Hi there. Okay, this trip report is for my first trip to Las Vegas. Please forgive the typo's, it's on my laptop, and it's late! It's a half Business, Half Pleasure trip, as I made the trip down for a job interview. I didn't take notes as intended, but I'll try and put together as much as possible to give you an idea of what was happening, although there are some grey areas for me, thanks to the free flowing cocktails. Day 1: Flew to Las from BWI via Continental Airlines with a layover in Houston, with a total trip of about 6 hours. No complaints about the airline, on time and friendly. Overall, best trip outside a flight on midwest express. I arrived into LAS about 7 PM local time, and was amused to see people playing slots about 40 feet from the gate. I guess some people just can't get enough, as there were pleanty of people playing slots... As I walked through the airport, I followed the signs that led toward ground transportation, past the depressing "smoking lounge" with more people playing slots. ***note*** If any of you read the highly entertaining Big Empire site, I tried to stick with the cheap-o style of some degree, it's just more my style. with that said...please read on. As I exited the "Ground Transporation" Exit, I was suprised to see that it was just Taxicabs. Maybe I wasn't paying attention, but I was looking for some other options. Busses? Shuttles? Nope. Just cabs. I wasn't in the mood for looking around for alternatives, so I decided to suck it up and hop a cab. So much for the cheap-o mentality, at least for now. So, I hope a cab to the hotel; Fitzgeralds downtown. The cab driver was pleasant, and we talked about the differences between cab drivers in DC and LV. Apparantly the big bucks are made by cab drivers in LV by luring tourists to Strip clubs and "swingers" clubs, where he told me that he can get upwards of 20 bucks a head to deliver customers to the door. I can only imagine that there are some pretty classy establishments. Cab ride to Fits was 34 bucks with a 2 dollar tip. Once inside, about 7:45, there is no waiting for check in. The dest clerk was unpleasant, but efficent and I was on my way to the room(1115) in a matter of minutes. Okay, the elevator to the 11th floor. Had to wait for about 5 min for a car. Once inside, it smelled like an outhouse. Hotels may want to consider putting restrooms in easy to locate locations, as it smelled worse than a bedpan at an old folks home. The room itself was clean and pretty standard. I had a lovely view of the parking garage, the gold spike hotel and the el cortez. The television didn't work, except for the keno channel. This was a good thing, because I can't get enough of those little numbers popping up on the screen. It's a suprise I ever left the room. My first issue of business was to grab some live bands at a venue called the Huntridge. It was 3 bands;Further Seems forever, A Beautiful Mistake and Elliott(Rock bands). The venuse was great, with good vantage viewing points, and lots of friendly people. Overall a good place to start with the cocktails. I was impressed to see that there is somewhat of a nice "scene" as I wasn't sure what to expect. Since this was my first trip to LV, I was ready to explore. I wanted to get in as much of the city as possible, especially since I'm thinking of making my residence there. I decided to check out the touristy stuff first, after all this was also a vacation. Freemot street was really neat; clean and easy to navagate, and the casinos were all close together, making is easy to check out all the properties. I was eager to make some sort of wager, and headed next door to the four queens. The casino was warm and well lighted and very comfortable. I pumped a few video poker machines for a bit, and got used to the gambling scene. A $20 in a .25 machine and hit a royal. Must be beginners luck? What a way to pay for the trip! With some pad in my pocket, I was ready to start exploring some more. I got my fancy photo with the machine(How wacky) along with a Four Queens Duffle Bag, Keychain and shirt and I was on my way(This would end up being my #2 favorite place to gamble on the trip, with really friendly staff, and an open floorplan) Can anyone else confirm that the sidewalks in Las Vegas are harder than anywhere else on earth? I took a brisk walk from Downtown to the other end of the trip. I may have permanantly collapsed the arches in both my feet in the process. The walk was well worth it, and I especially liked the scenery between downtown and the strip; Wedding Chapel, Pawn Shop, Wedding Chapel, Porn Shop, Hourly Hotel, Pawn Shop, Wedding Chapel. Lots of interesting characters though, and some pretty scary looking hookers too! (I always thought that if someone asked you if you wanted a date they were supposed to pay! Must be my east coast ignorance) The outside of the casinos were a specticle, with some nifty looking architceture, great people watching as well. Although I generally didn't care for the Strip in general, I was glad I had the chance to check out most of the casinos inside and out. I could describe the internal aspects of them all, but they all started to look the same to me after a while. Some of the highlights included the atrium at the luxor and the rotating merry-go-round bar at Circus Circus. I was disturbed, however, at the amount of young kids running around at all hours of the evening. That's just depressing. After all that walking I was in some real pain. Luckily I was stopping in every property along the way for a cocktail, which made it more bearable. There was no way in hell I was walking it back though, so I decided cab it. I think the fare was about 7 bucks, but I don't really recall, I just wanted to get the hell off my feet. Next to the Fitz is a great little shop. I think it was called "Souvineers Liquor. Allright! A liquor store open at 4am. I think it should be like this everywhere! So, A bottle of jack daniels and a 2 liter of coke for the room. I fall to the bed before I can even touch it, as my feet are giving me the middle finger for real. Day 2: It is impossible to sleep in Las Vegas as a tourist. I'm not going to blame it on the noise, or the lights. I just wanted to get the hell out and have some fun. I was getting a feel for the layout of the strip and downtown, and was really interested in trying out some table games. First, let's have some breakfast, shall we? I'm not a big buffet kinda guy, but I was hungry as hell and heard some good things about the main street station buffet. Let me tell you, this was the bomb! The food was great and the champagne was flowing freely. The line wait was about 20 minutes, but well worth it. I think that Sunday Brunch at Main Street is a definate must. (And if I forget later in the report, the 777 brew pub is also excellent! The food and beer were amazing. I have to say I was impressed) Okay, being a big fan of the big empire trip reports I had to check out the gold spike. I could only picture in my head what this place was like from the descriptions within their trip reports. I walked the few blocks down Odgen and came to the doors where I was greeted by a couple old drunks trying to sell me some Harley boots. I know know what the definition of "Down on your luck" is. The revolving door and 2 glass doors were covered in thick yellow smoke, and you couldn't see in. So far so good. I wanted to feel fancy, so I took the trip through the revolving door. ***Tip*** Before I go on, I must tell you, I took two precautionary measures before leaving on my trip and I highly reccomend doing them both. Go to your local CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens or whatever and pick up the following: a)Febreze and b)Hand Sanitizer. You'll be glad you did. Anyway.... I walk through the door, and BAM! The smell of thick cigarette smoke and a mixture and cheap floral prefume. It's like nothing I've ever smelled before and and I still can't get it out of my nose. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. The minute i walked in this place I was in love. It was exactly what I was looking for. There were 4 BJ tables in the center of the casino srounded by hundereds of Slot and VP machines. In the back left, a coffee shop, and the right, a bar. Happy Hour Boasted .50 cent drinks. A muck needed relief from the full price of a whopping buck. Let me tell you, this is where I fell in love with blackjack. I met some interesting people, friendly dealers and wacky pit bosses. It's very homey and laid back. The only problem is that you have to check the dealers work. I knew this was the place for me, and immediately switched my reservation from Fitz to the Gold Spike, and as a tourist, I don't think I'd want to stay anywhere else. I spent the rest of the day(12+hours) at the BJ tables, meeting some interesting people and having a blast. 13 Scotch Coctails later I was to retire to my room for some needed sleep, as I had an interview the next morning. The last thing I wanted to do was show up reeking of the gold spike. Thanks Febreze! The room at the gold spike was not bad for the price. I had a beautiful view of nothing. The TV did work though. I was glad I stole all the nice bathroom supplies from the Fitz, and even considered embroidering my name in the comforter with the sewing kit I nabbed too. I decided against it as I thought it wouldn't match the cigarette burns in the bedding and floor. Heat also would have been nice, but that's what blankets are for, right? Day 3: 8AM-Over to the Fitz to grab the rental car from Dollar. No problems, in and out quick, giving me an hour to find out where the hell I was going. LV is an easy city to navigate, and the roads and traffic are so much smoother compared to DC. for Las Vegas Locals, please don't complain about the traffic unless you've tried to navigate the beltway in DC during Rush Hour. Pure insanity. I won't bore you with the details, but the Job interview went well (I ended up getting the job). After a couple hours of ass kissing, it was back to the gold spike to change, and then off to look at apartments. The apartments in LV are really nice! Spacious and clean. I looked at several propertys in Summerlin, The Lakes and East Las Vegas. Call me Crazy, but I really liked central and east las vegas. Like the traffic in LV, I found the "Bad Areas" To not be very bad either. I felt safe walking around these areas, and I asked the locals to direct me to the worst parts of town. Lots of drunks, but if you've spent time in SE DC or or LES in NYC you'd be fine. I won't bore y'all with the details of the apartments, but I was overall pleased with the price and quality. If you have specific questions as to what I looked at, drop me an email. After a day of driving, site seeing and checking out some of the locals casinos (which, by the way are pretty nifty and friendly, including Terribles and Gold Coast) I went to another of my planned destinations, The Doubledown Saloon. The Doubledown is a great little shithole bar located 2 blocks south of Hard Rock Hotel on Paradise. Cheap drinks, 50 cent pool and a great punk rock jukebox. I throughly enjoyed this place, and LV was looking more and more livable by the minute. Back at the Gold Spike I played a few more hours of blackjack and had a couple few more drinks. The pit boss was nice enough to comp me a meal at the coffee shop. How nice! Before bed I strolled over to the Counter and ordered the special; Country Fried Steak, Mashed potatoes and beans. Call me drunk, but it was pretty good! Stryofoam and plastic all the way. I was glad to know that the hotel I wasstaying at was willing to comp me a 4 dollar meal for the countless hours I was spending on their single deck blackjack. At this point, by the way, I was probably down at that table about 20 bucks. In my mind I was way up, considering all the free drinks I was able to pump down my gullet. ***Cocktail Service at the Gold Spike*** I thought that this might be an appropriate place to throw this note. While playing blackjack at the spike I talked to many a folk who complained of the drink service at some of the larger casinos. If you like your cocktail like I do, The gold spike is theplace to go. The bar is about 30 steps from the tables,and when you're ready to refill and the waitress isn't around, the pit boss is more than happy to call for cocktails! Now thats what I call service! Time for bed and the room is freezing, thank god for blankets. Day 4,5,6: Okay, I'll admit. It's going to get a little repetitative if I break up the rest of the trip. Let's just say I wore a nice ass groove in the seat at the blackjack table. I didn't want to aggravate my leg, right? All in all I ended up paying for the trip, a new pair of shoes, food, souvineers for friends, 4 hookers and a goat. Just kidding about the hookers and goat, I think. I'll have pleanty of time to explore when I move there, so why not indulge in some heave BJ play on the vacation! In fact, I sat at the tables until an hour before my flight was to take me back to DC. Once again I screw myself with a cab ride. Half drunk, half hung over, I make my way through the airport and get on my flight. 7 hours later on the ground and back home to snow, yuck. What a trip. In Closing: -Don't forget Febreze! -Get a rental car for at least a part of the trip -Pack extra feet if you have them -People with an addictive personality shouldn't move to LV, trust me -Eat at the Main Street Station Casino -Gold Spike is a must see Thanks for reading!