USA: Viva Las Vegas!

Las Vegas, its Nevada's devilish deserts paradise that boasts casino's, hotels and wedding chapels. Not having lived long in New Jersey, I was so excited to be experiencing a whole new state! Sin City was the choice for my friends 21st birthday celebrations, being a complete freeloader I gatecrashed this trip that ended up to be a lot of fun! Hand me a tequila, please?

Las Vegas would be two flights away for the three of us friends, I chose Southwest Airlines whilst Tom and Paolo had already booked up with Delta before I had arrived in New Jersey. I reported early for my Phoenix bound flight with plenty of time to spare. Being a passenger for the first time since arriving into Newark Liberty International Airport felt amazing, the trip had been hyped up and then some! Visiting the check-in desks of my placement location to see my co-workers had to be done, I was mad excited to be on my way to Sin City! Taking my extra self from Terminal B to A via the Air Train had to be done. Boarded with cabin crew that were the friendliest I had met before that flight, I knew that I was in good hands for those flights to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport! Southwest Airlines kept me on time, for my Delta friends they were delayed from Newark Liberty! Yes, Southwest was the right choice!

In place of a hot meal, Southwest Airlines did things differently with cute snack boxes and free non-alcoholic drinks from their debit card friendly cabin service. I hadn't had much breakfast so Beverly helped me out with a few extra Nabisco snack packs! The flights purser gave such a reassuring pre-flight announcement and throughout that first flight her country drawl set the relaxed mood of the flight. I was thirsty and on my way to a crazy place, getting a gin for less than bar prices I enjoyed my first mixed drink nicely. One of the crew members had me covered for the flight over to Phoenix, needless to say I was on the right level for my Las Vegas arrival! Switching places in PHX allowed me to refuel with a Pizza Hut treat, boarding and negotiating another drink allowed me to arrive into LAS feeling just right, or down right on it? Clocking the Delta baggage claim belt I took a seat, set my alarm and initiated my first disco nap of the trip! Seeing slot machines in arrivals was so mad!

I don't stay in hotels that are squalid, so our accommodation the Monte Carlo Hotel Resort & Casino gave us the perfect pad to rest after our Las Vegas Strip escapades. I never had a reservation so I waited in the lobby area while the boys checked-in, I had to live up to my Britney B*tch persona from the very beginning of that Vegas trip! Las Vegas lures gamblers from far and wide, manipulating their wallets to give that extra dollar to win the jackpot, I was wiser! No sleep for the Nevada trio, we hit the Vegas Strip to see the countless range of casino's to try our luck and to just have a general nose around. I didn't quite understand the whole politics of the gambling games that were on offer in such venues like the MGM Grand and Planet Hollywood. Being extra in my own way, I embraced those Las Vegas experiences to their fullest! I just needed another tequila to keep that Vegas state of mind going! Lime and salt BB!

Throughout our time in Las Vegas along the strip, we marvelled at the amazing landmark hotels. Each hotel had its own personality, I loved the Stratosphere for its towering vista of the strip! Having a hire car allowed us drive away from the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas Boulevard core tourism area, I was living for the street feeling that kept us aware at all times. We were used to the craziness of Newark, New Jersey so the wilder side of the Las Vegas strip made us feel closer to our mad placement home. Going with the flow, I didn't need to dictate where we went because it was Paolo's birthday and his choice took precedence for that trip only! We hopped from one casino to the other, I also loved the grandeur of the MGM Grand! As mentioned before I never envisaged going to Las Vegas, it was all meant to be that it all happened! Las Vegas is definitely a destination that's for the gambling first but having a great time applies to all, I'd return for something extra! I need a Cosmo!

Our epic assault that incorporated visiting at least seven of the provincial casino's was amazing! MGM was out-of-this-world I couldn't believe my half-drunken eyes, yes I had been drinking all day! Myself and my friends had hit the Las Vegas strip like the stars of 'The Hangover' movie! During a short break from gambling in Excalibur's casino I ran off to buy a vest that displayed a suggestive design, it was a Vegas moment! Collecting an array of poker chips, the feeling of this immense place exceeded all my expectations. You can't get away from the slot-machines in Las Vegas, I just decided to embrace every single experience because I desperately seek adventure! This time last year I was finishing my first semester at University College Birmingham getting ready to embark on my International College Program in Orlando, Florida. Did I mention that Tequila was my best friend for the whole weekend? Another shot, please?

Now, the stars of "The Hangover" film featured such casino's like the Bellagio and Caesar's Palace which takes centre stage out of all the other casino's on the Vegas Strip. But none of us were about to get married nor arrested! Suited, booted and ready to take on the night as the lights shone bright through the Las Vegas Strip we made our way to the Bellagio and Caesar's Palace to gamble the night away. Those casino's produced my biggest win of $106.00, which was not too bad for me. I loved the system in the casino's! I kept putting coins into the slots, those drinks were free-flowing for that period! Naturally, tequila became my new best friend as the waitresses' made their way around the casino floor. I didn't care for the big money tables as I was just loving and living for the moment for the memories I made that night could never have a price tag! From night to day the Las Vegas Strip did its business, we enjoyed our time but on our own terms! Come on, I just wanted to see that sign LaVe!

On Tom and Paolo's final day before we took our hire car back, we saw the world famous Las Vegas sign! Stopping for the perfect photo opportunity I didn't care taking any photos of myself in front of the sign, I was content with the photo captured above. It was a bucket list moment, I had never envisaged travelling so early into my placement period! The whole situation was meant to be! The sign sealed the experience, it begs the question if I would ever return to Las Vegas in the future? Yes, I never made it to the Grand Canyon and with the pace of the Strip I know that the residency shows will continue to evolve further. Bidding the boys a fond farewell, it was time for them to take the hire car back before they caught their overnight flights back to Newark. I wasn't about to fly via Memphis to arrive back into LaGuardia when we lived so epically close to Newark Liberty, I didn't have the time for that! Oh, that sign though!

Spending one extra night in the city I relaxed to the max in my New York, New York hotel room before my breakfast time flight headed back to Newark, New Jersey. The whole trip had been everything and more, even though I didn't make it to the Grand Canyon I had freeloaded onto an already planned birthday trip! I'll definitely make another trip to Las Vegas to see it from my own perspective as a solo traveller! The rest of the final day was a pretty sedate affair, the week had been mental with the drive to Los Angeles and back to Vegas in one day. Feeling refreshed and ready for another drink, the flight back to Newark Liberty via Phoenix got very boozy but I was good enough. All I needed to know was that my flights were on time and that the connection would be seamless just like the outbound sectors were. Making it home to Lafayette Street was a relief, this independent travel lark is still relatively new to me! Vegas was well worth it, Vegas was amazing and yes I loved it baby!

Bright Lights, Big City!

Joseph Harrison 


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