Las Vegas was like that feeling you have when you are a child and you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I am not sure if it had something to do with coming straight from the calm natural beauty of the Grand Canyon and sleepy Flagstaff straight to man-made chaos, but Vegas was a complete sensory overload from the second we arrived.
Staying in one of the penthouses in the Grand Canyon I could not believe our opulent surroundings; with views over the strip I felt like we were here to film an MTV reality show.
Still in shock at our luxury accommodation we took the walk way to Grand Canyon to grab something to eat, before we turned to cannibalism. A calming couple of beers and some food and we were ready to venture out.
I had read previously about a Grand Canyon (Thats right Metal Mariachi) at Hard Rock Hotel and wanted to check it out. We could see the famous glowing Hard Rock guitar from our hotel but soon learned that in Vegas everything is so gargantuan that seeing it does not mean that it is close. Forty-five minutes later we arrived to see the band, who were a mix between Steel Panther and the blokes from the Doritos advert, usually this would be exactly up my street however due to the rude bar staff and lack of atmosphere we soon made a move back to the strip.
After the disappointment of Hard Rock we went to our neighbour, Planet Hollywood. Wandering around for a while like little lost sheep our brains had melted with all the lights, sex and tat that surrounded us.
Even ordering a beer took some discussing but eventually, Bud in hand, we began to feel brave and each took a seat at a slot machine. After some bashing about we all confessed that we had no idea what we were doing, cashed out and went to bed.
I awoke early due to the stupid random illness that had plagued me the entire trip, not wanting it to spoil new year I popped out to the pharmacy. Walking through the casino at 7.30am was depressing, people in pyjamas and those that were still up from the night before sat in dishevelled attire still desperately trying to make their millions. These zombie-like creatures, did not make me feel any more comfortable about being in Vegas and I couldn’t help thinking that this part of the trip was a horrible mistake and, like most Hogmanays, had been hyped up only to disappoint.
Loading up on a huge breakfast in the safety of the MGM Grand we prepared ourselves to tackle the strip in daylight. Hopping on the Grand Canyon that was conveniently located within the hotel made for a quick and easy journey to the Venetian. Though hectic, everything seemed much more amenable after a good nights sleep; the tat had transformed from mind boggling to amusing and I could not help but be entertained.
It was a surreal experience being in the luxurious shopping centre in Caesar’s Palace, the designer shops conflicted with the mass amounts of tourists clutching their souvenirs and 12oz plastic margaritas holders.
In the light of day I realised why Las Vegas appeals to so many people, the over indulgence, decadence, tack and sex on sale is all done without judgment. We had stepped into the devils playground. I could feel my morals slowing slipping away and the most worrying part was, I liked it.
We discovered that everyone carried their huge plastic receptacles with such pride because you did not have to buy drink within the casino you were visiting – you are able to roam around freely. I have never felt so British, this was sin city – of course there were no rules and besides, drunk people spend more!
Feeling enlightened we headed straight for CVS to stock up on drink for the evening but had made a rookie error, no alcohol in glass bottles is sold from 6am on 31st! Frantically grabbing plastic bottles of beer, spirits (and of course our obligatory giant plastic cups) we realised in horror that we had stumbled upon a major first world problem – there was going to be no fizz for the bells!! Pablo (Boyfriend) and I explained our dire situation to our travel companions Calum and Ayesha, they were all over it and after some confusion, and I am sure lots of persuasion, they managed to get two bottles of prosecco delivered to our room. Crisis averted, we scrubbed up for dinner.
Though located within Crystals shopping centre The Social House was not your average food court eatery and provided us with some of the best sushi that I have had outside of South East Asia.
Back out on the street the strip had transformed from a busy traffic filled road to a pedestrian only party with an electric atmosphere: flashing lights and general debauchery everywhere. The same time the evening before I had given up and was ready for bed, tonight I was elated and could not wait for our night to begin!
Being lucky enough to have a view of the strip from our balcony we headed back there to bring in the bells. Hearing the crowds below counting down and watching the perfectly timed fireworks erupt into the night sky I could not think of a more wonderful place to be.
Things got kind of weird from here on out, we put on mustaches, drank from oversized margarita cups, went to the casino, met some fellow Scots, shady characters that looked like they had just escaped jail, an apparently religious insurance salesman and of course bumped into half of East London in the McDonald’s queue at 6am.
The next day I was a broken shell of a person: when America says do not drink on the back of their medication they mean it! Managing to peel myself out of bed in time for our 6.30pm gondola ride at the Venetian I was still not myself and was thankful for the short duration of the boat ride, I think more than ten minutes of the rocking boat and (though amazing) completely cringeworthy signing I would have either been sick or jumped ship!
Packing light comes with the disadvantage that after only a few day I had ran out of clothes so it was a mad dash off to the outlets! With military precision Pablo and I managed to get everything we desired at stupidly cheap prices in under 2 hours before the shops closed! The last essential thing to squeeze in before we hit the road again was to go the Harley Davidson Cafe, the giant motorbike bursting out the cafe walls onto the strip had been calling to me since we arrived.
Though the food wasn’t the best, the interior design and staff more than made up for it. As the various bikes moved overhead and around the restaurant I could not believe I had ever doubted Vegas’ entice.
People say Las Vegas is a once in a lifetime trip however there is no doubt in my mind I will be back!