Las Vegas – The best 30th birthday

I’ve been dying to write this one, I don’t even have notes to go off I am going to have to write it all from memory. It’s coming up to a year since we went so it seems like as good as time as any. Despite spending a lot of time drunk, one time in particular, I have almost full recollection of the trip. Those of you reading this who went feel free to comment with your favourite memories.

Las Vegas really needs no introduction, for years I had been told what to expect and I thought it sounded like a place I would love. I didn’t think it would be one of my favourite places in the world, it’s hard to say if it was because of the company, the location, the activities we did, Rose-tinted expectations or a combination of all of this. I’m not even sure how I am going to write this obviously with the Non South America related blogs I usually pick out one or two highlights and talk you through what I did. Vegas deserves a full blow by blow, so apologies this could get long. Get comfortable, I will try to include lots of pictures so it doesn’t feel like a news report.

One last thing before I start, when I am writing this I have a massive smile on my face and reminds me why I even bother writing these and have 10 people read them, it’s cathartic and let’s me kind of re-live memories.

Carolina and I had a couple of days planned in Los Angeles before heading to Las Vegas, this was a financial decision more than anything else, it’s cheaper to go to LA then it is to go directly to Las Vegas. We decided that it we’d spend a couple of nights here before driving to Las Vegas. Los Angeles is huge and a result we only managed to do a few things in LA in our short time there. We visited the Hollywood sign, or at least viewed it on a short walk from the observatory. We went to muscle beach and saw Hollywood Boulevard where we saw George Clooney.

Showing off my muscle….beach picture

We were staying in an Air BnB right in the middle of El Segunda it was walking distance to the airport, that was all well and good but it was not walking distance to anything else. Location aside it was such a nice apartment on a residential complex and the few nights we spent there were very comfortable.

Action shot on the pier

There were going to be a total of 11 of us in Las Vegas, my friends were arriving at different times from various locations. We met Sam and Sian one night had a drink at an Irish bar on Hollywood Boulevard (that was the night we saw George Clooney) and I got mugged for a dollar from an up and coming rap artist who forced me to buy his signed CD ‘to Russ’. They’d made their way down the west coast from San Fransisco to LA before making their way to Vegas the day before us.

The second night we met with Jack and Drozzy and went to a comedy club. WestSide Comedy Club. The first act didn’t really do it for me, I don’t think it did it for the rest of the group either, it was an Improv Group and it was all a bit stifled and frankly not that funny to me….loads of other people were laughing. Perhaps it’s the American sense of humour. Now, the comedy could have got better or I could have got more drunk either way as the night progressed things were much funnier and we were all cracking up by the end of the night. Apparently it’s the comedy club where epic rap battles begun, Carolina had met the guys from ERB years and one of the guys told her where to go In LA. We didn’t stay out terribly late, we had a long drive in the morning the four hours from LA to Vegas. We’d hired the car that day and I was driving us four in the morning.

We’d arrived and I was so excited.

The first casino we went to was Flamingo’s we chose this one because it was next door to Drai’s Nightclub which is where Nelly was performing that evening and we were going to try and get in later on. Before that all started though we had some gambling to do, now I won’t go through every bet anyone had but I remember Katie being the first one to walk away from a machine “up”. The rumours about Las Vegas were not all true and I am going to debunk one now, if you are gambling people do come around with free drinks, this is no way to get drunk the waiting staff do not come round nearly frequently enough and so your forced to attend the bar to get your groove on and that can end up being expensive!

Anyway Katie was up and we’d met Sam and and Sian and Jon and Danielle so it was time to go to Drai’s.

Nelly was good. The club was packed and we had to move around to find some space to breath. Once we had done that it was such a good night some of my friends made their way to front of the Dance floor and were within touching distance of Nelly, one (Katie) even claimed to touch his shoelace. With good music, our first night in Vegas, good friends what more can you wish for. The night drew to a close and I knew that Vegas was a place I’d love. On reflection I wish I had stayed closer to the stage with the guys but I don’t like being too far from the bar and I don’t like being too packed in so I had my enjoyment from a far.

See, they were pretty close

The next day after a few hours spent in the bill we headed to the Stratosphere, one of the first Casinos in Vegas and definitely the tallest. Famous for its views across the strip and spaceship shape, our plan was to head to the top get some pictures and ride the rides at the top of Casino. My day didn’t start off great, I dropped my phone the screen smashed and I had no access to photos, social media, banking it was a bit of a pain but I wasn’t going to let that ruin my holiday. When we got to the top which was high I got other people to take my pictures and I didn’t need my phone to ride the rides. I’m usually not afraid on rides, or if I’m not hungover I’m not scared of heights. The combination of the slight anxiety hangover and the rides being so high up did give me small palpitations but didn’t stop me from getting on them. Whilst we went up, Carolina don Alex stayed down in the casino and spent what I am told was a lifetime waiting for an old yank to check their IDs against a big book of authentic IDs. Once that was done they played wheel of fortune until we came back down, wheel of fortune quickly became Carolina’s favourite game. Before we left the Stratosphere we did see a new bride and groom, the bride was errmm “falling” or maybe even cascading out of her dress, some of you may think oh typical man to notice that, it was hard not to notice when the bride was shouting “look how good my tits look” to anyone who would pay attention.

Another day we went to a pool party. It was being held at a hotel/casino called Encore, just based purely on the exterior it was one of my favourite hotels. We spent the morning at the Villa having some drinks, Jon and Danielle came to join us and I think we left for the hotel at about 12.

The DJ for the day was David Guetta and unfortunately I didn’t get to see him perform, I managed to have a couple of hours in the pool party, where I enjoyed spending 70 dollars on a drink….that drink must have been worth the money because it wasn’t long before I sort of “come round” and I was outside the pool party being told I couldn’t go back in because I was too drunk. I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of David Guetta before being too drunk to remember what I saw. As you’ll know my phone was broke, Carolina was holding all my money and cards I couldn’t get a cab home because i didn’t know our address which is why I couldn’t walk either. I was told I could re enter the pool party but I’d have to pay again I tried explaining that I’d love to pay again but all my money was in the pool party this fell on deaf ears with the bouncers, my only option was to sit around and wait for someone to come out. Jon and Danielle came out first and rather than panic my friends I just told them to go back to their hotel and I was sure someone else would come out eventually, thankfully about an hour later people came out of the pool party filling me with stories of the bits I missed and explaining how they spent the time looking for me. Despite being kicked out the pool party it was still a great day the weather was nice, the bits of the party I experienced were good and it was at my favourite hotel. All in all a good day and pool party is definitely on my list of recommendations.

The plan for the rest of the night was to return to the Villa and then rest up and go back out. We went to a club called 1Oak clearly still drunk from earlier in the day they wouldn’t let me in. My friends went in and I went and got a coffee, by the time I finished the coffee Carolina had come out. We decided to call it a night.

I owe an apology to Jon, Sam, Danielle and Sian as we I was supposed to drive a second car to Grand Canyon one day but i woke up feeling a bit worse for wear after the night before and so I had to bail, promising you drive the others the following day. Despite letting people down I was happy I didn’t go in the end and I shall expand on why….

I was happy because we went to a casino, and both Alex and I won we celebrated with lunch, winning at a casino happens to a few people but I won in the strangest fashion and you’ll think I am exaggerating!

Alex was playing roulette, we were all watching. Alex had played for about 30 minutes and was up by about 500 dollars and I kept telling him I said it will be “zero” soon obviously this is completely random but still….Alex said that the next spin was going to be his last whether he won or lost so I said “ok well if it doesn’t come in Zero I will put my Daily gambling limit on Zero” ….zero didn’t come in and Alex collected his money as I took his place at the table….right at the last minute I bottled it and took some money off zero but still left around 10 dollars on it, the ball span and as the wheel come to a slow the ball settled at the Zero number, we went wild as if I’d won thousands but it was just shock that I said it, called it and bet it and it all come in. It’s the most excited I’ve been over 300 dollars in my life. It paid for our lunch. (Well mine and Carolina’s)

No trip to Vegas, in my opinion, is complete without a trip to the Grand Canyon. It was absolutely one of the highlights of the trip. It’s about a four hour drive, which is quite pleasant because of the scenery, from Las Vegas. Get to take in a few stereotypically arid American towns along the way such as Dolan Springs home to Hot Dog restaurant to the stars “Hot Diggity Dog” which was unfortunately shut when we drove past. We must have looked a bit of a spectacle when we stopped to get petrol, all five of us in the car were completely flummoxed by the complexities of the American petrol pump, all five of us had a go trying to “fill our tank with gas” we even convinced ourself it was the pump until we changed pump and found ourselves equally perplexed….eventually 5 peoples efforts and 20 minutes of time spent petrol started coming out of our pump which meant we could continue our journey. I’m convinced that had we not worked out how to do it we would all be working full time jobs in Hot Diggity Dog, lost to the outside world and forgotten by our loved ones, as it was we got petrol and that didn’t happen….

I’ve digressed, The Grand Canyon, I mean I know all 8 of you reading this so I know you all know what it looks like. On my way there I knew what it looked like but my god it is massive. I couldn’t really comprehend how big it was when I was looking at it because there is no point of reference, someone needs to hold a one pound coin up constantly to give some scale. The only way you can really appreciate the size is to watch the helicopters and you can see how long it takes them to cross the Canyon. I’ve put some pictures below because I like them but until you go there you won’t be convinced by the size.

No scale, but it is large and beautiful

The Grand Canyon was a highlight and that is still the case even though it’s is home what I’m convinced is criminal activity. You’ll learn now that I am very lazy writer, the part of the Canyon we visited belongs to a Native American tribe, I don’t know what they are called I could look it up but I refuse to accept them as genuine they charged us nearly 60 dollars to “get in” and when I say get in I mean drive us from the car park to the canyon.

They say that it is sacred land but to be honest it all feels a bit like a scam, and I am fairly sure of you were prepared to walk across the desert you can reach the canyon and get just as spectacular views. Despite being conned for the second time on this trip the Grand Canyon was one of my favourite activities.

I can’t remember if it was the night after the Grand Canyon or another night be Alex had organised for us to go to Omnia Nightclub which is a club with a rooftop located inside Ceasers Palace casino. It was all organised a bit last minute and ended up being a great night. I don’t want to keep mentioning the price of things but the water in this club was 13 dollars but they played good music and had some great views over the strip, what started as an impromptu night started to get serious when we left Omnia, in a predicament of what to do we stood outside hoping plans would fall in to our lap, and they did.

A man approached us and said he could take us to a strip club, limo there and back, initially we turned him down thinking we could make other plans but with no one able to make a decision we called the man back over and started our negotiation. The deal was twenty dollar entry and you get a free dance, a drink and as stated earlier a limousine to and from the strip. We were sold and we agreed and waited for our limousine…..which turned out to be a mini van. When we got to the venue Alex enquired about the limo, they said we would definitely get one back to the strip. We had a few drinks in the strip bar and then ordered our limo……which came for one night and one night only we were ballers!!

Another night Alex, Drozzy and I headed to Fremont Street or Vegas old town. It was our last night and had we found this place sooner we definitely would have came here more often, this is where the wait staff do come round often for you to get drunk something we couldn’t really make the most of because we had an early start the next day but we had a few beers and played some cards. Headed back to the Villa where Grant and Carolina were sitting up the only two who hadn’t succumbed to sleep.

There was another comedic moment when we were all at the Villa, 7 of us and a few other boys towering over Six foot. A man clearly over the age of 50 and no bigger than Grant was trying to get in our back garden. We ask him what he is doing and there were clear communication difficulties and looking back I’m really not sure why we were so sceptical but we really and we really didn’t want to let him in our garden, we did though and it turns out he was the pool cleaner! Madness.

I think our fear had foundations in various conflicting stories from our Uber drivers telling us our area where we were staying was or wasn’t safe, to this day I am convinced it was safe.

I had the best time in Vegas and it might have even been the best holiday I have ever been on and I look forward to returning. There are so many other stories I could have told you, Ben the pool cleaner if you’re reading this why don’t you give us your version of events. Or if you came to Vegas why not share your favourite story….perhaps it was Droz ordering peach cobbler, or four breakfasts at the diner?

So anyway yeah that was Vegas.