Published: June 15th 2012May 28th 2012
Las Vegas, if there was an award for the illusion of grandeur this city would win it hands down. The strip is a mix of the decadent, the ostentatious and just downright weird. The casinos impressive for being a cheap imitation of their real counterparts. This fact alone should indicate what Vegas is like.
My hostel was located down south Vegas boulevard in downtown Las Vegas, this was mistake number one. I was as my sister put it at the cheaper end of of Vegas. Stratosphere was about a mile and a half away, which is the beginning of that end of the strip. But lucky for me there was a bus that runs 24 hours a day 7 days a week every ten minutes. So when I arrived at the hostel, I dumped my bags and headed straight to the strip as was expected of me.
Problem number one, Vegas was heaving, traffic was static so it took an hour to travel less than 3 miles. So I jumped off the bus at the Mirage abandoning my plan to go to the end of the strip, and walk back. But I got off the bus just in time to see the mirage's volcano go off, complete with fire, smoke, and lights. Even for a cynic such as myself it was pretty impressive. I walked the stretch of the strip easier said then done, as mentioned previously it was ridiculously busy. For some absurd reason, Americans view memorial day as an excuse to pack their young children off to Vegas of all places. Where women walk around wearing what can only be described as a triangle piece of cloth. So here they were trying to walk prams down a busy Vegas strip at 10pm. Idiocy is one word to describe them the other would be neglectful.
But the walk though hot and cumbersome was interesting and entertaining. I arrived at the bellagio just in time to watch the water show, I was informed by a 6 month pregnant woman at the airport that even the locals are impressed by this show, which I guess is a good recommendation.
After trekking down the strip I was tired, thirsty and hungry, but luckily for me I was right next to the Harley Davidson cafe. It is basically a huge restaurant with a bar, so I sat at the bar, on a seat modelled on bike seats, and ordered a beer, and a chilli. It seemed oddly appropriate. This had the much needed effect of calming me down considerably as by this point I think I would have punched the next person who bumped into me. Vegas was getting to me, it was just plastic and fake, and everywhere I turned I felt like someone was looking to shake me down for the few quarters in my pocket.
So I did what anyone would do, I went into caesars palace to gamble. I set myself a limit of 20 dollars on the slots, as after a quick check of my bank account, I really couldn't afford to be bleeding money this late into my trip. After perusing the machines for a while I settled on the ghostbusters machine. All the machines are practically identical except they have different themes. You bet on between 5-25 lines, with the minimum bet being 50cents despite the fact they all have 1cent flashing above the machines. So I stuck my 20 dollar bill into the machine ready to lose it all like I did in Atlantic city, my last foray into gambling. My first ten dollars disappeared before the waitress could even bring me my "free drink." Then something strange happened I was down to my last 2 dollars within 20 minutes and suddenly I got 3 slimers in a row, and he flew up into a big screen that was above 3 of the machines. He whizzed around hitting all these options before 6 ectoplasm things sat in front of me, I was told in a round about way that I Had to chose 3 of them. So I touched the screen still slightly confused as to what was happening and I won 60 dollars. Confused and a little disorientated, I cashed in my winnings and practically ran out of the casino. Should I have stayed and bet more? I'm not sure but I took my 40 free dollars, and ran. I'm still not entirely sure how I won, but I do feel if I had stayed anything I gained I would have thrown back to the casino I had continued to press the button on that slot machine.
The hostel I stayed at was odd. It was actually a motel which had basically changed 5 rooms into hostel rooms, as a way to cash in. The first night the room was full, the second night everybody has gone, but a 40 year old nurse, checked in a and slept through the day. Why am I mentioning the 40 year old nurse on temporary night shifts? Because the pikey women stole from me.... Because I had been the only person in the room I hadn't bothered putting my stuff in the safe, so my iPad, iPhone, chargers all left in my bag. So what did she steal? She stole my razor and my deodorant..... She went into my bag and took them... In doing so she had moved my iPad and iPhone out of the way in order to get to the real prizes... used toiletries. People are fucking weird.
At this point despite my win Vegas was wearing me down, the heat, all the people. Back at the hostel I met some fellow Brits, one of which could have been Kris Stromdales twins. They told me that Fremont street was the place to go, they were all heading out to Arizona, having spent a week in Vegas. So on my last night I left the main strip for old Vegas, and I'm so glad I did. Fremont street was the Vegas I wanted, more relaxed, more welcoming, more fun. I went to the infamous heart attack grill, where people have literally had a heart attack while eating one of their burgers. All the waitresses are dressed like nurses, the male staff like doctors, they dress you in a gown when you enter, and put a hospital band on you. Its an expensive gimmick but it's a lot of fun, and if you weigh over 300 pounds you eat for free. Which explains the abundance of heart attack victims at the heart attack grill.
While i was at the grill, a bachelor party was having an early dinner, one of the "nurses" paddled the lucky groom with a specially made paddle for such occasions at the heart attack grill surreal to say the least, and soon all the men were lining up for it. I was beginning to think I was in some weird Sex den rather than a restaurant.
There was a zipline that ran through the street adding to the already surreal situation.
What have I learnt about Vegas? It's not for kids, it's crazy, it's crazy and it's bloody weird.