreet Boy, while I was on Cloud 9.  Sean and I made it another 30 feet to the stairs that lead to Luxor before I had to sit down and gather my emotions.  Maybe you are laughing at that, but if you've been waiting for decades to meet someone, and then you do, you need a freakin' moment!

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Meeting Nick Carter) - DivineMrsDiva.com


Eventually, we made it to our hotel room to get ready for dinner.  My toe blisters had been wrapped all day and didn't hurt in my sneakers, so I attempted to wear the flats again.  We were almost to the Excalibur casino when the pain was so bad, I couldn't walk anymore.  There aren't many places to sit unless you are in the casino, so I found an out-of-the-way area I could stand- shoeless - while Sean took the offending shoes back to the hotel room and brought my sequin flip-flop shoes.  They weren't the ideal fancy dinner footwear, but you couldn't see them under my long dress.  Once Sean wrapped my toes up again with multiple Band-Aids, we swiftly made our way to the monorail station and on to the Bally's stop.  There are shops through Bally's, connecting to Paris, that we walked through.  Obviously, we were in quite the hurry, but I was trying to survey the windows of shoe stores for something to wear to the concert the next night.  The offending flats had been bought mainly for my concert outfit.  I was exasperated.

Gordon Ramsey Steak

Almost to Paris and making good time, I looked down at my aching feet and saw that the sequins on the FitFlops had dug into the sides of my big toe and my skin was bleeding. There were big scratches from the toe thong part and sequins cutting into my toe-webbing.  You know, that part between the big toe and the pointer toe?  I may have started crying.  I don't remember.  I was exhausted and hungry and in pain.  Sean doctored my feet and we trudged along through the busy dinner-time crowds.  We made it to Gordon Ramsey Steak right off the Paris casino floor and had an amazing time there.  I read a review that the hostesses look like "escort vampires", and they kind of do. lol But everyone was really nice.  We were taken to the bar area and only waited a handful of minutes before we were taken upstairs to our table.  The main floor area gets really loud with chatter and music.  Sean and I were seated in a dining room off of the upstairs that was very quiet and romantic.  It did began to fill up after half an hour or so.  (Our reservations were at 5pm.  We used Open Table once we knew our schedule for the day.)


Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris Hotel & Casino) - DivineMrsDiva.com

We are huge Gordon Ramsey fans and had been looking forward to this meal for months.  After being presented with an iPad from which to choose our beverages for the evening, the waiter wheeled out a cart to present various cuts of meat.  (KevinEats has a great post about the restaurant with way better photos.  My little phone camera was not prepared for the dim light.)  For cocktails, we chose a Strawberry Martini (Bombay gin, strawberries, and lemon) and The Drifter (Paris LV Proprietary Knob Creek Barrel #77, ginger liqueur, falernum, lemon, and bitters).  My strawberry martini was full of fresh strawberry flavor and not too sweet, but I think it was missing a little pizazz.  The Drifter was fantastic!  The bourbon wasn't overpowering, with a hint of citrus.  The ginger really balanced it out and made me wish I chose that drink as well.  I have since recreated a decent facsimile at home.  A plate of breads were served with sea salt butter: walnut bread, lemon thyme focaccia, mushroom brioche, and (our FAVORITE) roasted pancetta brioche.  I enjoyed every minute of all the gluten, y'all!  Our appetizer was warm, pillowy gnocchi surrounded by arugula, pancetta, ribbons of parmesan, gorgeously blistered tomatoes, mushrooms, and a mushroom cream sauce.  There seemed to be a spritz of lemon on it too.  The flavors went together so amazingly well.  It was just so delicious!

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris Hotel & Casino) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Our main course consisted of the popular Beef Wellington and a side of mac and cheese.  The mac and cheese included blue, cheddar, and parmesan, along with truffle.  It was a really good size for a side at an expensive restaurant.  If you are sharing and easily filled, three to four people could probably work on this just fine.  The flavor was perfectly balanced with a creamy texture and hints of truffle.  Because we drool over the signature Wellington during every episode of Hell's Kitchen, we could not wait to try it.  Boy, it did not disappoint!  The Wellington was fabulous! The meat was juicy and tender, like butter!  The crust was flaky and melded the richer flavors together so well.  Roasted root vegetables, potato puree, and a red wine demi-glace accompanied the dish.  I'm getting hungry just writing about it!

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris Hotel & Casino) - DivineMrsDiva.com

For dessert, we opted for the "signature" Sticky Toffee Pudding.  Oh. My. Gosh.  The sweet pudding cake is basically drowned in a brown sugar toffee syrup (with lots of extra on the side for drizzling) and served with a brown butter ice cream that comes shaped like a stick of butter.  The combination of the two is INSANE.  We pretty much just melted into a puddle of heaven eating this thing.  Later in the week, we came up with the naughty thought that the perfect night in Vegas would be making sweet love in the Venetian while eating sticky toffee pudding. LOL  To balance out the crazy sweet (but totally worth it) flavors of the dessert, we ordered French press coffee.  With the coffee came three spoons of chocolate, chilled, and all featuring different flavors for stirring into your coffee.  The ABCs were Amaretto and white chocolate, Bailey's and milk chocolate, and Chambord and dark chocolate.  This was such a fun touch!

We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and experience at Gordon Ramsey Steak.  We would definitely go again if given the chance.  While it was, by far, the most expensive meal we have ever eaten, it was well worth it in terms of flavor, service, experience, and atmosphere.

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris Hotel & Casino) - DivineMrsDiva.com


Zombie Burlesque Show

Completely full and happy from our fabulous dinner, we made our way next door to the Planet Hollywood casino for the Zombie Burlesque show.  I found out about this show while scouring Groupon for deals.  There were great reviews, plus it seemed very "Vegas" so we had to check it out!  (The deal is actually still going on and expires 180 days after purchase, in case you are planning a trip.)  Once we found the theater amidst all the shops, Sean decided to upgrade our tickets to the VIP section of the small theater.  What this meant for us is that we were a bit closer and could see better and we didn't have to wait in the ever growing line outside.   Instead, we went potty and then I tried on some possible contenders for new shoes.

A little bit before the show, our upgraded tickets permitted us upstairs to a bar area to wait.  At some point they took our pictures for souvenir photos.  Ours turned out so cute, but we had no cash on us to buy it.  The show was a blast though!  It is a musical variety show set in the 1950s and performed by "zombies".  Sean and I both found it to be humorous (a little raunchy at times ;-) and entertaining, definitely something we would recommend to our friends.  If you sit closer to the front row, you could be pulled up on stage for some participation.  It was just a really fun show!  Afterward, you can wait around and take your picture with the cast, but it was a big ole traffic jam.  "Tiny Bubbles" did compliment my dress as we were leaving though, which I thought was really sweet.

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (V Theater at Planet Hollywood) - DivineMrsDiva.com
The surrounding building facades at the shopping center from upstairs, and the ceiling in the upstairs bar.


Naturally, we were exhausted by the time the show was over around 10pm.  However, we were already at this part of the Strip and wanted to see the Bellagio fountains show.  We walked back past Paris to the over-the-street bridge leading to the Bellagio, taking pictures along the way.


Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Paris) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Paris) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Paris) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Paris) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Paris and Bellagio) - DivineMrsDiva.com

The Bellagio Fountain show is quite a lovely and lively little stop.  The show is pretty short, but it begins every fifteen minutes in the evening.  We hung around to catch it a couple times.  It is most enchanting to me at night with the lights in addition to the music.

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Bellagio Fountain Show) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Bellagio Fountain Show) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Bellagio Fountain Show) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Bellagio Fountain Show) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (Bellagio Fountain Show) - DivineMrsDiva.com

Finally, we walked back to the closest monorail station, rode to MGM Grand, walked the mile back to our room, and collapsed for the night.

 Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (New York New York) - DivineMrsDiva.com

 Vegas Vacation Recap: Day 4 (New York New York) - DivineMrsDiva.com



To summarize:


Have you been to the Titanic Exhibit?  Have you eaten at any Gordon Ramsey restaurants?  Seen the Zombie Burlesque show?  Met a celebrity you adore?  Hobbled around in public with bloody feet?  I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts.


7 comments :

  1. I'm sorry about your bad shoe experiences, but everything else sounds awesome. I got hungry (and thirsty) at the description of dinner...I love me some bourbon. And some red meat, lol. I probably would have done Titanic, but my other choices would be the Bodies & CSI. (Both are equally fascinating to me. The boyfriend probably would not be fond of either...he gets all squicked out when I watch crazy medical shit on TV and doesn't understand my fascination with CSI...)


    That's so cool that you got to meet Nick Carter!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll have to make that drink again at home and tell you what the recipe was. My copycat wasn't exact, but it was close.
    We did a CSI exhibit at the science museum in Portland a couple years ago, otherwise I probably would have picked that one instead of the aquarium. The Bodies thing I just can't do. It is part fascinating to me and mostly just gross. I don't think I would be able to handle it very well. I don't like the medical shit either. lol We also chose the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, but went on the last day. My goal this week is to get the last two days up and done.
    Nick was really sweet. I never know, when meeting a celeb, if they are having a bad day or not and I didn't want to push...but he was really nice. It helped I was really the only one there too. I was so excited I finally got to talk to him, even if it was short and quick and I was a dope. lol

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  3. There was a Titanic exhibit that was traveling the country a few years ago, and saw it when it came to town. It was really awesome, sounds just like the one you saw. Plus in Branson, MO they have Titanic museum which is generally the same experience. I'm sooo jealous you got to meet Nick Carter!! I love the Backstreet Boys, Brian was always my favorite, that's so awesome!! It sounds like you had a really awesome trip, I enjoyed reading about all the activities, tips and of course all the pictures.

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  4. We did have a fantastic trip! It was so nice to get away for a while, even if it was insanely busy and I was sore most of the time. It was totally worth it! There are still two more days to tell you about, so I am happy you are enjoying these posts. My goal is to get it all finished and up this week! And I am so glad you were able to go to an exhibit like this Titanic one. It really was fascinating and well done. Thank you so much for reading!

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  5. OH yes, it was totally exhausting! lol I feel like it taught me a valuable lesson in NOT overbooking a trip in the future. I just wanted to do ALL THE THINGS! However, it was fun and totally worth it.
    I am so happy that the detail and tips from the trip are helpful. I learned a lot that I felt was worth sharing, so if that helps anyone have a smarter trip than I, awesome! I am going to have to read over it all again when we take another trip to Vegas so I remember my foot pain and heed my own advice. lol
    I'm so happy Nick was in a good mood and everything went smoothly. If my experience with him was a bad one, I would have been devastated! It is REALLY hard not to be a total goober around a celebrity. I've met quite a few (it was sort of a hobby when I lived in Boston and wasn't old enough to go to clubs or bars. lol) and usually have adrenaline in the moment to say hello, if I feel it is a good timing. That doesn't mean I have my wits about me....but I always think I will kick myself later if I don't take the chance. And not everyone is nice, which makes it very nerve-wrecking.

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  6. Thank you so much for the detailed rundown of activities! I have to say that the Titanic exhibit is what's most drawing me to Vegas. I have been obsessed with the Titanic ever since the movie came out when I was in middle school. I've watched all the documentaries and read several books, plus the comprehensive behind-the-scenes film guide on the movie. I would absolutely love this exhibit, both the grandeur and the tragedy because both are what makes the story so fascinating. I'm glad that it was so immersive and had a lasting impression on you. Good museums and exhibits should be exactly that. I also like how they made it personal by assigning you a particular passenger to give you a more personalized experience of the tragedy. Wow! Definitely on my bucket list.

    I've really enjoyed your Vegas vacation recaps, especially since you've shared recommendations beyond gambling and cuisine. I had no idea there was so much to experience in Vegas, and you've definitely turned me on to traveling there! You should send your links to a Vegas tourism site because they're so in-depth and helpful!

    <3 Liz
    www.withwonderandwhimsy.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you! I will have to look into some Vegas sites to send the links to. If these can be useful, it makes all the extra work of them that much more worth it. The recaps were definitely a labor of love, and kind of burnt me out. I'm glad they have been helpful and informative though. I mean, that was the aim. :-)


    As a Titanic-enthusiast you would DEFINITELY love the exhibit. It really is fascinating, interesting, and awe-inspiring. I would do the whole thing again - at full price. It just felt really educational and special. The immersive quality of it really impressed me. I just wasn't expecting it to be so well thought out and executed in such an interesting way.



    The Pompeii exhibit in Seattle is done by the same company, so I am interested to see how it is laid out. I think we are going to go next month sometime and stay overnight, make a little weekend trip of it.

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