I have had the craziest travel year and I’m yet to blog about basically any of it. The reason? I’ve been travelling for business, and being a writer who travels for business, any and all of my time has been spent writing, getting over jet lag and trying to see my friends, family and boyfriend. But now the time has come. A break in which I can breathe and blog and reflect and plan.
Rewind to January.
I hurtled into 2015 full throttle, boarding a plane to Vegas on 2 January to cover the Consumer Electronics Show for work. It was my first time in Las Vegas and my priority was obviously to ensure that I did a bang-up job covering CES — attending launches and hunting out new gadgets to get excited about. But I obviously also wanted to try and make the most of my time in this much-mythologised city.
To get the full Vegas experience (without the gambling), here are five things I ticked off my list while I was there that gave me a real taste of what Sin City is about.
Take a stroll along the strip
Las Vegas is one of the most frustrating places I have ever been when it comes to transport. By the end of my week there, I had just given up and walked basically everywhere I could (avoiding going through the casinos wherever possible). The benefit of this was that I got to know the strip pretty well. It’s especially nice early in the morning, or in the evening when it’s all lit up and there is SO much to see.
I was there in January, which meant the weather was perfect — sunny, but not hot — and provided some respite from the conditioned air you’re forced to breath inside almost constantly.
The main hotels you should make an effort to see stretch from Luxor up to the Wynn, which should take around 50 minutes if you’re just walking — more with photo stops.
Here’s the strip from bottom to top in photos.
Start off at the Luxor
Ride on to Excalibur
Then it’s up to you, New York New York
Be sure to pop your head in at the Cosmopolitan to check out Liberace’s car
Whenever I walk past the Flamingo I can’t help but think of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
The city of lights all lit up
The Bellagio fountains are an absolute must
Next door is Caesar’s Palace
And across the road is the Venetian, which definitely deserves a stroll
Another hotel that you should definitely check out the interior of is the Wynn. It’s just stunning.
Ride the New York New York rollercoaster
I went through a whole range of emotions while riding the New York New York rollercoaster. It all started with a should I/shouldn’t I back and forth that when on to the point where I started to drive myself crazy with my own dithering. One of the things that was making me unsure was that it had been less than an hour since I’d pigged out on blue crab benedict for breakfast at the Delano. I was so full that it could have been risky, if you know what I mean.
The issue was solved when I Whatsapped a picture of the coaster to my boss, who told me that it was awesome and I should definitely go on it. And then go do some work. It was also opening time at the rollercoaster, hence no queues, hence now or never really.
I bought my ticket, stashed my stuff in a locker and got in line. It was then that I realised that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been on a rollercoaster. I’m still not sure now, but my closest guess is that I was 19. I was so fun when I was 19; such a thrillseeker. All devil-may-care attitude, with no time to spare a thought for my delicate stomach.
Feeling kind of shaky I climbed into the car. The first drop — the biggest — was horrific. My thought process was: I hate this, I hate this, I hate this. No worries about my crab benedict reappearing though — I’d left my stomach at the top. From there, however, things started to get better. I may even have let fly a whoop as we spun round the hoops. I actually ended up feeling slightly disappointed that the ride didn’t last longer.
If you’re at the far end of the strip to New York New York, there are a bunch of other rides around that you can scare yourself silly with instead. Check out this post over on Vicky Flip Flop Travels for some more inspiration.
See a Cirque du Soleil show
I saw my first Cirque show when I was about 11 and have been obsessed ever since. Last year I even went to see the newest show Kurios in Montreal, where the company is based. But there has been one show that has been on my list for as long as it has been running, and that is Love at the Mirage in Vegas.
Love is the Beatles-themed Cirque show that takes characters from many of the Beatles songs, all of which have been remastered especially for the show and weaves them into a narrative that pay homage to the Fab Four.
After I’d finished working CES, my mum flew out to meet me in Vegas ahead of our California road trip. I’d treated her to tickets to Love for her Christmas present and it was such a great way to end the week there. We were in the second row and there were points in the show that performers were within touching distance of us. It was everything I’d hoped it would be.
There are a bunch of different Cirque shows on at the various hotels in Vegas, and in my experience, you can’t go wrong.
You can’t come to Sin City and not have at least one crazy night out. It’s just not right. I was in town with a massive bunch of people I know from back home and between us we got a couple of tables at Hakkasan and partied until the club closed. Tiesto has a residency at Hakkasan (which is in the MGM Grand FYI) and while my clubbing days are mostly behind me, this was definitely worth coming out of retirement for.
I can’t go into much more detail I’m afraid, because, well, what happens in Vegas… you know the drill.
See Vegas from above
The Vegas you see in the movies is not quite the same Vegas you will experience when you are actually there, especially if, like me, you are primarily there on business. To inject some of that movie-quality magic into your Las Vegas experience, I recommend seeing the city from above.
Sure, you could splash out on a helicopter, but you could also hop on board the Linq High Roller, which is basically the city’s London Eye, but taller. I was up there with a bunch of people I didn’t know — not ideal — but they had rented an entire cabin so fortunately we had a bar on board.
When you’re high above Caesar’s, high above the Eiffel Tower even, you feel like a god looking down on an actual toy town of neon-lit buildings. Vegas, if nothing else, is a thing worth marvelling at. It’s vulgar and mesmerising, euphoric and dizzying; a monument built by wealth to indulge wealth, and all else that is bad for us.
Immerse yourself in Vegas by all means, but remember that it has been purposefully designed to play tricks with your perspective. Take some of that power back by looking at it from the sky. When you reach the very top, you’ll see the city with fresh eyes — presuming you haven’t gone overboard at the bar — and I can guarantee that as you descend, you’ll be glad to fall under its spell once more.
If you want some more Las Vegas glamour then check out my post on where Brad and Angelia stay when in Vegas.