Will The Real Las Vegas Please Stand Up?
24 hours or so door to door, but finally we made it to freezing cold, big hat wearing, Las Vegas!
The story starts Saturday morning with Kate and I heading to the airport, dutifully our 3 hours ahead of time for our flight Vegas (via LA) with United (yeah, I know… United). With online check-in only giving us a “sorry, but one or more parties are unable to obtain a boarding pass” message we thought we had better get there pretty early. Which while not a mistake, proved to be very optimistic as we sat. And sat. And sat waiting for our flight. As each hour went by, more people were being told “sorry, but you will be unlikely to make your connecting flight in LA”. We had 4.5 hours so I was still feeling OK.
To give credit where credit is due, the United process after leaving Melbourne was pretty good. We had to change planes in Sydney, which was super quick, and then we made time in the air to end up only 2 hours behind schedule. Win! Well, until you are greeted by the LA immigration experience. One person to process ALL visitors on the incoming flights in that terminal. At midday. *Sigh*
Anyway, I don’t want to make this a “oh, boo hoo, international travel is so tiring and horrible” story, because it’s not. It only seems bad because best laid plans go awry, and emotions are heightened by default. When we got on our bumpy connecting flight to Las Vegas, departing just a shade early, all was tip top (well, except our stomachs… that was a VERY turbulent welcome to Vegas). And here I am doing the first entry for this wildly eclectic holiday Kate and I are about to embark on… sitting in my hotel room in the Venetian no less on a sunny Sunday morning with a solid 10 hours of sleep under my belt.
So what has happened in our first night in this quick two day jaunt to Vegas? Let’s get to it!
If you could do the math, we rocked in mid afternoon. On the cab ride from the airport we saw the first signs of a slightly different Vegas experience happening. The annual national Rodeo champs were on and you would think it was Texas. Big hats everywhere, so we could be in for some fun. Anyway, we checked in to our gloriously opulent room at The Venetian. Well, I’m sure it is not that opulent compared to everything else in the hotel, but you all know I am not one for 5 star hotels, but at Vegas rates (i.e cheap) it was hard not to take up the chance. Hot water to make us feel human again, and it was off to wander.
We had no real plan… only planned event was some shows for the Sunday night, so this was just getting out and about. First of all it was an explore of our (obviously Italian inspired) hotel which is suitably borderline elegance and kitsch, as all good Vegas hotels should be. A fairly simply and tasty pasta dinner and small amount of wine later and we hit the strip. Good lord! Freezing! So back to our room for a quick beanie run and back out. Did I say how cold it was?
As we wandered the strip, both Kate and I commented how it just felt kinda different from what we both remembered. Granted, neither of us had been here in 15+ years, but something just didn’t match with our memories. We remembered themed casinos that grabbed you as you walked in with their crazy themes and outlandish sensibilities. However as we wandered it seemed just like a shopping strip with lots of gambling. We popped in to many of the newer casinos early, but still, we both remembered it being much more over the top.
I was quite weirded out by how quiet it felt on the strip. Maybe because it was still fairly early (8pm), maybe because it was so freakin’ cold it was better to be in, and maybe because the rodeo was in town, but there was very few on the strip itself. I remembered it being bustling with all kinds of folk. Hhhmmm.
Our main task was to pick up tickets for our couple of shows for tonight (Sunday) that we had pre-booked. The main point of coming to Vegas was to catch one show in particular that a photo will give away. But alas it is not Donny and Marie, Shania, or even our very own Human nature. More revealed tomorrow…
We achieved our ticket missions so just kept wandering, popping into casinos to stay warm, and stay awake given our imposing jetlag (Kate was fast approaching 30+ hours with not a wink of sleep). As we got in the vicinity of the Aria hotel Kate got her 17th wind and was up for another show. “They have a Cirque du Soleil here that would be pretty good” she remarked. Me with my 12th wind and quite cold was “hhmm… another show… hhmm… OK, let’s see what’s up!”. So after what felt like an eternity traipsing through the casino to find the theatre we came across the box office… to be informed it started in 3 minutes! So haggling with the courteous ticket dude got us good tickets for Zarkana at the cheapest price, and in we went as it kicked off.
I gotta say, for my first Cirque du Soleil I thought it was pretty cool. A surreal acrobatic show is probably the best way to describe it, and it was fun and jaw dropping and looked amazing. Sure I couldn’t follow all the supposed “plot” but I’m not sure that’s the point. I went with it and it was great fun.
So a high five to Kate for her convincing me to go, and we emerged back on the Strip. With the wind chill notched up a bit more we legged it, with a quick detour into the Paris themed casino. Now that’s more like it!
A giant Eiffel tower that actually emerges from the gaming floor, mock Metro stations, Moulin Rouge dressed staff. Over the top Vegas casino at last!