Las Vegas: The big trip part 1

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So two weeks after getting back from my crazy two and a half week whirlwind trip to Vegas and Chile I am finally starting to feel like a functional human being again.  A twenty-four hour journey back caused me to have the worse jetlag I have ever experienced in my life, but it was worth it. I’m hoping to write a few posts about my trip mixed some update posts and try to be a bit more regular with my blog posts but we will see…

My trip consisted of six days in Las Vegas followed by nine days in Chile. A strange combination you may ask, but the Vegas trip was in the planning stages for four years. A couple of friends and I who I met through gapyear.com decided to go to Vegas four years ago, as we all turned 30 around the same time. Unfortunately when it came to it only one of them was able to follow through with the booking, so the trip became something different to what was originally planned, other people came along and the actual experience was very different from what I thought it be would be mainly due to circumstances that I couldn’t control.  Nevertheless I was determined that I was going to do everything that I wanted to in Vegas.

I was lucky enough to stay in the Bellagio for the first three days of my stay, which is probably the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in. As I knew the accommodation for the rest of my trip would be fairly basic, shared dorm rooms I appreciated the room and made sure to have plenty of baths in the massive bath tub, lounge by the pool and generally relax in the room when I could.

I’d actually forgotten how long the strip is, in your head you imagine it to be quite walkable, but in reality from one end to the other you’re looking at a walk of around 4.5 miles. So take your walking shoes with you or pop on the deuce bus.  Which is probably the better option in the intense Vegas heat.

I thought I would share some of my favourite parts of the trip with you to give you an idea of what I got up to and provide some inspiration if you’re thinking of heading over there soon.

Taking in the show

On this trip I was determined to take in a show, I even put some money aside beforehand to make sure I would follow through with this. When you get to Vegas there are loads of shows to choose from covering acrobatics, comedy, burlesque, music and everything in-between. But I knew beforehand that I wanted to see a Cirque du Soleil show, it was just deciding which one as they pretty much saturate Vegas with over 8 shows. This site explains all the different shows, in the end I went with Mystere, mainly because it was the cheapest show. You can buy tickets directly from your hotel but I found Vegas.com had tickets with really big discounts.

mystere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinball Hall of Fame

I found out about this place  when I was googling sights worth seeing outside of Vegas.  This was one of my favourite places I visited in Vegas. It’s basically a room full of retro pinball machines from the 1950’s-1990’s along with some cult arcade machines such as Tron. Most cost a quarter to play, plus they have a photobooth there where you can get two strips of photos for $3, cue the silly poses. I enjoyed  this place alot more than the casinos, to me it had a very local vibe and I do enjoy a bit of nostalgia. Even though it’s pretty far out you can get there relatively easily on the bus. I bought a 24 hour Deuce pass then at the top of the strip just too a bus going along East Tropicana.

pinball rowsimpsons pinball

 

Stratosphere Tower

Yeah, yeah, yeah… it’s super touristy and expensive but I had to do it and yes of course I went on the ride. Best view in Vegas.

IMG_3328stratosphere ride 2 better

Lounging by the pool

Vegas is hot! If you are staying in a good hotel chances are you are likely to have an amazing pool at your disposal so you should definitely make the most of it especially if you are on holiday. If you are not staying in a hotel with a pool then fear not I know the Palms hotel has a pool open to the public and free of charge Monday – Thursday, so do a bit of research and see what else you can find.

vegas weather

IMG_3312Grand Canyon Western rim

In my opinion going to the Western rim is a MASSIVE rip off, you pay quite a bit to enter because it’s a reservation site (Hualapai Reservation) while at the other rims you pay nothing. I guess this one is alot closer but in my opinion I didn’t feel it was worth it, maybe because I had visited before. I did also do the skywalk but again this just felt like an over priced tourist cash cow.  Obviously the views of this natural wonder are spectacular but personally I preferred Bryce Canyon.

grand caynon screamgrand caynon

Zion National Park and Bryce Caynon

I have a little rule where every time I visit the US I like to go to at least one state that I haven’t been before. I was very aware on this trip that six days in Vegas may be overkill so decided when I was there to take a trip into Utah to visit Zion National Park and Bryce Caynon. I booked my trip through Sweet Tours who I think are one of the only operators to run this trip, the whole trip is around 14 hours and you do a fair bit of driving. But If you don’t have a car this is the only option for you to get to these places.  Bryce is famous for its distinctive hoodoo structures that stretch out for you in shades of red, orange and white. For me it was truly a highlight, I loved taking in the epic landscape and being out in the wilderness.

bryce caynon

zion

bryce good pic

Checking out the hotels

You can spend days just going in and out of hotels checking out the opulent interiors and catching the various shows they have. I planned to catch alot more than I actually did, but in the end time got away from me. The Bellagio fountains were a amazing. One display that was far from impressive for me was the Treasure Island one, I found the language in it describing women very sexist and offensive and left halfway through.

_MG_9347Fremont Street

This is the home of down town, old Las Vegas, $2 beers, cheap cherry pie and interesting characters. For me Fremont Street seems a bit more ‘authentic’ than the rest of Vegas. I had one of my best experiences there, I was in the cocktail bar at the Golden Nugget and I got chatting to these two American guys called Jeff and Jerry we had such a great conversation talking about travel, jobs and differences between American and European culture. One of those random conversations with two strangers who felt like friends by the time I left.

cherry piefremont

golden nuggetGambling

I’m not a massive gambler, but in Vegas I was determined to tip my toes into the murky world of gambling. I mainly stuck to the slots, but I did have a go on the roulette my strategy was the random, panicked placing of bets as opposed to applying any logic. Obviously I came away with no money, but I did enjoy it. One word of warning casinos don’t have exit signs as they want you to stay in there for as long as possible, so try and remember the way you came in.

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Vegas sign

An icon of Vegas, I missed out on getting my picture taken here last time I was here, so made it a priority this time. You have to drive up to near the airport and without a car this is a bit tricky to get to, though a few tours do have a photo stop here.

vegas sign good picSo there you have it, Vegas highlights courtesy of me. Well done for getting to the end and feel free to message me if you want any more tips.

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