It has been a wildly busy summer! Our originally planned cross country road trip across the USA didn't happen. Why? Well, it all boils down to one word: money. It simply wasn't possible to experience so much of what we wanted to experience in the style we wanted while also renting (or buying) a car + insurance + gas + everything else we spend money on to live comfortably (like stable wifi, healthy food, a clean bed).
After a month in San Francisco we decided it was time to check out Another American Classic: Las Vegas! It's a destination everybody talks about for the shows, the wild parties, the drinking on the streets, and more. I'd been there once before on a business trip, but opted for a hotel off of The Strip because I was under 21 and couldn't gamble or drink anyway. As time went by I remembered Vegas as a kind of dingy, dirty town with a sort of old glamour reminiscent of a time when Mae West was considered sexy.
But what is Vegas really like for a twenty-something year old couple nowadays? Scroll down to see what we thought of The Strip and some advice on making it big in Vegas.
What went wrong...
- Expectations. Everybody's heard about the crazy parties and the endless rounds of shots. That is not real unless you're willing to spend money on cover charges and $15 screwdrivers. When we went out for a night of exploring and drinking, people seemed to disappear off the streets at around 1am... compared to Prague or Berlin, Las Vegas isn't half the party that it claims to be!
- The Strip is huge. It's several miles long and only busy in the southern half. Do not wear heels when walking outdoors to any destination. You will regret it! Comfy shoes will make your Strip experience a million times better, guaranteed!
- Sunscreen is not a choice, it's a requirement. Unless you enjoy having dry and itchy skin you better get yourself to the nearest Walgreens pronto.
- It's really hot in Vegas. Don't forget to stay hydrated. We kept on forgetting to drink water. The results were dizzy and nauseous! Be sure to take a water bottle with you when you go out exploring.
- Slot machines are actually extremely addicting. This may sound obvious but you don't always win at slot machines. Most people tend to forget this the moment the lights start flashing. We were up a couple of times, once even as high as $500! But as the fate of Las Vegas has it, that money disappeared so quickly that we still don't know where it all went. #TheHouseAlwaysWins
- The Stratosphere rides are not that epic. Okay, not to be all negative or anything, but I really thought there was going to be a legit rollercoaster at the top of the Stratosphere. Instead there were three small ones. We paid way too much money to go up there and ride just one ride... but at least the ride was actually really scary :) Short but scary!
- Apparently the Bellagio is on a strict schedule due to the great western drought. Yup, the drought isn't only affecting California, but its neighbors too. Check online to see what time the fountain goes off when you go so you don't miss it like we did.
- Those busses on The Strip are super slow. It's not cheap and it's not worth it. Seriously, just flag a cab. You'll be glad you did. It took us well over 40 minutes to get from the MGM Grand to the Stratosphere.
What went right...
- The Cosmopolitan has the best food. Seriously. All out favorite restaurants were inside of te Cosmopolitan hotel. The ones you must try:
- Secret Pizza - New York delicious pizza by the slice. Not many options when it comes to toppings, but definitely will leave you craving for more.
- China Poblano - Asian and Mexican fusion at its finest. Delicious and brave combinations of our two favorite palettes.
- Wicked Spoon - It's the most amazing buffet we've ever seen. Come hungry because Wicked Spoon has foods to satisfy your every craving. From Asian delights such as Sriracha chicken wings, to American classics like clam chowder, an array of seafood selections, beautiful desserts, cheeses, you name it!
- Cirque du Soleil is really cool, not cheesy. After weighing the options of whether to see a magic show or a show-show, we opted for Ka because of all the posters and the good deal we got with our M Life Card membership. The seating was well planned, the lights and sound beautifully executed, and the talent impeccable, especially for a cast that does the show nearly three times a day. We were impressed and definitely glad we chose Ka.
- Those giant boozy slurpees are totally legit. No, but really. If you're looking for a fun, tasty, and affordable way to get buzzed in Vegas, this is it. Pick a flavor you both like (we got Pina Colada!) and slurp away! After drinking up in the hot sun we were feeling pretty happy... not to mention that's when we ran into Aaron Paul, the actor from Breaking Bad at the Cosmopolitan Hotel (see below).
- You can totally get loaded on the free drinks at the casino. Pay the waitress a dollar for the rum nd coke she just brought you and you're good to go for the day. Inside the casino there are no windows, so no matter what time it is, it always feels like evening. You might as well get hammered anyway.
- Asian slot machines are fun and lucky! We read a couple of blogs and stories about what slots to play at the casinos, and one of them mentioned trying out the Asian slot machines. We found an entire corner dedicated to Chinese games and were instantly addicted. They're beautifully interactive, have great sound effects and visuals, and actually let you win! Until you forget to quit and you're suddenly back at $0 that is. :)
- The MGM Grand is actually a really great deal. We had a spacious room with gorgeous bay windows and a bad that seemed to never end. Although our view of the Hooters hotel wasn't exactly exciting, we were very happy to feel so comfy in our plushy room for a very regular price (less than $100 per night).
Overall our Vegas experience was a positive one, although mostly for the food and extreme novelty of the place. Everything is flashing, everything is glitzy with an underlying tackiness to it. Like I said before, there is a certain dinginess to it. Waitresses in the casino may be half naked, but they're also mostly middle aged and tired.
We had a great time walking around, taking in the vibes, and filling our bellies with delicious treats. Would we come back one day? Certainly. It's a good place to disconnect from reality and just soak in that outrageous American culture.