Saturday, July 23, 2011

Las Vegas: A Review: Part 1 of 3

View of the Vegas Strip / Right: Treasure Island Hotel  /  Left: Venetian Hotel

I don't know if I could rate Vegas on a scale from 1 to 10 because there's so many aspects of the total experience to rate. I thought it would be an easy travel review to write down upon my return.

What I can say is that I enjoyed my time in Vegas very much. But,  I learned that my favorite part of Las Vegas is my favorite part of my home town ~ my wife.

My wife is an amazing partner. We enjoy walking and talking and observing. I enjoyed watching her take her first commercial airline flight ~ looking over at her on the plane at takeoff and doing the fake throw up motion with my mouth and laughing.

She is beautiful, I'm proud to have her by my side.

While I'm not a deviant person with an addictive personality, it's very calming to have someone, such as my wife, to keep me in check, just by being a standard ~ not by scolding. I cannot put into words how much I love her.

My best recommendation for you if you're planning a trip to Las Vegas ~ take someone whom you trust and love. Take someone that it would hurt if you acted without self control.

I travelled with four of my friends (two other couples) and I truly appreciate their companionship as well. They too made my trip memorable and I enjoyed getting to vacation with them. They each brought unique memories to my trip that I probably couldn't or wouldn't have experienced on my own.

Gambling, Girls, Grand Hotels …

This is how I would sum up Vegas. I specifically went to enjoy one of these three.

Grand Hotels … I'm not really a person that likes sightseeing. I like looking at art (paintings, sculptures, etc) but I'm not going to make it a part of my vacations by choice or schedule a trip to a museum by choice. I do however love to see creativity - it's one of the reasons I love to go into Toys R Us every now and then and observe. Creativity abounds in Las Vegas ~ especially in the architecture. Most everything you see is opulent ~ over the top and impressive. In a way, it almost saddens me - because I think to myself, "This was built on the lost fortunes of many." And while that's true to some extent - most of Las Vegas is either an MGM Resorts hotel or Wynn hotel.

The Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas
I specifically chose the Luxor Hotel to stay because I love the look of the hotel and because it seemed like a one stop shop if I chose to stay in one place. One of my friends was also in a wheelchair due to a badly broken leg ~ so I wanted to make sure he was taken care of in case he wasn't able to get out. The Luxor seemed to have the best to offer if you had to just stay at the hotel. Another reason I chose the Luxor was because I knew they had one of the best pool areas in Vegas called, Oasis.

The Luxor offers:

Bodies: The Exhibition

Carrot Top

Titanic: The Exhibition

Criss Angel Believe Magic Show

Menopause: The Musical

Several Nightclubs

Several restaurants including (3) Starbucks locations and a buffet

Gambling ...

The Luxor offers a great gambling floor ~ even though all my wife and I played were penny slot machines to the tune of $11 between us. We won (between us) $17 ~ all but $2, we put back into playing more slot machines.

We only played the mechanical penny slots. These machines take $1 dollar bills (and higher denominations or cash out tickets) and give you 100 credits per $1. I cashed out one ticket for 580 credits or $5.80. Casinos don't spill coins out of the bottom of the machine anymore ~ which is kind of a disappointment. That's one of those things you think of when you go to Vegas. The cash out tickets are psychological "fake money" and makes you have the urge to just put it back into the machine to play. I was given a hint by a pro slot machine player on the floor, put cash into the slots only, never a cash out ticket. A slot machine treats cash as a new player and builds the jackpot higher, faster.

One of my friends, the one in the wheelchair, who is very talented at math and computer programming, wanted to try his hand at blackjack. While he said he wasn't or really couldn't count cards, he said that the Luxor was a great hotel to play blackjack because the other hotels he visited had continuous shuffle card dealing shoes ~ this gives the house a greater advantage. Playing for nearly 8 hours of our 72 hour stay - my friend won $295 on $60 of initial betting. He wasn't to happy to find that Vegas rules on blackjack have changed. He says the dealer used to stand on a soft 17 - which is any ACE♥♣♦♠ & any 6♥♣♦♠ or six combination. Also, 5 cards dealt no longer equals automatic blackjack. The last time I was in Vegas, I played one hand of blackjack and miraculously was dealt (3) ACEs and (2) 2's. I won $20 and I was confused. I was told that (5) cards was 21 and even beat a dealer 21. Apparently that rule has changed.

Girls … one misconception about Las Vegas is that prostitution is legal. But apparently this is just terminology. See, "Escort Services" are legal. Escort services are available here in South Carolina and are actually prominent in the Upstate. Make no bones about it, these are prostitution rings. Anyone that works at an escort service and is offended by that statement isn't being realistic. I'm sure that not all escort services are sex oriented, but most are. The term "escort service" is just a fancy way of saying "legal high dollar hooker". This is probably the single worst part of Las Vegas and is probably the reason I wouldn't recommend to anyone to go. Why? Because everywhere you go ~ especially after 7PM - about every 50 feet or so - someone pops a set of business cards, brochures, or magazines right in front of your face loudly. The cards say, "GIRLS - DIRECTLY TO YOU IN 20 MINUTES!" The cards have obscene pictures on them with small stars covering over the "money areas" of their bodies. To heighten your awareness of these "escort services" - giant traveling billboards attached to cars travel up and down Las Vegas Boulevard. Every two blocks or so is a magazine stand that contains brochures that rival the centerfolds of most Playboy magazines.

My wife and I were surprised to see that Vegas had such clean streets. The ONLY trash was an occasional bottle cap, cigarette butt, and these "escort services business cards". In fact, the "business cards" were the most prominent trash on the streets at around 10PM each night.

Oddly, Vegas appears to really want to stop illegal sales of bottled water on the streets. Most every bottled water vendor, that were just a person and a cooler - had either a scout or appeared very nervous and on the lookout for police. But, Vegas seems completely fine with the "porn poppers" as I termed them. The bottled water sales, while without a business license, provides a true needed and desired service and none of them are pushy or stick a bottled water up in your face. The "porn poppers" however, are licensed (or at least appear to be) and are welcomed by the City* - yet are by far the worst part of Las Vegas. There's no where you can go that you can avoid this deplorable "porn popping".

My wife and I made a game out of how dramatically we could tell some of the "porn poppers" "NOOOOOO". Have I said how much I love my wife in this review?

* I'm sure there's some "free speech" claim being made in some Nevada court as well.

Also see:

Las Vegas: A Review Part II

Las Vegas: A Review Part III

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