Friday, December 30, 2011

Viva Vegas!

Las Vegas is a heckuva place. 
If you had asked me back when I first turned 21, I would have told you that I had no interest in going to Las Vegas. Gambling?! Waste of money. Buffets?! Gross. Glitz and themed hotels?! Cheesy. No thank you. Then somewhere on the way I started having a little more fun and you know what? Las Vegas is a heckuva place. It's still ridiculous, but it's a fun ridiculous and I didn't learn my lesson: After a good 6-8 hours in the casino, I was actually up $5. Time to start planning the next trip.

I can't really say that I saw the real Las Vegas. What I visited was more Las Vegas® and Old Vegas, which is the strip and downtown. Outside of these Disneylands, I'm sure that there is a far different side of Vegas, both good and bad. The next time I'm here, I'll have to spend more time off strip, where I suspect that there are some truly great local places, but for anyone headed to Vegas, here's my basic advice:

1. Forget that the monorail exists, and go public transit. The monorail is both not that useful because it drops about a quarter mile from the strip and not the best example of monorail technology. The bus, on the other hand, is a good deal. Be sure to pony up the $2 for the 24 pass for less stress.

2. From the airport, just take a cab. The shuttle buses are slightly less expensive ($6 per person), but a cab for two or more people is going to be less expensive.

3. On a related note, when you're getting ready to leave, don't forget that the airport is less than 10 minutes away. We made the mistake of allocating way too much time to get to the airport and ended up waiting around.

4. Bring cash with you. ATMs in the hotel will run you $5 per withdrawal and less expensive ATMs are hard to find (There's one here for $3, here (4th floor, and broken when I tried), and supposedly one here, just in case).

5. Do have fun. If you decide to play, don't feel shy about asking the waitresses for a drink (but do tip $1 a drink) and make sure you're comfortable losing whatever you put up. Set a limit and stick with it. Shows are good too, but shop around for the best price. Tix4Tonite managed tickets for us to Love! at about a 20% discount (but better deals may have been about). Whatever you like to do, do it.

After the break, more pictures from everywhere, including the Stratosphere and a couple of other restaurants! Keep reading!

This started with $2.50 left over from a video poker machine... Go Price Is Right!

The stratosphere was actually a lot of fun, but there's a trick to it. It's normally $16 bucks just to go up. Alternatively, you can come up to Lounge 107 and buy two drinks (or one martini during happy hour) and you can go up for free. The view is great!

Another great place. Who wouldn't want to hang out here? Peppermill Restaurant is great and surprisingly reasonably priced.

This is also one of the highlights of the trips. The Oriental Hotel has a bar on the 23rd floor, which is also where afternoon tea is served. The views are great from here.

And now for some random food pictures... 

Lamb with mint/cilantro! Yum!

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