Viva Las Vegas!
Although we aren’t big gamblers or drinkers, Las Vegas is one of those places that everyone needs to experience at least once, right? So after a couple of months of stress and sadness, we decided to join a few of my family members for a whimsical downtime, exploring the never-ending themes of Las Vegas. Of course, visits to the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon and to Hoover Dam had to be included in the itinerary as well!
For us, leaving from Toronto and choosing a cheap flight meant a ten-hour trip, unlike the short jaunt for the rest of our party flying from British Columbia, but we arrived a couple of days ahead of them.
Before I share with you all of the fun we had, I’m going to get a few warnings out of the way. We soon discovered that you can lose money very quickly without even entering a casino.
1. If you take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, tell the driver that you want to go via city streets. It was after 10:00 pm our time when we climbed into our cab, headed for the Flamingo Hotel. The driver asked, “Do you want to take the highway or the city street?” As newcomers we naturally thought the highway would be the quickest route. He saw us coming! What should have been a $15.00 drive cost us $30.00! We also learned later that the extra $5.00 “airport fee” that he tacked on was already included in the rate.
2. When you find yourself hungry after you’ve checked into your hotel, don’t head to the nearest hotel eatery that you see. Two large salads and ice tea at Carlos & Charlie’s Bar and Grill in the hotel cost us $37.00. Two simple bacon and egg breakfasts with one orange juice and two coffees the next morning at the convenient Tropical Breeze came to a grand total of $36.00. The orange juice alone was $5.00! The bacon made me thirsty so I picked up a bottle of water at one of the fast-food stands in the lobby. I was prepared to pay $2.50 or $3.00, but it was $4.50 for half the size of bottle that I’d purchased at the airport for a dollar less.
3. Everywhere you turn you will be bombarded by pushy people offering “free” breakfast and tickets to shows, just for agreeing to tour a time-share condominium by Wyndham, owners of 80% of the hotels and condos in Vegas. If you don’t mind spending the time, it’s worthwhile, but know that the two-hours they assure you it will take will extend into three or four hours if you don’t want to purchase a time-share. The sales people will try all sorts of tactics and discounts to get your signature on the bottom line.
4. There is no free Wifi in the hotels, and it’s expensive to purchase. That’s why I was unable to post each day. Denny’s Restaurant and some of the shops in The Forum do have free access.
We did get a $5.00 gambling voucher and “free” tickets to see the shocking yet funny comedian, Vinnie Favorito, at Bugsys Cabaret when we registered for our Total Rewards Cards. Free is in quotes because there was a catch – we had to prepay for two alcoholic drinks, about $18.00 .
After our expensive late-night dinner, we’d revived enough to want to head out onto “The Strip” and begin our adventure.
The Flamingo Hotel is still undergoing renovations, and new construction is taking place in the lot next door. Our room was clean and very adequate for the amount of time that we spent in it, but we were awakened, sometimes as early at 4:00 a.m. (Las Vegas time) by the sound of jack hammers and vehicles backing up right outside our window. We were offered an upgrade when we checked in, but chose to save our money for more interesting things.
The back exit from the hotel led us through this lovely garden complete with live flamingos, swans, ducks and Koi fish enjoying the ponds.
Every hotel has a theme, and over the course of the next five days, we explored most of them at least once.We took a ride on a gondola through the streets of “Venice” at the Venetian Hotel.
And strolled through the streets of Paris.
I’ll share more of this adventure next post.