Having been in the US for both TAM and also some hiking, I thought that it might be fun to spend the last night in a hotel on the strip in Las Vegas before flying out the next day. It was apparently a good deal, so what could possible be wrong with this idea?
Well, I learned a few hard truths.
<rant mode on>
Lesson 1 – Everything is pretend, nothing is real
OK, we all know this, but it never really dawned on me just what it was really like until I got there. Basically Disneyland with all the warm fuzzy loveable characters removed and replaced with some very sleazy individuals drenched in a hormone overdose. It is a couple of miles of slot machines, card tables, and shows all boxed in by desert, so unless sitting like a mindless drone with a bucket of coins and pulling a handle for your entire vacation is your thing, then you are really not going to like it.
Lesson 2 – It is very very … did I mention very … expensive
Yes the hotels offer cheap room deals, but they know that once they have you inside the door they have got you.
Coffee maker in the room?
Nope, not a chance, but they do have a coffee shop downstairs that will sell you a latte for $6, and that Starbucks across the street is in on the game and is charging similar prices as well. Fancy on omelette … sure why not, it’s a snip at only $24 and don’t forget to add the tip on top of that. Oh wait, there is an all you can eat buffet, except the choices you are faced with could be best described as a nutritional nightmare – think saturated fat garnished with a delicate hint of monosodium glutamate (yum yum).
There are malls … but these are not your normal malls.
Interested in browsing in a bookstore?
Nope, forget it, there aren’t any at all … not one. OK I lied, there is in fact just one, and it simply flogs first editions at a price that leads you to only assume that the ink must have been liquid gold.
The aroma is all very much one where rather a lot of $$ are required if you want to buy anything.
One store sold movie posters autographed (supposedly) by the actors in the movie in question. Most were around the $8K mark, but I did spot a collection of autographs of US presidents that was rather cheekily being offered at the knock down price of $180,000 …
So who buys this stuff at that price? Somebody does I guess, it is supply and demand in action perhaps.
There are of course people striking gold and winning vast sums of $$$ in Vegas … but basically those are just the owners of all the hotels, restaurants, bars, and casinos – the house has a distinct edge that keeps them very much in the lead and profitable. If that was not true then they would be out of business.
Lesson 3 – You can’t walk down the street without somebody trying to sell you a good time
The streets are littered with guys who will insist on pushing little cards into your hand that are club passes or pictures of scantily clad young ladies with the naughty bits covered up. The deal is that you can arrange for Gonorrheachu or Chlamydiotto to pay you a personal visit in your hotel room for your very own Vegas experience.
I might indeed expect a couple of these guys in Vegas, but there are literally hundreds of them, and so walking down the strip is rather akin to negotiating an obstacle course at times.
Summary – some tips
Given limited precious vacation time and resources, it was a bad move on my part to dive in unprepared. With a bit more planning it all becomes a lot more viable. For example …
- Know what you want … if I’d given it a bit of thought I could have planned to go see Penn and Teller at the Rio … now that would have been cool, but that would mean booking in advance of course.
- Bring your own ice box (I met a guy in the elevator doing just this, slapped my forehead and thought “of course”), so simply stop off at a superstore, buy a $15 ice box, stock up with ice, beer, soda, milk, cereal,water, etc… oh and consider a small camping stove (the tiny little ones that you hike with) for that the early morning coffee/tea.
- Suss out in advance better places to eat (they will be off the strip, but they are out there, and so finding them is half the challenge), we got lucky and did find one.
So in essence I’m kicking myself for not being prepared enough, perhaps because I assumed too much, and now that I’m a little older, wiser, and poorer, I’ll learn to be a bit more prepared.
I have honestly no idea how that tiger got into the bathroom in my room, it was there when I woke up the next day … but hey, I’m not keeping it, I left it for housekeeping to sort out and just checked out.