Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Vegas version of 'Free'

I've traveled all over the world, but have never been to Las Vegas...until now.

It's simple. I do not like traveling to locations (1) with lots of tourists, nor (2) where everyone else goes. Las Vegas was on my 'no go' list for both those obvious reasons. People in my life who I'd believed had never been out of the province were saying to me, "Oh Vegas? I love Vegas! Check out the free show at TI!" [C'mon! We all have our own pretensions.]

One word I noticed a lot of was 'Free'. Sites give tips on the free stuff to do in Vegas...and at first blush, things are free. Free drinks at slot machines. Free shows. Free slot play at casinos. Shall we deconstruct?
  • Sit at a slot machine and pump money in, esp. when the cocktail waitress walks by, and she'll bring you a drink. Tip her, and she'll be faster next time. Hmm...that sounds like you're paying for something. I prefer the honesty of $1 beer at the Sahara bar.
  • Enjoy the free shows in the casinos, and all you have to pay for is drinks. We saw Dian Diaz and her hot 7-piece band play at the Fontana Bar in the Bellagio. A $14 cocktail later, we enjoyed a great band. They need the high price drinks to pay for 8 professional musicians. It was a great cocktail...
  • Sign up for the players' club at any casino and you get some form of free slot play deal. The worst is at Hooters -- you get to run $100 through ten $10 spins at dedicated never-win slots. Plus the staff are rude. The best were the ones where you get your card and can play the free cash on any machine, once you'd bet some of your own.
Especially un-free was sitting. You want to rest your dogs? You gotta pay. Drink, eat, play sit, it costs. I saw a couple of benches here and there, and the Bellagio has the only lobby with seating that I remember, but otherwise, nothing.

But some of the so-called free stuff was amusing. For example, we joyfully sucked in to a 2 or 3-hour presentation & hard sell for a time share to get $125...which extended our eating out budget quite nicely.

Besides the no-place-to-sit problem, and the constant temptation to drink, some activities were fun and free:

Ah. Fremont Street. I truly did not know about the fabulous hourly shows. My man set me up for that. Thank you, honey. The lions at the MGM.

The shows at Circus Circus. Everyone once in awhile, it's good to see a clown. Especially one that isn't too creepy. [On a side note, we stayed at Circus Circus because it had great room deals. And I spent time in a carnival, not to mention I appreciate the absurd, so it seemed well-suited. No cable TV in the rooms...only 3 regular English stations, 3 Spanish stations, and Clown TV -- a bunch of clowns running around Circus Circus doing stuff...weird and, uh, not-wonderful!]

Yes, then the usual. The Bellagio fountain:By the time we caught the Deuce that night, we'd seen the fountain run 5 or 6 times. Not sure why the bus was late, but it arrived with some poor girl puking out the door. [I say 'poor girl' not because I have any sympathy for someone who drinks to that point, but because her 'friend' was filming the whole thing.]

The Mirage volcano:

I think the best free stuff was the people watching. The random brides doing the things we were all doing, like signing up for a players' club (here at Binion's, to get her picture taken with the $1,000,000):
And the best moment, was finding this lovely cowfish swimming gleefully around a big aquarium at Caesar's Palace:Please share with me your favourite things to do in Vegas. I'm sure I'll be going back to that 24-hour amusement park someday in the not-too-distant-future, because it isn't really travel, it's just joining the party!