The only word I can think to describe Las Vegas is 'profane'. It's a city of obscene excess. Of lights, food, noise, people. And natural beauty. The mountains surrounding the city are spectacular, as if to remind everyone that gambling and showgirls and timeshare presentations are not why they should really be visiting the city.
In every venue we've seen so far, people are normal looking. They aren't all (necessarily) beautiful or skinny or white. They appear (and sound) to be from all over the world. The only generalization that seems to hold is that older women smoking cigarettes seem to be over-represented at the slot machines.
Perhaps because it's so warm, people (the ones who aren't necessarily beautiful, skinny or white) have a lot of exposed skin, which means their tattoos are also exposed. I'm sure I've said this before, but again, I don't think I've ever seen as many tattoos. Full sleeves, up the neck, down the legs, around the torso.... And it's not just one small tattoo that you can see while they're at the pool. It's multiple tattoos whose places seem randomly chosen, and it's really not a pretty site.
There's a gimmick here I just don't get. There are people walking around with drinks in containers that are 36 inches long. They look like long thermometers with even longer straws. I've seen a few places that sell them and they cost about $36 for the drink and souvenir cup. What would possess someone to buy one of these. It's not like it will fit in your carryon!
We're staying in a place that has a Tahitian theme. It's a decent place with a bedroom, a bathroom that's too big and a living room/kitchenette. Yes, the couch is essentially in the kitchen. I hate that it only has one window (in the bedroom) that doesn't even open. It's fine for the week but for that last reason alone, I wouldn't stay in this type of room again. There are silk and plastic flowers and plants everywhere. I'm sure it has to do with the fact that water to support the real flowers and plants isn't naturally found here in the desert. My two cents - pick a different theme.
We walked into the Luxor yesterday. It's a huge pyramid shaped hotel. (If you're a fan of The Amazing Race, you saw them rappel down the side a few seasons ago.) Between the 2nd floor and the top of the pyramid it's an open atrium with rings of hotel rooms going all the way up the to the top. So I had to wonder, where are the elevators. It turns out - they don't have elevators. They have inclinators. What's an inclinator? It's an elevator that goes in a diagonal line up the corner of the pyramid. It's very Willy Wonka.
Wherever you look, there seem to be Oxygen Bars. I just don't get it.
Lastly, it's not actually as easy to find a decent place to eat as you would think it would be. Yes, there are buffets, but how much can you actually eat. And there are the famous restaurants, but they're pretty expensive. And there are casual and fast food places that are the same everywhere. Tonight we drove around longer than I'll publicly admit looking for something that was simple, not crazy expensive and not a chain we could find somewhere else. We found a deli-pizzaria (appropriately called Deli-ria) that fit the bill. It was run by an Iraqi who lived in Michigan the last 14 years and just moved to Las Vegas a year ago. Though there were prices for the sandwiches and salads on the menu, I asked for something that wasn't listed. Four bucks later I had a plate full of food - (tuna, tabouli and stuffed grape leaves for those who are curious).
What I do really like about Las Vegas is that you can literally just drive out of town into nowhere. All of the sudden, the street drops down to two lanes with a great view of mountains and nothing else. I'm not sure how far you have to be from the city of Chicago for that to happen.