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Anything goes in Vegas!
Las Vegas (USA)
Member Name: thedevilinme
Las Vegas (USA)
Advantages: Neon city
Disadvantages: Three days is enough
The sole purpose of Las Vegas is to pick up holidaying blue-collar Americas by the ankles and shake out every last cent from their pockets, anything but the city of high-rollers and fortunes to be made. It's a capitalist black hole that sucks up $500 million a week, no doubt why the nearby hydro electric plant that powers the city is called the 'Hoover' Dam. But as recession bites the cities revenue is falling faster than the water levels in the stunning Colorado River that carved out the Grand Canyon over the millennia as the cities ever increasing demand on the water table gobbles up shrinking resources in the desert. And this city is out in the middle of the desert and so can't keep growing at the rate it is, global warming sure to make it yet another ghost town you get in this part of the world one decade soon. It was the new Nevada gold rush but the seam is almost tapped out.
As a tourist destination it's like nothing you will have ever experienced before, full on and extremely dazzling, yet vacuous at the same time. With all the neon lights and flashing signs ad razzmatazz it's like being trapped in a fruit machine, desperately waiting for some one to win the jackpot and flush you out onto the tin tray, clattering ad dazed like the coins to freedom. After three days of Vegas you will have had enough. It's that kind of town.
Rather contradictory the casinos are mostly owned by the Mormons and Japanese, the mob days of Scorcese, shiny suits and being buried in the desert truly past. In cowboy land you are no longer robbed at the end of a six-shooter but by the green zero on the roulette wheel that was placed there to mean the house always wins, the coin now able to land on its narrow edge when flipped.
Vegas is now a behemoth resort with more money made from the entertainment and shopping side than the gambling. Most people know they will lose on the slots and tables the longer they are in town and so just enjoy the shows the bright lights and the Florida style attractions. There is a sleazier side to Vegas though, that of the sex trade, which brings in the younger punters and college crowd. For $400 you can sleep with twins, midgets or fading celebrities, all at once if you can afford it. I can box tick two from three ad none in Vegas - and never paid for either. No it wasn't the Crankies!!
When you hit the famous 'Strip' take your sunglasses guys, night or day, as it is bright. You can see this place from Pluto! I recall rolling through the desert night on the Greyhound bus and seeing the glow from the city from as far away as New Mexico, as if a huge UFO was landing. They do out here, apparently. They say the city burns more energy than a small Africa country - on just the Vegas air conditioners!
You can arrive by trains, planes, helicopters, automobiles....you name it, and do all your trips to places like Monument Valley, the famous Arizona meteor crater and the Grand Canyon by basing yourself in Vegas for the duration. The more adventurous and geeky can do the Area 51 tour to look for those UFO's and there is also lots of great hiking and National Parks to be done in this area. The desert is not just cacti and tumbleweed guys and some stunning locations out there to explore, some of the volcanic stuff around Flagstaff like being on Mars. It was snowing in June when we got to the North face of the Grand Canyon, some 6000ft above sea level on that ledge, an example of that variation. The views are spectacular though so you must take in the canyons.
Hotels in Vegas cater for every taste, from the $10,000 a night playboy suites to the backpacker's specials at $40 for the double. They want to fill the rooms so cut a deal. These are nice rooms to in the huge hotels and so if you are doing America on the cheap with your rucksack then make sure its Vegas where you treat yourself for a good catch up shower and fresh sheets. If you have hooked up with a bird of boyfriend on the road its even better for cheap R&R for a few days. There are lots of smaller authentic motels on and off the Strip if you prefer the more Route 66 experience.
The actual gamblers turn out to be mostly rows and rows of Prozac doped retired and shriveled up Americans, pouring silver coins into the slots hour after hour, the blackjack tables full of tipsy preppy American students playing only for free drinks. If you get to sit down at a table a pretty waitress will be on you in a second with free booze for a tip and the hope you get drunk and keep playing and keep giving her more tips....let alone making the casino more money. This is why America introduced prohibition. Vegas profits maybe from the tables but they are facilitated by the booze. You can play stuff like Blackjack or Roulette for a dollar stake and that free drink and walk away so why not give it ago?
If gambling is the point of Vegas and booze its lubrication then the food has to be its crowning glory. It's cheap and the portions are huge! One all-you-can-eat will keep you going for a week guys. And you don't have to be a resident of the hotel if your chosen grub is elsewhere; the food reason enough to stay a week. One night I had all-you-can-eat lobster for $9.99! As a hungry backpacker I piled six of them on top of each other and headed to my table. You should have seen the looks of my fellow American diners. They scratched their balding heads and queried why only six, English guy?
So summing up, Vegas is more like Disneyland than the original Vegas as they increasingly embrace the family feel to keep the profits high. The giant hotels on the Strip are like the Manhattan skyline (and one of them is a Manhattan skyline!) and all shapes and sizes to marvel at. One has a working circus inside the lobby whilst another has a rollercoaster sliding between its escalators. They really are extraordinary places. But it is a must do venue in your lifetime as the neon lights are like one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This is not a holiday venue to retreat to snobbery in conversation so to avoid.
Summary: Dont stay a week