Thursday, June 27, 2013

Vegas, baby!

Everyone know the expression: 'what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas'. Which serves to make this blog a little awkward - but hey, I won't tell if you don't!

Maja and I hadn't seen each other since Vancouver, and not really there, but we organised to meet up in Las Vegas. I arrived by bus from San Fran and thought it would be a good idea to walk the mile and a half to the hotel. It was not. Las Vegas is in the desert. As such it is very, very hot. I prefer dry heat but I don't recommend walking in it with a pack on your back and a trundler bag for any extended period!

Coming from NZ I'm a bit spoiled when it comes to scenery, but "desert wasteland" as a friend described it is new, so I've been mildly interested in all the stunning rainforests but was nose-to-glass on the bus trip to Vegas!

I got to the hotel, met Maja and checked in. We stayed at the Stratosphere and the first thing we did was head to the pool. Later that night we went out to explore the strip a little and went up wandering through some of the casinos - there really isn't anything like Vegas! We wound up at a club called The Act in the Palazzo hotel. The club gets its name from the somewhat raunchy performances that go on every half hour or so.

 Oh, and we grabbed some dinner in a diner
"Yay! Food!"

"Do you see the size of this?!"

"Omnomh mmnph"

We also got serenaded - everything is themed in Vegas!

The namesake of our hotel

Of course there are a couple of these along the strip

What it is is a gun club on the strip. What we thought it was was a strip club that sold guns. We were very impressed until we worked it out.

These adult magazines are just outside the Hilton but you could find them all over the strip.

While there we saw some lyra, a reversible doll, some flappers from the 20s, and an ode to the Lion King.



I just don't know what this is. It was an act modelled on those dolls that have 4 faces - one on each side of the head, then you flip them upside down and there is another whole upper body under the skirt with 2 faces. All I can say is the actress was very flexible.


We eventually got home about 5 in the morning and fell into bed, sleeping far too late and missing a pool party at Encore's Beach Club.

We went out for a pancake breakfast then came home to nap. Look how tough we are!

Once we committed to being awake we took an elevator up to Lounge 107, which is pretty much what it sounds like - a restaurant/bar 107 stories up!
Actually the view from our room (18 floors up)

Margaritas in the sky!

Looking down - also, the cutest couple in Vegas. The floor of the restaurant slowly rotates so you get 360 degree views while you eat. Just be careful while using the restrooms or you'll lose your seat!

Oh, and this was possible too from the rides 2 floors up!

If you got up to the viewing deck on level 109 you could find some thrill rides - the type that involve you being 109 stories up with nothing between you and the drop except your seat... Maja and I weren't game this time!

Maja's take on Marilyn

Dress-wrangling is hard!

The guy in pink (centre) was hilarious! At first he did not like where he found himself at all. Then he started getting into it and by the end was scream-laughing!

The view.
We returned to our hotel room to get ready for Pin Up - a show modelled after the 12 months of a pin up calender with a couple of performances for each month. It was brilliant! The perfect mix of sexy and cheeky without being sleazy at all. We were treated to tap dancing, ballet, pole dancing, tango, swing dancing, songs belted out by a pin up songstress and of course, some burlesque-style performances from the host, Claire Sinclair, a playboy pin up girl. The only criticism I would have for the whole show was that Claire was not a brilliant dancer. However, the other performers were so good it didn't detract much.

The cast. Claire is the one in purple.
After the show we went back up to Lounge 107 to check out the views at night. Then decided to go out dancing. Unfortunately we didn't make it into any clubs but we did bump into some lovely Californians and ended up talking until it was light out - whoops!

The lights of Vegas

Colourful drinks - I seem to recall that they were berry mojitos.
The Riviera dancing girls

Venice's canals

Capitalism at its finest "Kick me in the nuts for $20". We asked them why and it turns out they really needed to make rent this month and were taking turns being 'the guy'.

Our hotel again. More bright lights.

Just outside Caesars - this statue had been prettied up for the Electric Daisy Carnival

I have no idea who these guys were but getting photos with people on the street appears to be a Vegas tradition.

We received some marriage proposals-for-green cards but had to turn them down. Apparently we have limits, even in Vegas!

Our beautiful 'husbands'.
The next day began far later than it usually would, yet again. Still not a bad beginning as the first thing we did was hit the pool. We laid out until early evening (I followed the shade as we'd both forgotten sunscreen and apparently I'm not agreeable to 40 degree heat!) then returned to the room to get ready to head out.

A friend of ours, J, had recommended an Italian restaurant Battistas, so that's where we went! Turned out to be a great decision. The food was delicious and far more than we could eat, the bottomless wine was palatable which is better than we'd expected and the staff were friendly.

We also stumbled across Treasure Island's nightly pirate show on the way.

Sinking ship and abandoning crew

This is a show involving a Volcano at... I think the Mirage. I forget which. We didn't stay to watch as we wanted to get to our dinner!
 We also saw a whole host of buskers - you can take photos with them for a tip.

Anyone seen the hangover?

I repeat - everything in Vegas is themed. This was outside Caesars from memory.

Guess which casino this tower belongs to??

We finally got to dinner!

We were very excited!

After our feast we followed another recommendation, this time a local girl that Maja had met at Disney, who thought that Chateau in Paris was an underrated club.

More buskers on the walk

That's right - Paris!
Again, being girls helped and we got in free to a VIP area with free champagne. We had a blast dancing with some teachers from California until we decided to rebel and left our VIP pen to dance on the main floor!

Our new friends!

Vegas being the friendly place it is we met some British boys who were in Vegas for a friend's birthday and danced the night away with them.

The next day was our last full day so we sucked it up and made it to a pool party. This meant being presentable and in a taxi by 1.30pm. Don't judge until you know what time we got to bed!

The party was at Venus pool in Caesar's Palace. It was a topless party so we technically weren't allowed photos but I snuck a couple!

We bumped into our British friends and Maja made a new one called Louis who took us out for tea! We went to a Mexican place that had amazing guacamole. I was beginning to get sick but hadn't realised it yet so unfortunately didn't manage to eat much more than the guac. Especially sad as both M and L gave the food great reviews!


 We got lost in Caesars... seriously, we couldn't get out for almost half an hour. That place is big!

Finally escaped!

Maja taking out some Game of Thrones frustration.

Then it was on to check out PURE - a nightclub in Caesar's. We stayed there a little while but I didn't like it particularly so I text a new friend who works at Chateau and all of us headed back over there. This was much better decision and I made a new friend, R. He was in town for his brother's stag do and we danced the night away, popping down to Drais later on - an after hours club also in Paris.

This is PURE. Unfortunately I was very lazy with my camera that night.
In the morning I was feeling worse for wear despite not having drunk too much. After a while M and I realised that I had largely forgotten to eat for the past two days. Whoops - an unexpected danger of Vegas. We checked out and grabbed some food (well, a smoothie to ease me back into it) then went to kill time by the pool.

While relaxing there M suddenly mentioned tattoos - both of us had considered getting them and Vegas seemed the place but we hadn't gotten around to it. Now seemed like the perfect time and we found an artist right inside our hotel!

(She has all the photos of me still, so you only get to see her ordeal!) Though she put up a photo of both our tattoos on her instagram)

The tidied up version of the tattoo M designed herself!

Still smiling...

As you can see Maja is incredibly tough and poses with peace signs during tattoos! (I may have not put up the less smiley ones, they're not unbearable but it is still someone intentionally scarring you...)

What a fitting end to our time in Las Vegas! We each headed out that evening, Maja to fly back to Orlando and me to begin what turned out to be the journey from hell with Greyhound, getting me to Houston 48 hours after I left, following late buses, missed connections and broken aircon.

I think this is in El Paso. At this point I hadn't slept, showered or been told when I was going to arrive for quite some time. I was somewhat worse for wear though have a smile because my British camerawoman was hilarious (we were also getting to the hysteria stage of sleep deprivation).