Saturday, 24 October 2015

Things to do in Vegas when you’re me!

Originally published 26/02/2015 on Chunk.ie

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Late last year I decided I needed a break, somewhere nice and quiet, somewhere with history, somewhere with culture… Somehow I ended up in Las Vegas for 5 days. The lord truly does work in mysterious ways.

I left a cold and wet Dublin at 7:10am and arrived in a warm and dry Las Vegas 15 hours later after a brief stop over in London. Normally I would collapse in a heap and relax for the night, but I had tickets for a concert that night and the show was to start at 8:00pm! That left me with only a few hours to clean up, grab a bite to eat and get to the gig, no time to rest!

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Kiss Rocks Vegas

So I guess you know who was playing by now. Yeap, that’s right, it was KISS. I’m not the greatest KISS fan in the world, in fact, I probably only know 2 or 3 of their hits, but as it was a choice between Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Britney Spears and KISS, there was only going to be one winner.

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Anyway, KISS were incredible. They might be pushing on in age and the music might be a tad 80s, but they put on a phenomenal show. Big screens, Lasers, Fireworks were all expected and delivered on. What I didn’t expect was to have Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley fly out over the stage on wires and land on a stage above my head for 3 songs. To put it simply, KISS rocked and I’d go see them again in a heartbeat. Simply fantastic.

Later that night as I strolled around the backstreets of Vegas lost, I got stopped on numerous occasions by people asking about the gig (I was wearing a KISS Rocks Vegas t-shirt). My surprise at their friendliness was matched by their surprise at hearing a thick Irish accent telling them all about it! Fun times indeed.

Absinthe

I had pre-booked Absinthe one night after coming in at about 4:00am. At that hour, I thought it wise that I go for the VVIP ticket… The next morning looking at the confirmation email that told me I spent $171.00 on a ticket, I was wondering just how wise I was.

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Absinthe is set in a large Spiegeltent on the grounds of Caesars Palace and the show is difficult to explain to be honest. It’s a mix of everything from burlesque to trapeze artists and on to roller skating duos swinging each other round by the neck.

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According to the Las Vegas Sun, Absinthe is “the most inventive and daring show to open on the strip in years!”. I can’t help but agree. I laughed so hard (courtesy of Penny Pibbets and the Gazillionaire) that tears ran down my glitter covered face at times! Why did I have glitter on my face? Well I blame the lovely Melody Sweets, but to find out why, you’ll just have to go to the show!

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If you like acrobats, dancing girls, rude comedy and nipple tassels, then Absinthe is a must.

Nellis Airforce Base

This one might not be for everyone, but whilst I was in Las Vegas, Aviation Nation was on at Nellis Airforce Base. Nellis is the home of the U.S.A.F Thunderbirds, the US equivalent of the Red Arrows. The air show is a 2 day affair with 80,000 people attending every day. It’s a well run show, plenty to see and do and you certainly won’t go hungry or thirsty!

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Many many years ago when I was a kid, my father brought me to see an air show here in Ireland. It was like someone had wound back the years, I was giddy with excitement watching the show, chatting with the pilots and checking out the exhibits. It was a fantastic day out.

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One point, don’t do as I did, make sure to bring a hat and some sun block. It gets very hot in the desert!

Machine Gun Vegas

Vegas allows you to do things that you normally don’t get a chance to do here, like shooting big guns… I don’t know of anywhere in Ireland (legal or not) where a member of the public can walk in off the streets and shoot an M249 Saw! After doing some research online before I left Ireland, I settled on Machine Gun Vegas. One afternoon with some time to spare, I picked up the phone and within the hour one of their people carriers was waiting outside to bring me to the range. There are quite a few different packages available, but the SEAL Team 6 Experience package was what I was after. It included the aforementioned M249 Saw, an M4 Assault Riffle, a SPAS-12 Shotgun and a SIG SAUER P226 Pistol.

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Gambling

On to the good stuff, the gambling! My game of choice was Blackjack. It’s a simple game with simple rules, score higher than the dealer without going bust. See, it’s simple, I told you!

In reality though, well… it’s not. You have to be disciplined, don’t take extra cards when you don’t need them. There are 4 times as many 10 cards in the deck as any other card, so the chances are higher that you’ll draw a 10 and probably go bust. Let the dealer draw that 10 card and let them go bust.

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Anyway, I hit a few casinos over the week, Hooters, the Excalibur, Caesars Palace, the Hard Rock, the Golden Nugget and a locals bar called the Red Label. I’m sure there were others, but I’m damned if I can remember then!

Over all I held my own, in fact I think I might have actually come out slightly ahead courtesy of some good coaching by other gamblers.

Gambling in Vegas is great fun, but you have to be sensible. The casino will always win in the long run. If you manage to get ahead by a decent sum, call it quits for the night and go off and enjoy the winnings. Set yourself a daily limit for gambling and don’t bring your bank card with you! It’s easy to get carried away and increase your stakes to chase your losses. That very rarely works out unfortunately and that’s how the casinos win in the end.

Conclusion

I was once told that 3 days is more than enough in Las Vegas. I beg to differ, I would have stayed another week if I could. I travelled to Vegas on my own, so I had to go out and meet people. I met roadies with stories of excess on the road in the 80s, I met adult movie stars who just wanted to sing karaoke till the early hours of the morning, I met motor racing team owners from Canada who drove non-stop for 24hrs just to see KISS live and I met some great people in some great bars who I’ll probably never meet again!

Vegas, do it, you know you want to!

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