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Published: January 2nd 2008
For many Canadians, quick and easy vacation packages including airfare and hotel are popular. Top choices include Mexico, Dominican Republic and Las Vegas. Of the latter, I'm notified weekly on facebook of someone I know heading down to Sin City. I didn't understand the allure of Las Vegas, having had brief unenjoyable experiences with the city, but I was desperate to leave my textbooks behind and go anywhere. Yes, this does mean my blog will be about my adventures yet again as a tourist rather than a backpacker looking for profound experiences. I don't think I saw the real Las Vegas (or what Las Vegas is to a local), but I saw what the city tries to present to its millions of visitors each year.
To any visitor, Las Vegas can be many things: A shopping mecca; a place to gamble your savings in the hopes of winning big; a food lover's heaven; entertainment capital; a place to see and be seen.
Here's my brief account:
This place has everything from your budget-minded Outlet Malls to designer labels to malls with slot machines. The Las Vegas Premium Outlets were a bus ride away from the
Sahara/Stratosphere hotel with enough shops to make a day trip out of this shopping excursion. The Outlets boast designer labels including Ralph Lauren, Armani and even Dolce & Gabbana. The D&G store was not the destination of many, on the Wednesday I ventured out, unlike the Coach store, and the sales associates were resigned to beautifying the clothing racks by evenly finger spacing all the hangers. Oh retail, how I do not miss you.
Las Vegas seems to be especially fond of the outdoor look indoors with shopping areas. For example, the Paris Las Vegas hotel and the Caesar's Forum Shops seem to have the blue sky with fluffy clouds painted on their ceilings to counter the faux cobblestone. Whoever was the artist of these faux sky murals must have made a decent living... the murals were everywhere. The re-creation of Paris streets under the blue sky was almost nostalgic at Paris Las Vegas while I ate my boursin spinach breakfast crepe.
Feeling tired, look no further than to the casinos to revitalize you with their soft lighting and temperature control. I'm not entirely sure about the oxygen myth. The casinos had it all
from the 5 cent slots to the high rolling tables. I was especially a fan of finding amusing 5 cent slot themes and like images. Some included: Harlequin romance, Surfer Dude, Sugar Daddy.
Of course, if you weren't a gambler but still wanted to "win big", look no further than the food and drink incentives put out by the casino. My favourites were the $1 Lime Margaritas and $1 Deep Fried Oreos on Fremont... you can't go wrong though some casinos are deceptive and only serve the $1 Margaritas until 5 or they're served in small styrofoam cups. Classy for $1.
This city has it all from low brow Chinese food to high class Chinese, Brazilian, Indian to Mexican. You can't go wrong with the $7.77 buffet on Fremont but its certainly not the grandest of food encounters. You would get to stock up on roast beef and the buffet's own interpretation of Chinese food. For a great buffet, I will admit, the Spice Market Buffet at the Planet Hollywood Hotel was pretty tasty with so many food choices. The "Middle Eastern" section was a bit sparse and there was no butter chicken to be
Celebrity chefs have also found a niche in Las Vegas by creating namesake restaurants. Emeril, Bobby Flay (ok, his isn't quite namesake but Mesa Grill is his) and Wolfgang Puck all have restaurants inside the strip hotels. I would only recommend the tasting menu at Emeril's if you have an empty stomach/havn't eaten for a few days. I think we were begging for the food to stop coming when the filet mignon came out.
see and be seen
The city seems to be heavily frequented by celebrities and many of the clubs were boasting that certain glitterati were hosting their new year's eve parties. Access into these clubs with passes is not too difficult to obtain. There are club hawkers roaming the strip alongside the female escort hawkers. I'm not entirely sure how much you'll end up paying to get these passes but the hawker we stumbled across was not impressed when we said we had no money to give him. He ended up taking all of the passes back. I guess two girls, fantastic fishnet hose and high heels won't get you very far for club passes alone.
On the topic of Seeing, Cirque
du Soleil has quite a few resident shows ranging from exploring the side of sensuality with semi-nude performers in Zumanity to the most expensive cirque du soleil show yet, Ka. I wasn't initially keen on the martial arts themed story, but it quickly grew on me along with seeing the floating (horizontal and vertical moving) stage. The speakers built into each headrest would even assist the harder of hearing in understsanding the performance.
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