Someone has to pay for the lights

Trip Start Dec 26, 2009
Trip End Nov 08, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Friday, March 12, 2010

It's a Vegas saying, and it's true - all those lights are paid for by all the people sitting at the casinos. And the ones drinking, drinks are ridiculously expensive unless you gamble!

Time doesn't really flow right in Vegas. You sleep all morning and are lazy or go sightseeing for most of the afternoon, and drift out to dinner much later than usual so you can go straight to a show, casino or club without bothering to return to your room. You stay up most of the night and activate your magical teleporting skills to return to your room at a time you don't want to remember, and sleep it all off!

The hotels are huge and the lights are bright. It looks quite different by day on the outside in the bright desert sunlight, more washed out and out of place. At night you can't see the desert anymore and it is just a dazzling, intoxicating glitter of lights. On the inside it always looks the same - it is always semi-dark in the casinos, with the slot machines all flashing and spinning. They are all mazes of course, it is impossible to follow a straight path. We only ever made it out by walking in a line until we hit a wall and following the signs along the outside.

The hotels all have their own theme, and carry it through to everything. Most of the casinos looked the same, but a few managed to have their own style. We stayed at New York-New York, on the south end of the Strip, which was actually the most interesting from the outside. The whole hotel looks like the high-rises of New York placed together, with the windows of the buildings being the windows of the rooms. The inside had a New York theme, so the decorations were nice but not as spectacular as other places. We went to so many hotels on the strip that describing them in detail will bore you, so I will give you the the highlights and try to make it brief! The Bellagio was sheer opulence, and it was one of the two who really had a different-looking casino, with the roof all done in gold and white hanging cloths and poles. The whole place just screamed expensive. Paris had my favourite casino - it was designed to look like outdoor Paris on a summer's day, with all the poker and blackjack tables along glass and iron promenades, and the roof painted like a summer sky with cotton-puff clouds. That's probably why I liked it the most, because it felt lighter and more open than all the other dark ones! There was a hlaf-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower out the front, with a very expensive restaurant and an elevator going up to the top. Luxor was impressive, with a black glass pyramid for a hotel and a giant sphinx over the entrance. Treasure Island had a good entrance (with pirate ships on the lake!) but a pretty standard shaped hotel. Mandalay Bay had the same shape but the whole hotel was gold - in the daytime it still looked good (although it would be impossible gaudy anywhere but Vegas). I liked Excalibur, which is shaped like a castle and has buttresses and turrets and shields everywhere. MGM and Caesar's Palace looked similar, strange given that one was movie-themed and the other ancient Rome, except MGM was done in gold and Caesar's palace was done in white and had fantastic statues and water features everywhere. Some of the Casinos had dancers to distract the table players - Planet Hollywood's Pleasure Pit and the Mirage's Pussycat Tables. They were certainly distracting!

We didn't gamble or spend heaps of time at all these places, obviously, otherwise we'd still be there! Some we just wandered through and others we stayed at for less than an hour. I played the slot machines a little but it was pretty boring, the slot machines are just set up to press a single button every round with no nice features unless you win lots. And I didn't win so therefore I didn't like it :P Ben played blackjack quite a bit, which was convenient because it meant we both got free drinks. Although it is probably cheaper to pay for the drinks depending on your luck! He had pretty rotten luck almost all the time, except for a couple of small rounds at Circus Circus and New York-New York. And just when he was really quite peeved, the last night he gambled he hit an excellent streak and won back almost everything he lost! He kept winning, and we were sitting there wondering when to leave, since he had well and truly broken the double and run rule. Eventually he said when he lost two hands in a row he'd leave and a few rounds later it happened, but by then he had $245 - from a start of $40.

I didn't play, not because I don't enjoy blackjack, but because I can't stand losing money. The stinge in me gets all grumpy if I lose, and then I'm no fun to be with. And I can't get away from me! But I didn't mind watching Ben, and he was nice enough to offer to let me play with some of his money... but I don't want to lose his money either! And that was the sum of our gambling. We didn't play poker or craps, and although we were interested in roulette we restricted ourselves to watching.

Of course one of the main entertainment options in Vegas is the shows. We went to a show the first night we got there on a whim, because it was the one New York-New York hosts so we got very cheap, very good tickets and it looked fun. It was amazing. It was a Cirque de Soleil show called Zumanity with a sensual/sex theme. They had acts like diving lesbian contortionists in a giant fishbowl, a sexy schoolgirl hula-hooping on a flywire, and a punk stripper doing circus-style pole-dancing over a TV on the sports channel. Not that it was all about Ben (although he certainly got the better end of the deal!), as there were some very ripped guys doing acrobatics on a flywire and in a huge spinning hoop on the ground. There were also lots of comic acts, including some very large almost naked women going through the crowd and pressing into people "accidentally." There were topless and g-string costumes, and pretend naked bottom halves in a comic act - but they were wearing fake rude parts! We had so much fun there, alternately laughing and gasping (and drooling). It was possibly the best thing we went to.

We also went to O, which is the very famous Cirque de Soleil water performance. They have a stage underwater, any part of which can be lowered to any depth at any time, so a performer can walk across it and someone can dive in straight after. It was very impressive and very sophisticated, but we agreed afterward we had enjoyed the energy and atmosphere of Zumanity much better.

We did go to a strip club - we were in Vegas! - but went to a reasonably nice one where they still kept g-strings on. It was supposed to be one with men and women so we could both get some nice eye candy, but Ben did the research and it turned out there was only male entertainment on particular nights - not the night we went! We considered going to a burlesque show, but since we had seen a couple of shows already and were very happy with the Zumanity one (and the one Ben wanted wasn't on on the night we were thinking of going) we didn't end up doing it.

There are a few free things - shows of sorts - that occur outside a few of the hotels each night. The Mirage has a 'volcano' that explodes with lots of lights and smoke and water. The Bellagio has its famous fountains. And Treasure Island has a battle between a pirate ship and the sirens, with a full cast, that ends with the Sirens destroying the pirate ship. We went to all of them, which was fun. We also spent our days hunting down all the best thrill rides - because lots of the hotels have them! The Stratosphere, the tallest hotel, has 3 rides at the very top of its tower - a big shot straight upwards on the very top, a car that goes on a track off the side and halts suddenly and heart-stopping 107 stories up in what seems mid-air, and a spinny ride that isn't too bad - except it is also off the side of the tower, so again is a long look down! Not for people who have problems with heights. New York-New York had a fantastic rollercoaster, Sahara had a speed coaster that went forward and backward, and Circus Circus had an entire indoor theme park. Fun times!

We went out, to bars mostly, notably to Coyote Ugly. It was as advertised - very hot bartenders, bras all over the roof, although we didn't see any dancing on the bar, just on stage. On our final night we were planning to go to a big club, names on the doorlist and everything, but we ended up at a bar with dueling pianos and had such a ridiculously good time we didn't leave until they closed. There were two guys at a time taking requests and then both playing the piano and singing. They both had lively personalities, and knew every song requested. Most people asked for older classics, although of course the hit of the night was The Piano Man. It was just a really good atmosphere with good music.

Ben bulldozed me into spending time doing something very expensive that I wanted but wasn't going to spend that much money on - the Spa. By bulldozed, I mean while I was complaining about the cost he literally picked up the phone and made an appointment that couldn't be canceled without paying. So I found a promotion online to make myself feel better about the money and went to get covered in mud, wrapped in plastic and massaged better. It was pretty amazing actually. And I got access to the hottest, highest-pressure shower I have had since I left home!

We went out to dinner at reasonably nice places. We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe, which was full of memorabilia and we had fun. We had Mexican, which Ben loved so we went back for more, and we also ate at an Irish Pub a couple of nights since they had a live Irish band and an Irish dancer in the lead up to St Patrick's Day. They also had a dish that still makes me drool to think of, but they had run out! I don't know where I'll find another dish that involves salmon topped with smoked salmon. Ireland maybe?

And that was the sum of our time in Vegas! Plus a lot of sleeping and groaning in the morning. And a LOT of cocktails. We had giant 48 ounce cocktail glasses that we drank frozen cocktails out of several times. But we weren't out of place at all. Vegas is the one place in the world where carrying a 72 ounce cocktail taller than I am around the streets in the morning is not out of place. Not that we were that extreme. Although our in-room dining did come with a cocktail list - for breakfast. We were quite tempted by these breakfast cocktails, but never actually managed to get up at an hour that could be considered breakfast time. While gambling, we got free cocktails, so Ben drank lots of Long Island Iced Tea and I had lots of Sex on the Beach. And cocktails ;).

We were planning to do a day trip to the Grand Canyon, but doing it ourselves would have meant 11 hours of driving (for maybe 2 hours at the Grand Canyon and a ridiculously long day) and doing a tour still meant a very long and also very expensive day. We still had it in the plan, but after considering we couldn't go out the night before or the night of, we decided not to. We have already seen lovely desert landscape and hiked down a way deeper canyon. And you can't do everything, or you get burnt out fast. So no Grand canyon for us! But 2 more nights of partying instead :D.

Love, lights and partying times,
Amanda and Ben
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