Having arrived late on the Wednesday night and without my suitcase, the first day was never going to be a particularly busy day. It had also been a very late night for my two friends who are showing me round Vegas. One of them has been coming here several times a year for the last 25 years also and is basically a local. There is nothing that she does not know about the city, which is an excellent way to get to know a place. Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of the stay in Vegas, as I have been doing with the trip so far, I thought I would focus on a few specific points; for now that is food, shopping and gambling.
We started my Vegas food experience with breakfast in one of the restaurants at the Hard Rock Hotel, Mr Lucky’s. This gave me my first impression of the stereotypical American portion size. Whilst my breakfast of a ‘Home Skillet’, which consisted of bacon, potatoes, onion and peppers topped with a fried egg, was a reasonable size, they shared French toast which was massive and more than enough for both of them. We ate at Nobu in the evening which was the opposite – very refined moderately sized portions of excellent food. What I liked was the relaxed atmosphere. I was just wearing shorts and t-shirt and felt very comfortable – had that been the Nobu in London, I would either have felt awkward in my attire, or not been allowed in!
I needed to go to a local shopping centre so that I could buy some clothes to wear until my suitcase had been located. Fingers crossed that American Airlines will reimburse me for them. It is no surprise that people who enjoy shopping come to the US because it is so much cheaper than in the UK. Brands like Abercrombie & Fitch which are seen as very expensive were surprisingly cheap and I was able to pick up two T-shirts pair of shorts some socks and some boxers for about £50. I would hazard a guess that the shorts alone would have been at least £35 back home.
I also had my first taste of casino gambling. I had asked my friends to show me how the slot machines work and on the first push of the button I won about $140 – pure chance, as it was not repeated! I did, however, come first in a free-to-enter slot machine competition in Harrah’s which won me a little bluetooth speaker – not bad for just bashing a button furiously for 3 minutes! I also had some success on the Blackjack tables at Sam’s Town, leaving with $65 on a $50 stake – certainly not earth shattering, but enjoyable. I have been giving myself a $50 a day gambling limit, which is the amount that I am prepared to lose, and view this as my entertainment. People pay a lot more to watch 90 minutes of football!
So my first impressions of Las Vegas are very positive. As a geographer I am intrigued by the place for a number of reasons, which I will no doubt go into later. I have enjoyed the feeling of acceptance everywhere because everyone is so welcoming. I have never felt out-of-place or unwelcome. There is also such a vast range of things to do and places to see that it is very difficult to be bored. It is certainly on like no other place I have been and I’m looking forward to sharing with you some more of my thoughts about it soon. But for now I need to go and do some more shopping …!