For 4 hours Misha and I drive through blankets of darkness. We’re anxious to arrive to civilization. In the distance I make out flashing lights. As we near the colors become clearer. A neon yellow and green sign flashes the word “casino.” We’ve made it to Las Vegas.
As we pull into the valet at The Palms Hotel and Casino, sparkling chandeliers hang from the ceiling canopy, bounteous palm trees surround the entrance and doormen in freshly pressed suits greet us. “Wow, we’re really stepping it up,” I say to Misha.
Our renovated room is even more extravagant. A modern king-size bed, stylish lamp shades, granite counter tops and tile bathroom floors await us. Perched 20 stories high, we stare out the window at the illuminated city below. Although the city isn’t nearly ready for sleep, Misha and I are. A strenuous hike and another long drive has defeated us.
We wake up to a pleasantly warm morning. An hour later we’re munching down Animal Style hamburgers and fries from In and Out Burger’s secret menu. Despite needing a healthy meal, we can’t resist this West Coast fast food chain. We enjoy a fattening brunch for less than 10 dollars. Ready to begin our only full day in Sin City we eagerly make our way to the Strip.
Its barely past noon and I already feel overstimulated. The Strip is a different world. Blinking billboards, expensive cars, street magicians and a plethora of hotel casinos distract me from reality. Our first stop is Planet Hollywood. Upon entering this building we are immediately entrenched by colorful carpets and ceilings, endless ringing of slot machines and tireless card dealers. While watching Misha get lucky playing Roulette, I reminisce about my most recent visit to Vegas – an incredible week spent with two of my best friends, Erin and Beatrice. Feeling content with his $25 winnings, Misha arises from the table. It’s my turn. I love the anticipation of gambling. Although losing a few bucks at the table, I make up for it in free drinks and entertainment value.
So as not to spend our entire $100 (self-determined) limit in one spot, Misha and I leave Planet Hollywood and gamble a bit more in other hotels. My favorite is the Bellagio. I step foot into this grandiose hotel and am immediately mesmerized by the 30 foot tall lavish Christmas tree before me. Incredibly decorated holiday ornaments line the interior of this hotel-mansion. Golden reindeer-led sleds, constructed Santa Clauses 8 times the size of me, and countless green, red and blue lights encompass our field of vision. Impressed tourist snap pictures in every imaginable nook of this spacious room. I feel as if I’m in the upper class ballroom of the Titanic.
A trip to Vegas isn’t complete without seeing a show. As such, Misha and I purchase discounted tickets to “Vegas! The Show.” Prior to heading over to the theatre, Misha and I find an isolated corner on the 3rd floor of Planet Hollywood to munch down some tasty Thai food. We then descend to the theatre located on the second floor. We watch with glee as talented singers, dancers and showgirls expose the audience to what Las Vegas was like in the 1950’s. A tiny bird trainer comes on stage and has his cockatoo fly through hula hoops held by the audience. The scandalous and puffy costumes worn by the actors and actresses and the vintage props used by the ensemble appear fitting. That is, until Misha points out the old man playing a Grand Piano on stage. Atop his varnished instrument rests a MacBook Pro, from which the pianist reads sheet music I’m tempted to inform the producer how inappropriate this prop is.
After a full day of constant commotion, and each of our wallets $50 lighter, Misha and I head back to our hotel. One day in Vegas is enough for me. I can’t imagine what it’s like living and working here. It’s past midnight, yet the Planet Hollywood mall is packed with commotion and fluorescent lights. The ceiling, painted a bright blue, gives off the impression of a clear-sky morning, undoubtedly disrupting employee’s circadian rhythms. We exit the mall and walk along the way-too-crowded-for-a-weekday streets and wonder how long it takes someone to unwind from a day working in this city. “This city really never sleeps, does it?” I ask Misha.
“Sure doesn’t,” Misha says.
As much as I love visiting Las Vegas, I could never live in this city.