Las Vegas is unlike any other city in the world. It's a mixture of elegance and grandness as well es weirdness and addiction. It won't leave you indifferent. In this post I want to talk about our days spent within the city. Actually, the part of the city where the strip is located is called Paradise and not Las Vegas, as many people wrongly think. Anyway, it pulled us in and chewed us up and we loved every second of it. You could spend so much time here and discover something new each day. The city at night is a special sight and if the exteriors are too shiny and bright, then you can escape into the glitzy and stylish interiors of the hotels and casinos. I hope you will enjoy our time spent there, as much as we did.
Arriving to Las VegasWe had an early wake up call in Mammoth Lakes, grabbed some breakfast at our motel and moved on down Route 395, which is very isolated and lonely. You won't pass through many inhabited places and once you make the turn towards Highway I-95, it gets even lonelier. Expect mountain roads and long, straight, seemingly never-ending routes that cross the valleys. Deffinitly make sure to stock up with food and water before your road trip. It took us approximately 5 hours from Mammoth Lakes to Las Vegas. The city materializes out of the desert when you approach it. It's all very fascinating.
The first night in Las Vegas was spent with our family. We have cousins in Phoenix and Salt Lake City that came into town to see us. I can't describe how great it was to see them again and they showed us around the city at night, explained the casinos and treated us to a great dinner at Gordon Ramsey's Burger Restaurant. If you guys are reading this: thank you again so every much!
Exploring Las VegasThere is much to see in the city, obviously. While my cousins departed the next day, we stayed and kept exploring. Our day started with Downtown Las Vegas. It's a nice start for the exploration, but one visited best if you have a car, since it's a bit off the strip. The most prominent sight here is the Freemont Street Experience, with a huge LCD screen that is covering up the street. It's activated at night though, so that will be the only time of day when you get to see its full effect.
Shopping and Dining in Las VegasThe city offers many places for both activities. We had a great lunch at the "Rainforest restaurant" (two images above), where we had Clam Chowder and a appetizer plate with fried chicken, fired mozzarella sticks, cream cheese and spinach dip as well as chicken wraps, that came with guacamole and two dipping sauces. All very delicious. The interior of the restaurant is exciting as well. It's decorated to look like a rain forest, complete with sounds, live sky and animals that activate every 10 minutes. We went shopping in the Las Vegas Outlet Mall South where you will find a lot of stores and outlet shops. Definitely recommended if you want to buy yourself something. If it's high end stores you are looking for, then don't go further then the Las Vegas Strip itself. You will find great shops around the Aria hotel, as well as the interior malls in The Venetian and Ceaser's Palace.
Las Vegas NightlifeThis is where it gets interesting. There is a lot to do at night in Las Vegas. From getting drinks at stylish places like The Chandelier (but also very pricey), enjoying the fountains in front of the Bellagio (next image), or simply stepping inside any hotel and casino on the strip and get carried away. Some of the hotels on the strip are interconnected, so you don't even have to step outside (I'm sure that's their motto as well). Casinos are everywhere, and if you like gambling this will be your heaven. I'm not much of a gambler, but I did enter each and every casino and hotel, simply because it's an experience all in itself. These are the hotels we visited: Luxor, Excalibur (this is the hotel we stayed in), Bellagio, Mirrage, Ceaser's Palace, Venetian, Paris Paris, Cosmopolitan, MGM Grand (best casino, so my co-travelers tell me), New York - New York and Planet Hollywood. The strip is 3 km (1.8 miles) long so be prepared to walk a lot, or you can take the monorail that connects most of them. But we rather explored by foot, since we didn't want to miss out on anything.
10 Facts and Rules that we learned about Las Vegas:1. Smoking is allowed in the casinos. Depending in which one you end up, you won't notice it that much. Some of the cheaper casinos will have your eyes water if you are a non-smoker like I am.
2. Solicitation is at every corner. You won't be able to walk anywhere without someone stopping you and trying to sell you something and/or get you someplace. A simple "No, thank you" will get the job done though.
3. The city never sleeps. It's a well known motto but it's very true. On our second night in the city we wanted to go to bed at midnight, came to our hotel but stopped so that the others could play just one round of roulette. I went to bed at two (and we had to go to the Grand Canyon the next morning). Time flies away here and also doesn't matter at all. Everything you need is always open and right there.
5. Free drinks in the casinos. Now I don't drink (I know, I know, I don't gamble, smoke or drink, what am I doing here :), but here is what I saw and what seemed of interest: while you gamble, waitresses hop around and bring you free drinks (you have to tip them though). It's a nice way of prolonging the night. Beware, you can't take alcohol on the street and drink it, it's illegal.
6. Slots or tables. From our experience playing the tables (by that I mean the live roulette, black jack and poker in the casinos) will get you further then the slots. But hey, who am I to tell someone where they'll get lucky!
8. Inside malls are a lot of fun. The Venetian and Ceaser's Palace inner malls are not to be missed. The one in Ceaser's Palace even has a affordable H&M (at least the girls told me so), and you won't belive your eyes when you see the ceiling in these places. They are made to look like a real sky (images above this text), and even though it doesn't show in the images, when you are there and look into the right corner you could be fooled into thinking you're outside.
9. Stay within the strip. The main attractions are located on the strip, and you won't find any reason to steer of from it. Just in case you might want to, beware that the outer parts of the city (especially at night) are not the safest. This doesn't mean that the Strip is a completely safe place. Especially after midnight things tend to get freaky.
10. Some hotels offer special events. Ceaser's Palace has the Celine Dion concert, the Stratosphere a trill ride roller coaster (New York, New York has one too), MGM Grand has the David Copperfield magic show, Cirque du Soleil is in the Bellagio, Aria and New York, New York, and every day there are new shows added (there was a Britney Spears concert during the time we visited). Make sure to check up on these events and book your tickets in advance!
End of Part Eleven
To be continued...