This was my first visit to the shimmering desert city famous for the casinos, shows, and lifestyle vastly different than my hometown. We arrived by plane after the sun had already set, greeted by the brilliant light show of the Vegas Strip starting with the space-bound beam of the Luxor to the blinding jumbo screens flashing advertisements for food, fun, and flourish.
Our first stop was the Palazzo Hotel, our home base for the brief weekend excursion. Our suites were 720 square feet, almost as large as the two bedroom apartment my husband and I shared 13 years ago. We quickly dropped off our luggage, changed for the warmer weather and grabbed a taxi to reach New York, New York at the other end of the Strip. Due to the number of cars choking the multi-lane avenue, our taxi ride progressed slowly, giving us plenty of time to comment on the variety of sounds and sights crammed into the relatively small space. Flames shot up from somewhere to the right. The familiar faces of TV chefs graced billboards and buildings.
The Dueling Piano Bar was so loud we could barely hear each other talk. We paid the cover for a VIP table, giving us the comfort of a seat and a waitress (though she rarely came to the table unless we waved like crazy lunatics and anything we ordered took over 15 minutes to arrive). The pair of musicians at the pianos sounded amazing, playing requests from the audience and composing a raucous party. They swapped out with a new pair that were not quite up to the same caliber. We had a difficult time understanding the words these two sang and one spouted profanity frequently. (Not that I have an ultra clean mouth on occasion, but every few words does get annoying when you want to hear music.) And these two really seemed to enjoy the young ladies, frequently returning their attentions to a group of supposedly Australian girls attending a bachelorette party. We noshed on some Italian nachos (homemade chips smothered in beer-cheese and flank steak) and onion rings to tide over our empty stomachs. Eventually, the noise just became too loud for the small space, and we were tired.
We walked the distance from New York, New York back to our hotel to get some sleep at 1 am. Along the way, we were serenaded by a variety of musical instruments including buckets, guitar, banjo, and bagpipes. At every crossing, a small crowd of workers flicked and snapped trading cards bearing mostly nude, busty women, only to have the cards litter the sidewalk and gutters. Smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and homemade beer-can-bongs settled above the crowded walkways. There was no end to the variety of age and ethnicity trolling the streets. Admitting, I felt sorry for (and somewhat appalled by) the small children toted along by their parents in this crazy place at this wee hour of the morning.
In bed, my ears were still ringing from the speaker-blowing music and my brain was disoriented by the day-bright city lights, making it difficult to fall asleep despite that fact that back home it was 3 am and well past my bedtime.