Viva Las Vegas!

Okay, so I'm back home and it sucks! Still sick, though I'm getting better every day now. I guess what I needed the most was calm and rest, two commodities that are unknown in Las Vegas.;-)

Still TKOed by that virus, I couldn't wait to leave frigid San Francisco for warmer parts of the USA. As I mentioned, I really loved the city, but the weather and the cold I had to deal with more or less put a damper on my stay. Still, I'll return at some point, this time with warms clothes to face whatever comes my way!

I've I told you how much I hate United Airlines? Charging 15$US to check in a piece of luggage!?! What the fuck!?! This was a multi-city, code-share ticket with Air Canada and United Airlines, but I'll be damned if I ever fly again with them on a domestic flight.

Anyway, reached Las Vegas in the afternoon. And after San Francisco, the heat hit me like a punch in the face. Nevertheless, the sun was out and I was happy. I even sweated outside, refusing to wait in the shuttle with the A/C on before it left to drop everyone at their respective hotels.

The recession is supposed to be hitting Sin City pretty hard, which is why there are all sorts of package deals offered at the moment. If you haven't been to Vegas yet, or if you've been meaning to come back, there has never been a better time. I simply couldn't believe it when I discovered that mid-week stays (Monday through Thursday) were up to 60% off the regular price, sometimes less if you book directly through the hotel website. Since the only time I spend in a room is while I'm sleeping, I was looking for the best value for my weak Canadian dollar (Imagine my surprise when I returned on Friday and realized that it went up while I was in the States, and it's nearly on par with its green counterpart!), and I booked at the Excalibur. You know, what with keeping with the whole fantasy theme! And at 36$ a night, it was a steal! I mean, I paid as much for a hostel bed in San Francisco!

Sick as I was (blowing my nose in a variety of napkins from Subway, Quizno, and McD's throughout my stay), I was sadly aware that there would probably be few late nights at bars and clubs. I had planned to see one Cirque du Soleil show -- perhaps two, depending on the price and availability -- and an excursion to the Grand Canyon. Other than that, I wanted to gamble a little, have dinner as a couple of nice restaurants, and then mingle and flirt a little, hoping to take advantage of that King-size bed in my room. But plans change while you're traveling. . .

After getting my shit together, I headed out and walked up the Strip to Treasure Island to see if there were any tickets left for the late show of Cirque du Soleil's Mystère. When I reached the box office, I realized that the early show would start in about 5 minutes, so what the heck. The cheap seats were 80$ with tax and service charge, but I thought I was only going to see one Cirque du Soleil show, so what the heck, right? Surprise number 1: They always ask for a photo ID when you pay by credit card in Vegas. Surprise number 2: Since I don't always want to carry around my passport, I usually carry around my ISIC (International Student Card) because because it's easier that way and it has my date of birth on it. Though it expired in 2008 (they never did check that), the card got me the unadvertised student discount and I got 35% off!

Mystère was my first Cirque du Soleil experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I knew there would be more shows to see during my stay, provided tickets were still available. Especially if I could 35% off for each of them!

Of course, as is the case with everyone visiting Las Vegas, I spent a lot of time visiting the various casinos. From the Mandalay Bay down south all the way to Wynn to the north, I visited basically everyone of them. Those further north held little appeal, in any case. I would have like to check out a few off-Strip properties like the Rio and the Playboy, but I ran out of time. My three favorites are without a doubt the New York-New York, the Paris, and the Venetian. They all have a little something, no question, so it's kind of neat to take some time to check them all out. The MGM Grand and Planet Hollywood are nowhere near as cool as they try to make themselves look, though.

Armed with the knowledge that I could get a discount at some shows and the fact that I was too sick to sample the nightlife to its fullest (even though it was mid-week), I decided to attempt to see one Cirque du Soleil show per night. Yes, it would blow my budget. But hey, I was on vacation, you know!

So I saw the late show of Zumanity that second night at the New York-New York. Got the discount again (only available for the 10:30pm show, however), which was a blessing because this was more of a cabaret, burlesque kind of thing. A sexier and more sensual side of the Cirque du Soleil, this show can only be seen by adults. Not bad, if you are into the cabaret-style shows, but it has nothing on the other Cirque du Soleil productions. If you ever decide to go see that show, buy a ticket on the balcony. Otherwise, you might be selected to go on stage and make a fool of yourself in front of hundred of strangers. This is the most interactive Cirque du Soleil show, so consider yourselves warned.;-)

On my two last nights in town, I attended the most amazing shows I have ever seen. O, Cirque du Soleil's first mega-production in Vegas which has been running for a few years now at the Bellagio, was astounding. Leaving the theatre, I thought that I would never see something so spectacular in my life again. It was that astounding. And then I saw Kà at the MGM Grand on my last night. This oriental and gravity-defying show blew my mind. If you are ever in Las Vegas and have time for a single show, Cirque du Soleil's Kà must top your list. Looking back, I still can't believe how incredible it all was. As a Québécois, it's nice to see that such a small fry circus with such humble beginnings became a world-renowned powerhouse. Kudos to Guy Laliberté and his team for creating what has become the most popular circus on the planet!

Went to the Grand Canyon on my last day. Understandably, I couldn't miss out on that! But it's an unending 14-hour affair, and I was forced to wake up at 5:00am to catch my ride. We briefly stopped at Hoover Dam. But the bus is not allowed to park at the first couple of parking spots, so we were forced to take our pictures from afar. Then came the interminable ride to the Grand Canyon itself. It's a necessary evil, I know, and I was glad to have gone through it when we reached the national park. I booked that 180$ tour because it was the only one which allowed us to hike the trail for more than two hours before heading back to Las Vegas. So I marveled at the beauty of the Grand Canyon as I made my way from Mather Point to Bright Angel Lodge. I took over 200 photos during that 2-hour span, and boy was it great!

In the end, I didn't gamble a whole lot, mostly due to the fact that I spent about 600$ in Cirque du Soleil shows and that excursion to the Grand Canyon. Add to that the 200$ I blew at Abercrombie & Fitch, and that didn't leave me with a lot of money to waste in the casinos. Interestingly enough, I did manage to play for over an hour with a single dollar one night!

I have another two weeks of vacation coming up at the end of June, but I'm waiting for my credit card bill to show up in my mailbox to see if I can afford to go anywhere else! So the Hotlist will return to its regular programming. I read Jonathan Maeberry's Patient Zero while I was away (being sick meant that I didn't go out at all in San Francisco, which gave me ample time to read), so expect a review in the near future. This zombie novel was quite entertaining!

5 commentaires:

Kendall said...

I saw O and loved it; reading your post, now I want to see Kà! :-) Next time I'm in Las Vegas!

The Mad Hatter said...

Sounds like a good trip. But I can't believe you went to all of those Cirque shows and skipped Love? I saw Love a year ago and thought it was amazing. I've only seen one other Cirque show, but I'm told Love while not as spectactuarly as some of the other shows was the most enjoyable. I guess you have to leave stuff to do for a second trip.

rliger said...

Sounds like you had a blast in Vegas. I love it so much there that I got married at the Paris casino. We also went to see Zumanity we both got pulled up on stage at seperate times, which I thought made it all the more memorable. Hopefully sometime soon I can go check out O and Ka.

VegasConcierge said...

Sorry you had the luggage problems. The airlines have been real duche bags lately.

Next time you come to Vegas call me.


702-490-1022 or 702-544-4368


Anonymous said...

I've only seen Varykai and Dralion when they were visting here in Canberra. Both were exceptional and would definately see their other productions.