Las Vegas - One Big Circus in the Desert

Trip Start Nov 01, 2010
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Trip End Nov 01, 2011


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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Sunday, October 16, 2011

11/10/11 – 5 nights in Crazy Town

Flying in over the Las Vegas felt fairly surreal. It was hard to know what to expect of the place only as to what we had heard from friends and what we seen on the movies haha Wondered if we would be lucky enough to bump into Alan from the Hangover. The Airline was great especially given the low priced flight, USA equivalent of Ryan air, only a nicer plane.

City of Blinding Lights

It was now 7pm and the lights from the Vegas strip really stood out, especially considering the city was completely surrounded in darkness/desert. We got our luggage, and boarded a shuttle bus bound for our hotel, Luxor [http://www.luxor.com/] Luxor and 14 other resorts had the same owner, including Bellagio and MGM Grand. For the same price as our hostel/bunk bed room in San Francisco, we would now being staying in a 4 star hotel and casino with king sixe bed in the middle of the Vegas strip, in an actual Pyramid with a sphinx outside. Given that it was mid-week, and the amount of competitiveness for hotels and thousands of rooms, prices were all generally cheap with the idea of reeling us into their casinos and spending our $'s being the main objective. Listen, we will take that – it will be some difference in luxury, one we were looking forward to. The shuttle bus journey took about 20 minutes after we had dropped other guests off at their hotels. We arrived at the pyramid with neon lights shining into the sky from the peak, very cool. Queued up at the reception desk, once we had actually found it, the casino was like a city in itself. We couldn’t wait.

We could already see new brides in their dresses checking in, I honestly thought getting married in Vegas was something that maybe happened the odd day. The hotels all had their own chapels for flip sake. My mind was now working over time haha

Nightmare start in Vegas

It was finally time to check in. The expressionless clerk at the desk simply said – 'You have no booking with us" – WTF?? I gave him the booking reference number emailed to me 3 days previous. We had booked through lastminute.com (a company we had booked through before along with plenty of other middle agencies very like hostelworld and booking.com) – Generally we always fished around for the best price and had never experienced issues before. We told him of lastminute.com to which he said he had never heard of them….oh Jesus are we being punked or what? We were knackered at this point and just wished this wasn’t happening. I then got onto a payphone and rang lastminute.com to share my anger, after having waited about 20 minutes on hold, luckily it was a toll free number. Got through to the guy, said he would sort it out, placed me on hold whilst he rang the hotel. He then said re-check in, your good to go now – relieved it was sorted I got same clerk at desk, sorry still no booking – I wanted to jump across the desk ! Rang lastminute back, on hold forever, but no answer. By this stage the casino reception was buzzing with people and we were sat their with luggage on a bench wondering what to do. I just happened to get talking to their manager, who was actually sound, he went and checked his fax machine and found a page sitting in the tray regarding our booking. At this point there were no king rooms left, great. He sorted the whole thing out and upgraded us free of charge to a tower room. Could have kissed him.

Basically he explained that lastminute.com had used their own middle agency, Travelocity -  renowned seemingly for being useless, technical fault and delay in reservation reaching the Luxor Hotel. It got sorted but definitely left a bad taste in our mouths and learnt a valuable lesson to ring ahead always and confirm the booking especially if your flying to party town in the middle of a desert. When I have time to myself, when this trip is done, I plan on taking lastminute.com down! I might even hire in Blue and his fitty cent gang from LA and their corporate lawyers haha

By the time we had finally reached our room it must have been 11pm and we nearly collapsed with exhaustion. Room was ridiculously bigger than we were used to, the bed was too appealing, early night, try and put the check in fiasco to the back of our minds and start fresh the next day.

The Las Vegas Strip

Woke up to the dry heat of Vegas, got my gear ready and headed for the hotel gym, I hadn’t seen in a gym in a while now and wanted to try and at least start Vegas good lol. Then we got showered and ready to walk the strip, couldn’t wait. We left about 10am, heat was crazy, and made our way down the main strip. Place was absolutely buzzing, the casinos and hotels looked like something from outer space. One place that really stood out was New York, New York. It had a giant statue of liberty outside, a third of the size of the actual statue. Inside was all New York themed with Little Italy, Time Square and so on. We went in and had some breakfast and then done a spot of gambling on the slot machines, both of us coming away fairly even. We had spotted the giant rollercoaster than ran outside the place so I made the executive decision to sign both of us up for that. $14, was well worth it. We really enjoyed it, Caoimhe had her eyes closed for the most part and kept asking me if it was over yet haha.

We had a few things in our mind we wanted to do. First of all, we wanted to see a show. We had heard great things about the Cirque Du Soleil shows especially the ‘O’ version in the Bellagio. We’d been informed that the best place to go for discounted tickets was ‘Tix for tonight’ booths on the strip. At $175 each we still thought that was expensive after finding the discounted office. We kept dandering on further passing the Bellagio and watched the water show, which was brilliant I have to say. Passed the Paris Hotel and Casino, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace and MGM Grand. As tacky as everything was, and as crazy as Vegas was, we were loving it.

Gifts – Oscar nominations

Somehow we got pulled in (you get fairly hounded by people looking to sell you stuff and flyers from the Philipino’s for Girls, Girls, Girls) and they offered us tickets to go see the new Cirque Du Soleil show, Le RÍve [http://pages.wynnlasvegas.com/lereve/]. She offered them for 50$ each, whilst the official price was $185 only sold via Wynn casino. Ok so what’s the catch? An hour long presentation at a convention in the jockey club casino where they try to sell you timeshares. My only ever experience in timeshares was when Mum and Dad took us to a 5 star resort in Lanzarote, played the game, then declined in the end. Showered with free ‘gifts’ to persuade you, but at the end of the day, they generally are for suckers. However, $50 for a Le RÍve ticket, sign me up (listen we are backpackers travelling the world on a budget), my B in Drama GCSE was now going to get some use.

We booked our tickets with the promise of receiving them afterwards. They were licensed and had a fixed office, so we knew they couldn’t do a runner. It turned into a cracker afternoon and we done some laughing. We sat at a table with Wendy, the saleswoman, watched a short video on the luxury destinations that awaited us if we bought a timeshare. At no point did she leave us together to chat, she even followed Caoimhe to the toilet haha Other sales people would walk by and shout ‘Go get em Wendy’ haha Me and Caoimhe laughing our heads off. ‘In the end Wendy I am going to have to decline, it’s simply not the right time in our lives for a timeshare’ – lol. She then reduced the price another 3 times. She then passed us to the ‘checkout lady’ – who would now push the hard sale. Our final offer - $5000 for a 1 week holiday once a year for the next 45 years anywhere in the world in 5 star luxury – when it smells like bullsh1t, sounds like bullsh1t………..good luck, 2 Le RÍve tickets please…..sorted. Friday 930pm – bring it on, cant wait, just saved ourselves $135 each. A very funny afternoon, meeting some of the craziest people you will ever come across…suspect wigs & dodge plastic surgery efforts.

With the tickets sorted,  & 8 hours of walking around the main strip (you can never get bored),  it was time for a nice Mexican feed, a few corona’s and Luxor giant king bed, still feeling the end of a Jet Lag, lasting nearly a week now, mad.

LAX Nightclub @ The Luxor [http://www.laxthenightclub.com/]

The next day we decided to head out to the hotel pool, right beside the pyramid, Oasis pool, free for residents. Place was filled with Americans, drinking cocktails and lounging around the pool, we joined them haha. Sun was scorching. There was a real party atmosphere and we were really looking forward to hitting the club at the casino, LAX.

After the pool, we had a mission for the afternoon. Dad’s 60th was coming up in a few days and we had a brainwave of an idea. We made a Happy 60th sign and made our way for the Las Vegas strip. We found all sorts of characters dressed up from Sponge Bob Square pants to Woody to a chiwawa puppy with sunglasses on to pose with the birthday message haha. The plan was to then arrange them into a collage and use moonpig.com to send a giant card with all these randomers holding the birthday card to him. I couldn’t wait to hear the reaction from home when he see’s Bumble Bee from Transformers holding a sign saying "Happy 60th Gerry’ haha Besides that, we had a brilliant afternoon getting the snaps. Happy 60th Dad.


On the way back we bought some wine and vodka (very cheap) and headed to the room for a carry out and get the glad rags on for the swanky club, to which we had 2 complimentary VIP passes courtesy of the hotel. Whilst we tipsy’d our way via the casino to the club Caoimhe was given a wristband by 1 of the club promoters permitting her to unlimited vodka for the first 45 minutes. SWEET JESUS!

Queued up, got in, vodka time (which we exploited gladly), hit the floor showing off our impressive moves haha – trying to join in with the American grinders haha Loved the tunes, great night and then I was on babysitting duties with Miss Vodka Caoimhe Byrnov.

Le RÍve / The Dream

The next day (hung over) was check out time. It was Friday, and weekend rates at that place tripled, so we decided to book a more low scale hotel and casino, The Clarion. We lived it up long enough @ Luxor, got Joe max to our new joint, at the other end of the strip. Nice little spot. Chilled out for the day and then headed next door to the Marriot for dinner. Got changed after for the show, Le RÍve @ Wynn Casino. Wynn was just around the corner, handy, and so walked it. [http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/ ]The hotel looked pretty decent from the outside and then we got in there. The place was 5 star and looked like it was for celebrities and royalty. I don’t think we have ever been in a place like it before, very glamorous. Reached the entrance, Ferrari’s all pulled up outside and made our way to the box office to collect our tickets we blagged, HOPEFULLY. We were a bit nervous that we’d been conned by the timeshare scam/circus, but we handed the vouchers over and they gave us our tickets – yeohh haha. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show, is it a musical or what? I wasn’t a big fan of musicals, I’d prefer plays.


And then it started, spectacular from start to finish, we were blown away. It was like Olympic gymnastics and diving versus synchronised swimming & strictly come dancing. It was all happening and hard to keep your eyes on everything at the same time. At 1 point people were diving out of a hole in the roof of the theatre whilst others were swimming under the water and then just disappearing. Would have been nice to have some photos but photography wasn’t allowed, but it’s something we will never forget. We felt like ducks out of water at that hotel and theatre show, we were staying in a hostel in bunk beds 4 days ago, now it felt like we were amongst America’s richest lol.

Next day, we were up in the air as to whether or not we would hire a car for the day, drive across the desert and head to the Grand Canyon. It was a 8 hour return drive to see a giant hole in the ground. I’m pretty sure once we got there we would think it’s brilliant but decided nah, not for us, couldn’t be bothered. Left it, chilled by the pool at the hotel for the afternoon after our snazzy $5 breakfast lol.

That evening (after mission impossible getting our washing done in the launderette that didn’t want to be found) we headed for Treasure Island Casino. We’d heard there was a Pirate Show on and a few friends recommended it to us. We were lucky, we had just sat down to dinner outside the pirate show in this American ranch/Texan restaurant and could watch it from our table.  It was our last night in Vegas, and hadn’t seen the Venetian yet. We headed round, place was incredible. The gondola boat right looked super cheese haha, but so was Vegas.

Nice ending to the night, leaving the next morning for LA. A 4 hour bus ride (a nice bus this time) – staying in a hostel near LAX airport, for our flight across America tomorrow to New York City tomorrow morning. 2 weeks left now, spending it on the East Coast, New York and Boston. Can’t wait to see everyone, the year has flown in. 

6 Days in Vegas = MORE than plenty
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