I know that if my sister and I had not chosen to stay where we did, Vegas wouldn’t have made nearly as good of an impression.
Oh I still would have been charmed and amused by the city screaming “Pay attention to me! Aren’t you having the bestest time ever?!” 24 hours a day. But if we hadn’t decided to stay at the Sahara, and had one of the last remnants of old Vegas to contrast with the brand spanking new play palaces like the Bellagio, then its wouldn’t have felt real.
But the Sahara goes to very cool lengths to remind its customers of the history of the city they’ve descended on. On the walls large black and white photos of some of their famous clientele. Behind the check out desk there’s a tuxedo clad Elvis signing autographs, next to it is a shot of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis singing to each other. On the opposite wall is a picture of the Beatles, who stayed here the first time they played Vegas. And hotel guests see a picture of Elizabeth Taylor lounging by the pool before they lounge by that same pool.
Vegas is, unquestionably, hilarious. It’s a town so dedicated to making you give them your money that slot machines confront you the second you arrive at the airport and a Manolo Blanik, Cartier and Tiffany stores tempt you as you browse through the newer casinos.
We were an odd pair in that we went to Vegas with no great desire to gamble, besides losing a few bucks to a roulette wheel at the Sahara. We did however plan on passing a little time by playing the slots at the Mirage while waiting for the curtain to go up on Spamalot (the Vegas version, some lines were changed and Camelot looked a lot like Harrahs) and were a little annoyed when we discovered that Vegas slot machines no longer accept coins and are now completely incomprehensible.
We put the small amount of coinage we brought on one of the new cards and futilely pressed buttons until we realized we had no way of knowing whether we were winning or losing. The machine was speaking a language that I was not familiar with. So we gave up. No great loss I guess, but it made me glad that we had once played the slots at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City for an hour or so.
Most of our Vegas trip was sightseeing. We stood in awe of the Bellagio fountain as it performed a spectacular water show to “God Bless the USA,” which worked in an odd way for what is more American than slick over the top displays of really commercialized nationalism, and I mean that in the best way possible. We stood with hundred of others snapping pictures of an shy looking bride floating in a gondola in the canal at the Venetian while the actual wedding photographer scrabbled to get a good shot through the crowd. Then we started counting Vegas brides. It came to about 16.