The only desert you’re probably going to encounter on a road trip or backpacking adventure on the West Coast. You’ve been to Hollywood, you’ve visited museums and surfed until your feet turned to prunes. But all you want to do is go to Sin City and forget all your problems in copious amounts of drink and regret, right? Amen sister.
On touching down McCarran International Airport, we were greeted by the unrecognisable voice that is Elvis, singing us down the runway. It was quite a way to start our trip, so thanks Spirit Airlines for that! We made our way through the airport, passing a million gambling stations (they entice you from the get go) and we were off on our adventure.
The first thing you need to know about Vegas is that it is SO HOT. I know people will have told you, and you’ll have guessed from it being *ahem* a bloody desert. But no, this is a different kind of heat. It isn’t a whip the tanning oil out and let’s get a cocktail heat. Although alcohol does help. It’s an ‘I’ve just woken up from a big night out and my mouth is dry like Gandhi’s flip flop’ kind of heat. You can plan things for the day, like walk around the strip and explore, but if your plan doesn’t involve being in air-con every 5 minutes – good luck.
But even though you’re dehydrated to the point of death, you can’t deny Vegas is something incomparable to any other place. The sense of fun and adventure you have when you’re stood on that strip makes you think anything could happen. I think that’s why it’s so attractive to holiday goers and people alike, why they say ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’. (My dad even said it the other day, ewww). Because any things goes here. From the girls dressed up on the strip to the extravagance of the hotels, the things you think wouldn’t be possible are just merely normal life in Vegas.
There was one thing on my Vegas to-do list, I saw an advert for it in the airport and to me it summed up a perfect Vegas experience – Wet Republic Pool Party at MGM. It looked amazing, and so fancy a Kardashian wouldn’t be out of place spotted there. That was what I needed to experience. At $20 each they were a bargain.
However, one thing that wasn’t on my to-do list that I did anyway and that was seeing the legend that is Britney Spears. She has a residency at Planet Hollywood and is apparently the best thing since sliced bread. Whilst we were getting ready for our Vegas experience in our fancy hotel, Leigh and Laura started talking about the possibility of getting tickets to Britney that night. I could see Lizzie keep glancing my way. After 8 years of friendship I knew what those looks meant… she wanted Britney too. So after a failed attempt at thinking about finances (best not to think about them at all really) we made the bold decision to do both things in one night. This was Vegas after all.
As we made this decision and by the time we had hailed a cab and made our way to PH from the other side of the strip – it was 8:57pm. Britney came on in 3 minutes. We ran through Planet Hollywood’s casino after getting out of the death taxi and desperately tried to make sense of the maze that is a Vegas casino (think the Percy Jackson film where they trap you forever). We ran towards the ticket office and the only tickets left were the price bracket higher (of course…) so $115 and a few panic attacks later, we were sat there ready to be blown away by our childhood idol. Only, that’s not quite what happened. Yes she’s still fab, still pretty hot and ‘Everytime’ will always make me contemplate life. But it was equally as traumatic as she lip synced and danced her way through an hour of songs. At one point she had a woman crawl on the stage as she led her with a leash and a whip. WHAT????
After the show and when we’d finally picked our jaws up from the floor, we made our way to the Bellagio fountains to watch the amazing, legendary fountain show. Although, that’s not what we saw. Now I’ve seen it on movies and it looks amazing. So why did we only see a few spurts or water and a colour or 2? I was not impressed. However, there was a lovely, old man behind us selling Corona – what a beauty. At least I had alcohol whilst I wasted my time. Maybe another time it might be great, so don’t put off going! And definitely make sure you go into the Bellagio. It’s astounding. My favourite hotel on the strip (and there is a LOT to choose from). There are beautiful glass flowers on the ceiling as you walk in, and marble everywhere. Like tonnes of the stuff. Which makes it all the more fancy! There’s a casino (of course) and as you walk through there is a room beyond all rooms. It’s full of aquarium decorations, more glass flowers, lights, water fountains and more amazing things I can’t put into words. It sums up Vegas – OTT beyond belief.
Now for my most favourite part of Vegas – Wet Republic. It took us over an hour to get from the Bellagio to the entrance of the pool. (This is normal for Vegas, just because you can see your destination does not mean getting to it will be easy). After spending about 15 minutes of this actually lost in the hotel, we finally get there – to find a queue that is going to take us about 5 hours to get through. It’s 12pm already and we’re getting picked up for all day coach trip to the Grand Canyon in 6 hours. Lord help me.
After waiting in like for 10 minutes, Lizzie gets bored of waiting. She wanders off somewhere to see if we can get in a shorter line, as we already have tickets. Next thing I know she’s dragging us past the 3 hour long line to the front where we proceed to walk past the bouncers and into the party. Of course, my heart is going ten to the dozen. After we get our ID’s checked (one real, one not so real), we were in. That easy. Sometimes being pale, flat chested and English is just what you need. People don’t even recognise you.
So there we are surrounded by flashing lights, a DJ deck pumping out music and more people in one tiny pool than I’ve ever seen. This is not Malia or Ayia Napa standard for sure – this is something completely different. This is Vegas standard. It was amazing and we needed alcohol. After a very long line, $44 and 4 tiny cans of Corona later we’re dancing and living the Vegas life. At 4am, Lizzie decides we don’t need to sleep, because sleep is overrated. I agree, in my tipsy state I feel like I can conquer the world, never mind skipping out on beauty sleep for one night. This leads to us arriving back at our hotel room at 4:45am, careful not to wake Laura, and wait until its time to get ready for our 6am bus. The lack of sleep, slight hangover and 106 degree heat is what leads to the picture above.
A disheveled outfit, my cap and a big smile – because I was at the Grand Canyon. After 5 hours on the coach, it was worth the trip. It is really just a big hole. That’s the cynical side of me that was tired, but it is truly something to be admired. It’s amazing to think that it wasn’t always there and to think how it came to be. It’s bigger than you could ever think, it seems to stretch on forever. If you’re scared of heights, like me, keep you hands on the fences. The drop down does not look so fun. We did the South Rim tour from Canyontours.com at $79. It was the cheapest one, but it did the job. We didn’t walk on the Skywalk which you can do or go in a helicopter or whatever. But we saw what we wanted to see, and for a budget tour it was really good. I would recommend!
The 3 days in Vegas killed me off. I felt like I had partied and not slept for a week (maybe its my age…) but when we landed back in LA we headed to our fancy apartment in Beverley Hills and chilled out for a day or 2. It was needed. I wouldn’t rush back to Vegas, as I think it’s a little overrated as it’s just 1 strip you’re flying thousands of miles to see. But you can’t argue with the fact that its spectacular and everything that people say it is – OTT, crazy and never ending.
Things not to miss in Vegas:
- The roller coaster outside New York New York hotel – I didn’t actually do this but it looks amazing! It’s squeezed right in between a main road and a hotel, looping round until you probably feel extremely sick and going right through the hotel itself. The best underage fun in Vegas!
- A pool party. Basically a party/strip club with an added bonus of getting a tan at the same time. With alcohol. That’s multi-tasking Vegas style. There’s so many pool parties, obviously Wet Republic at MGM Grand featuring different DJ’s most nights (and also the pool party Prince Harry chose). Some of the best are also Encore at The Wynn and Bare Pool Lounge at The Mirage.
- We had just been to the Luxor hotel pool, was starving and only had $20 on us. We didn’t think we would get a meal, incl. tax and tip, for that. Then we stumbled on Tom’s Urban (3790 Las Vegas Boulevard S, Las Vegas, NV 89109). Not wanting to eat normal junk food that usually we could only afford, we both dined on a huge chopped salad with rosemary flat bread for only $15. Sure, we could only afford water, but that to me is still a bargain on the strip! It’s next to New York New York, check it out!