Las Vegas, the Sin City that never sleeps

Films, books, songs and every aspect of pop culture have covered Las Vegas at least once. But is Sin City really worth a visit? Hell, yes!

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Getting to downtown Las Vegas from the airport is really easy. You can take a cab for $45, the airport shuttle that drops passengers in front of their hotels for $9 or take the City bus for $2.

It’s better to stay on the main strip, because Vegas is no walking city: public transport is slow and expensive and the streets look like highways.

Las Vegas is the best place ever if you’re not budgeting: luxurious hotels are all over the place. I however, being a poor couchsurfer, chose to stay in the closest and cheapest hostel I could find to meet fellow travellers in the mood for partying. I found one on South Las Vegas Boulevard, next to a couple of Wedding Chapels.

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I ended up at the Hostel Cat, also known for being the set of a few scenes from The Hangover. It’s not the most luxurious of places – I stayed in a boiling 10-people dorm with two very loud Croatian girls who always came back at 7 AM – but it was definitely the source of a lot of fun.

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On my first night there, for only $5, the staff from the hostel took us out to explore the main strip. The price included a few free drinks and a $10 voucher to use at the slot machines in our first casino. I ended up riding a 9-seat van with 18 other hostel guests. The van’s windows had been blackened with tape and paper and I felt very much like an illegal immigrant – it was one of the most entertaining things I’ve done in America.

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The guides showed us amazing views of Vegas as well as the incredible Palazzo and Venetian casinos – quite grotesque for an Italian to see all those buildings across the pond!

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After sleeping for less than two hours, on my second day I woke up at 5 AM to take a tour to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. This area of the Canyon offers breath-taking views from Eagle Point and Guano Point, the two main observation spots of the Rim now hosting restaurants owned by the Hualapai tribe of Native American Indians. The tour cost $126, but it’s a four-hour guided drive through the desert that would be quite tedious if you’re alone… And you can always win the money back through gambling!

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Nevada is a desert and by taking this tour I had the full-on thermal excursion experience: freezing in the early morning, dry and boiling during the day. On our way, we passed native American villages with only a few shops and saloons as well as some typical vegetation like the Joshua tree.

Las Vegas is a feast 24/7, but it really comes alive at night. Stop by the Bellagio’s fountains to take in its beautiful water show, that starts in a misty pool only to end with light, splashes and an emotional “My heart will go on” by Celine Dion. Try and get in its Bank club, an exclusive black and violet dancing venue.

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You can’t say you’ve had the full Las Vegas experience if you haven’t gambled. If you don’t like betting your money, most casinos offer vouchers to start with… And stop if you win!

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However tacky with its majestic, tall, pseudo-ancient palaces, Las Vegas is one big party you just can’t miss if you’re in America. It really is Sin City: the gambling, the drinks, the half-naked club promoters, the adverts for prostitutes on the main street and crowds of middle-aged tourists can be sad and interesting at the same time.
Whichever way you see it, if you like people-watching, Vegas is an interesting spot for wannabe anthropologists. Enjoy it responsibly!

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Pictures: Carolina Are

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Las Vegas é stata citata in canzoni, libri, film e molti altri aspetti della cultura pop. Ma vale la pena visitare la cittá del peccato? Certo che si!

Arrivare al centro di Las Vegas dall’aeroporto é facilissimo. Potete prendere un taxi per circa 45 dollari, lo shuttle dell’aeroporto che si ferma in tutti gli hotel e costa nove dollari o l’autobus cittadino per due dollari.

Conviene alloggiare sulla via principale, perché Las Vegas non é una cittá per pedoni: è tutta autostrade, Harley e macchinoni.

Se avete tanti soldi potete godervi qualche notte nei super-lussuosi hotel di Las Vegas, ma se siete poveri come me e avete voglia di festeggiare, un ostello é la scelta migliore.

Il mio ostello è vicino alle cappelle per matrimoni lampo, alla fine di Las Vegas Boulevard. Si chiama Hostel Cat ed é famoso per esser stato il set di alcune scene di Una Notte Da Leoni. Non é la piú lussuosa delle alternative – ho dormito in un dormitorio di dieci persone con due croate che parlavano a voce altissima a tutte le ore – ma si é rivelato divertentissimo.

La prima notte, per soli cinque dollari, lo staff ci ha portati ad esplorare il centro di Las Vegas. Il prezzo includeva drink gratis e un voucher da dieci dollari per il primo casinó dove siamo entrati.

Siamo arrivati in cittá con un furgoncino nove posti coi vetri oscurati che portava 19 persone – un viaggio della speranza! Le guide ci hanno mostrato fantastici scorci di Las Vegas e ci hanno portato al Palazzo e al Venetian, due famosi casinó che per un’italiana all’estero sono strani, pacchiani ma interessanti.

Il mio secondo giorno l’ho passato al West Rim del Grand Canyon, alzandomi alle 5 del mattino per il tour guidato dopo aver dormito due ore. La zona è occupata dalla tribú indiana Hualapai e offre viste mozzafiato.

Il Nevada é un deserto, perció ho vissuto l’esperienza di chi vive con l’escursione termica: freddo di mattina e di notte, caldo asciutto di giorno. Grazie al tour – quattro ore di bus sola andata – ho visto piccoli villaggi indiani con solo qualche saloon e qualche negozio e tanta vegetazione tipica. Costava 126 dollari… Ma potete riguadagnarli giocando d’azzardo!

Las Vegas non dorme mai, ma di notte é al suo meglio. Passate per lo show acquatico del Bellagio, un delirio di luci e musica di Titanic, e ballate alla sua esclusiva discoteca The Bank.

Non potete dire di aver vissuto la vera Las Vegas senza giocare d’azzardo. Se non volete usare i vostri soldi, ricordate che la maggior parte dei casinó offre voucher di pochi soldi per iniziare a giocare – fermatevi in tempo!

Las Vegas é un’enorme festa ed é davvero la cittá del peccato. Il gioco d’azzardo, l’alcool, le pr mezze nude, le pubblicitá per prostitute sulla via principale e i turisti di mezza etá che si dimenano nelle discoteche saranno tristi, ma sono anche uno studio del genere umano. Godetevelo responsabilmente!

Foto: Carolina Are


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