Travel Diary: Las Vegas, NV.

I would love to be the kind of blogger who can start off a travel diary by saying, “Earlier this year, I booked a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas!” and make it sound totally normal. Like I’m the whimsical kind of girl who does this sort of thing all the time. “It was completely spur of the moment, tickets were cheap, and I thought – hey, why not! Let’s go to Vegas!”

 “Hey, why not! Let’s go to Vegas!” is not something I’ve ever said in my entire life. I was whimsical for like, twenty minutes. The twenty minutes that it took for some woman on the phone to convince me that Vegas was all the rage. “Oh, you haven’t been to Vegas?!” She asked in a tone that suggested ‘eeeeeveryone’s been to Vegas!’. But, like, in a nice way? I don’t know. It was weird.

The woman calling me worked for the hotel chain that I frequently use when traveling for business trips (therefore they assumed that I would have the money to, like, travel). “Now is a GREAT time to come out to Las Vegas.” She said – (as if she would have called me to say, ‘You know, now is not such a great time’) – “We just opened up a BRAND NEW hotel on the strip. It’s a FIVE STAR resort situated next to Miracle Mile – so you can go SHOPPING” – because that’s how I pick my vacation spots? “or you can lay out by the POOL…” appealing to her audience here “with a DRINK…” – all things I could easily do at home, fo’ free. “And don’t forget about the CASINOS!” She added. “Maybe you could win some MONEY! Wouldn’t that be fun?!” ‘Wouldn’t that be fun?’ – like I’m really going to say, ‘no – winning money? Geez, that sounds awful.’

“I’m not much of a gambler,” I told her. “Thanks for the offer, but I don’t think now is a good time.”

The end. Hang up. I studied Communications, I work in SALES management, I am a MASTER of persuasive strategy (I mean, not really, but I took a class on it once in college). I knew what this woman was doing. Trying to convince me to stay at her fancy hotel so that I could go SHOPPING and have a DRINK by the POOL. Please. She called the wrong loyalty program member.

“You don’t have to use it right now!” She said. “You can use it anytime. Six months, a year – It doesn’t matter!”

“I don’t have time for a vacation.”

“You’re saying you won’t have the time in a YEAR?”

 “I’m… busy.” 

Probably.

Look – I’m not saying Vegas was at the BOTTOM of my bucket list, because it genuinely is some place that I’ve always wanted to see at least once –  but, like, not spontaneously because some strange woman on the phone acts like she wants to go shopping with me. “You know, we’ve got a lot of great stuff going on this year,” she said. “A lot of great shows. Criss Angel is in town, Celine Dion, Cirque du Soleil…”

Cirque du Soleil. She was trying to sell me Vegas on Cirque du Soleil. Not that it isn’t a great show, I’m sure it is… it’s just… I don’t know. I don’t think that people go to Vegas JUST to see Cirque du Soleil.

Britney Spears.” She said. She might have been grasping at straws, but whatever. “She’s still in town. Do you like Britney Spears?”

I bought a shirt once just because I saw Britney Spears wearing it in a Kohl’s advertisement. True story.

And I didn’t even really LIKE the shirt.

Granted, I was like fifteen at the time, but still. Here we are, over ten years later, and all it takes to get to me book a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas is twenty minutes and the mention of Britney Spears’ name. Sold.

Reality set in later. Not too much later – about thirty minutes after I hung up the phone. What did I just do? VEGAS? Someone called me from a random number asking me if I wanted to go to VEGAS and I gave them my credit card information? If that clown in the movie “IT” told me that Britney Spears was down there hiding in the sewer, I’d probably just crawl on down there.

This is how people get their identities stolen.

Correction – this is how STUPID people get their identities stolen. Regular people just get them stolen from a sneaky scanner at a gas pump or something.

I did not get my identity stolen. But as a general public service announcement – don’t be stupid. If someone calls you from a random number, don’t give them your credit card information. K? K.

Anyway, the anxious, cautious part of me who can’t plan a trip without first making a Pinterest board began to panic about thirty minutes later. Assuming I didn’t get my identity stolen – I can’t just go to VEGAS…? BY MYSELF? What am I supposed to do out there? Just wander around searching for Britney Spears? So I called my mom, canceled my credit card, and spent the next three months trying to get out of it.

I told them I couldn’t go, I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t have the time. I wanted my money back. Please and thank you.

I tried to get out of it. For THREE MONTHS I tried to get out of it.

But they wouldn’t let me out of it. They told me I could cancel the trip, but I wouldn’t get my money back. So I called my boyfriend and said, “Heeeey, wanna go to Vegas?” And he was like, “sure, why not”.

 (It turns out, of the two of us, he is the more whimsical one. Who knew.)

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So, back in October – we went to Vegas!   

(No, we did not get married. Because that seems to be the first question that people always ask.)

(No, we did not win anything. Because that’s usually the second question.)

I’d never been to Las Vegas before this trip. The most I’d seen of it was in the Friends episode where Ross and Rachel get drunk and married by an Elvis impersonator. So, that was pretty much my only expectation – I wanted to see an Elvis impersonator. I didn’t care about gambling – other than “I want to play one of the slots”, and when Kyle tried to push the button instead of pulling the lever, I was like, “You’re totally missing the point of the game. Pulling the handle-thing is the best part.” 

Not the winning. Just pulling the handle-thing. I was literally playing quarter slots just to pull the handle-thing. (Is that not how gambling works? I don’t know, I usually spend my money on shopping. That’s a game I can win every time.)

 

When you tell people that you’re going to Vegas for the first time, they all want to tell you about the hookers. And the… pimps? I guess that’s what they’re called? The creepy guys who stand on the corner and try to get your attention with the cards. Everyone wanted to tell me about “the cards”. If you don’t know what “the cards” are, they’re like business cards with pictures of naked ladies on them. And the creepy guys will literally shove them them in front of your face as you’re walking around.

They’ll shove them in front of anyone’s face. It doesn’t matter who you are. Teenagers, old people, my college roommate told me once that when she went to Vegas with her parents (before she was even twenty-one),  the creepy guys even tried to shove one of these naked-lady-cards in her face. Like she’s going to say, “Hey Mom and Dad – you know what this trip to Vegas needs to REALLY make it special? A hooker.”  

So, yea, look forward to that. Along the same lines, you’ll also see a few random protestors holding up signs against sex trafficking and maybe one or two crazy guys with megaphones who tell everyone that they’re going to Hell.

I mean, I guess if you want to make a career out of telling people that they’re going to Hell, Sin City seems like the place with the most opportunity.

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Since I’d never been to Vegas – and basically, the only reason I wanted to go was to say “I’ve been to Vegas” – I had a limited amount of things on my bucket list.

  • Gamble. (And what I meant by that was, “pull the handle-thing”.) Check.

  • Go to Caesars Palace. (The only reason – and I mean, the ONLY reason – I wanted to go here was because of that clip in the movie “The Hangover” when Zach Galifianakis’ character says, “This isn’t the real Caesar’s Palace, is it? Did Caesar actually live here?”) Check.

  • Brunch. 
    • I’m going to level with you guys – I don’t normally *do* buffets. Ever since I saw a news special about the illness and bacteria born from buffet-type set-ups (I’m talking “everyone who has touched the handle on the serving utensil before you – their germs have now somehow gotten into your food” type of paranoia) … I make an active point to avoid buffets. I am fully aware that this makes me crazy. I don’t care.

      But Vegas is different. It’s not, like, The Golden Corral type of set-up. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Golden Corral. I’m assuming they’re back in good standing(?) after those 200 cases of food poisoning were traced back to them five years ago..) But Vegas brunch buffets are, just, better. I can eat there.

      Let me just say that again —– > I can eat there, the crazy lady who carries around hand sanitizer in her bag and won’t eat in a restaurant without it – CAN EAT THERE. And she can eat there without feeling like everyone in the restaurant has somehow touched or sneezed on her food. So, like, I assure you – it’s safe.

      We had brunch at The Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan. This decision was based on the fact that it was within walking distance from our hotel and offered unlimited mimosas. I don’t read many food blogs – so I don’t know how to rant and rave about how spectacular the food was – but, honestly, it was SPEC-TACULAR.

      I reacted similarly to a ten year old who’s been left on their own for the weekend with the way I was piling food on my plate – Mac & Cheese, a piece of pizza, French toast, some type of chicken dish, some type of egg dish…? Whatever. I had the mimosas to wash it all down. Champagne helps with digestion. Probably.

      Regardless – everything that we had here was AMAZING. If we go back to Vegas, this is the first place we’re stopping.

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  • Go to “Old Vegas”. 
    • When I told people that I was going to Vegas for the first time – besides telling me about “the cards” and the hookers – a few people also mentioned, “Oh, you should go to the old part. You’ll have to take a taxi out there, but it’s worth it. Old Vegas is a lot of fun.” For some reason, I thought this meant…like, I don’t know, “cutesy”. I don’t know how you can make Las Vegas “cutesy”, since it’s Las Vegas, but… you know. Old-timey. Marilyn Monroe-y. Like the kind of Las Vegas you imagine when you hear an Elvis Presley song.

      Old Vegas is not cutesy. We took a taxi out to Fremont Street (which is, essentially, what everyone is talking about when they say ‘old Vegas’) and… well, I’ll give it this – when you think of “crazy Las Vegas”, this is the place that you’re thinking of. We saw wedding chapels, girls walking around in lingerie (I’m assuming they were hookers? I hope they were hookers, and not just girls with low self esteem), a couple of women wearing nun costumes with the chests cut out (and, no, they weren’t wearing bras), contortionists on the side of the street trying to freak people out for money (seriously, how do they bend like that?), more protests against sex trafficking, and a loooooot of drunk dudes. Like, a LOT of drunk dudes.
      We hung around here for probably an hour or two before I got tired of smelling that weird combination of smoke and perfume. Plus it was super crowded. But, as the cab driver who drove us out there put it, “If you want to see some freaks, go to Fremont Street. That’s where they all hang out.” So, there you go. Go to Fremont Street. (And don’t go out there with the expectation that it’s “cute”.)

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  • The Stratosphere. 
    • This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Next to brunch. (All of my favorite parts of this trip revolve around food. It’s clear where my priorities are.) We had drinks and an appetizer at “Top of the World”, which is the lounge inside The Stratosphere. Needless to say – the view was, like, slightly impressive.

      I didn’t realize until we got up there that this was one of those places with the rotating floors. At least the dining area was – we were on the floor above, in the lounge that overlooks the dining area. This, for some reason, entertained me more than the view. “Look at it,” I said. “They’re spinning! They’re just sitting down there eating dinner, and the floor is spinning!” I mean, it’s not spinning very fast or anything, but still. They’re eating dinner, and the floor is MOVING. “Look at that!” I said again. “That girl is down there playing on her phone. She’s got the best view of the entire city, on a floor that is ROTATING, and she looks BORED!”

      This is why you don’t want to go on vacation with me. Because I sometimes turn into the annoying mom-figure who calls people out for being on their phone and not “enjoying the moment”. But STILL. The floor was MOVING, guys. Does anyone ever get motion sickness? How do the servers keep track of their sections? Is it possible to get dizzy? These are the questions I come to Vegas with.

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  • The “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. 
    • This was on my list as “Take a picture in front of the sign”, because it seemed like a very tourist-y, Instagram-y thing to do. So we hiked out to the sign, which is essentially on the edge of the city (makes sense, right? “Welcome” to Las Vegas?)

      The day we arrived in Vegas was only seven days after the shooting, which has been referred to as “the deadliest mass shooting in US modern history”. We walked past Mandalay Bay, and saw where the windows were boarded up on the 32nd floor. We walked past the concert venue, and saw the heavy police presence still in effect. Before we even got to the sign, we could see the memorial. A mile’s worth of flowers, memorial signs, prayer circles, candles, stuffed animals, etc. all lined up behind the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to honor the 58 victims.

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      There were reminders of the tragedy all over the city – mainly with the #VegasStrong signs displayed everywhere – but this was the real memorial. This was the real reminder that something terrible had happened here. When I told people that I was going to Vegas for the first time, after this occurred, people also told me, “I hope it’s back to normal.” I don’t know what “normal” was for Vegas, because I’d never been before this trip – but I can tell you that the spirit of Las Vegas was strong. People didn’t seem afraid, they were there for a good time. Yet there was still an incredible presence of outpouring support and respect for the lives that had been lost.

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  • The Britney Spears show.
    • Duh. Of course I wanted to go to the Britney Spears show. Britney Spears is the only reason I wanted to go on this trip in the first place. Because I could feel all of my little 4th grade dreams coming true. Maybe I’d get to meet her. Maybe I’d get to take a picture with her and everyone would be like, “Oh em gee – you look like sisters!” 
    • We did not go to the Britney Spears show. We looked up tickets – which were roughly $200 a pop, and Kyle was not jazzed about the idea of spending $200 to go see Britney Spears with a bunch of gay guys and Bachelorette parties all screaming the lyrics to “Toxic”. And I didn’t want to go by myself, or spend over $400 on tickets for the two of us. So, we let the Britney Spears thing slide. Which I was okay with, because we probably would have had terrible seats and I wouldn’t have gotten to meet her. Or touch her ankle or whatever as she walked by. So, it’s whatever. Sometimes it’s best not to meet your idols.

All in all, we spent three days in Vegas (in a pretty sweet hotel, by the way – turns out the lady on the phone was right, having a drink by the pool on vacation IS fun), then we rented a car and drove down to Phoenix, Arizona! More on that to come.

Have any of you been to Vegas? What are you favorite parts?! Let’s hear about it in the comments!

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