Sin City. It has been the setting for all of your favorite movies and shows like The Hangover, Zack & Kelly’s wedding in Saved by the Bell, various award shows, and just about any cop show on the air. In fact, everything you see on TV and in the movies isn’t far from accurate. Vegas is the city that begs to have its picture taken and reeks cheap, tacky, bad habits, and buffets. You can sense all of the sinister things that have gone down in the city just by walking down the streets.
From the high rollers to the homeless, it is the epitome of gluttony and a world all it’s own. Vegas is a complete 180 contrast to the lifestyle I normally lead so it’s kind of ironic that I would choose to visit on my trip. Despite that, I do agree that Vegas is a place everyone should visit at least once in their life, but I, personally, won’t be coming back again on my own dollar or will.
Flying in from the East, The Strip sticks out like a sore thumb. All of the hotels look like lego skyscrapers stacked higher and higher, never ending. Once you’re on the ground making your way to the hotel, it is pure desert and run down homes on one side and extensive commercialism on the other.
All Icing, No Cake
There’s nothing fulfilling or of substance about Vegas. It’s all sugar. It’s a jar full of frosting with no cake to decorate. Walking down The Strip is like maneuvering through an adult theme park where bright colors and loud music are blaring at you from every direction. The lines are long wherever you go, reservations are required at any restaurant that has decent food, and water costs an arm & a leg. It’s a circus, a zoo, and just about every other kind of mindless form of entertainment you can think of.
The city itself is it’s own nightclub with an essence of a cruise where savages everywhere are looking to get drunk, laid, or steal food from the buffet. People come to Vegas to let loose and sport any kind of apparel they can’t get away with at home. It’s a detox zone, and that’s why what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
This may seem silly considering I spent 8 months living in NYC where the streets are always packed no matter the season. Vegas, however, is always a madhouse full of the type of people I don’t fancy hanging out with. We’re talking Jersey shore look-alikes, Yoko Ono clones, college grads who forgot to grow up, and bachelors/bachelorettes, and the desert heat doesn’t make me any more tolerable to passers-by.
I can’t forget to mention the bum characters on the streets begging for beer money. I ran into Elmo, Woody, Minnie Mouse, and a random character from Transformers. It was an odd sensation to see the cartoon characters from my childhood approach me for booze money on the dirty streets where the sidewalk cracks are full of cigarette butts (pun intended).
Girls, Girls, Girls
Ah, yes. Vegas is notorious for parading women (and men too – Chippendales sound familiar?) around in bikinis and openly advertising prostitution. Back on the East coast, you can stop on the street and buy a New York Times or your local newspaper for $1. Here, you can get a wide selection of dirty magazines from just about any street corner for free. Can’t forget about all the Showgirls billboards, strip clubs, erotic museums, and trucks driving by with ads that use a tagline like “Girls of your choice sent straight to your door.”
There’s the argument that if a woman has drained all possible outlets of income, people shouldn’t really complain or be surprised if she turns to stripping to pay the bills. But there’s a part of me that pulls harder for women to respect themselves and their bodies.
Giant Ash Tray
Given that smoking is legal inside casinos, even walking past one or through hotel lobbies will have your clothes smelling like smoke for days. I’ve never smoked and never will, but when I came here, it didn’t matter because Vegas is a giant ash tray. Within 24 hours, I inhaled more second hand smoke than I did in my 8 months living in NYC. I couldn’t walk anywhere without my mouth instantly running dry. I fell asleep one evening feeling like the roof of my mouth was fuzzy and there were ashes stuck in the back of my throat. It’s disgusting to say the least.
I do give major credit to The Bellagio. It is a classy joint, and the fountain show is quite a stunning sight. In fact, major props for the over the top detail in every hotel. On the outside, many of the hotels boast classiness and articulate architecture.
Even so, a lot of things in Vegas can be hit-or-miss. Everything that is a hit like the fancy hotels, high-end designer stores, or decked out restaurants with crazy lights are all excess stuff that don’t add any real value to your trip or life. Having spent the last year clearing out the clutter from my life, Vegas is the equivalent of a frenemy breathing over my shoulder to buy whatever is being sold on the Home Shopping Network.
It’s almost as if people come here to buy all the expensive stuff so they’ll feel more validated amongst their family and friends back home. Don’t fall victim to it.
Death by Bankruptcy
Before coming out to Vegas, a lot of people asked me if I’d be doing any gambling. Naturally, my answer was no. I’m not a gambler, and I didn’t work hard over the last year to save $30K and blow it all in a casino.
What I was really blown away by was the fact that even the airport has slots. You can’t even make it out to the main casinos without being tempted to spend all your money. If you do make it out with some money left in your pocket, don’t hold your breath.
Heavy drinking starts right when you wake up and doesn’t stop. Watch the continuous flow of money leave your wallet as you buy drink after beer after cocktail after drink. After you’ve got a good buzz going and on your way to inebriated, you’re going to feel hungry, no? Well, break out the credit cards because the cost of food starts around $10-12 and up, and unfortunately, Subway in Vegas does not have $5 footlongs.
If at any point during the day, you decide to stop drinking, perhaps you’ll fancy a mega shopping trip. With so many shopping centers in one hotel complex, there’s no reason to ever leave. You may even find it difficult to leave because each hotel takes you through a mind-boggling maze to get to an exit. You may as well just hand over your money.
I know the taxes are high in Vegas so the hotels and restaurants will nickel & dime you to death, but you’d think with all the money the city brings in, they’d be able to afford to make it look a little nicer.
Without drinking or gambling as options, I wanted to find some other activities to do during the day. I ended up visiting Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden, and paid $20 for an attraction that isn’t worth the money unless you have kids. It’s essentially a dolphin habitat and caged lions both of which were extremely docile animals. I think I was there a good 10 minutes before peacing out.
The view from the top of the faux Eiffel Tower was cool. I always love being able to see a city’s skyline from above, but I hate to break it to you that the view doesn’t beat the real one in Paris. Again, it wasn’t worth $13, but fun to be that high up for 15 minutes away from the crowds.
Zip lining on Fremont Street was AWESOME! Though it is a short ride from one end to the other, it adds a nice variety to the standard activities on the main Strip. There’s nothing like flying high above Fremont with people looking up at you in strange fascination.
On my last day in town, I ventured away from The Strip completely to visit the Hoover Dam. As one of the 7 Wonders of the Industrial World, it contains 66 million tons of concrete which is enough to build a two-lane highway from San Francisco to NYC. This was probably the best part of my time in Vegas.
After finally visiting Vegas, I realize that it can be all fun and games on the first day, but after the first few, it becomes a depressing place to be. I can understand why people rave about it, but to me, it seems a bit overrated. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. At least, I can check this one off the bucket list.