We just returned from our first trip to Las Vegas (see the photos)–which my father-in-law and I have dubbed the “City of Plastic.”
Everything there is plastic–the casino money, the grass (Astroturf), the décor, people’s body parts…
Despite the ubiquitous wails of the nickel slots, we spent a grand total of $0.00 on gambling.
Our trip, in detail:
The Trip Out
Not very eventful (a Good Thing). We’re glad we double-checked which airport we were leaving from, as we almost drove to the wrong one.
Jet Blue rocks. Comfy chairs, no meals (also a Good Thing) and great, efficient service. We had access to more TV channels on the plane than we have at home! (I watched a History Channel documentary about butchers. Enlightening.)
We spent our first two nights at The Carriage House Hotel, which was basic, but not too expensive and just a 5-minute walk from The Strip.
Friday: Vegas, Baby
Our first order of business? Buying tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld perform the next night. (We had no clue that he was even going to be in Vegas until we saw his name on a billboard near The Strip.)
Our second order of business? One of the obligatory Vegas buffets (we chose the one at the Flamingo).
The weather was great, and we spent the day walking from hotel to hotel and lounging by the pool at the Venetian. The streets were packed. The ratio of beautiful people to ugly people FAR outweighed the ratio back home (yet another Good Thing).
Everywhere we turned, there was either someone handing out cards with pictures and phone numbers of strippers/escorts, or someone handing out “Jesus Loves You” leaflets. I was hoping to find one person handing out both kinds of material, but no dice (pun unintended–i swear).
Our favorite hotel-cum-attraction was the Bellagio, with its impressive dancing fountains. (Warning: the gelato stand inside the front lobby is mediocre, at best.) We even chose to have dinner at an outdoor restaurant just across the street from the Bellagio so that we could watch the fountains at night (when they “perform” every 15 minutes). The restaurant was part of the hotel Paris, Las Vegas; it was called Mon Ami Gabi, and the food (as well as the view) was quite good (recommended).
We saw Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère, and it was utterly fantastic. All four of us agreed that it was worth every penny, and that we’d enthusiastically and unequivocally recommend it to anyone. O tickets were much more expensive (for far worse seats), but we’ll definitely try to catch that one (or one of the other Cirque du Soleil shows) next time we’re in LV.
Saturday: The Grand Canyon and the Comedian
Had to wake up ridiculously early to catch our flight to the Grand Canyon. The trip started out on time, but a long delay at the airport irked Sara enough that she fought like a champ and got us a 10% refund–not chump change, at $25 per person! She’s usually Good Cop, so it was fun to see her switch roles; imagine Will Ferrel starring in Macbeth–and pulling it off.
Finally made it to the airport at the west rim of the canyon. (Saw Hoover Dam on the way–plus some good views of the canyon.) Once at the west rim, we hopped on a helicopter and took a short but choppy ride down to the base. During the safety briefing for the helicopter ride, we watched a short video; the part I remember best is the part where they say, a little more calmly than they should, “Whoever sits next to the pilot may find two pedals at their feet. Do not step on or touch these pedals.” Sure enough, Sara got assigned the co-pilot seat. Sure enough, there were pedals. (Despite her darkest urges and curiosity, she managed to avoid stepping on them.)
I’ll refrain from writing too much about the Grand Canyon. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know why. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve got to see it, so there’s no point in my trying to describe it, anyway. Suffice to say that it is real, it is spectacular and it was even more shockingly beautiful than we’d expected. In some ways, its proximity to Las Vegas made sense; they share a sense of scale. In other ways, the two are totally incongruent, at opposite ends of the artificiality spectrum.
We spent some time at the base of the canyon (where we took a very short boat ride along the Colorado River), then helicoptered back up to the rim for a short bus tour. Saw Eagle Point and Guano Point, then flew back from the Canyon of Granite to the City of Plastic.
Before the Seinfeld show, we had some time to kill, so my aunt and uncle took us over to see Fremont street. Pretty impressive display. The technological prowess exhibited in Vegas is absolutely stunning (and a little depressing, if you consider all of the other, arguably worthier things it could be used for instead).
Seeing Jerry Seinfeld perform live was great–and even his opening act (whose name I didn’t catch) was phenomenally funny. We were dead tired, but still managed to laugh heartily for 90 minutes. Seinfeld the Comic can never live up to Seinfeld the Legend, but Seinfeld the Comic is still pretty funny.
Sunday: Wynn Big
My aunt highly recommended seeing the new Wynn hotel, and she was right. At just two months old, it’s the epitome of luxury, and we had fun navigating it’s mosaic-lined malls. It houses, among hundreds of other shops, a Ferrari dealer and stores which sell, for example, $7600 boots or a seven million dollar diamond ring. But for me, the highlight was that the parking deck tells you exactly how many open spaces there are on each level.
Monday: Leaving Las Vegas
Walked through New York, New York (somewhat disappointing), considered riding their roller coaster until we discovered that it cost $12.50 , had a ludicrous buffet lunch at the Aladdin hotel’s Spice Market Buffet, said our good-byes, and headed back home. I started The Fountainhead on the plane ride home; big mistake, since, though it’s got flaws, it’s compelling reading and I’ve had trouble putting it down this week to do more important things (like sleep!).