I recently took my first trip to Las Vegas. Astonishing, I know. Pretty much everyone has been to Vegas. It’s hard to believe that it’s taken me this long. I have traveled quite a bit, starting when I was fairly young, but somehow never made it to Vegas.
My significant other — who is now my fiancé — was there on a business trip, extended his stay and had me fly over to meet him.
Four days were not enough.
Neither one of us is really into gambling, so we did the foodie, sightseeing, and show thing — and man am I tired.
Some people think about Vegas and, partly because of marketing, think it’s all about gambling, strippers, and semi-nude showgirls. While I’m certainly not going to call it a “family” place, after all there are butts on billboards everywhere, there’s much more to it than the salacious stuff.
On a side note, I’m also thankful that a male coworker warned me ahead of time about the “card snappers” who line the sidewalks of The Strip passing out the equivalent of nudie baseball cards to unsuspecting tourists and those seeking that type of action. I found it best to avoid eye contact with these folks, but when these cards litter the street and sidewalks, you see it anyway. That’s one reason why I don’t think it’s a place for kids.
But I digress, that stuff fulfills the Vegas stereotype, back to the other things that the city has to offer.
Knowing that we were only going to have a few days, I told my guy that there were three things that I really wanted to do there. They were to eat at one of the famous chef’s restaurants, take a canal ride on a gondola, and see Phantom of the Opera.
He obliged and made all the arrangements. In fact, we did all that stuff in just one day. A couple of his colleagues ribbed him that he was “doing the romantic thing” and that now they were going to have to step up their games because their wives would hear about our plans.
One day I went shopping at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s, which was really cool, and walked my behind off. I thought that if I rode the monorail, instead of walking The Strip that far that it would really knock off a lot of time and distance.
Nope. Not so.
The casino properties are so deep, just to get to the back of them to board the monorail is a hike. No need to worry about all the calories I consumed while in Vegas, I needed them for energy.
The night of Phantom, my fiancé and I dined at Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant “Delmonico’s.” The food was outstanding, as was the service. The waiters seemed to anticipate your needs and appeared at just the right moment. I could go on about the food, but it’ll just make me hungry.
Later, we took a romantic ride on a gondola through the canals in the Venetian. That definitely served as a teaser to take a real one someday in the real Venice. We still had some time to kill, since we had tickets to the late showing of Phantom, so we decided to walk across the street to see the pirate show at Treasure Island.
I have to admit, that decision was a mistake. I thought the show was lame. Not to mention a horrible place to be stuck if someone were to yell “Fire!” The sidewalk area in front of T.I. before and during the show reminded me of being in the front row of a rock concert when the crowd becomes its own, living entity and pushes and squeezes toward the stage. You’re just along for the ride.
From what I understand, years ago when Las Vegas was marketed as a family place, the pirate show was different and truly was a pirate show. The current one is more like a siren show — you know the sexy sirens of mythology who lured sailors to their deaths. It was more like that — a little suggestive and a lot corny with poor acting. It had some cool elements, like pyrotechnics and a sinking ship, but it wasn’t enough to save the show. Problem is, by the time we realized how bad the pirate/siren show was, we were stuck, completely unable to move until the show was over. It was like watching a bad movie and not being able to leave the theater. We were stuck there watching it, while elbowing and jockeying for position in order to remain standing and not get trampled. Not a place for the claustrophobic. Now we know not to waste our time with that one again.
Fortunately, we had tickets and excellent seats to a much higher quality show.
The spectacle of Phantom was amazing, incredible, over-the-top. I should have expected that since it’s Vegas. It, too, had pyrotechnics, but the similarities to the pirate show ended there. The singing and acting were also far superior. I don’t think I can accurately describe the beauty of the theater and the enormous chandeliers that spun over the audience’s heads to come together to form a single chandelier that went up into the ceiling when the show started. The orchestra pit was below the stage and only the conductor’s head and shoulders were visible. This is also something that I could go on explaining but still wouldn’t be able to fully portray.
Some of our other adventures included hanging out at the well-known piano bar at New York New York and hearing the impressive dueling pianos in a smoke-filled room. We watched several fountain shows at the Bellagio, shopped some more, and ate and drank at Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett’s restaurant that pays homage to his famous song. That place was fun, too.
However, time ran out and we had to catch a plane home. We decided we definitely want to go back because there are so many other places we’d like to see and things we’d like to do. Plus, there are all those great restaurants.
That whole “What happens in Vegas” theme doesn’t apply to good memories, we brought those back with us. However, I am glad to report, all the extra calories “stayed in Vegas.”
Dawn M. Henley is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.