As I mentioned last week, I went to Vegas for a couple of days for a pseudo-Spring Break with my college roommate. This was actually my second trip out there, but here are a few random thoughts and observations.
1. We flew AirTran from Atlanta to Vegas. I'm not sure I had flown AirTran before, but it was actually a pretty good experience. While the trip was long, it was made a lot better by the fact that AirTran was offering their wireless internet for free for a limited time. I've got to say that being able to talk to people on Gchat on my Blackberry while in the air made me feel like the President of the United States.
2. For our trip out there we did one of those airfare and hotel room package deals. It actually ended up being pretty reasonable, but we chose to stay at the Monte Carlo. I have to say that I wasn't really impressed, with the hotel room or with the casino, and was marginally impressed with the pool. If I were to go out there again (which remains to be seen), I would not stay there again.
3. Sperry Topsiders, even with an insole, make for awful walking shoes, especially when walking 4+ miles a day up and down the Strip. My feet were not happy with me after a couple of days.
4. We went to downtown Las Vegas on Sunday and had a great time. Downtown is way better than the Strip in that there is cheap food ($1 hot dogs, anyone?), cheap booze, cheap tables ($5 blackjack was pretty easy to find), and excellent drink service while gambling. Also, many of the casinos along Fremont were a lot nicer than I imagined they would be, the Golden Nugget in particular. Again, if I were to go back out there, I would even consider staying down there instead of the Strip.
5. Speaking of cheap drinks, if you are on the Strip and looking to get some cheap beers, be sure to go by Casino Royale. It is located on the east side of the Strip, between Harrah's and the Venetian, and looks almost as gaudy on the outside as it is on the inside. If you can handle the vomit smell that seemed to mysteriously linger by the bar, you can take advantage of $1 Michelobs, which can be combined with an easily-obtained 2-for-1 coupon. $0.50 beers are never a bad thing.
6. Part of our decision to stay at the Monte Carlo was related to its proximity to the new City Center that was recently completed. When I was out there last, in fall of 2007, it was mostly a hole in the ground, so it was difficult to imagine what it would be like. Upon seeing it, I wasn't really that impressed. For something that bills itself as a "city center," there was very little effort made create a positive pedestrian environment, particularly one that draws people in off of the Strip, and there was very little interaction between the buildings. Instead, it just seemed like 3 or 4 separate projects that didn't relate to each other at all rather than a "center." The only real interaction with pedestrians along the Strip was the stupid "mall" that was there that you could walk through to get to the other side of the project. Perhaps I completely underestimate the all of the schlubs walking around Vegas, but I simply have no idea how a mall made up completely of ultra-high end stores (Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Zegna) can possibly be financially viable, especially in this market.
7. Speaking of the City Center, we did actually manage to make our way over to the casino at the Aria, which is the new hotel/casino there. It was actually pretty cool, and we both had a good time there.
8. In case you were unaware, Las Vegas is an absolute blackhole of manners, good taste, and style. Believe it or not, people out there actually wear Christian Audigier/Ed Hardy clothes like it isn't some sort of gigantic cliche. Same goes for all of those MMA-related brands like Tap Out and Affliction.
In the Bible there is a story where God tells Abraham that He plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but Abraham asks God if He will spare the cities if he can find fifty righteous men. Unable to find fifty, Abraham goes back to God and asks if He will spare the cities if he can find forty-five righteous men. Again, Abraham is unable to do it, and subsequently asks God if He will spare the cities if he can find thirty righteous men, then twenty, then ten, and he is unable to do so each time. I think we all know how that story ended. I highlight this story because if God planned to destroy Las Vegas but agreed to stay His wrath if only ten well-dressed men were found there, I've got a feeling that Las Vegas wouldn't make it.
9. In spite of its lack of class and prevalence of obnoxious tourists, there were a large number of very attractive women all over the place. This is always a nice perk, especially if you have the confidence to actually go up and talk to them (which my buddy and I are not famous for possessing).
10. There is a double-decker bus that runs between the Strip and downtown Las Vegas called "The Deuce." It is only $3 for a one-way trip, or $7 for an all-day pass. We gave it a try when we went from our hotel to downtown, and after the five mile trip took something like 45 minutes, I've got to say that the "the deuce" is a pretty appropriate name.
11. We got a two-for-one coupon for the ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel and casino, so we decided to give it a shot on our last night there. This was definitely worth it, especially for $7.75 per person. I would highly recommend it.
12. Finally, while there is plenty to be cynical about in Vegas, I would say that the fountain show at the Bellagio is one thing that is hard to not be impressed by. It is free, it happens every 15 minutes, and it seems like it is always set to a different song. It is easily one of the best things on the Strip.
Well, in case you are fortunate/unfortunate enough to be taking a trip to Vegas anytime soon, I hope that this guide will be of some help to you. Also, be sure to check out the website Cheapo Vegas. It is a very useful and humorous guide to just about everything to you need to know about Vegas, including reviews on all of the hotels and casinos in downtown and on the Strip. It was a lifesaver while we were out there, and I constantly was referring to it on my Blackberry.
P.S.- The lack of images from my trip is not due to the fact that they were incriminating, rather it is due to the fact that I only took a few. I apologize that I could not include a Hangover-style photoessay with my review.
Happy Mardi Gras
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