Home > Life, Travel > 3 Days in Vegas – Day 1: Total Exhaustion, Part 1

3 Days in Vegas – Day 1: Total Exhaustion, Part 1

Don’t know how many of you paid attention to the tag line in this blog – “wine, food and life”. Most of my posts are about wine (sometimes it is a life through the wine glass, but still). Some of my posts are more about food with some occasional wine inclusions. And very few of my posts here are just about life as it happens. Actually this is what this blog post is all about – and I’m pretty sure that one post will not do it (or it will be veeeeery loooong), so get ready to suffer. Besides the desire to share tons of pictures with you, I also want to share our (I traveled to Las Vegas with my wife, the trip was her birthday present) personal experience in Las Vegas – may be someone, somewhere, sometime, will find it useful. And without much ado, here we go.

Day 1 was Friday. Actually, the first day was Thursday, but by the time we arrived to the hotel, found out that we used the wrong lobby, waited for check in and then dragged ourselves through the whole casino floor and got to our room, it was pretty late (don’t forget to account for 3 hours time shift for our trip from East Coast). For those who are curious, we stayed at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. THEhotel offers a full retreat from the casino noise and crowd, and rooms are extremely comfortable – if you are planning your own Vegas escape, I highly recommend it as a place to stay. Thus the only excitement of the day was my wife’s first encounter with the slot machine (she never been to Vegas before), which ended up very peacefully (actually, I’m still surprised that she didn’t win anything – I had drawn pretty big plans well in advance – oh well…).

So the real Day 1 started on Friday. Of course it started from breakfast. Let me digress for a second. I’ve been to Vegas numerous number of times before – but always on business. What it means is that I never really explored the town – but at least I had some ideas about food and ways to get around. Let’s go back to our day now. Based on my prior knowledge, I decided that buffet at MGM Grand would suit the breakfast bill quite well – and it did. At about $22 per person, the selection and quality was unbeatable. And all the deserts – yeah, I needed a lot of will power…

Breakfast is done, and let the explorations begin.

First decision you have to make is how to move around the town. While the distances are not huge, you have to take into account the weather – 100F is 100F – despite the fact that it is dry (!!!) heat, it is still a heat, so you need to make your selection wisely. Basically, your choices are: on foot, taxi, monorail and tram, which has very limited connectivity (of course you are right – there are private cars and limos of all shapes and sizes – but considering our uneventful/non-winning casino experience, this was really not an option). There might be buses too, but that is something which requires way too much knowledge in my opinion, so this option was out. If I would look back on our Day 1, here are few notes which might be useful for you. Taxi is probably the fastest way of transportation, and it is reasonably inexpensive outside of peak hours (6-9 PM) – about $10 – $15 will get you between any of the casinos on the strip. This is not true during peak hours, as you will wait quite long in line, and it will cost you more due to the wait on all the traffic lights. And this is especially not true if there is a big convention in town (CES, for instance) or if you need to move around on Friday or Saturday night (the wait in line will be killing).

Here is a view of the strip for you, not very busy as you can see:

And here is another view – casino New York New York:

If you are going to explore on foot – make sure your shoes are super-comfortable, you have plenty of water and you are in a good physical shape – your walking will include not only the street walking, but also walking to the different attractions inside the casinos, where the distances can be quite overwhelming.

Monorail is probably the most misleading type of transportation in Vegas. Before your eyebrows hit the ceiling, let me explain. When you look on the huge street sign “Monorail Entrance”, you think you are actually going to walk in and within a minute or two you will find the train? Nooooo. You are simply entering the casino. A huge one in most of the cases. And then inside the casinos, I think the way signs are done is to make you wonder around for as long as possible – they don’t want you to get from point A to point B unfrustrated. You get inside, and you see a directional sign for Monorail. You follow that sign until you get to the next one, most likely with the change of direction. And then… yep, you see no signs for Monorail anymore. It’s there, but now you are on your own. Figure it out. Or else… So remember that monorail is not just monorail – it also includes lots (and lots) of walking. Otherwise it is very reasonably priced ($5 single ride, $12 is unlimited day pass, and three days unlimited pass is $28) – if you don’t mind lots of walking and good amount of frustration, it is great.

And tram? Actually I think tram is the best – it is free, the train is actually located within less than a minute walk from the entrance and it is easy to find. But – there are few short tram routes, connecting casinos which are located near by in any case, and it has limited hours of operation (stops at 10:30 pm) – still, it can be very convenient.

Considering amount of explanations I gave you here, you can figure out that our first day included all of the above mentioned “getting around” methods. First we walked from Mandalay Bay to MGM Grand. Then we took Monorail from MGM Grand to Bally’s, as our destination was The Venetian near by – a famed casino with gondola ride inside.

Now, this gondola ride is listed in the “attractions” section of any of the Las Vegas guides – so let me share with you a few thoughts about attractions. We can split Las Vegas attractions into two groups – free and paid for. Pretty much every casino has a free attraction. A number of casinos have also attractions you can pay for. No matter what attraction you want to visit, my advise to you is simple – RTFM! Not familiar with the term? Use google, it will help you. What I mean is that even if attraction is free, it doesn’t mean that it is open when you want to visit it. We wanted to see Sirens of TI at Treasure Island – walked all the way from Venetian to Treasure Island only to find out that Sirens of TI operates only after 7 PM.

At this point I became smarter and checked the guide regarding Volcano at Mirage (that was our next planned stop) – yep, also open only in the evening, so at least we managed to avoid some additional frustration.

Now, when it comes to the paid attractions, such as Gondola ride at The Venetian – you will have to make your own decision. After looking at the gondola ride on the artificial channel under a painted sky with kind of artificial singers, we decided that $64 is too much for the pleasure and decided to skip it – of course there were plenty of people happily getting their share of artificial Venice.

Here are couple of flowers for you. Why? Because I love taking pictures of the flowers, and I promised to inundate you with pictures:

And a close-up:

To describe events in more chronological order, it was walk around The Venetian, skipping the gondola ride, walking to the Treasure Island, walking around and finally finding Sirens of TI, RTFM moment, canceling walk to Mirage and finally the understanding that we are sufficiently tired at that point, and we have to get back to our hotel.

“Here”, I said, “see, we already entering the monorail!”.

To be continued…

  1. PSsquared
    October 2, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    We go to Vegas fairly often, to visit family, and your description is perfect! Last time, it took us 20 minutes to get from our hotel room to the outside of the casino! Crazy. But the people watching makes it worth it. 🙂

    • talkavino
      October 2, 2012 at 11:06 pm

      Thank you! Yes, people watching is a huge benefit in Vegas : ) “Sightseeing” never stops…

  2. October 3, 2012 at 8:55 am

    We took the Gondola ride and you didn’t miss anything. It can be pretty crazy and navigating always seems to be a challenge, but the people watching is so worth it!

    • talkavino
      October 3, 2012 at 9:04 am

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, Vegas can be frustrating but it offers back a lot…

  3. October 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I have not been to Vegas in a while. Let’s just say don’t quit your day job to go and work for the Vegas tourism board–I have no desire to get back there after reading this (but it was fun to read!)!

    • talkavino
      October 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      Hmmm, did I put such a bad spin on it? We actually had a great time, I just wanted to help people who might be planning their trip…

  1. October 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm
  2. November 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm

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