We left San Francisco feeling refreshed and reconciled with the United States… Little did we know we would spend the worst 3 days of our trip in Las Vegas, despite us being so excited to go!
Can an introduction get more gloomy than that?
The thing is, we didn’t enjoy Las Vegas as much as we would have liked to. It all started on the evening of July 21st, Saturday, which was the day we flew out to Las Vegas from San Francisco.
We just started off from the wrong foot I think.
Slot Machines Everywhere
Our first impression of the city, or rather the airport, was actually funny: the first thing we saw when entering the airport after land-off were slot machines, right at the exit of our gate! We were in Las Vegas for sure, no doubt about it!
And then, we went outside.
Oh. My. God.
That heat. 40 degrees Celsius, 104 degrees Farenheit. If you’ve never been in a desert, you can’t understand what I mean but my skin actually tingled under this heat!
The Hunt For Public Transportation
Getting out of the airport, we tried, and I do mean we tried, to take a public transport to join our hotel. But there was nothing available. It was basically impossible.
There was public transport, we could see buses going around, but it said on the bus stop you couldn’t go on board without a ticket but there wasn’t any ticket machines ANYWHERE, neither outside nor inside the airport. We asked, no one could answer, no one knew.
That was incredible. So, to recap, in every single country, in every single town, you had a choice of either take the public transit from an airport, or take a cab, to go in town.
But not in Las Vegas.
Because you see, if you’re coming to Vegas it means you’re prepared to waste your money, so why not start right now?!
I was boiling. My father was pissed off. We were FORCED to pay 20 dollars each to take a taxi.
The Land of Ocean’s Eleven
Anyway, after that experience, we arrived at our hotel, which was a bit ex centered from the Strip, but actually fine. Despite the fact that the staff was late for more than 2 hours to give us our room. But, let’s talk about nicer things.
One of my favourite movies of all times is Ocean’s Eleven, both:
- the first film of 1960 with Frank Sinatra playing a perfect Danny Ocean, and also Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop,
- and the remake of 2001, with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and so on.
And one of my favourite quotes from the film was dancing in my head while we went outside again in the heat, to go and see our first casino: the one and only Caesar’s Palace.
“You guys are pros. The best. I’m sure you can make it out of the casino. Of course, lest we forget, once you’re out the front door, you’re still in the middle of the fucking desert!” Reuben, adressing to Rusty and Danny
The Caesar’s Palace was actually incredible both outside and inside: this was to become my favourite of all the casinos, thanks to the atmosphere, the architecture and the decorations inside. I loved it!
My father being a fan of Gordon Ramsay, we went to eat at one of the many restaurants he holds in Vegas, and it was absolutely delicious… The Pub & Grill was inside the Caesar’s Palace, and it wasn’t even that expensive!
After that we went for a walk inside the casino, which took us about an hour just to see one side of the casino, and the sights were incredible: the giant shopping mall (because beside playing, the only thing left to do is shopping) felt like it was outside, thanks to the huuuuuuge illusory sky, put under the high ceiling.
Okay, THAT illusory sky was incredible. I can’t say otherwise, and we were awed that first night.
We went to bed on a rare kind of hype: we knew that most people around us in that desert would not sleep that night, stuck in front of slot machines, blackjack and poker tables, where we left them.
New York City isn’t the only city that never sleeps after all.
The Hunt For The Best Casino
“The Strip” is how you call the boulevard containing the bulk of the most famous casinos in the world. It starts from the Las Vegas Sign “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” at the south, that you will most certainly see if you come to the city by road.
Here is the Strip:
As you can guess on this map, the casinos are HUGE buildings, built one after the other on either side of the boulevard.
After that first night, my father and I proceeded to go and see all the casinos:
- The Flamingo: it seemed a bit old next to the others, like coming straight up from the 70s. Lots of tables to play card games, as I can recall.
- The LINQ: we definitely passed through it to go and see the Venetian but I can’t remember a single thing about it! In fact, the casinos all looked the same except the most famous ones.
- The Venetian and The Palazzo: okay. The Venetian rivaled with my favourite casino so far, the Caesar’s Palace. That casino was incredible both outside and inside. They had recreated Venice’s gondolas and canals! And Saint Mark’s Square! The Palazzo was the five star hotel of the same complex.
- Trump International Hotel: by the time we got out of the Venetian complex, it was midday, and when we looked at our next destination, we saw another building, far away in the distance, that looked ENTIRELY made of gold: of course it had to be the Trump Hotel. It was too far away, and looked a bit ‘too much’… but I bet the view of the Strip from there is incredible.
- Treasure Island: we didn’t end up going either because it was too far away and the heat was unbearable…
- The Mirage: I remember this hotel-casino perfectly because of its decorations inside: they had recreated a jungle under a glass roof with sounds of tropical fauna and flora being broadcasted!
- Next was Caesar’s Palace that we’d already explored the night before, so we only passed through it. We also ate there, but the food wasn’t that great. Or maybe it was the heat that got the best of me.
By that time, after seeing all those things that looked incredible but absolutely insane considering we were in the middle of the desert, our enthusiasm began to decrease slowly. Such a display of who got the best decorations, inspiration, and theme… all of this with water in any form, it was nonsense!
We made a halt at our hotel on Flamingo Road, and took a little nap before going out again.
- The Bellagio: ahhhh, the famous one, the one from Ocean’s Eleven, in front of which is shot the most beautiful scene of the whole movie – maybe one of the best scenes EVER (if you don’t know what I mean, go and watch it RIGHT NOW: here). It was beautiful inside, and we wandered around for quite a long time.
- The New York Hotel: from the Bellagio we took the air train to the New York Hotel. Besides Venice, Paris, and Rome, there was a hotel (with a giant mall inside again) around the theme of New York. A Broadway version of NYC streets were recreated inside, with big luminous signs and such
- The Luxor: Okay, that one was insane too. It had the shape of an enormous Egyptian pyramid, and the hotel rooms were disposed along its sides, all the way to the top!
- Mandala Bay, The MGM Grand, Excalibur…: we saw the outside we gave up seeing each and every casino because they were so far away from each other, and the heat really was unbearable. You have to realize, it was 45°C, 113°F. It made my skin prickle, actually boiling under the sun! However, we did see the MGM Grand but it wasn’t that great compared to the other casinos we saw. Or maybe we were just fed up to see the same thing again, and again.
What Shocked Me In Vegas
- No security to enter the buildings: I was so used to France’s terrorism counter-plan that I was shocked to see we could enter and exit any of the casinos and hotels without being supervised or checked. Of course cameras were everywhere, and considering I looked underage (despite being almost 25…) I was told off by cashiers walking around many times, when I approached some tables and walked among slot machines (before I told them my age, obviously). Which makes room for another funny quote from Ocean’s Eleven:
“I know more about casino security than any man alive, I invented it, and it cannot be beaten. They got cameras, they got locks, they got watchers, they got timers, they got vaults, they got enough armed personnel to occupy Paris!
… Okay, bad example.” Reuben, addressing to Rusty and Danny
- Air conditioning & fountains everywhere: could Vegas be more of a pain in the ass of the Earth? I think not. All this fun is actually destroying our planet. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, do some researches about Lake Mead and how Las Vegas literally drained it over the last few years, alongside other phreatic tables… So of course, it depressed me after a while.
- People dressed like strip dancers all the time: even during the day! I can understand the need of being almost naked under the heat, and especially during the night, but during the day? It was like people were partying non-stop! And of course that’s what they did.
- People allowed to smoke & drink everywhere, inside & outside: I witnessed with my own eyes the absence of restrictive laws in the Nevada state… but it was too much. People were going crazy. Hopefully we didn’t smoke, and only drank a little bit.
The End Of The (S)Trip
All in all, we spent 2 nights and 2 days in Vegas, from Saturday the 21st until Monday the 23rd, and it was too long; we eventually got bored on Monday morning and went back to McCarran International Airport 3 hours early.
And that concludes our trip to Las Vegas, which I won’t talk about again. Sure it was something to see once in your lifetime, but only once! I’ll probably never go back again for visiting, maybe for work and even then, I think I’ll pass. Vegas wasn’t for me!
And our journey continued from there to Los Angeles!
Until next time,
aka The French Hat
Want to know what happened next during our summer trip around the world? Keep up with our adventures in my World Tour series!