Las Vegas – Sin City and More (Part 1)

One of the most exciting places in the world – Las Vegas… who hasn’t heard of the gambling capital of the world. When I was in India, I had heard about this place and Hollywood movies had made it an enchanting place for any movie fan.
When I was in Los Angeles, and was thinking of touring the area, my landlord highly recommended that I visit Vegas at least once. Of course, he didn’t need to advise me again.
I travelled alone and didn’t want to spend a lot of money on expensive hotels, so I decided to stay at a motel- of course, I wasn’t going to be spending much time inside, so I figured why pay so much for a room which is mostly going to be unoccupied.

I booked my flight and hotel tickets through Expedia.com
If you are visiting US for the first time and need good quality but inexpensive tickets and hotel rooms, I would recommend Expedia. It gives you a variety of choices and you can always get something within your budget.
I booked myself for 3 days and 2 nights and asked around for some tips on tips on sightseeing, from people who had already visited Vegas. I wanted to carry my bike along but that turned out to be very tedious and time consuming so I decided against it.

I left my house around 5am, as my flight was at 8am. I reached the airport and checked in. As there were not many people checking in, I was happy that it will not be a crowded flight. To my surprise, when I got into the plane I found out that it was a 50 seater plane. This frightened me, as I had heard so many stories about small aircrafts crashing during take-off and landing- I am extremely fearful of flying.
In any case I thanked God for the safe take-off. The flight was short. As I flew above the desert I felt like I was looking on to an artist’s canvas, with the mountains and deserted land. It was a beautiful sight. Within half an hour you get your first aerial glimpse of Las Vegas. It looks scattered but the Vegas strip is clearly visible.

Of course, it is not as beautiful in the day time as it would be at night with all the lights glittering but still I was excited to see it and had a lot of expectations of this trip.
Fifteen minutes later, we were ready to land at McCarren airport, Vegas. The plane turned and started descending. I could see the runway very clearly and waited expectantly to touch ground. But suddenly the plane swooped and rose again. I sat there petrified, fearing the worst, thinking something was definitely wrong with the plane. I looked around me and it seemed that I was the only one panicking. The aircraft circled and this time landed safely. (I have stories of landing and take- off each time I fly, in Ecuador I was almost sure that that was the day I would die and be taken home in a coffin) but of course everything is forgotten, once you land safely.

McCarran is a beautiful and clean airport. The first thing you notice as you exit the plane and enter the airport is the huge gallery of slot machines. The deafening sound of the slot machines would leave no one in doubt that you have arrived at Vegas- not even a blind person. I reached Vegas at 8:00 am. I had to change terminals to retrieve my baggage. Both the terminals are connected through a sky train. They don’t waste time at Vegas, because as you exit the airport, you get to view your first casino, Luxor- shaped like a pyramid reminding you (not that you need reminding) where you are. A few minutes later I was crossing the strip in a taxi.
We passed by the MGM grand, a big green hotel and casino which is right on the junction of Tropicana avenue and Las Vegas strip. Right opposite to Grand MGM is New York New York, named so because it is shaped like the Manhattan buildings with the replica of the Statue of Liberty in front of it. At this junction there are four big casinos n each of the four corners- Grand MGM, New York New York, Excalibur and Tropicana.

I was tempted to stop and take pictures but I realized I had three more days and I wanted to get to the hotel. However I got to the hotel six hours before check in and spent the time roaming in the city even though I had spent a tiring night. I decided to return to the Strip.

The Strip

The major casinos of Las Vegas are situated on the Strip which runs for 5kms. You can walk along the Strip or drive, checking out all of these exciting casinos. If you don’t have a car, you can rent one You can find a wide range of cars for hire … from a Nissan to a Ferrari, depending on how much you want to pay. If you want to save money, there are bikes and scooters for hire too. If you really want to tour the place, clicking your camera as you go along, your best option is the monorail.
There are 2 monorail connections, one goes from Tropicana avenue to West of the Strip and another starts from Tropicana to East of the strip. The East side monorail connects to most of the casinos starting from Grand MGM (the station is inside the casino) it connects to Bally’s and Paris, Flamingo/Caesars, Harrah’s/Imperial, Vegas convention centre and last station is Sahara Station. One ride might cost you USD 5 and one day pass (with as many rides as you can ) is 9 USD, if you want buy three days pass it will cost you USD 40 (I don’t know why anybody would buy that pass as it is more expensive than buying one day pass each day) children under 5 travel free.
The monorail travel is a mixed experience as getting to the station from the main Strip is a time consuming and tedious process. But yes, if you want to walk till the very end to The Sahara casino and on your way back if you are tired and want to come back quickly, it is a good option. The Monorail runs between 7:00am and 2:00 Am (3 am on weekends) There is a bus service too on the strip which you can use to travel on the strip.
You are not able to cross the street at the Tropicana avenue and Vegas strip junction but you can go across via an overhead pedestrian bridge.

The Hotels

New York New York: As I mentioned earlier, this huge grand hotel is in shape of the Manhattan skyline, with a big replica of the Statue of Liberty in front. There is a roller coaster ride circling the hotel, and you hear people screaming and shouting, giving it a very festive lively feeling.
Across NY, NY is the Grand MGM which has the statue of a Lion in front. I entered this casino first. MGM is famous for its live Lion. As you enter you see thousands of slot machines. It is a noisy busy place, with card tables and other gambling games. There is an air of excitement, created with the noise of the slot machines and people. There is no concept of day and night there. As I entered at 9:30am I could see people drunk and sleepy, gambling away. It seemed that some of those people hadn’t bathed in days and were sitting at gambling tables eating and drinking there. There were excited happy people (obviously winning) and there were people who seemed to have an expression saying they were heading for a heart attack(probably having lost everything) I could tell that this was real Sin City. I could see why this place was called the Mecca of Gambling. It was really scary to see people gambling their lives away, hoping for that one win.

A main attraction at this hotel is the 2 or 3 tigers in one corner. People cluster around them to watch these magnificent animals. A few caretakers are on duty around the tigers too and right next to glass cage is a shop from where you can buy Lion habitat t-shirts and other souvenirs.
Grand MGM is one of the largest hotel in the world with 90 meter high, 171,500 ft wide gaming space, 380,000 ft of convention centre with 5000 + rooms.

All the casinos in Vegas strip are big and have at least one or more attraction and theme. Some of the best are

1. Luxor: in the shape of Pyramid, you will see an ancient Egyptian motif with a huge Sphinx at the entry
2. Excalibur: This is a huge white castle with multi-colored turretsis situated right opposite New york Newyork
3. Paris: in the shape of Eiffel Tower is amazingly close to actual city, Paris
4. Circus circus: the theme of the hotel is Circus, there are plenty of games for kids as well and a variety of shows are organized by the hotel, day and night depending on what time you are there. Some of the shows are really amazing
5. Bellagio: one of my personal favorites has an amazing musical fountain, -a must see place, one that I highly recommend.

Other than the above mentioned there are many other casinos and hotels and describing all of them is almost impossible in this space.

Gambling

Gambling is one of the major addictions and difficult to get out of. But coming to Vegas and not gambling is considered a sin too. Actually you cannot avoid gambling in Vegas, as there is temptation in the form of casinos and slot machines on every step, even in gas stations and pizza places.
When I was going to Vegas, my landlord said, “ If you go to Vegas with nothing, you come back with everything and if you go with everything, you come back with nothing.”
I disagree with this statement. I realized when I went to Vegas, it doesn’t matter if you have anything or not when you head towards Vegas, you come back with NOTHING. Yes- pray that you don’t win anything there cause if you win once, you will become addicted and will not leave till you are either wiped out or in debt. My suggestion is to gamble but keep it within $10 … this is just for the experience. Once you have finished the money, do not reach out for more. If you are winning, leave as soon as possible. Also, leave some money to gamble at the airport as you are leaving. This is the last point where you can gamble and you will be tempted to do so.
I only gambled for $USD 10 on the strip, I tried again and won again, I made $100 out of that 10 USD and when I was sure that my luck is with me and played again, I lost those $100.

To be continued“,

4 Comments

  • manish says:

    Hi Vivek,

    Thanks for the tips for gambling, I think its important for anyone going to the casinos. To add to it, I think one should not go there in drunk state and should set maximum limits (As in your case it was $10).

    Well a nice read. Bellagio its a small Italian town one of the tip of Y shaped Lecco lake (A very beautiful place) in N.Italy.

    Looking forward to the next part …

  • Lakshmi Nair says:

    Dear Vivek,
    When I saw your Article.. I thought it might be a boring and long one .. but when I started reading believe me I could not stop in between.. it was a nice reading and it got many informations too.. thank you very much Vivek.. you have a bright future .. God will bless you..
    waiting for the next part…
    Best regards,

    Lakshmi Nair

  • Vivek Tewari says:

    Thanks alot Manish and Lakshmi

  • nandanjha says:

    Der aaye durust aaye. agla part jaaldi aaye. good one.

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