Firstly and most importantly,
we got there with me, my OH, the other passengers and the plane entirely intact. This was a massive bonus and big surprise based on the millions of less successful alternative outcomes I had imagined in the days prior!
The daring cocktail-mix of gin, wine, white chestnut drops, Rescue Remedy spray, Kalms tablets and tablets that were something to do with passion flower from Holland and Barrett may have made me look like an obsessive nutter during the flight, but it seems to have done the job. So we're off to a good start.
So, Vegas. Oh-my-goodness. Who invented Vegas?? Who was this person? What were they thinking? I need to meet them...or perhaps I don't!
Las Vegas, as you may have heard, is crazy. Even more so with a strong dose of jet lag!
For those who haven't been, it is everything anyone has ever told you. The portions are huge, the 'all you can eat' buffets are bordering on obscene (at one point I think I may have almost hospitalised myself through over ambitious food-consumption), the lights are bright and abundant, the hotels are massive. The efforts to enforce fun and excitement upon you are spectacular.
The level of consumption of everything and anything is like nothing I have ever seen before, and for someone who spends inordinate amounts of time recycling, re-using, renovating and re-purposing, it's like nothing I particularly wish to see again! The fact that there is a gigantic public weighing scale outside a restaurant which boasts 'all guests over 350 lbs eat for free', says it all! Only in Vegas, right?!
However, in amongst the slightly hilarious erupting volcanoes and sweaty people dressed as Elvis and the fact that the air everywhere, even outside, smells sickly sweet like stale candy floss or marzipan (why is that??), I've got to admit there is something about it that is compelling: you certainly know you're 'on holiday' and you cannot help exploring further and enjoying the easy, 24hr, normal-rules-do-not-apply, meandering craziness of it all!
There are even some hotels that go a step beyond 'theme park' and are actually venturing back in to the real world (albeit on a long, diverted route via the land of out-of-proportion). But the Bellagio is a distant pumped-up relation of a European Hotel and so, kind of, are the Venetian and the Encore and Wynn tower hotels. I even found some examples of taste and good design (and real flowers) which was a (slightly snobish) surprise!
So, how on earth did Vegas get an 8/10 for Vintage Factor??
Well, that has got to be Fremont Street.
This is the original Vegas, where it all started at the beginning of the 20th century. Where the mobsters set up the first seedy, saw-dust riddled, illegal gambling dens from 1906 onward and where Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr drank during the Rat Pack days. If you're interested in the gangster stuff, there's a good museum all about it nearby: The Mob Museum
It's a slightly cranky 20min bus ride from 'The Strip' but it's home to the original casinos, the neon signs, the vintage gambling halls and proper, old coin-slot jackpot machines (the ones on The Strip are all credit driven). It has an old skool charm of its own.
It is home to the world famous 'Golden Nugget' (housing a real life gigantic nugget of gold) and the iconic 1951 waving cowboy sign (Vegas Vic) that we have all seen in all the films. You don't get retro like this in many other places...
If you're interested in old neon signs, there's a great looking museum in Vegas that houses the abandoned signage and displays for a lot of the now defunct casinos and hotels. There is some great stuff there. The museum has not yet realised its value either so it has not yet been sanitised and over displayed, this link will tell you more .
I should also mention Main Street Station Hotel.
Apparently it was built in the 70's and restored in the 90's, which is stunning because this place has all the feel of the grandiose dance halls, hotels and saloons you see in all the films. It just couldn't go unmentioned.
If this hotel is really that modern (which is a big surprise to me), whoever did the sourcing of furniture, fittings and general 'objets' for this place has a good eye and deep pockets!
According to Wikipedia it houses "a portion of the Berlin Wall, stained glass from the Lillian Russell Mansion, doors and facade from the Kuwait Royal Bank, doors from the George Pullman Mansion, Louisa May Alcott pullman car, chandeliers from the Coca-Cola building and Figaro Opera House, and various statues. The portion of the Berlin Wall is located in the men's restroom and has urinals affixed to it". It even has an100 year old train outside the casino complete with the private car used by Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley. The two of them used the train to travel the country in Buffalo Bill's Old West Show from 1906 to 1917.
So that's Vegas. Interesting, extreme and, considering the Vegas I have described was only really settled in the last century, full of its own character, culture, history, personalities and stories...that's once you get beyond the candy coated veneer!