The money is obvious, the casino’s are all tacky, the beer is expensive if you’re not gambling, the women are all after one thing (money), the strip is full of annoying leaflet giver-outer-reh’s but everything outside of the casino’s is cheap!
…is a horrid place. The fronts of the casino’s look nice-ish with all the shininess, the shows, the fountains, the volcano, the bright lights… step inside any of the casino’s and they are all the same. Rows, upon rows of slot machines with brain dead people feeding quarters or just repeatedly pressing the “go” button. There are huge numbers or Roulette tables with people loosing all their money (seriously, the odds look good but everyone I watched lost at Roulette). Blackjack tables are surrounded by studious looking people who are taking things far too seriously. Security cameras follow your every move… The only casino that appeared to have any style to it was New York New York – the rest just followed the same formula and looked terrible for it.
The Strip wasn’t even that nice a place to be with all the Mexicans trying to shove hooker cards into your face. The shows weren’t that impressive – some were obviously tacky (Sirens of Ti had so much innuendo it was unreal), others tried to be impressive but failed (Bellagio’s fountains are a poor attempt at grandeur compared to Lima’s Parque De Reserva) and the rest, well sucked. The only thing that was impressive was Luxor’s One MegaWatt light, but that was only because of the true excess of shining a light which is visible from space.
I can’t say I was impressed by the Las Vegas Strip.
Freemont Street or the “cheap strip”
Away from the main strip lies Freemont Street. It’s two blocks of covered in walkway with casino’s bars and clubs vying for your attention. People in costume line the streets and earn a living by having their picture taken with you – we saw Kiss, Snoop Dog, Marilyn Monroe amongst many others. People whirr overhead flying down a zip line. Three stages provide live music by cover bands. Overhead a curved roof shows different colours and then all the lights in the street dim and a film is projected overhead.
Its tacky, it’s over the top, but it doesn’t pretend and for that reason Freemont Street is significantly better than The Strip!
To Sin Or Not To Sin
Meh, there was never any question. I sinned but I did win.
I wanted to play Blackjack but the big clubs on the Strip tend to have a minimum $10 bet (or more often $25) but in Freemont Street you can find tables with a $3 minimum. I took $21 and sat down at my very first Blackjack table. I had a nervous excitement and happily announced this was my first time – the dealer took it easy on me and the others at the table offered little tit-bits of advice as necessary.
I won the first hand without taking any cards – I had 21 from the first two. I lost a few hands but never dipped into my original stake. A few of the times I made a silly move the dealer took the bet and afterwards explained I shouldn’t have done that and why. I had a great time and it’s easy to see why people get addicted – I however left when I reached $35. It’s not a huge win, but I didn’t want my luck to run out and I was happy to walk out “a winner”. I’d taken on the clubs of Las Vegas and left up – that is a good line, even if “up” is only $14!
Clubbing and a Drive in Movie
In the hostel there were three great Dutch people – Cindy, Niels and Andre. The hostel organised a night clubbing and we all piled into two cabs. I stuck with Dutch contingent for most of the night and had a great time dancing and chatting. I’m told the other blokes in the group were approached by countless women whose first question was usually “how much money do you have” although that didn’t happen to me. I had a fantastic time all night especially the mickey-taking Cindy and I did directed towards Niels at the end of the evening!
The next day the Dutch bikers and I headed to the Drive in Movies and it was brilliant. I still had the Red Dodge at this point so parked it up and had the bikers parked up beside me so they could hear the sound (it’s broadcast on the radio which their bikes didn’t have). Whilst the movie was mediocre (Real Steel) and I’m not sure I’d go to a drive in movie again, it was a great to do a stable “American” tradition!
As an aside, I found out about a very strange coincidence recently involving Cindy, Niels and Andre. Its amazed and amused me when I heard the news but I’ll keep that little nugget for a future blog post… It’s good to tease!
More Pictures of Las Vegas
More pictures of Las Vegas can be found in the Digitallery album USA – Nevada – Las Vegas
Click here to load a map showing you the location of this post and images from the digitallery taken nearby.