This whole mess started when Pablo invited my girlfriend, Katie, to go to Las
Vegas with him. Having no interest in gambling or cheesy American entertainment
for people too old to hang out at dance clubs, I refused immediately. After a
month of crying, bitching, and ultimatums I had my arm twisted into going to Las
Vegas... can't possibly suck that much, can it?
Ohh, yes it can. And more. "The Strip" is the dirtiest, most overcrowded piece
of packed road I have ever seen in my life. For the first time in my life I
suppose I understand the "southern hospitality" because those Vegas suckers had
0 patience. At one point one of our cab drivers told us to shoot at anybody with
California license plates. Streets are more than dirty, packed with sweaty
Mexicans handing out advertisements for prostitution, creepy guys chasing you
and dragging you into their bar/casino, pile of retired carnies who got fired
from an amusement park stuck trying to sell people on an 8 hour tour of Grand
Canyon in a bus with no air conditioning. You can tell the mob has tried
everything in their power to alter sidewalks straight into their casino's that
reek of alcohol and smoke. The first 2 hours in Vegas convinced me that this
piece of trash deserved none of my time and especially none of my attention or
money. I made a point early on not to gamble, buy drinks, or even walk through
the garbage hotels that made you walk through their casino's just to get to the
other side. Basically, it sucked, very very very much. Its truly a shame that
such wonderful architecture was flushed down the toilet with such ugly tacky
casinos. At this point Katie and I agreed to seek fun off the strip.
We went down to Dream Car
Rentals (really nice guys, check them out if you're in Vegas) and rented a Honda
S2000, one of Katie's favorite cars. We first took off for the Red Rock Canyon,
a 13 mile closed circuit about 12 miles NW of the strip. It was amazing. We got
there about an hour before the sunset and the imagery was amazing. On one side
there was a nice mountain range, on the other a flat desert with Las Vegas
nested in the middle. With the sun setting over the large rock sediments and
dark orange rays over the desert.. it was breathtaking to see such natural
beauty so close to the trash man has created.
The very next day, we woke
up and went to the Hoover Dam (about 20 miles SE of the strip). Obviously, by
the time we woke up, got ready, and started driving it was 11 AM. Imagine the
wonderful 110 degree desert, driving in a convertible at 60mph, without even a
hint of moisture. Its akin to locking yourself in the oven at 450 F and pointing
a hair dryer straight at your face. For 30 minutes. Oh, the joy on my face when
we arrived. Joke aside, Hoover Dam was astonishing. I honestly didn't expect it
to be this huge, but the infrastructure was even more impressive. We got a
really rude tour guide, with about 0 personality, and even less sense of humor.
That hour would of been quite painful, but the tour was simply amazing. The
"Hard Hat" tour takes you all the way through the dam, top to bottom and the
right back up where they drop you off on a sidewalk. Check out some of the
pictures as they are quite breathtaking.
We had an ice cream at
Sonics, got back to Vegas and Katie and I went to drop the car back off. We then
walked over to the Las Vegas Hilton to their Star Trek Experience exibit. If you
are even a little bit of a Star Trek fan you will absolutely treasure this
place. It contains the entire history of Star Fleet, props from the show,
pictures and masks, etc. Then you get onto the ride, which is absolutely
incredible. They beam you onto Enterprise NC-1701D and you get to hang out on
the bridge and see Riker on the main viewscreen. Everything seems quite
authentic and doesn't look cheesy at all. There are huge replicas of starships
hanging all over the place, and you're dropped off at Quarks Bar. Its quite
amazing really, you sort of have to see it for yourself. We ate the Quarks bar,
had some drinks (Seven of Nine and Badlands; Katie had the "Bird of Prey" and I
had Ensign Kim's Swardfish Mix).
After the Star Trek thing we
went back to Harrah's, cleaned up, and got ready to go shopping. We hit Ceasar's
Palace hotel and after trying to get through all the trashy gambling garbage got
to the Caesar Shops section of it which was HUGE. We first went to the IMAX:
Ride for the Atlantis which upset our dinner extremely. The ride was cheesy, it
was grossly disorganized, and the whole operation was ran by a bunch of chinks
with poor english and thick accents. They had to restart the ride twice and the
whole thing was a complete ripoff. Avoid it at all cost. Besides, all the shops
section was quite amazing, as you can tell by enormous FAO Schwartz and a number
of other toy stores. There was also a big line at Caesars Palace to take a
picture at a Lamborghini Diabolo SV; Talk about an amazing $285,000 car.
Incredible. That market the end of day 2.
Our last day started out
with a nice tour of the strip. We decided that since we'll probably never come
here anytime soon we might as well take a look at some of the Las Vegas
landmarks. Well, we started with The Venetian which was quite amazing in its
architecture and authenticity. They ruined the the thing with the casino but
once you got past that everything was great. The hotel had a big Venetian canal
that had a bunch of gondolas going back and forth. Apparently, this place was
way over our head and most shops were aimed at much more sophisticated people.
We decided to take up Denise on a great restaurant recommendation (Zafrinos or
something like that), an incredible restaurant. I honestly have to thank Denise
a lot because this was by far the best lunch I have ever had in my life. We had
around 10 people serving us, all sorts of pasta, salads, cookies, bread, etc.
Then the main course arrived and every bite was so much better than the previous
one. You know when you take a bite and then take a minute to enjoy it too? Well,
this was pretty much that feeling extended through the entire meal. It was
AMAZING. Another great Vegas thing...
After this wonderful lunch,
we decided to go on to the rest of the Las Vegas resorts. First we went off to
Bally's and took the monorail down to MGM. We pretty much ran through MGM to get
the Rodney Dangerfield tickets for later that evening. Then we proceeded to the
MGM's Lion preservation area, which was an incredible disappointment. These
amazing animals were locked in an area hardly the size of a studio apartment and
they were all asleep. But don't underestimate the tackiness of Vegas - MGM had
the brains to record the sound of a waterfall with a random Lion growl every 30
seconds. Essentially, it sounds like someone flushes the toilet every 30 seconds
and just leaves it running. As if this wasn't brain damage enough, we proceeded
in the hot sun to the NY NY which we spent quite little time due to the largest
casino I've seen in my life. We went south to Excalibur and then down to Luxor
which was an incredible disappointment, the hotel was very cheesy and it really
reeked of something I could not identify. We were quite exhausted and dehydrated
from all the walking and we decided to spend some time in the A/C. We went
through Luxor, Excalibur, Monte Carlo and then over to Bellagio. Bellagio was by
far the most beautiful hotel on the strip, with amazing gardens, a wonderful
gallery (Steve Martin's private collection with 2 Picaso's), an amazing wedding
chapel, etc. We watched a wedding then made it home.
The ending to this vacation
was pretty much perfect; We went to MGM Grand to see Rodney Dangerfield that
went on for about an hour. If I had to pick, this was by far the most impressive
thing I saw in Las Vegas. I have been a fan of his for a long time, but I never
imagined that his 5 minute Jay Leno strips could ever go on for an entire hour
and keep up the laughs - I never imagined there would be that many one-line
jokes.. We went to bed late that evening after our show and dressup, got up
early and hopped on the first class flight back to Florida.
All in all, the "Las Vegas
strip" is definitely not what its hyped up to be - If you can muster up enough
ignorance to just turn the other shoulder every 2 feet that you hit a slot
machine it can be quite enjoyable.. The bulk of the cool stuff is hidden behind
all the casino crap so you have to take your time and be patient walking through
the tombs. All in all, Rodney Dangerfield, Star Trek Experience, Hoover Dam, and
Red Rock Canyon were quite amazing.
Below are our picture
Welcome to Las Vegas
Pictures of the Las Vegas Airport, and few strip hotels.
Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon, Stratosphere Tower.
Boulder, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead.
Star Trek & Ceasars Palace
Star Trek Experience, Caesars Palace, FAO Schwartz.
Vegas at Night
Rest of the hotels:
Venetian, Flamingo, Paris Paris, Flamingo, Ballys, MGM, NY NY, Excalibur, Luxor,
Monte Carlo, M&M Factory, Coke World, Bellagio, Bellagio Gardens, Caesars