After a hideous 16 hours of airports and jumbo jets, I arrived in the city of sin for my first ever visit. I had only been to the US once before on a 4 day stopover in Los Angeles on my way home from the UK about 8 years ago, so this was like arriving for the very first time.
Of course the first thing I did was hit “The Strip” – a 3 mile long stretch of the most outrageous, most over the top, loudest and brightest hotels in the world. Flashing neon signs and replicas of famous sights around the world scream out “look at me, visit me” as the casinos lurking within lure you into their world. Whether its the Statue of Liberty at New York New York, the huge Pyramid and Sphinx at the Luxor or the Eiffel Tower at Paris, they are all just a mask for the gambling inside.
The one thing that amazed me (well alot of things amazed me, but let’s say this was the stand out), in Las Vegas if you are gambling you don’t pay for drinks. To the big drinking Aussies and Brits out there, I’m sure I now have your full attention! It’s true… if you are putting money into the slot machines or on the gaming tables, scantily clad cocktail waitresses are in abundance to serve you free alcohol.
Las Vegas is a 24-hour town, the casinos never close and the drinks keep flowing. It is easy to lose track of time and indeed forget what day it is in a world that never sleeps. No daylight penetrates the walls of the casinos so you will never even know the sun has come up. Many casinos are connected so the need to go outside is removed and there are no clocks inside. The signs within the casino point to the shops, restaurants, aquariums, lion habitat, white tiger exhibit, titanic display, theaters and restrooms, however never to the exit.
Despite the obvious intention of taking as much money from you as possible, Las Vegas is a fun city. The consumer is king and you will want for nothing. There is no hard sell, it is subtle in a Vegas kind of way, almost subliminal as you get distracted by the bells and whistles. If you can keep your head and go with the flow, Vegas has something for everyone.
What was my highlight from “The Strip”? Well, there were two. First was The Venetian hotel. With its extravagant Italian theme, the hotel is a masterpiece. Whether it’s the Gondolas floating above the gambling halls, or the replica of St Marks Square at the entrance, it is opulence at its finest.
My second was dinner at the Paris casino. A huge buffet featuring dishes from every region of France where you can get a dose of Europe while in Vegas. The selection is divine and plentiful, and the decor of the restaurant gives a good representation of a typical French village. I dined with a real life Frenchman and even he was overwhelmed by the quality and authenticity of the food.
On the whole I had a great time in Las Vegas and hope to get back there again someday. Stayed tuned for more details of my visit over the next few weeks…