Vegas Day 3: The Old and The New

Sunday, September 14, 2014 Permalink

Today, we visited old Las Vegas aka Freemont Street.  This is where the Rat Pack was born.  Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammie Davis Jr. would roll into town, put on a show and then hit the tables.  The vintage look has been preserved and semi-enclosed.  Freemont Street is covered by a canopy of lights.  The nightlife would revel within that neon explosion.  We visited it during the day.   It’s like all old things.  It’d look better at night with good lighting. 

The street is closed off as a pedestrian mall.  People mill around kiosks hawking t-shirts and souvenirs on the casino and bar-lined midway.  A zipline ride runs the full length of Freemont Street.  I imagine the experience at night is a lit up adrenaline rush…and you’d have to be lit up to partake in that activity.  Although Freemont is this tired, seedy and cheaper side of Vegas, the insides of places like The Gold Nugget is a callback to swank.  The mid-century look, especially in the fixtures, is the original definition of class…even the lights in the bathrooms.  The casinos have a low ceiling, clandestine look of purposeful gambling of yesteryear.  Despite a heavy-duty dose of cinnamon-scented cleaner, the rooms permeate of centuries of cigarette and cigar smoking.

Smoking is prevalent in LV.  And with ashtrays everywhere, Vegas has cleaned up its act since I was here a few years back.  During that trip, it was hard to get down the sidewalk. Hordes of tourists co-mingling with throngs of guys pushing their strip club with wallet cards.  Now, tourists stroll above street level in the mazes of plazas connecting one hotel campus to another.  The homeless are less visible.  And the porn pushers are completely MIA. 

We took the Deuce double decker bus from Freemont back to The Strip.  We passed mega wedding chapels, a mixture of adorable and desperate.  Once back on The Strip, we visited the gondolas at The Venetian.  We also played Black Jack.  Neither Skye nor I feel confident to play cards at a table with a real-life human.  We did give it a try with a virtual dealer.  Her birth name was Emily but she changed it to Bianca when she gave up her dreams to be on the stage and started dealing cards.  (or that’s the backstory I gave her).  They even changed virtual dealers while we were at the table.  It’s freaky cool although I’m sure the human dealers aren’t loving the non-threatening alternative.                   

My favorite slot machines are the ones that have an extra pizazz.  When you get to a bonus, something on a screen has an entertaining oomph. Bells and whistles.  Twirling lights. Razzle dazzle!  I especially liked Wheel of Fortune, Sex in the City, Wizard of Oz, Jurassic Park but my fave was Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  It was stylish.  AND most importantly, I left it with $196 on my voucher.  No more chips.  It’s all paper slips now.  Not as glamorous or exciting but very efficient.

We decided to enjoy Happy Hour on the High Roller, the new Vegas ferris wheel.  It boasts being the tallest observation wheel at 550 feet. Having recently been on the London Eye, I questioned the bragging rights of the High Roller.  Our bartender confirmed it was 50 feet taller than the UK wheel. The ride was a smooth thirty minutes with a spectacular view and friendly vibe.

We closed the evening watching Notre Dame beat Purdue.  Our bar, The Gateway, had solo Black Jack machines.  Skye honed skills and broke the machine. It was the second Black Jack machine that busted on Skye.  And it was also the second bartender I met that moved from Chicago to Vegas… pre-Polar Vortex.    

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