Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Viva Lost Vegas

In the words of the great Elvis Presley…’bright lights city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire’…

And I would be setting my own pants on fire if I said that I saw and did everything I wanted to when I recently visited the surreal desert oasis that is Las Vegas.

The gambling mecca nestled in the Nevada desert was the first stop on my recent US trip, after LA. I had a fantastic time there (I think). Basically, I took the saying ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ a little too literally. I may have left a few brain cells there, along with a couple of hours of my precious holiday memories.

The view from the Presidential Suite
We (the Kiwi boyfriend and I) spent a couple of days in LA, easing into the holiday and getting over a bit jet lag. We arrived in Vegas and killed a few hours at the poker machines (no Lady Luck in sight), before checking into our room at the MGM Grand. Lady Luck decided to make a rare appearance at that point. I had pre-booked our room, a spa suite; through Lasvegas.com and subsequently got the very first (and probably last) upgrade of my life! We spent our two nights in Vegas in the Presidential Suite. I know. Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds. More on how to swindle upgrades later (legally, of course!).

So we spent our first night jumping up and down on the beds in our room and testing the spa. We awoke the next morning ready to rumble. We hit the pool at the MGM Grand first. Cocktails by the pool did you say? Yes please. After a couple, we peeled ourselves away from our hotel and hit the infamous Las Vegas Strip. Our intended destination was The Bellagio hotel and casino a few blocks north, as we wanted to see the amazing fountains at the entrance. Apparently they move to music. I wouldn’t know. We checked out the New York, New York Hotel and Casino and saw the Monte Carlo. And…well, that’s about it. That’s it, you say? Yes. That is where the memorable part of our Vegas visit ended. Here is our last known holiday happy snap in Vegas...

Our next photo is two days later in New Orleans, about 2,500 miles away. It took that long before either of us felt up to pressing the button on the camera again.

The last known Las Vegas photo.

Yes. That was all we saw of The Strip that day in Vegas.

So what happened, you ask? Well, we were browsing some street markets on the strip, which just happened to be near an outdoor bar. The name escapes me. So we thought – why not just one drink? One turned into many and it was all downhill from there.

My Kiwi took me home to bed about 5pm and I ventured out again at 10.30pm – sang some Karaoke (badly) and tried to keep down water (didn’t happen). Then I walked My Kiwi back home at 3am.

So that you don’t make the same mistakes as me – I’ve come up with a list of the Top 5 Ways to Keep the 'Viva' in your 'Las Vegas'

Vegas is better on a school night. If you can, visit Vegas mid-week. The four and five star hotel rates are half price compared to the weekend and people are always partying no matter what day of the week it is.

See the sights first, party second. The last thing you will want to do is traipse up and down The Strip feeling as dry as the Nevada desert, especially in summer. Same goes for the outlet shopping. It’s fantastic, but it’s a hell of a lot of walking. Alternatively, take it easy on the free drinks or leave the crazy Vegas nightlife until the end on your visit!

Did someone say free alcohol? If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of ways to avoid paying for your drinks in Vegas. The first one is to follow the ladies with the trays in the gambling area. They will serve you free drinks if you’re gambling, and a dollar in a machine is all it takes! And heaps of casinos have drink specials – Bill’s Gamblin' Hall and Saloon is famous for $1 Margaritas.

Plan a budget for Vegas spending. Then double it. Vegas can definitely be done on a budget, but it’s a good idea to plan for extra spending. Seen The Hangover? Then you know what I mean. Don’t get left short.

Viva food! Vegas has some amazing places to eat. Many famous celebrity chefs have restaurants in Vegas, so make the most of the ridiculous amount of choice available. The MGM Grand Casino alone hosts Michelin star chef Joel Robuchon’s French restaurant, Wolfgang Puck’s namesake and famous Japanese eatery, Shibuya. If you’re on a budget and looking for some traditional American fare, try The Studio CafĂ©, also at The Grand. Amazing ribs and Po'boy sandwiches.

So when have you been somewhere exotic and not seen the sights? Or been ill (self inflicted or not) and confined to your hotel room? Tell me your best lost holiday story!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I've won the lottery

You know those people who say they would still go to work every day if they won the lottery? I am not one of them. I would be on the first plane to somewhere exotic (Mexico is up there on my to-go list).

I recently returned from the most amazing three-week trip around the USA. I had been planning it for years and it was amazing, but I found myself thinking, why do I work again? And then I remind myself. I work to pay for the very travel I’m now enjoying.

So I’m now back at work and having major travel withdrawals - finding to hard to concentrate on my work, unable to make it through the day without an unhealthy reliance on caffeine products and sugar (ok, so I’ll admit that may have existed before the holiday) and a general longing to be at an airport, somewhere, anywhere!

So I’ve decided to write like I have won the lottery. No, I’m not crazy. Please humour me and read on.

I’m going to continuously travel via this blog, until I can get on the next international flight outta here. I’ll reminisce about my most recent adventures and all those before that. And when I finally get on the next one – I’ll add that too! It will be almost like I’ve won the lottery and can travel everyday, rather than going to work. Don’t feel jealous, I won’t be giving up my day job.

And just maybe, while you are working your day job, you might steal a look when you are bored, distracted, can’t find any sugar/caffeine, and help me keep the travel dream alive!