Las Vegas needs no introduction. Everybody knows the city’s reputation and we were both excited for a weekend replacing camping and hiking with whatever Vegas had in store for us!
Our first morning, despite the heat, we went out to explore The Strip and to scope out a few hotels for our planned upgrade (our motel, behind Hooters, was a bit grim). Our first stop was the MGM Grand. George was floored by the casino’s size. With the Mayweather/McGregor fight coming up I was keen to go check out the ring in the Grand Arena but bloody Microsoft were having a conference there so access was a no go (the fight isn’t even there anyway!)
I personally had expected a lot more from the MGM Grand. Maybe I’ve watched Ocean’s 11 too many times but the place just didn’t live up to my expectations. It feels really dated. The patterned carpets and smoking indoors didn’t help. With the MGM ruled out we continued up The Strip wandering in to each hotel to take in the amazing lobbies. Bellagio was good but the Venetian was the best (George also loved the floral carousel in the Wynn).
That night we went for a drink with a friend of mine from my Uni days at the Chandelier bar inside the Cosmopolitan which was great and a lot more sophisticated than we’ve been used to lately. It was also nice for both of us to have someone else to talk to and to chat about the last few months with. After drinks we headed out to watch the famous fountain show outside the Bellagio (the very weird patriotic music was a surprise?!)
By the end of our first day, we (I had) decided that our cheap motel although a bit basic and in a (very) sketchy area was OK if it meant we could use the extra cash to do some fun things (play golf) instead.
As we’re both bad but very keen golfers Top Golf at the MGM Grand had caught my eye. We headed over and rented a bay for an hour ($45). It was a serious hour of competition for the latest bragging rights (I won). George couldn't accept defeat so we played again (the result didn't change!) Top Golf is basically a fancy twist on a driving range; microchipped balls land (or don’t) in targets scoring you points for whichever of the in-built games you’ve picked to play. Food and drinks are available as is a pool on the upper deck which George loved.
After George had sunbathed and swam (and put her dummy back in after her big defeat) we headed back to the motel before returning to The Strip to have dinner and explore the south side. George picked a very strange bar for drinks but I escaped a ride on the High Roller (a poor mans London Eye). Its a surprisingly long walk from the MGM end to Circus Circus so at the end of the night we caught the monorail back from the Stratosphere ($5 each
With the cheesy Vegas sign still not seen, we headed there on our final morning. There’s a controlled line to stop the big crowds swamping the sign with selfie sticks which is good. Be aware though that the sign is a good 25 minute walk from The Strip (everything looks closer than it really is because the hotels are so huge on the landscape).
Most people go to Vegas with the expectation they’ll get wild at a pool party, drink the night away and gamble hard - going home with considerably less cash than they came with! Visiting Vegas as part of a long trip perhaps made our experience a little different.
The temptation to blow lots of money on the slots and at the bar was there but we fought hard to resist (we’ve 7 months to go and didn't want to end our trip prematurely!) (Plus George didn’t cope with losing on the slots well!) Maybe thats why I left Vegas not really seeing what the fuss is about? The town feels old and dirty. Its not the glitzy, suited and booted scene I was expecting. I saw hagged looking people slumped over the slots and tables, cigarette in hand. There is obviously a real drug problem on the fringes too. I said to George as we walked through The Flamingo that I felt like we were in a scene from the 80’s and I stand by that comment. I don’t think I’ll be back.
We hit the Hoover Dam that afternoon. Our planned destination for the night was a campsite just outside the Grand Canyon south entrance, however I was shattered and after stopping for fuel still a good 3 hours away we decided to call time on driving. We found a Walmart car park to bunker down in until the morning.