"Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire." Elvis.
25.05.2014 - 28.05.2014 36 °C
The flight from Perth to Hong Kong, to LA and Las Vegas was smooth and uneventful and Shelly and I both managed to get a reasonable amount of sleep . I certainly wouldn't say we arrived in Las Vegas fresh, but we were at least still human. We took a cab straight to our hotel, the Westin on Flamingo, freshened up and hit the town. Traffic was insane, this being the Memorial Day long weekend and the trip from Westin to Rio - on the same very street - took over 15 minutes to cover a couple of kilometres. We only just managed to make the Penn and Teller magic show at 9pm. The show was good, the guys were funny, the magic was magical, but the taxi queue to get away from Rio, which is away from the main strip, was frustrating. It 45 minutes to get a cab.
We opted to head out of town, or more correctly, to the older part of town, to go to Frankie's Tiki Lounge. I must admit it looked a little a dubious from the outside, but it was an interesting place and we settled in for a cocktail or two, served in novelty ceramic tiki mugs. How cool! So we decided to build ourselves a collection and went in for another round, not quite appreciating their lethal quality. Nevertheless, we walked away - somewhat unsteadily - with four amazing tiki mugs and a T-shirt before we crashed and burned back at our hotel. Welcome to Las Vegas!
Where da girls at?
Maybe it was the cocktails, maybe it was jet lag, but I stuffed up our alarm for the next morning, waking up with a start an hour before we were supposed to check out. There was a mad scramble to pack up and sort ourselves out before heading off to drop our bags at the Vdara. Westin, although nice, was a stop gap as room prices in Vegas over the Memorial Day weekend were extravagant. The Vdara room was fantastic - more a suite than a room - with a view over Bellagio's amazing water park. But we couldn't loiter. We had tickets to the Avicii Pool Party at the Encore.
Since our first foreign adventure all those years ago I'd always fantasised about being on an exotic beach such a Coca Cobana surrounded by beautiful busty bikini babes as far as the eye could see (well, I'd be happy with beautiful busty babes without bikinis too) but I have always been thwarted by inclement weather, timing or natural disaster. For instance, the day we were at Coca Cobana beach in Rio De Janeiro, it rained. In Mykonos, we arrived the week after the end of the beach season. In Croatia, the week before (and on a Sunday). In Cancun we arrived just after Hurricane Wilma had reeked her destruction and driven away the tourists. But this time.... Hello Dolly! It was like we'd stepped onto the set of a rap video. To quote Roy Batty from Blade Runner, "You people will never believe the things these eyes have seen."
The night before Shelly had been musing on Americans' amazing capacity for self confidence, no matter what they are doing. And that self confidence was certainly on display at the Pool Party. The dress code was bathers only - no exceptions - and bikinis were the order of the day. Everywhere you looked the young and beautiful things were posing and prancing, acres of flesh on display. The words of the LMFAO song "I'm sexy and I know it." were never more relevant. American confidence being what it is, it didn't seem to matter whether you actually had a bodied suited to a bikini. When you're over 250 pounds Brazilian dental floss can never ever be considered a great fashion choice.
After six hours of intense sun, heat, extravagantly priced drinks, dreadful food, and eye popping scenery, jet lag sent us back to the Vdara where we crashed. We struggled out of bed later in the evening but the fight was out of us. We decided to have a quiet night. We wandered the packed streets for a couple of hours before grabbing a burger at Stacked at the Mirage, literally as the kitchen closed. We shared a delicious burger then wandered home.
The Fremont Street Experience
We took things easy on Tuesday, wandering the malls and enjoying the airconditioning. Outside it reached a scorching 107 F. In the evening we ventured back to Downtown, the original heart of Las Vegas. As the new Las Vegas of mega malls and casinos spread out along The Strip, the old Downtown fell on hard times. This seedy heartland was a place no one wanted to visit - if they valued their life. But in recent years though the area around Fremont Street has been thoroughly renovated. Nightly light and music shows draw crowds away from the Strip to receive a glimpse of what old Vegas was once like - blinding neon, loud, brash music and very cheap drinks thinly veil a dark and seedy undercurrent. In amongst the families there are a lot of drunks. But it is fun and well worth a visit, as long as you watch where you walk.
After a couple of big, cheap beers and cocktails we took a cab to the Peppermill for dinner. The Peppermill is something of an old Vegas tradition, having been around since the late 1960s. It still retains its plush velour and neon lit decor - an anachronism anywhere but Vegas. For this reason alone its been the set for plenty of movies, such as Casino and Goodfellas. A word of warning - the servings here are ENORMOUS. We had ribs and a Philly Cheesesteak and we could not eat more than a quarter. By the time we gave up it was time to go home. We were leaving the next morning for Vancouver.