Sin City? Hardly.
With all the hype of Las Vegas, with all the movies and reputation and stories of debauchery, the city has a reputation for being a den of sin and partying and hedonism. I was underwhelmed.
I found it less of a "Sin City" and more of a tribute to manufactured decadence. It's impressive in it's scope, especially considering it's built in the middle of the desert. It's the original model that cities like the Gold Coast (my previous home) follow - faux luxury, artificial exclusivity, and completely lacking in any soul whatsoever.
I think it's reputation comes from the liberal approach to night time activities, especially compared to most of the US. You can drink, gamble and wander the streets and gaming floors for 24 hours a day. In constrast, in Texas the bars close at 2 am, you can't buy alcohol before noon on Sunday, and there's definitely no gambling. Nevada is also the only state in the US where prostitution is legal, so there's that I guess.
You pay a stiff penalty for that freedom though - that beers in Vegas are rarely under $5, mixed spirits at least $10, and entry to nightclubs a minimum of $20 for guys.
I think the main source of my underwhelmed response is that many of the laws in Australia for drinking and gambling are the same as Nevada's. I didn't get that sense of "freedom" from the laws of other, more restrictive, states that other visitors to Las Vegas get. I was also coming down from the party high of SXSW, too, which set a pretty high bar.
The best part about Vegas, in my opinion, is the sheer size of it's decadence. I mean, you can't help but be impressed at some of the engineering effort behind these hotels.
The above photo is Cesar's Palace, a hotel and casino with 3,500 rooms and 15,500 m2 of gaming space in five separate towers. I unfortunately didn't get to explore inside it, but it certainly has some street presence.
The Venetian was impressive too, with canals running through the inside and outside of the hotel. The main hotel lobby is covered in frescos, lending it a very Sistine Chapel feel.
We did the most of the usual Las Vegas circuit too - the fountains at the Bellagio, the erupting volcano at the Mirage, the drunk walk to Burger King at 2 am.
I know I'm being critical, but I definitely had a good time regardless. I was there to see Nushi and Eddie (above) on their whirl-wind world tour. The best time of the trip was the four of us (including Eddie's Dad) sitting at the $1 "Wheel of Fortune" table, drinking free but weak drinks, and talking crap. I guess that's what it's all about, really.
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