Hello dear '99ers,
This time I thought a quick return would be better, not drag it out another week!
What a place indeed. It's fast, it's flashy, it reeks of riches, poores (? I like made up words..), obsessives, sweat and cigarettes. It's up it's down it's high it's low it's loud it's light it's a sensual explosion! (I'm pushing the rules of grammar in that sentence aren't I? Oh well, freestyle writing you know... :S)
Anyway, its a pretty spectacular place if you 'do it' right.
Well, if doing it right means coming down with a group and a big ass budget which is there just to blow at the casinos, the bars, the clubs and the strippers with hazy memories of what happened the next morning (or 2 days later if you throw some fun tablets into the mix, hey, we're all adults here right?), then no.
But I did certainly do it in my own way, would you expect any different my dear friends? Haha ;)
The outlets, the outlets, everyone said, you have to go to the outlets. We shall get to this.
I arrived in the mid morning, temperature.. 36, like standing in front of the hand dryers in a public bathroom but all over your body. I had't experienced heat like that in a long time, though it was kinda nice, not wet at all thank god, (that's NYC of course).
The shuttle system had become my friend in both prior cities, so naturally I went for it again; a great way to see the outline of a city on a budget if you have the time and patience, and why not? haha...
The Palms, owned by Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' star Adrienne Maloof and family, is on W. Flamingo rd, about 7 minutes taxi off The Strip, on the 'better' side of town.
What I love about the Vegas hotels, and aren't they clever, is that a fabulous room is sooo cheap compared to what it would be elsewhere; spend your money in the casino please! I had a room, but it was unneccesarily big, huge in fact, for about $80 a night (ok, hidden $20 resort fee aside, why??).
They say that tourists should never leave the strip by foot for fear of mugging, kidnapping, its a tough crowd out there. I heeded this advice, taxi-ing everywhere (apart from walking the strip of course), but strayed once. It was scary but I survived, more on that later, or rather now.. Sick of the buffet/fast food fare inside the hotels (luxury restaurants aside), I asked my Taiwanese taxi driver where there was some good Asian food. Seems it was a block walk from my hotel, in the 'good' direction. He was right, I ate a fabulous Pho and Summer rolls at the best Vietnamese in town, Victoria Street eat your heart out (though I did tip, damn American employers not paying their staff correctly!). There was a moment where a couple of guys trailed me on their bikes but only rang their bells as they were right at my shoulder, I jumped, but didn't yelp fortunately, though I really thought I would. Anyway, no harm done haha!
Enjoy my view, it wasn't bad.
So my fabulous taxi driver whose name I believe was Sharon; tall, robust lady with a long blond plait tucked into the adjuster of her cap, told me I should do one side of the strip one day, and the other side the next. That way I'd see everything, as it's hard to cross over Las Vegas boulevard. Well not hard, just irritating as you have to use the bridges. Well you don't have to, but Sharon wanted to run down people who stopped traffic, she was a character indeed. Not as much as the guy who told me Steve Jobs should go to hell for all the money he has made keeping Chinese workers as slaves (I really don't think he knew..) sheesh.. :S
But I did it this way, and I discovered a number of things.
There are two companies who 'own' Vegas, with very few independents around.
MGM Resorts has one side; Excalibur, New York New York, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Aria, Luxor and The Mirage amongst others. The other side; Flamingo, Bally's Harrah's, Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood, are owned by Caesars Entertainment. Now I don't want to offend anyone, and please beg to differ, but MGM kicks 'ass' over Caesars. Its' properties are modern, clean, sparkly, glitzy, all over more well designed and simply look more new! The competition is 'tired', it's aged, there is no lustre, the design of the casinos, colours, surfaces, decoration etc, it's all a little sad :(. Discuss.
Funnily enough, my absolutely favourite two casinos are owned by neither duopoly; Wynn and Encore. Also funny is that they are on the aforementioned 'sad' side of the Strip, so on average, is it the better side of the strip? Who knows!
Ok well, MGM bought over the company that used to own Treasure Island (where Miss Congeniality 2 was filmed, ooo), Bellagio and The Mirage. Steve Wynn (research shows, Weinberg, fabulous..), then used this money to build Wynn, the finest and most expensive casino in Vegas. Then he built Encore in 2008. Enough business drivel. I enjoyed much time perousing the shops in what for me was the best luxury shopping centre in Vegas, and there are many, I think I counted maybe 5 Chanel boutiques all up, don't quote me on that though. Anyway, its open, its grand, and it doesn't have the kitsch factor that most of the other hotels do. Chanel, Oscar D, Hermes, a shop whose name escapes me but which stocked Roland Mouret, Bouddica, Carolina Herrera, Jason Wu and many more, with a very nice sales guy who really wanted his commission, (no menswear of course).
Add to that a fabulous manmade lake (well everything in Vegas is manmade, its quite amazing and perplexing at the same time) with waterfalls and a lovely bar called Parasol Up/Down (down being outside downstairs..), where decorated parasols slowly go up and down on their ropes. Entertaining indeed. Maybe only because from 10am one seems to have a need to drink in Vegas. Rum slushy, morning cocktail, whatever you like. That's what this city seems to do. It draws out these strange behaviours in what I would hope are generally normal people, I know I am, I think. Well I did return to the buffet 5 times in one sitting, ate McDonalds for the first time in many years, drank wine in litre sized glasses, ridiculous... :S.
I was also a bit cringy when I realised most of the pokie machines are created by an Australian company. Is that one of our legacies to the world? Lighten up Yahav, have a good time, drink for free (I had 10 glasses of wine on $1 on one machine, don't worry, I didn't win, there was a flashier machine a couple of rows down, it got me, it guzzled my $20 faster than I could push the big round button..).
A good thing of course that there was a cinema at the Palms. I saw TED and Magic Mike (its a Soderbergh film after all, keep telling yourself that), and I loved how vocal Americans are at the movies, the audience is like a show onto itself! Do yourselves a favour and go there at least once, for two days with lots of money and no hesitations. If like me you think 5 days is a good time, it's not. Do yourselves another favour and spend the extra three days in New York City!! Enjoy my photos, a small selection of all I actually took...