As the world is getting smaller and more accessible, we seem to have the desire to travel further and more frequently. I am no doubt living proof of this, and as the world shrinks, locations such as Australia, America and Thailand have become more accessible to the masses.
Big city destinations have always been very well documented in literature and storytelling, however modern popular culture, such as Hollywood films, magazines and the internet have been able to glamorise such destinations to a whole new level. One such location is that of Las Vegas, which has become one of the most iconic cities in the world. Even the mention of the city, brings up hundreds of images, from gangstas and cowboys, to drunken weekends, wild parties, modern hotels, weddings, gambling, showgirls and of course Elvis Presley – the list goes on and on. I have visited Las Vegas seven times and each time has given me a different memory in which to look back on.
One such trip, was the stereotypical ‘boy’s weekend’ with two college friends. This was before the ‘Hangover’ film portrayed the city as such an uber party destination. We had been visiting Colorado the past week with friends, and were itching for a new experience. Therefore as soon as the idea of a road-trip through the Rockies came up, we immediately jumped on it. Our route to ‘Sin City’ would also enable us to visit our old home of Utah, where we had made many a wandering memory (this was my home for a year of college back in 2001).
We pre-booked 3 nights staying in the ‘New York New York hotel’, and headed off through the stunning Rockies mountains. Scheduled to take over 10 hours, we had lots of excitement and many amazing scenic views. I had been to the city prior to this trip and remember being mesmerising, with all of the hotel lights, bustling sounds and variety of people. But this time, this time would be different, I was 22, I could gamble, I could legally drink and well the possibilities were endless, as I could do anything in this city. There were no limitations.
As we proceeded to draw closer to the city, night started closing in, and with desert night, comes pitch black. This is the ideal way to enter such a city, as the lights, the lights are astonishing – visible for miles around. The strip itself is an astonishing collection of tat and elegance, hotels for the super wealthy and lesser reside next to one another, shopping malls, monuments, fountains, theme park rides, shows in the street, attractions of such magnitude they can captivate the old and the young. It truly is a city of unlimited commercial possibilities.
We had so many plans, and as we drove down the strip, burger king crowns on our heads singing OutKasts ‘Hey Ya’ at the top of our voices, it really felt as if something big was coming, this adventure would be something we would remember. It was hard to keep focus, as every street offered a new visual pleasure, from Volcanoes, to pirate shows, to miniature versions of the Eiffel Tower and New York city scapes.
I believe stories of tourists leaving the strip are mere fables, as once the Las Vegas strip has you in its grip it doesn’t let go. The hotels and casinos are so grand in size and provide everything you could possibly need. Interestingly I did notice that the Casinos had no windows and very few exit signs, they are like mazes specifically designed to keep you in. This city truly offers it all, bars, clubs, gambling, eateries, shopping and of course the desert sunshine. The comparison between this and a Disneyland for adults definitely has merit.
The only time we ventured out in the evening was to a local liquor store for a few pre-night drinks. Here we ended up being told by the police that if we were drinking on the street we needed to continue to move. What a strange rule! They don’t ban drinking on the street just standing still, drinking on the street. So it was that the 12 pack of beers, had to be finished quickly whilst constantly on the move. Without the benefit of food, the alcohol soon took its affect and the boy’s night ensued.
I won’t bore you with all the details but just hasten to say that Las Vegas took on a new persona for me that night, no longer was I the bright eyed child who saw nothing but the glitz and glamour of the city. I experienced a part of the ‘Sin’ for myself (drinking, dancing, gambling and of course kissing) and although I didn’t go as far as some of the films went, our experience that first night, followed by a massive gambling streak the second, became a memorable story we would share even now.
One memory from the evening I will share, was upon leaving a club to be approached by a few very attractive ladies. Immediate response was one of shock, as these ladies were considerably older than us, were very well dressed and looked as if they had not been in the club at all. What soon came to realisation was that these ladies were escorts, and they were targeting us as drunken tourists. As soon as this was made clear, Mark who has never been one to mix his words, gave one of the group a very harsh look and put his cards on the table ‘why would I pay to sleep with you, really you should pay to sleep with me’. I couldn’t help it; I just burst into laughter… I mean these ladies were not unattractive, but they were a good 20 years our senior and he did have a good point, maybe it was a quiet evening for the ladies, but really they had targeted the wrong group.
As earlier alluded to, I have since revisited the city in many a capacity, in a couple, with friends, and alone, and not once has it shown me that same adventure. I have since also ventured out of the city to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Arches National Park and Monument Valley, and still desire to visit the aircraft graveyard in the near future.
Las Vegas is a city of mass variety, that gives you every opportunity to do as much or as little as you want to do, and be as young or as old as you want. Would I recommend it?, well the fact I keep returning would answer that question quite quickly.