It’s after 11 and while normally my head would be sinking into my pillow, I am wide awake right now. See, I’ve just returned from a four day mini-break in Las Vegas and while my eyes and brain clearly see it is nearly midnight, my body is convinced it’s only 8. It’s just now ready to eat dinner and get the evening started. It’s forgotten all about my generally hum-drum quiet existance. It craves neon, mobs of people and the steady ding of coins pouring out of slot machines.*
Aw Vegas. Land of, well, pretty much anything you could want, as long as it’s some kind of vice. If you can eat it, bet it, smoke it, drink it or have sex with it, Vegas is your place. It’s like Disneyland for grown ups. Except that there were a lot of families there. I saw many small children being drug around at 10 o’clock at night from one casino to the next. I’m not really sure what parents did with them since it’s illegal for anyone under 21 to technically be on the gambling floor, but I saw a lot of parents with a giant drink in one hand pushing strollers with very tired little ones in them. Wierd. Especially since the real call of Vegas seems to be vice and lots of it. What’s the good of going to Vegas if you have to worry about changing diapers or making sure a baby gets fed?
But I digress. This isn’t a diatribe about the absolutely ridiculous parenting I saw during my four day stint in neon city. No, instead, this is a list of the top 10 things I LOVED about Vegas. These are in no particular order as my brain still can’t focus with all this darn quiet.
1) Ka by Cirque de Soleil. We wanted to see one of the seven or eight shows while we were in town. Personally, I was all about Love, which is the Beatles themed show running at the Mirage. Tickets to any Cirque show are a bit pricey though, and since the half price ticket place only had seats to Ka and Zumanity available, we opted for Ka. It was, without a doubt, the most amazing show I’ve ever seen. I like theater and have been to some spectacular shows in my time (including Romeo and Juliet at the Globe in London) and this blows them all away. The pre-show entertainment from the ushers was hysterical. They really set the mood. The set was incredibly impressive. There were four, count ’em, four catwalks which various bad guys soared, twirled and jumped from. Bad guys ran amok through the audience while terrorizing the villagers in the story. The stage not only turned 360 degrees around, but actually went completely vertical so people could scale it in an attempt to outrun the bad guys. People slid off the stage like crazy. There was a beautiful love ballet. The two actors were spinning and doing all sorts of acrobatic feets and half the time only one of them was harnessed. Oh, and that harness, was simply two long pieces of what looked like drapes. PHENOMINAL. I cannot give this attraction higher praise. It is a must see.
2) Frozen bellinis from Fat Tuesdays. While other bars on the strip sold slushy, fruity drinks, only Fat Tuesdays sold these amazingly tasty peach concoctions and added an extra shot for a buck. Plus, I was able to get them in three different casinos and a mall. By the time we’d finish one, we were at the next place to buy one. Out of desperation we tried another store’s frozen drink and it was so sub-par, I actually tossed it away. Plus, Vegas apparently has open container laws, but unless you punch a cop while drinking, no one pays any bit of attention to them. We walked all over the strip sipping our alco-licious fruity drinks from 10 am until 10 pm and no one said anything unless they were asking us where we got our drinks.
3) Crepes. We stayed at Bally’s, which is not only pretty much right in the middle of the strip, but also connected to Paris. Down Paris’s quaint “street” was a little crepe store. I desperately wanted one, but my husband, in retaliation to my moritorium on Chinese food stubbornly refused to stop. So one morning he got a croissant from the pastery place and I got a spinach, mushroom and cheese crepe with some sort of bechemal sauce. It was AMAZING! Without a doubt the best food I had the entire trip. And considering I couldn’t even finish it, it was a pretty darn good value at 8. 95.
4) Ethel M’s chocolates. The first store we saw when we got off the plane at the airport was a chocolate shop. For me, this was far better than playing slots or drinking. Everything in the shop looked vaguely familiar but it took me a minute to realize why. My best friend and I had stumbled into one of these on a shopping trip to Chicago. Not only is the chocolate delicious, but every time you go in, they give you a free sample. They have sinfully yummy flavors like lemon drop, gingerbread spice and even peanut butter and jelly.
5. Love Lettuce facial mask from Lush. Yes, I realize there are Lush stores around the country and I can (and do) order from them online, however, the only place to get their amazing face masks is at an actual store. The closest one to me is about 3.5 hours away, so when I was sipping a bellini in Mandalay Bay and turned the corner to find a store, boy was I in heaven! Not only did I get a fantastic face mask that helped make my skin feel semi-normal after days in the sun, but I got a great foot bar that relieved some of the ache from walking all day and a bubble bar that made for an amazingly relaxing bath my last night in Vegas.
6. The cool “streets” inside the casinos. In less than four days I strolled the streets of Paris, Rome, Venice and New York. While I’ll admit the bright lights and constant ding of machines in the casinos is distracting and a bit annoying (as is the smell of both cigarettes and cigars which are everywhere), I liked strolling down the calmer shop filled indoor streets made to look like the actual streets of famous cities. I think my favorite was Paris, although that could just be because I spent so much time using it to get to the strip. Venice was also really cool. The waterways were lovely and the water sparkled blue. New York was just as crowded and frenetic as I remember the real New York being, although much easier to get from “Times Square” to “Coney Island” in Vegas. Rome was fairly cheesy, but it was also just like every movie that features Vegas. The talking statues in one of the mall areas were particularly hard to take, but the escalator shaped like a spiral staircase in the forum shops was pretty darn cool. Plus there was a tasty place called Trevi we ate at. It was right next to a giant fountain and while we ate the “sky” actually got darker. Plus, they had super tasty gellato right down the way.
7. My cool new haircut. Yes, for once in my life, I’m actually kind of trendy. At least from the neck up. I took an afternoon (three hours as it turns out) and got my hair cut and highlighted. I’ve never done anything quite so bold (or spent quite so much to do it), but I really like it. I was a bit nervous at first because she used bleach and when I saw the first strand, it looked really blond. My fears were soon alleviated when I saw the finished product. Over priced, sure, but cute and flippy, so it’s ok by me.
8. Atomic Testing Museum. Although we had to leave the strip for this one (and walk way down the block to a sketchy casino called Terribles to get a cab back), it was well worth it. Not only was it a great escape from the blisteringly hot weather outside, I learned a lot and was entertained. A must see for anyone interseted in history, and especially relevant after just seeing the latest Indiana Jones movie. The museum has great artifacts from the atomic craze like atomic Boy Scout merit badges, atomic cocktail books and atomic records. Everything in the 50’s was atomic! Plus there are some fascinating movies about the tests and some unbelievable facts. It’s hard to fathom a time when people sat on wooden benches less than three miles from the blast and watched it for entertainment with only goggles to protect their eyes. Interesting and scary.
9. Del Taco. To many I know this may seem like just another fast food taco place. Honestly, it is. But it’s a good fast food taco chain. And more importantly, it’s the one I grew up eating from in Southern California. Del Taco is slightly more expensive than Taco Bell, but it’s also light years better. Everything just tastes better there. Plus, for some odd reason, all of their combo meals come with fries. Who doesn’t love a burrito a taco and fries? Yummy! There aren’t that many restaurants I get nostalgic about, but Del Taco is one. Every time I see one, I am compelled to eat there.
10. Being a grown up. I know it sounds silly, but for a few days I got a glimpse back at my life sans baby. I was able to stay up really late (nearly 4 am in my regular time zone) and sleep in late as well (nearly 2pm one morning). I got to drink without control (which for me still isn’t much). I got to go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted without worrying about anyone else. I saw two movies in the middle of the day. I ate when I wanted to with no worries about balanced nutrition. In fact, I’m not sure I ate a vegetable the entire time I was there**. I shopped without worry and bought what I wanted. We threw caution to the wind and actually spent money. I splurged in a way I’ve never really splurged before. Not enough to send us to the poor house, but enough to make me feel just a tad decadent. And I’ll admit it, it was nice.
Overall, Vegas was pretty darn fun. Four days was definitely enough though. Vacations are fun, but I’m glad to be home.
*Well, of the sound of coins. Slots don’t actually give coins anymore. They give credits, but make the sound of money pouring from them as they do it. When you want to cash out, you hit a button and then take the receipt to the cashier.
**Aside from my spinach and mushroom crepe that is.