With all the glamour and glitz of Las Vegas, the desert paradise gives you every opportunity to indulge
As I flipped through various magazines on my flight to Las Vegas, I couldn’t help but wonder what keeps this desert paradise ticking? The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas is something that has been spoken and written about over and over again. So is it the label of ‘sin city’ or is there something greater that led to nearly 40 million visitors in 2013?
Las Vegas never disappoints. An ideal holiday destination for three-four days, the best way to plan is through package tours which provide for air fare and hotels. From the smallest to the grandest hotels in Vegas, all are home to casinos and bars. They follow an open door policy for their casinos with free entry and 24 hour service. Be prepared for a holiday full of gambling, shopping, drinking and pure indulgence!
Vegas is probably one of the few places where a late night flight doesn’t eat up a day’s holiday. As we drove from the airport to our hotel at 11 in the night, the city was alive and kicking! With our heads sticking out of the taxi, we were stunned at the sight of this ‘mayanagari’ with its imposing hotels along the 4.2 km Strip. From life-size recreations of the Statue of Liberty, The Sphinx, The Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees, the sheer grandness can overwhelm you.
We dropped our bags and hit our hotel’s casino. Nothing less than a ‘mela’, the dim lit casino with dazzling slot machines, enthusiastic players, the smell of alcohol and the air of joy filled the space. Cautious in the beginning, I started with the one cent a deal slot machines, and through the night moved seamlessly to the Blackjack and Roulette dealers. With alcohol on the house, overpowering music and the sounds of gambling equipment choking the atmosphere, it is easy to let loose completely. One golden rule followed is that you have to be above 21 to play. Don’t be surprised if they come and check your identity! That night we crept into bed at 3 am!
Having done my research, next morning I queued up to purchase the tickets for Nathan Burton’s magic show. As one walked into the theatre, one realized something about Vegas. From eager children to the keen elderly, the city embraces one and all, and promises to entertain. With his provocatively dressed assistants and splendid tricks, he amused everyone in the audience.
That evening as we walked along The Strip, with loud music playing throughout the city speakers; the eateries, pubs, open bars and shopping centres consumed us for hours. Having seen “What Happens in Vegas”, “Hangover” and “Ek Main Aur Ek Tu”, we headed to the infamous wedding chapels of Vegas. With chapel-owned limousines parked outside, a ‘love drive’ and the beautiful altars, they all made the setting perfect for impulsive decisions.
Freemont Street in downtown Vegas, not too far from The Strip, is where some of the oldest hotels and casinos still thrive. On either sides of a pedestrian paradise, you will find restaurants, casinos, open bars, hotels and souvenir shops. How is it different from The Strip then, you may ask. The old world charm and the Freemont Street Experience together make it worthwhile. The Space Frame, a half a kilometre canopy (27 meters above the ground), illuminated by nearly 12 million lights they say, features sound and lights shows every hour (free for all). Sipping at the huge cocktail slush (brain freeze) served in a 32 oz heel-shaped glass one truly took in the Freemont Experience. On any given day, the street is full of artists who dress up as celebrities ranging from Jack Nicholson to the usual stereotypes of cowboys and sexy nurses. You can get yourself clicked, for a price of course!
An ideal way to spend the day in an otherwise dormant city, where people are catching up on their sleep for another night of drinks and gambling, is to take a tour to see the natural beauty around Las Vegas. We dedicated a day to the Valley of Fire State Park, an hour’s drive (In case you are in a car, the fee is charged per car). A geological delight dating back to millions of years, the park is known for its gorgeous red sandstone formations. With hiking trails, picnic spots and camping grounds, the park also offers scenic wedding locations. However, what is most charming is the stark silence that is a pleasant contrast to the hustle bustle of the city left behind. Having walked for hours, we slept through the evening, only to wake up at 10 pm and hit the streets again!
If I were to describe my recent trip to Las Vegas, I would title it a ‘tribute to mankind’. Ensconced in the middle of the Nevada desert, is this manmade marvel. A trip to any of the neighbouring state parks, there are many more such parks, enhances the stark achievement of this city. It is like a self-made man. The Strip seems to commemorate man’s mental flight without compromising on his basic instincts. Behemoth hotels beckon along The Strip. The path leading to them is scattered with flyers and visiting cards of male and female pleasure providers. From the Bellagio fountains to the ‘gondolas’ in The Venetian, everything is larger than life; including the assets of images adorning the advertisements. This is Vegas for you!
The duality of our mundane lives seize to exist in this haven of freedom and desire. Those begging on the streets are proud to put up posters like “Looking for a Sugar Mama” or “I need money for alcohol. Why lie?”. The infectious spirit of the city unshackles you from the chains of societal expectations and norms. A city where no need goes unfulfilled, the line between right and wrong blurs, with a little help from alcohol! It is this pulse that drives people again and again to this city. Yes, there is gambling, prostitution and entertainment; but what is unique is the feeling of complete independence and liberty.