Destination: Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas.

Also known as “Sin City” or just plain “Vegas.”

Whatever you want to call it, this popular destination in Nevada draws millions of people to its site every year, whether they’re out to gamble, attend shows, party, get married (yes, you can for under $75!), or perhaps do all of them. It’s amazing to see that Las Vegas even exists, considering that it’s built in, literally, the middle of nowhere in a huge desert state. Really, it just gets to me.

Vegas at night.
Vegas at night.

Any case, I’ve been going there with my family since I was super young, maybe around three years old. While it’s true that Vegas has the reputation for being an adult fun park with its burlesque shows, drinking and gambling culture, even paid hook-ups (you see those people handing out “flyers” on the street? Yeah, that’s what they’re for), it also has in the past few decades tried to be make its features more kid-friendly, with magic shows and hotels dedicated to entertaining children (although I wouldn’t say that the Circus Circus hotel is that fun for those who hate clowns. I admit, I’m not a huge fan of them, either).

It’s interesting, actually, that I grew up spending a lot of my spring breaks, even summer vacations, in Las Vegas, often times for just a couple of nights during the weekend (it ain’t cheap to stay in Vegas, especially near or on the Strip!). After all, I was only a kid…but I didn’t really notice all of the adult stuff, since much of my experiences were limited to kid-appropriate entertainment (magic shows, later Cirque du Soleil) and tons of time eating at the buffets (what can I say? My family and I love food too much!). 😛

I actually haven’t been back to Las Vegas since 2011, when I was just about to graduate high school. Which is quite strange, considering that my peers at the college that I attended afterwards would often go to Vegas on weekends or during spring break to “party it up.” Considering that my university was in Los Angeles, it was only a four-hour drive straight (without taking breaks) to Las Vegas. I would see my friend’s photos on Facebook the Monday after: usually, the photos were super dark (since they were taken at night) and often contained a large group of people (you know, to split hotel costs and whatnot) together, dressed in scantily-clad dresses for the girls and nice, spiffy, frat-boy suits for the guys. Almost always with a drink (or two) in hand. While I did at times had the desire to join in on the college-party fun in Vegas, I never went for it, because at the same time I knew that that party life wasn’t for me; I didn’t like clubbing and I’m self-conscious about wearing itty-bitty dresses (definitely not a girly girl). And partying until the wee hours of the morning would drive me crazy, especially if I needed to get up early the next day to return home. Really, that part of Vegas wasn’t my style.

But I’m digressing a lot. Let me recall the last time that I visited Las Vegas, which as I had mentioned was back in 2011. Of course, it was a spring break trip with the family, and we spent about two nights in Sin City eating a lot at the buffets (obviously), strolling around the different hotels and casinos, and attended a performance from Cirque du Soleil.

We always drive over to Vegas, and we almost always stop in the Barstow area along the way to get lunch and shop at the outlets (which are cheaper than buying the same brands in Las Vegas. No need for that expensive stuff like Gucci or Armani!). Eventually, we arrived in Sin City around 15h00, where we checked in, dropped off our stuff in the hotel room, and relaxed a bit before heading out to buffet #1: Wynn’s. Plenty of delicious meats, as well as seafood and whatnot. I’m a sucker for dessert pastries, so you can bet I went for them! 😛

Unfortunately, I had gotten a bit sick during that trip, coming down with a sore throat that didn’t necessarily worsen, but still stuck around afterwards, which was super annoying. As a result, I couldn’t go swimming in Mandalay Bay’s large water pool-park, which I was really looking forward to; I enjoyed going there in the past, with its simulated tides and currents, as well as other fun stuff to do for swimming and splashing around. Alas, I missed it, and haven’t returned there since. Sigh.

We turned in for the night after our large buffet meal, and woke up the next morning to visit the interior of the Bellagio, which is one of the most famous hotel and casinos on the Strip, known for its water show right outside its building, its buffet (which we also went to eat at), and its large indoor botanic gardens. In fact, we spent the morning wandering through the botanic gardens, which not only housed lots of colorful, varied species of flowers and plants, but also massive statues and structures of dragonflies, ladybugs, storks, and other animals to keep it light and lively. Even saw this really neat “painting,” made entirely from flowers:

Flower painting!
Flower painting!

After the botanic gardens, we walked around Bellagio some more, passing by a French patisserie with a tall, heavenly chocolate fountain oozing all sorts of chocolates– white, milk, dark– right in front of our eyes. Being a huge sweet tooth, I was drooling… 😛 We ended up buying a few pastries from there as a small snack before lunchtime.

Chocolate galore!
Chocolate galore!

For lunch, we had a different experience this time around, since my dad wanted to meet up with an old boss from work, who had retired and was living just a bit outside of Vegas in the suburbs. We drove out to meet up with him for lunch at an Asian restaurant. I recalled getting Vietnamese pho, which was not bad, but it’s not my preferred dish of choice- got my daily serving of vegetables, though!

After lunch, we returned to Las Vegas proper, where we rested a bit in our hotel before heading out to the buffets again for dinner, where there was more meat, carbs, seafood, and desserts to gorge on. We finished and went out to attend the Cirque du Soleil show that we had booked beforehand. I’d seen a couple of the other shows that the Canadian-based (French-speaking Quebec) company had put out, and was impressed by its blend of complex story line, visuals, humor and, of course, the acrobatic stunts. The show ended around 23h00, and we returned to our hotel to rest up before heading home the following day.

Overall, a brief stay in Vegas. While I wouldn’t say that it’s my favorite place to visit (too expensive, too polluted with cars and cigarettes, etc.), it was a part of my childhood and funny enough, I still have nostalgic memories of it. It would be interesting to see if things would be different should I choose to return as a twenty-something-year-old; would I still choose to do the activities that I did as a kid, or opt for more “adult stuff?” Who knows? Time will tell!

Stay tuned for the last part of my West Coast “Throwback Travels” soon. This time, we’re swinging back to California! 😀

— The Finicky Cynic

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