Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Observations at tourist level

I'm determined to wring one more blog post out of our long Las Vegas weekend. Here are some things about Vegas that I didn't necessarily anticipate.
  • Do you miss the days when everybody smoked? Then Vegas is the place for you. The casino floors are liberally supplied with ashtrays, although the poker rooms tend to be non-smoking. But if you really want to marinate in nicotine, spend some time in the sports book area, where tubby old men light up stogies and puff away like it was 1952.
  • Do you wish you lived on Bourbon Street? You might want to move to Vegas. Try as I might, I could not get used to the sight of ordinarily people walking down the street at midday with gigantic tubes, often supported by lanyards around their necks, sucking down alcohol. I kept waiting for the police to come break it up.
  • Remember when Las Vegas was the home of the all-you-can-eat buffet for pennies, and you got your hotel room practically for free? That was before the Strip got eaten up by destination resorts. It might still be possible to get a cheap room and eats at some of the older hotels -- the Sahara was advertising $50 rooms -- or downtown, but at the resorts, they've given up on the idea that the casino will pay for everything. (Instead, you pay for everything.)
  • Architects and construction firms must be making out like bandits in Vegas. Nearly every space is under constant renovation, often into a stunning space with nigh-miraculous engineering. Everything is so oversized, including the huge open rooms and high ceilings, that it feels like the laws of physics have been inflated by a factor of 75%, along with everything else in the town.

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