Saturday, 31 May 2008

Vegas Baby!

I went to Vegas for Memorial Day weekend last week. It's a crazy city full of excess and seemingly where anything goes. I was an honorary member of Team Australia for the weekend. I flew with Pen, Clint, Brad and Chel from Newark to Vegas on the Friday night. As we got off the plane we were confronted with slot machines in the airport and then, a little more disappointingly, an hour long queue for a taxi to the strip.

We met Jay and Kath in Vegas who had arrived from LA to join us from the weekend.

The first thing that strikes you as walk down into the casino at 9am in the morning is that there are people drinking and gambling. Have they been there all night? Or did they start early?


We started with brunch at Bouchon in the Venetian casino. Which has the same head chef as the famous West Coast restaurant the French Laundry. I had the homemade granola which was very good. All of the others had more substantial / traditional brunch dishes like waffles, pancakes and French toast. Jay had a steak which I am not sure I could stomach for breakfast! As I was to discover it was a bit more formal and straight laced than the rest of Vegas, but was an excellent start to the weekend.

We spent most of the day visiting casinos along the strip. After the Venetian we went to the Wynn (very cool, one of the newest and the most expensive to build), Treasure Island, walked past the Bellagio and visited the MGM Grand which has two lions in in a glass enclosure in the lobby. I was shocked to see two handlers in with the lions regularly turning their backs on the animals. You wouldn't catch me doing that!!

In the evening we went to see Jubilee at Bally's casino. Honestly I thought it was dreadful. It had no discernible plot and there was no flow. Rather than an interval, there were interludes between the four acts by completely unrelated artists to the dancers. The coolest of which were the Former Polish Hand Balancing Champions, which despite the rather strange billing, were excellent. It was apparently a classic Vegas show girls show. Perhaps I should have gone with the flow a bit more..........

After the show we went for dinner at a cafe style restaurant in the Belagio. The the water fountain outside of the Belagio provides a great show every 30mins as the fountains majestically sway to a different sound track.


We were hoping to have a craps lesson on the Sunday morning, but the tables were very crowded so we gave it a miss. We decided to visit the Luxor (not as a cheesy as I thought it might be, with excellent photo opportunities outside) and smart Mandalay Bay before getting a taxi down to the far end of the strip and the Stratosphere casino. The Stratasphere is one of the cheaper hotels on the strip, but is the tallest building west of the Mississippi and has fantastic views over the whole of Las Vegas. Apart from the views there are three scary fair ground rides, two of which dangle you over the edge of the building 100 floors up!

In the evening we went to Downtown or old town Las Vegas were all of the original casinos are based. It was my favourite part of Vegas and the whole holiday. Despite only being a couple of miles from the main strip it seems that most tourists don't make it there, certainly not all the drunk party goers. It was more relaxed, less intimidating and a bit more civilised.

The casinos have an absurd number of coloured light bulbs and neon signs illuminating themselves. Every hour the casinos are plunged into darkness and the world largest screen, which doubles as a canopy over the road, puts on a 10mins light display.

After dinner in the Golden Nugget we went to the Freemont casino and hit one of the cheap roulette tables. Betting on the numbers that were inside a fortune cookery I got at dinner I managed to hit a winning streak and was soon up about $80 (not bad on an initial stake of $100). I can see why people become addicted to the buzz of winning when gambling! I started losing a bit of money and a high roller arrived on the table throwing large numbers of chips around. I got a bit intimidated so decide to cash out before I lost my shirt.


Monday was the travel day from hell. Our plane was delayed for 5 hours and we spent the day sitting in the terminal at Las Vegas airport. There are only so many times that you can walk round the terminal and I had my fill of slot machines by that stage in the weekend. I didn't get home until 4am on Tuesday morning. Work was a bit rough that day..........

Hat Tip to Pen for the photo.

1 comment:

  1. Queues? Delays? I thought the Americans were a bit more demanding than us Brits!

    Sounds like you had a good one overall!