The first time I went to Las Vegas I was more than a little stunned. I'd seen it on CSI, after all, so I knew it was all bodies in the desert and drug and prostitute fuelled parties in fancy hotel suites. Imagine my disappointment when I got there to find that it wasn't like that at all.
I chose Fremont Street to stay because it was off The Strip and I was, in my naivety about the fine city of Las Vegas, a bit worried about being kept awake all night by Roger Daltry singing Who Are You? in the wee small hours, every time someone expired in a suspicious manner.
Vegas has so many options for rooms, it's difficult to know where to start. I wanted somewhere a bit away from all the action, which might still have some action. I realise that makes no sense, but this is how my brain operates and I've learned to live with that.
Fremont is Vegas' second most famous street and is choc full of hotels, bars, casinos (obviously); restaurants, stores, and all kind of merriment up and down its length. It's just a *touch* quieter than the main event on The Strip, but has been closed to traffic since 1994, when the Fremont Street Experience was being constructed.
Because there is such massive choice of rooms and suites, the pricing is really competitive and you can pick up a great room for extremely reasonable rates. A corner room in Fitzgerald's (which is now The D Casino) with massive full length windows overlooking the city came in at $40 a night for two people.
What happens in Vegas...
Propositions and Police:
Recovering in the morning from mild jet lag* after a late night flight* from Edinburgh to McCarran, I sent my travelling buddy down to the casino floor McDonald's to pick up some coffee and breakfast. He returned a while later, quite ashen faced. As it turns out, he'd been accosted by a large and scantily clad woman in the elevator who'd offered him some 'services' 'for 50 dolla'. He told her he was just looking for a McMuffin and quickly scurried away.
On the second day, I caught a news story about a suspect package being investigated by police in a local parking lot. I watched the footage on the TV in my room and then realised, when hearing the whirring of helicopter blades, that I could also see the scene from just looking out my 20th floor window. What a fine time to be alive. It was at that moment I decided Vegas was going to be my kind of place.
late night cocktails
There's no end of things to do on Fremont
Cheap Food and Drinks:
The great thing about Las Vegas, for your stereotypical tight fisted, functioning alcoholic Scot, is that money goes a long way here, if you're not much of a gambler. I imagine if you ARE a gambler, then ruination and bankruptcy lurk around every corner but, if you're not really fussed about it, you should find that your money goes quite far. For example, drinks are free of charge, and kindly brought to you by numerous waitresses, if you're feeding coin slots or playing bar-top Keno. It's amazing how far a $10 note stretches when you only press a button when you spot a barmaid hovering in your field of vision.
The local Tony Roma, Lucky Seven Buffet, and all manner of similar 'all you can pile on your plate' self service restaurants, were charging between $7-10 for dinner. At the Lucky Seven, we stuffed our faces full of fabulous meats and salads for a whole $7.77 (around £3.50 at the time). In the UK, you can barely get a sandwich for that. In fact, if you go to Starbucks, you're doing well if you can even get a large coffee for the same price. AND, on the way home from Starbucks, you are highly unlikely to stumble upon the National Wing and Wedge Eating Contest when you wander down the middle of the sidewalk. In Las Vegas, this is normal life. And I loved it.
In case you're interested, the wing eating contest was eventually won by a little scrawny guy with a really bad mullet who looked like he hadn't eaten in weeks.
The Fremont Experience:
If being propositioned by ladies of the night, watching footage of dodgy parcels being detonated on the street, or skinny guys devouring wings isn't for you (and if it's not, then what's wrong with you?), there are a million and one other ways to while away the hours in Fremont.
You can't help but wonder about their electricity bills
The covered walkway running up the main street is like Blackpool on amphetamines and is a complete riot of neon lights and flashing bulbs. If you're epileptic, this might not be so much fun for you. If you're not, then go crazy. The experience begins by switching off all the lights (and there are millions) outside all the hotels and casinos, so that the area is in darkness before the light show begins. I defy you to be disappointed.
The Fremont Experience Christmas light show, which was on while I was in town, was absolutely spectacular. Plus, they had a holiday promotion on pints of beer for 50 cents each, so even if the light show WAS rubbish, there's a good chance you wouldn't be able to recall it the next day anyway.
Well, hello cowboy...
If you're into popular culture, you can pretend to be a member of U2, singing I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For beneath the Fremont lights at night (as this is where the music video was filmed). If U2 isn't your thing, then find a car to roll down a nearby alley in a reenactment of the action scene from the James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever. What I would advise AGAINST, however, is pretending you're a serial killer from CSI. I doubt that would end well for anyone.
Whatever you end up doing in Fremont Street, you'll certainly never be bored, or unimpressed. It's a non stop party and you should really join in the fun. What happens in Vegas, and all that.