Although it was Anita’s second visit and this time on a slightly thinner budget, I really enjoyed my first time in Vegas. Yes the place is tacky and yes quite sleazy, but you can’t help but be dazzled by the bright lights and caught up in all of the excitement. Wild parties, stretched limos and endless debauchery is what you’d probably expect from a Friday night in Vegas, but ours was a little more tame than that, although equally as enjoyable. Well, close to it at least.
After refuelling we found a nearby local pool where we spent our afternoon cooling off from our morning in Death Valley. Not only are public pools a great way to escape the summer heat but also the perfect spot for a weary backpacker to access a warm running shower. So after cleaning ourselves up we were ready for the eagerly anticipated buffet at Red Rock Casino, our chosen splurge for our time in Vegas. After all, it’s Vegas, you have to live it up a little – even if you are a budget traveller.
After eating ourselves stupid with plate after plate of pretty much everything on offer, we headed to a parking lot just off the strip which permitted overnight stays for a measely $10. We parked Fuego, bought a flask of vodka and a refillable soda cup from Subway and hit the strip like a couple of underagers.
First off we headed to the Bellagio Hotel to catch the hourly fountain show out front and to walk through their incredible botanic garden display. We then walked a little further along the strip to the Mirage Hotel, just in time to catch their hourly volcano eruption out front. I’ve got to say, I’m not sure if it was the vodka we were throwing back or the slight case of heat stroke I was suffering from Death Valley, but it was certainly more impressive than I thought it would be. The music, the lights, the flames – it was actually pretty cool.
Next Anita took me to the Venetian Hotel where their in-built shopping centre was modeled on Venice – shop fronts, canals, boats and all. It was a surreal experience, especially since they’d painted the ceiling to look exactly like a blue sky. Tacky? Maybe. But certainly no less impressive.
We then continued on to the Flamingo Hotel to visit their actual flamingo sancturary, something which Anita and I sadly thought looked more like a prison than a sanctuary, with probably worse conditions. So after hitting the strip for one last wander, we headed back to Fuego for probably one of the hottest night’s sleep we’d had since hitting the road.
The following morning we rose to the heat of the sunrise and found the closest casino, dodging the groups of all-nighters to use their bathroom before deciding that we (I) couldn’t leave Vegas without one last buffet. We headed to the Gold Coast Hotel for a sensationally priced 8USD breakfast buffet. After an embarrassing number of plates and coffees we decided to kill some time at one of the nearby factory outlet malls before taking Fuego to get his brakes fixed.
After a bit of window shopping, some brand new brakes and belly full of buffet, we thought it was time to get back on the road. Thank you Vegas for showing us such a stellar time. Next stop, Utah’s Zion National Park!