From New York down to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to visit a college pal. He took me to my first mall. Even then, I had a weakness for those prefab palaces. Then hundreds of miles to Chicago for a disappointing pilgrimage too complicated and inane to detail here. We bought two tiny replicas of the Sears Tower as consolation.
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Veered south, taking in the territory, cooking up plots. We sure were seeing a lot of America on this trip. We wrote up the Grand Canyon and Lake Mead. Decided to keep driving so we could spend the night in Las Vegas, the camping thing not really taking. Impossible to sleep. A consistent feeling of itchiness. We suited up in a cheap motel downtown.
We required proper gear for our Vegas debut. We looked great.
Guide to Las Vegas
I was an intellectual, see, could quote Beckett on the topic of the abyss, had a college degree and everything. On our way to check-in, we passed the geriatric zombies in tracksuits installed at the slots, empty coin buckets overturned on their oxygen tanks. These gray-skinned doomed tugged on the levers, blinked, tugged again. We were about to get our first glimpse of the hurly-burly of downtown Vegas.
Before we pushed open the glass doors, what the heck, I dropped a nickel into a one-armed bandit and won two dollars. In a dank utility room deep in the sub-basements of my personality, a little man wiped his hands on his overalls and pulled the switch: More. Remembering it now, I hear a sizzling sound, like meat being thrown into a hot skillet. So I thought. Study hard, obey your parents, hut-hut-hut through the training exercises of decent society. Then, in college, now that no one was around, I started to push the boundaries, a little more each semester. I was an empty seat in lecture halls, slept late in a depressive funk, handed in term papers later and later to see how much I could get away with before the House swatted me down.
Push it some more. We go to casinos to tell the everyday world that we will not submit. There are rules and codes and institutions, yes, but for a few hours in this temple of pure chaos, of random cards and inscrutable dice, we are in control of our fates. My little gambles were a way of pretending that no one was the boss of me. So what? Nothing escapes his attention, and nothing will move him to intervene. After a few phone calls, the administration released me into the world with a D minus. What was it to them? My passive-aggressive rebellion against the system was meaningless.
Ruin yourself. The nickels poured into the basin, sweet music. If it worked once, it will work again. Before we left town, we bought dozens of tiny plastic slot machines from a trinket shop.
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Pink, red, lime green. We had serious epoxy. Each place we stopped, we picked up souvenirs and glued them to the Tercel. Two Sears Towers sticking up over the engine, a row of small turquoise stones just above the windshield, toy buffalo stampeding across the great brown plain of the hood. We dotted the hood with glue and stuck the slot machines on, the polyethylene totems marking us as goofball heathens.
The friend was catsitting for a drug dealer, weed mostly. We wrote up our time in the land of Circus Circus and the El Cortez, the cheap steaks and watered-down drinks. Forget Hollywood images of Las Vegas glamor, the city at base is nothing but a desert Disneyland. No need to denigrate it. I would protect Vegas. How about:. Das Kapital is worshipped here, and sacrifices from all major credit cards are happily accepted.
The destroyed do not return to redeem reward-card perks and lose more money. No one forces doom upon you, folks. You need to seek it out.
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Celebrate the gift of a place that allows you to be someone else for a time. Then Darren wigged out and caught a plane home. He still had his childhood room. Dan was going to drive back east in August, maybe get a Eurail pass that autumn and check out some fucking castles or whatever. After all, I was a good navigator. As luck would have it, they intended to stop off in Vegas on the way back.
We visited on Ladies Night, which meant local women creative set up stalls on the terrace selling art and fashion, while a female DJ hit the decks. With its expansive cocktail list and warm, lively atmosphere, this is the type of neighbourhood bar everyone wishes that they lived near. Back on Fremont Street, Corduroy is another good spot to try. Its Met Gala-inspired selfie booth towards the back offers the perfect evening souvenir. Those searching for a relaxed pint should try Beerhaus , an informal beer hall with an impressive array of locally sourced beers with knowledgeable, friendly staff who are happy to help you choose from the lengthy menu.
Vegas is no place for diets. Mr Chow at Caesars Palace is a must — a high-end favourite of Jennifer Lopez, with carpets so plush your feet will sink into them. This is Chinese food like no other — delicious hand-pulled noodles a Mr Chow signature , spicy pork with chilli and succulent Beijing duck. Opt for the tasting menu and prepare to eat the most juicy steak imaginable, flavoursome oysters, beautifully fresh steak tartar, buttery mash and fois gras served within candyfloss.
Carnivores should also try the Jean Georges Steakhouse at the Aria hotel , a glamorous, dimly-lit restaurant filled with high-rollers. Giada at the Cromwell , is a great lunchtime spot, a laid-back Italian restaurant with views overlooking the Bellagio fountain. The Barrymore , positioned just off the Strip, is an unassuming gem popular with locals.
Choose the creamed spinach and lean steak and enjoy the intimate, friendly ambience. This is a city designed for indulgence, so follow a night of fine dining and cocktails with a treatment at the Espa spa in the Vdara hotel. Spoil yourself and opt for the Desert Rose Treatment — minutes of pure bliss, involving a personalised full-body massage, a salt scrub rounded off with a head massage. Ask for Natalie, whose voice alone will make you feel infinitely calmer.
If you want to venture further than The Strip, you will need to hire a car. In fact, walking from one end of this lengthy road to the other is quite the marathon in itself. AWG Ambassadors come recommended. Drivers see themselves as chauffeurs, so expect a high level of professionalism, pristine cars and excellent customer service. There's nothing AWG don't know about Vegas whether nightlife, restaurants or the history of the city.
If you want three steps up from a standard taxi and when in Vegas, why wouldn't you? Price valid until 31 December For more information visit netflights. Type keyword s to search.
10 of the best clubs and gig venues in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Tourism Board. The Mojave Desert Getty Images.
Inside the Venetian Hotel Getty Images. The Palazzo lobby The Palazzo. Downtown Las Vegas Courtesy of writer. Having undergone a huge revitalisation, the area has become a popular with young locals who have cultural interests that go beyond gambling and steak. Inside the Neon Museum Courtesy of writer. The Black Canyon as seen via glass kayaking. Bazaar Meat Bazaar Meat.
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