When I initially planned my trip to the USA I had two dates to choose from... one meant that I would be in Las Vegas on the fourth of July, the other, didn't! Well, considering that the fourth of July is one of the USA's biggest national holidays, celebrating their independence, I could hardly toss up a night at the biggest party location on the biggest party date the US has to offer could I???
After driving for hours and hours in anticipation of the bright lights, as we saw the famous Vegas strip growing from a tiny dot on the desert's horizon to a booming metropolitan collection of casinos, bars and hotels, I couldn't help but inexplicably scream, 'Vegas baby!' I was so psyched it was unreal. Imagine my ecstasy when after spending the previous few nights roughing it on US campsites, we were told that our next accommodation was situated in the world-renowned Stratosphere hotel. I nearly burst!
The Stratosphere boasts and 80,000 square feet casino, six restaurants, a swimming pool, a salon and spa combo AND a mini theme part on top of its 1,149 foot tower. Literally, the hotel is like a mini city.
We only had a couple hours in which to get ready, so I rushed up to my bedroom and turned the bath on. While the hot water was running I marvelled at my family-sized room, looking out at my view of Vegas and the Stratosphere tower. Within the next few hours, I'd poured myself into a obscenely short and tight lilac bodycon dress (only in Vegas...) and headed out with four cans of Red Bull in tow due to my exhaustion from spending my day trekking the desert. Needless to say the Red Bulls were washed down with a couple of splashes of vodka in hotel-room pre-sesh.
We had all paid the extra to go on a limo tour of Vegas so we headed down to the lobby of the Stratosphere. Seriously, in Vegas everyone feels like a star, but I felt even more fab as heads turned in the casino as we strutted past and hopped into our stretch hummer. Inside we were greeted with a state-of-the-art sound system blaring the coolest chart tunes, a mini-pole (too small to practice any of the tricks I picked up at the British Pole Dance Academy, sadly) and a few bottles of champers. Needless to say, the party had well and truly started.
The first stop on our journey was the world-famous Fremont Street. This is one long street which features a huge screen canopy which stretches from one side to the other displaying images and flashing lights like you've never seen before. As it was the fourth of July, as well as the usual bars and casinos which are open daily, there were also three huge stages along the street, each featuring 80's music cover bands. If you know me, then you know that the 80's is my absolute favorite era of music so I was in my element, pounding my dancing feet, shimmying my shoulders and giving the odd crafty wink to the lead singers in exchange for some Mardi Gras-style beads. I distinctly remember bouncing away to Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi, Jump by Van Halen and Message in a Bottle by The Police, just three of my favorite songs of all time. I'll never forget the carefree feeling I had dancing and drinking on Fremont on the fourth of July.
All too soon though, our time on Fremont Street was over. So we jumped back into the limo and headed to the Vegas sign for some fantastic photo opportunities. After much posing, we stopped at a petrol station to (rather classily) make use of their restroom facilities, because us ladies with just bursting. Once again we headed off in the limo to only God-knew-where.
Pulling up outside the lobby for the up-market Bellagio hotel just in time to catch their spectacular fountain dance with the backdrop of the Paris hotel Eiffel Tower icon. I will admit, I went into the Bellagio under the pretence of 'needing to use the rest-room' but really I just wanted to see how deliciously luxurious the hotel was. I was not at all disappointed as the whole lobby smelt of flowers and the golden glow of the lights bathed the shiny marble flooring. Just gorgeous.
By this point it was only about midnight, and we were nowhere near ready to turn in just yet. So you're in Vegas, you're part of a slightly intoxicated group and none of you want to gamble... what do you do? Head to the classiest strip club in Nevada of course! After making the executive decision to barter with the manager, I got my negotiation hat on. They wanted to charge us $28 each just for entry, and drinks were going to be about $16 for a shot and a mixer!!! No, no, that's not right.
I explained that we were a bunch of 14 horny tourists, who would rather spend money on dances than entry and drinks. Eventually I managed to get the guy to knock the price down to $25 INCLUDING two drinks each! Winner. That means I saved my group $35 each. Great success :) Naturally, none of us paid for a dance. However, most of us gave the lovely ladies a tip or two and a great night was had by all.
After getting a taxi back to our hotel at about 5am, we just about dropped dead onto our fluffy king-sized matresses and stayed that way until 10am at which point we were hanging-hungry and just had to go out and explore daytime-Vegas.
We hadn't quite factored in how unbearably hot it can be in Vegas, so our very noble ambitions of walking the whole strip rapidbly became more realistic as we strolled to our neighbouring hotel Circus Circus for a burger before heading back to the Stratosphere. It seems Vegas during the day is pretty much the same as Vegas at night, and considering the fact that none of us had enough money to go shopping, we decided a nap was in order so that we could enjoy the next night.
Once naps were over, I grabbed a (very average) burrito in the hotel food court area and we all headed up to the Stratosphere tower to check out the rides. Thankfully, because we were Stratosphere hotel guests, we didn't have to pay to go up the tower. This saved us a whopping $18 each. Great success. The main aim of going to the tower? Watch the boys jump off the top. Literally, they wanted to bungee from the top of the tower. I'm glad in a way that there was no space on the bookings form because I definitely would have lost my nasty burrito from nerves sickness watching them! As the boys couldn't take the leap, they decided that we ALL had to do Big Shot, the 160 foot freefall ride on the Stratosphere, for which they very kindly paid the $15 ticket fee for is. Isn't it lovely being spoilt by Aussies?
The rest of the night was spent in much the same way as the previous night at Fremont Street's bars. Obviously my stamina isn't what it should be as I was exhausted after 1am so headed back and hopped back into my beautiful bed. The next morning we left Vegas at 8am, so I was glad I'd got a good night's sleep as they Grand Canyon was the next stop.
Vegas was exactly as I expected it would be. Bright, brassy, brilliant. One thing I wasn't expecting was the fact that anything you would do in Vegas at night can also be done during the day, which means that if you're going out at night you really don't feel so bad about sleeping all day. Something else which a couple of members from our trip had to learn the hard way, is that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas... Do with that information what you will!
Have you ever been to Vegas? How would you imagine it being? Do you think you'd enjoy it? I didn't expect I would love it as much as I did to be honest, as I'm not usually a big goer-outer-er, but Vegas is oh-so-different.
Love and kisses