Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Las Vegas: My Destination of Choice

Across the USA, sales of Jose Cuervo and Plan B skyrocket as college students are either recovering from, enjoying or about to embark on their Spring Break adventures. While my college Spring Breaks usually just meant doing laundry at my parents' house, many more fortunate students take epic vacations to Cancun or the Bahamas for a week of fun in the sun.

I recently returned from yet another adventure in my favorite vacation destination: Las Vegas. Despite being way past my college years, I partied right next to college juniors getting their first taste of Sin City and all its glory. It probably didn't take said college juniors a week of bed rest to recover like me, but I digress. No matter how many times I visit Vegas, I never get tired of it. With so many shows, clubs, restaurants and attractions to choose from, you can never "do it all" in just one trip. And so I return, year after year, while my liver silently judges me and my blistered feet beg for mercy.

People often ask me why I visit Vegas so often and why I love it so much. Here are my top ten reasons I find Vegas so awesome:

10) You can drink anywhere, anytime. Despite my millions of Facebook pictures that suggest otherwise, I am actually not a heavy drinker. I enjoy going out and having fun, but at home, I’m more of a “glass or two of red wine with dinner once a week” kind of girl. Of course, all that goes right out the window the moment I land at McCarran International. There’s something appealing about being able to carry a large fruity drink down the street at 2 PM that I can’t seem to resist. The “open container” law does not apply in Vegas.

9) The shows are amazing. I realize that a lot of concerts in Vegas cost twice as much as anywhere else and that many of the shows tour the country. But there’s nothing like seeing an authentic Vegas show such as Jubilee! or a Cirque de Soleil performance in its home. And unlike most other cities, you can have a cocktail while you watch them. I know. I have a problem.

8) You can be anyone you want to be. When I talk to someone in Vegas, especially at a bar, I automatically assume they’re full of shit. I’m usually full of shit, too. There’s an app on the visitlasvegas.com site that allows you to create a custom alias for a reason. In Vegas, nearly everyone will give you a fake name, occupation, even reason for visiting. Go ahead, give them a fake name. Odds are, they won’t remember or care. That’s half the fun.

7) You can visit nearly everywhere in the world from the comforts of the Strip. Yes, I’m aware that a fake Venice casino is really nothing like the real Venice. I have been to the real Venice. It’s amazing and I mean the actual places the casinos emulate no disrespect. But it’s still fun to go from Rome to Paris to Venice in an afternoon. Besides, unlike the real Venice, the Venetian offers Gondola rides without having to endure the smell of 200 year old sewage.

6) You can wear things you wouldn’t get away with wearing anywhere else. I live in North Idaho. While living here certainly has its benefits, there’s no way in hell I’d wear half the dresses or outfits I wear when I visit Las Vegas. People don’t dress up often here… and on the rare occasion they do, their outfits still aren’t very dressy. Vegas gives me an opportunity to wear all the things that rarely see the light of day.

5) The people. During my last trip, I walked by a homeless man playing a guitar like an expert singing Billy Joel’s Piano Man perfectly on key. Next to him was a Gene Simmons impersonator wagging the longest fake tongue I’ve ever seen. I also met a dentist who complimented my teeth at random. You just never know in Vegas.

4) I would never… EVER… want to live there. I don’t mean to insult anyone who has made Vegas their home and I certainly see how it would appeal to some people. But here in my hometown, I own a very nice home in a nice neighborhood. If I lived there, I’d be sharing a ghetto apartment with roommates being serenaded by sirens every night while enduring the God awful summer heat. The traits I find endearing on visits would quickly annoy me, I’d soon run out of money, and my liver would pack up and leave me. The locals hate the Strip. I do not want to ever hate the Strip. Other places I visit make me want to sell my home and move immediately. Not Vegas. Vegas will always be the mistress I visit for a few days before eagerly heading home to my wife.

3) On that note, Las Vegas makes me appreciate where I live. Don’t get me wrong, I love it there. But after a few days, the city turns on you. Humans can only go so long without adequate sleep, with too much booze and too little nutritious food. I’ve found that after 72 hours of hardcore partying and endless walking, I’m ready for the clean air, the beautiful trees and mountains, and my soft bed. At home, it’s not nearly as likely that I’m going to be hit up for money aggressively by a middle aged man in a cheap business suit or incessantly handed “Live Nude Girls!” cards by cocaine-peddling non-English speaking gentlemen. Just sayin’.

2) The shopping. The girly girl in me absolutely loves the shopping. The Fashion Show Mall, the Forum Shops, the Miracle Mile Shops and the designer outlet mall hold a special place in my heart and are the reason I will probably never retire. Any money I don’t spend on overpriced food and alcohol goes to the stores. Having shopped all three last year, I can honestly say I prefer shopping in Vegas to shopping in New York. Vegas ties with LA shopping, however. I haven't forgotten my insanely discounted finds on Melrose.

1)At any time, there are hundreds of things going on. I do not understand boredom in Vegas. Between the free entertainment (the Treasure Island show and the Bellagio fountains) to observing the guy that is sloppy drunk by noon, there’s never a dull moment in Vegas. At the Rio, the servers randomly jump up and start belting out oldies like professionals and there’s never a shortage of mimes in the Venetian. Every tourist, whether it’s a first visit or a hundredth, should have something to do at all times. The biggest problem with this is trying to be everywhere at once.

When I return from Vegas, I always look like I just spent a month in a third world country. My feet are torn up and I hobble from all the sore muscles that come with spending three days in heels. I’m broke, I’m fat, I have awful skin and I’m exhausted. But eventually my skin clears up, the blisters heal and I find myself craving the sound of the slot machines and the lights of the Strip again. There may come a day when I’ve had enough Vegas, but I’m nowhere near reaching it.


Gretchen Niaki said...

THAT is an absolutely FABULOUS post!!! I intently read through the entire thing and I have to say I AGREE! I haven't been to NY so I can't compare but you hit the head on the nail!

Love it!

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