It’s been almost two years since I went on my first long haul vacation to Las Vegas, and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. That’s what the city does to you. It advertises that it is the best place on Earth, and it didn’t take me much convincing to believe it. Before I’d even been, I dreamt of going and had pictures and collages all over my walls of clippings from travel brochures (my favourite film is also Casino), and when my aunt, who lives there, invited me to celebrate my 21st Birthday with her, there was no refusal. Despite the fact that I knew she would be waiting for me at the airport when I got there, this was a truly solo experience, as I’d essentially not seen my aunt since I was about 7, so it was like meeting a new person. I flew alone, which was the scariest yet most invigorating experience of my life, and I proved to myself that I could do it. Before Vegas, the idea of flying was unthinkable, I intended to do my travels via cruise and cargo ships, as I vowed never to get on a plane. Long story short, I have an anxiety disorder and an irrational fear of heights and speed, so it wasn’t even the crashing element that most people fear about flying that got me. Anyway, that’s another story for another time. This is all about what I did when I got there and to share some of the magical and strange moments I had in the wonderful city that is Las Vegas.
Flying over Greenland
When we got off the plane, we went straight to a gas station to pick up some snacks and a drink, which was an experience in itself. First of all, I went to get in the other side of the car and embarrassed myself by forgetting that pretty much every country in the world except England and a few others, drive on the opposite side of the road. Other than that, the driving element of the trip overall didn’t phase me, although my cousin said it took him a while to get used to it even as a passenger. The store looked almost artificial. There was packaging I recognised, of course, but it just looked different. As though the font and labels were older and outdated compared to England, and the only time I’d really seen American snack packaging was in American sweet stores in England, so at first I felt I was in one of those. Then, to drive back to my aunts house, she took me via the Strip at about 2 in the afternoon, and although, as previously mentioned, I had pictures and watched videos and had even been down the Strip on Google Street View, I still had to ask her and confirm if what we were driving on was the Strip. It was just incredible. The hesitation of not knowing for sure if I was on the main Strip of Las Vegas can only be described as complete culture shock. Almost like I wasn’t prepared to see it, that I needed a couple of hours to get used to being in another country or something first.
Driving the Strip upon arrival
The first thing I do see, the Paris casino, which, I’ll mention now, was the highlight of my entire trip. It was as beautiful as I’d have ever imagined, inside and out, and had this gorgeous sweet smell like French perfume. Without a doubt my favourite casino to explore.
On day 2, after a walk around the Strip and to various casinos, we stopped for lunch at Mon Ami Gabi, a French bistro/cafe with outdoor seating over looking the Bellagio Fountain. It was there I tried escargot and enjoyed a glass of red wine for the first time (I haven’t looked back since). I figured, why the hell not!? I’d managed to fly out all this way, why don’t I live a little? All I can say is, I probably won’t eat one ever again, but they tasted and felt like I was eating a garlic gummy bear.
We also booked a table for the following day at the Eiffel Tower restaurant, seeing as my aunt could tell how much I loved being in Paris. And again, the food was incredible. I tried the Muscovy duck breast and for dessert had the best creme brûlée of my life.
Lunch at Mon Ami Gabi, Paris Casino
Dinner at Eiffel Tower restaurant, Paris Casino
Roof-top shots of the various casinos on Las Vegas Strip
I must admit, I did not get to see each and every casino on the Strip, it would have been impossible unless I was at a hotel located there. But that’s one of the best parts of my experience, I still have lots more to see and do, and I also got a taste of what actually living in America is like, the glitz and glamour of the Strip aside. We went to Red Rock Canyon, and I honestly thought Clint Eastwood was gonna walk out into the middle of the road, (although I am aware that many Westerns were not actually filmed in the US) it was so naturally beautiful, with landscapes I never thought I’d see in my life. I think a lot of people forget about where Vegas is actually located, and the gorgeous scenery that can be seen beyond the bright lights. Like the Strip itself, it just doesn’t look real.
Red Rock Canyon
Some other highlights of my trip…
Fremont Street, Downtown
Enchilada omelette, the BEST omelette I’ve ever had, The Cracked Egg
Night drive on the Strip (more footage on my video)
The Las Vegas Sign
On my first day at university, my lecturer asked the group if any of us had been to the Eiffel Tower. I shouted out, “no, but I’ve been to the one in Las Vegas!” That can really sum up what being in Vegas is like – you’re in America, in the middle of the desert, but somehow, you’re also in France, New York, Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, Italy and so on. I don’t think anyone could truly tire of the city with that much variation, excitement and culture. The history of the city alone is unique, so by incorporating those of ancient times and global cultures and architecture, you are in a place that is one of a kind, and an experience of a lifetime.
For a review of the best desserts I had in Las Vegas, please check my other post, and below is a video diary of my trip which has SO much more amazing footage (I think I spent more time capturing videos than I did taking pictures). Please leave a comment telling me about your time in Vegas, or if you have any questions about a future trip you’re planning, I’d be glad to help in any way I can.
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