- The Shows. We're not gamblers, nor are we late night club-goers. So the main draw for us is the shows, especially after we discovered the joy of the Tickets 4 Less booth. You can get that night's shows for a discount around 40%. We saw "Ka" (Cirque du Soliel), Blue Man Group, and Penn and Teller. All were really enjoyable. The stage pieces of "Ka", giant chunks of stage that were on a control mechanism and could be rotated and moved and tilted, were astounding.
- The Spectacle. Vegas is a spectacle: lights, buildings, people, events. It wasn't as OMG as it was the first time, but it was still impressive. Mini NY, Mini Paris, massive mirrored buildings, fake pyramids, fake gardens. The place is constantly evolving and constantly under construction and it's mind-boggling to think how they manage to pull it all off. Is there really *that* much gambling/shopping/show/tourist money? Apparently so.
- The Variety of People. Walk down the street and you can hear a dozen different accents and languages. Marvelous. I liked talking to the folks who keep the town running: cab drivers, cleaning people, etc. All of them are from somewhere else and have a story to tell.
- The Scenery. It was crystal clear and cool at night. Our room had a view of the mountains, sprinkled with snow. Couldn't see any stars (see Spectacle above), but still impressive when you were outside.
- Injury. I sprained my left index finger taking off my socks one night. Totally lame, that was.
- The Mass of People. People everywhere, all the time. We were constantly working our way through masses of people to get anywhere. Yeah, I know, it's a tourist town.
- Smoke. Specifically, cigarette smoke. Yeah, it's Vegas, but after a while we just got tired of it especially if you're anywhere inside. I forget how spoiled I am to live in California where a small minority (10-15%) smokes. Now I remember.
- Cost. Everything is expensive. Much more expensive. $10 for latte and scone at Starbucks. $15 for a burrito. $3 for a soda. The cheapest meal we ate all week was at the AM-PM mini mart. $5 for a soda and two hot dogs. Now I know how Vegas affords all the Spectacle.
- Twisting, Winding Paths. It's impossible to go between two places in a straight line. Anywhere you want to go you have to wind through things, especially in the casinos. I understand why, but it gets really really irritating after a while, because between the twisting paths and the mass of people it takes forever to get anywhere.
- The Sense of Rushed Desperation. I got the sense that everyone was walking around feeling desperate, desperate to have a good time, desperate that there would be an experience to remember, desperate that their lives might just change forever in the casino, in the club, on the street. Everyone is in a hurry for this to happen, so there's a lot of casual rudeness. Just try using a crosswalk when the cars don't have to stop. You get many dirty looks, if people even look at you instead of nearly running you over.
Overall, I think I'm done with Vegas for a while. Next vacation, perhaps we'll head out to the country. Or, if we want to do shows and see a city, San Francisco. Not much cheaper, but no flight involved!
This time, Vegas left me feeling a little depressed. And that's not exactly what you want out of a vacation.
But I will say, again, that the shows were fun and the set piece work in "Ka" was awesome. Even if I had absolutely no idea what was going on.
Some pictures to follow, in another post.