And your one armbandits crashin
All those hopes down the drain
Viva las vegas turnin day into nighttime
Turnin night into daytime
If you see it once
Youll never be the same again
Im gonna keep on the run
Im gonna have me some fun
If it costs me my very last dime
If I wind up broke up well
Ill always remember that I had a swingin time
Im gonna give it everything Ive got
Lady luck please let the dice stay hot
Let me shout a seven with evry shot
Viva las vegas, viva las vegas,
Viva, viva las vegas
Well. The gaming (there was no dice involved in our visit) didn't stay hot. The Cougars won, but not by enough to cover the spread.
And the whole stadium cried just a little.
This is how the trip started:
But this is how the first night ended:
4 hours in the sweltering Vegas heat, calmly smiling and negotiating with very drunk students in the student section. Defusing conflict. Not getting mad when beer was spilled on my Dooney & Burke bag for the fifth time. Ok. Maybe that was a little irritating.
You know what? I've never been to Vegas before. Never had the early 20s experience of sharing a room with 75 people, staying out until 6 in the morning and not remembering what happened. I knew that wouldn't be my experience this time, either. We're getting older. We like to go to bed at 10pm. The Vegas of this weekend is, no doubt, worlds away from the Vegas I would have known 14years ago.
It wasn't quite the Vegas of Oceans 11 (12 or 13), Rain Main, or Honeymoon in Vegas either. Somehow, I thought it would be. Somehow, I thought a city so richly detailed in so many pop culture media images would feel familiar. We have, after all, spent our entire lives seeing images of Vegas. It was a strange city, though. One that felt unfamiliar. One with secrets. One that was reluctant to unfold. Vegas had not been waiting for me.
Turns out, I had not really been waiting for Vegas, either.
But it was beautiful and strange and exciting in an unfamiliar, not believing that human beings made the environment that was there. Seriously. Human beings thought it out, paid for it, and executed the town. (Disclaimer: all we saw was the Hard Rock Hotel, where we stayed, and the Strip. Next time, Shoes and I want to see the original downtown and feel the real heart of the city. What do you expect from a therapist/social worker and an ex-prosecuting attorney?). What did we do? The game. Brunch the next day. A day by the pool for me (which I normally don't love, but found sitting in the shallow end of a pool that was made to look and feel like the beach - complete with sand at the bottom of the pool -- completely and utterly relaxing) and a day at the Sports Book for Shoes. Dinner that night. An impromptu trip to the Strip. And a flight back home. Time moves fast.
For some reason, I have always wanted to lay eyes on the Venetian. At 2 in the morning, it is a good, quiet place to be. Minus the girls puking in the potted plants. Apologies I don't have pictures of that - it certainly rounded out in the experience.
We were at the Bellagio the night of two huge boxing matches, and the streets were filled with wall to wall people. We asked both of our cabbies if it was always that crowded. Both of them almost started crying out of exhaustion and said No.
I'm assuming it takes a lot to make a Vegas Cabbie that frustrated.
And as crowded as it was, it was still impressive. And for reasons I can't really explain, I cried just a little. I wasn't the only one. As big of a crier as I am, I don't know why. It was just a spectacle. Shoes and I are planning our honeymoon to Europe right now, and if a Vegas spectacle makes me cry, I don't even want to know what seeing European spectacles is going to do to me.
(Do you see all the people in the fountain photos? Wall to wall boxing match fans.)
My recommendations? (Both of these places were recommendations of our travel partners, who can scope this stuff out in the blink of an eye. Love, love, love travelling with them.) Brunch at Mandalay Bay. At $30.00 a person, it's not exactly the cheapest place in Vegas you can eat, but, as we all know, it's definitely not the most expensive. And what I loved most? It's a small plate menu. Love the small plate menu. We spent a lovely, warm, Saturday morning outside on the patio with our dear friends, the officiant of our wedding!, musing over travel to Vietnam and wondering how we have become as old as we are. (And we're not really, old, that is, but also, being in Vegas when you're not 21 is a different experience all together.)
Also, Lotus of Siam. This is not on the Strip, but it is, hands down, the best Thai food I've ever eaten. Make a reservation, though, and keep an open mind.
Vegas and I haven't made any truces. I'm not sure we're friends. I'm not even sure we're acquaintences. No real bad blood, but definitely a missed connection. The spark just isn't there. But like most relationships that don't work out, Vegas taught me a few things. The city really got us thinking about all of the places in the US we haven't been and all the places we've been dying to see. On our list? (Which Shoes refuses to call a Bucket List ...) New Orleans, San Fransisco, Mesa Verde, White Sands, Maine, DC, NY, the Carolinas ... Many places one of us has already been, but the other has not.
There's just so much out there.