Viva Las Vegas – Freemont Street

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Friday dawned. I ran off my hangover in the gym, and we set off for an aimless wander of the Strip. Having missed out on his Man vs Food dinner last night, R was heading for Hashouse a Gogo in The Quad, which had featured on that TV show a while back. There was a bit of a queue, but the restaurant had a pop-up bar in the waiting area serving the best Bloody Marys on the Strip, complete with jalapeno stuffed olives. R enjoyed a Tangerine Screwdriver while we admired the array of signed photographs from famous visitors.

After lunch we aimlessly wandered through Miracle Mile shops, which features an indoor rainstorm, and its own dancing fountains.
Back at our hotel we fancied another go at Pai Gow, but the table limits had increased to $25 minimum bet, which was too high for my tastes. Labor Day weekend was approaching, the queues at check-in were longer, guests were wandering around with jugs of cocktails on lanyards round their necks, and the minimum bets at all the tables were creeping skyward.

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We headed for Freemont Street, the old downtown Vegas, home to the original casinos like the Golden Nugget, with live music and an amazing ceiling of lights which danced and dazzled. To get there we took the Deuce bus. This is a double decker bus which plies the strip, stopping at most major hotels. In the heavy evening traffic, it makes slow progress, but at $8 for a 24 hour ticket, it’s great value, and if you can find a seat near the front upstairs you’ll get some spectacular views of the famous brightly lit hotels.

IMG_2877Freemont Street is like Blackpool on speed. We were able to get some drinks in plastic glasses and wander about soaking up the atmosphere, enjoying the live music and a stunning light-roof. In the Golden Nugget, we shared a plate of nachos, before finding a bar with an Elvis impersonator who claimed to have a song for everyone. When he learned we were from Ireland he played something by U2. I danced with a couple of other game girls, R went to the loo and got lost, so we took a taxi home.

There is a different bus called the Strip and Downtown Express or SDX, which uses the same ticket as the Deuce. It is a single decker, doesn’t have so many stops on the Strip, and goes all the way out to the Premier Outlet Mall. This takes you past some of the less glamorous areas of Vegas. Small single storey buildings separated by vacant lots sport signs which indicate the trouble that many people get into in this city: Bad Boys Bail Bonds, pawn brokers, garages offering to give you cash for any vehicle, and plenty of attorneys.

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The outlet mall is mostly outdoors, but has a good range of shops offering decent discounts, and an OK food court.

Saturday was our final night in Vegas. We took the Deuce back up to Miracle Mile shops, as R decided he quite fancied a leather Stetson we’d seen in Hattitude, and I’d offered to buy him that as a birthday present. And for our final meal, we’d booked a table back at Hashouse a Gogo where he devoured an 18 ounce rib eye, and I tucked into grilled swordfish.

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Across the Strip, we tried to find a good viewing spot for the Bellagio fountains, but found ourselves lost in the sumptuous surroundings of the hotel itself. R bumped into TV baker Paul Holywood in the loos, and I counted six stretch limos parked outside.

The fountains were beautiful, the show is repeated every 15 minutes to different music, and as it’s free it is a popular attraction. We bought another 24 hour pass for the bus, as we planned to return to the outlet mall in the morning, and back at the hotel I put $20 into the Wheel of Fortune, comped a few drinks, and took out $14 after an hour, which I reckoned wasn’t bad going.

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