There’s no denying that Las Vegas is the Entertainment Capital of the World. While many cities try to match the intensity and vibrance of Vegas, only a few come close to the glamour and the hideous wealth that brings people from all corners of the world.
Like a shining beacon in the Nevada Desert the city sparkles day and night with its brilliant lights flickering and dancing. This is especially so along the world-famous ‘Las Vegas Strip’, which dominates the southern end of the city even though it’s not actually within Las Vegas city limits, but in the cities of Paradise and Winchester that surround it.
The wealth of the city is centred around the multi-billion dollar casino and hotels, and there are many of these block-sized behemoths owned primarily by two corporations. But if they didn’t have enough casinos in the city, more are being built. This includes completing some of the half-built skeletons of hotels left abandoned after the financial collapse a few years ago.
Even corporations that don’t have towering casinos are well represented, such as the massive Coca-Cola store and the four level M&Ms store, with one floor having an entire wall covered in M&Ms.
Las Vegas is definitely the city of the slot machine with nearly three hundred thousand scattered everywhere, from the airport foyer to gas stations. This isn’t to mention entire floors of them in every casino. The slot machines are themed on almost anything you can think of in attempts to draw the casual gamer. But like most, they give a little enticing the player with hopes of winning, then, if you let them, taking back all that was given and more.
There are many other attractions in the city beyond the casinos, such as the roller coaster circling the New York New York casino, the rides atop the towering stratosphere casino, the Mob Museum and the Fremont Street Experience. Fremont Street is in the centre of the Las Vegas ‘downtown’ area surrounded by older casinos. Along the covered street are many street performers, including many pop culture performers and celebrity lookalikes.
Fremont street also has several stages along its street with various bands playing. It was St Patrick’s Day when I visited so there were many kilts being worn and irish bands playing to celebrate this ‘holiday’ that was created by the Americans. Even those without a kilt kept the green theme…
There’s a lot of talent in Vegas with many comedians and musicians getting their start in the city. But Las Vegas is also the place where performers of old go to scrape out a living after their buzz has died down; these include David Copperfield, Celine Dion and Meatloaf, to name a meagre three.
Alcohol laws are relaxed around the city. Almost every store sells it and some in large vessels like the daiquiri filled plastic yard glasses or the near actual sized plastic guitars filled with some alcoholic concoction. Alcohol is everywhere at all hours of the day and night. Honestly, who can resist a shot or two of the sweetest Tequila in the world, Dirty. This is especially so when the shots are twice normal size and only $2 each!
Debauchery is rife in the city, with mobile billboards advertising ‘the classiest girls’ delivered to your hotel room within 20 minutes. Strips clubs are also heavily advertised in the evenings, with many hawkers giving out numerous business card sized cards offering special deals. There are also plenty of these…
At a location along Las Vegas Boulevard between The Strip and the downtown is the towering casino Stratosphere. The building looks similar to the Skytower in New Zealand, and is only 20 metres taller. Atop the massive building there are four rides, a SkyJump similar to that on Auckland’s tower; The Big Shot, the highest thrill ride in the world which flings you into the air before letting you free fall down again; Insanity, dangling you over the building’s edge and spinning swiftly around; and lastly X-Scream, a roller coaster car that shoots you over the edge and stops suddenly, dangling you there.
While visiting the city we even took in a baseball game. The Cubs versus The Mets…
Overall, Las Vegas is an interesting place to spend a few days partying it up or throwing away your money, that’s if you can stand harassment by street hawkers or the relaxed inside smoking laws that make the slot machine floors harsh on the eyes and lungs. It’s not a bad place as long as you set a limit on everything and quit while you’re ahead.
The lights of our hotel, Excalibur…
This is my final stop on my trip through Australia, Antarctica and the Americas over the course of sixteen months. Next I’m off to London, England, for a well deserved rest from travelling and to begin planning my next escape.
The World Wanderer