When you’ve lived overseas, or have travelled often, you’re bound to have plenty of travel stories to share. I look back on my memories and can’t believe some of the ridiculous, hilarious, and incredible adventures that I’ve had over the years, and this has inspired a series of posts that I am going to call ‘My Favourite Travel Experiences’. Here, I’ll recount some of my favourite memories; some are ridiculous, some are hilarious, some are incredible. The first one I am going to share, however, is all of the above. Welcome to the story about my first time… in Las Vegas.
To me, Las Vegas always seemed like a mythical land that couldn’t possibly exist. I was so eager to experience this crazy place that I had only ever seen in the movies, and back in 2010 while I was living and studying abroad in Boulder, CO, I finally had the opportunity to go. I’ve since travelled to Las Vegas on three separate occasions, but absolutely nothing can compare to that very first time. If you’ve been to Vegas before, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. From arriving at the airport and laughing at all the slot machines (‘It has begun!’ at least one of you will say), to downing your first frozen cocktail while wandering down the Strip, to the bright lights that come out to blind your eyes when the sun goes down, you’ll stare with wide-eyed disbelief at the madness surrounding you. And you’ll feel more excited than you ever have before.
MY FIRST TIME IN VEGAS
My first trip to Vegas was with a group of around 10 wild, rowdy international students from the University of Colorado at Boulder. The Boulder boys (Jarrad, Josh & Matty) and I were joined by a couple of Norwegians, a couple of Danes, and a couple of Germans – the perfect mix for a ridiculous weekend in Las Vegas. We arrived in style (and by style, I mean matching t-shirts with a hilariously stupid inside joke printed on the front), on a Thursday afternoon, ready for the weekend ahead and the adventures it would bring.
After arriving (and playing the slot machines at the airport, of course), Josh & I decided to take a walk down the Strip to find ourselves a nice, refreshing, alcoholic beverage, the first of many for the weekend. Unlike most places, drinking on the streets in Vegas is totally legal, and we took full advantage of this by buying two jugs of beer for $10, throwing a straw in, and going for a wander. We didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary, but we did get plenty of laughs and high-fives from onlookers, no doubt entertained by the sight of us walking around drinking out of a full jug of beer. Only in Vegas.
YOU CAN FIND ME IN THE CLUB
We were eventually approached by a club promoter (the first of many over the weekend), wanting to put us on the guest list for a club called Tryst, which was in a casino called Wynn Las Vegas. Here’s a fun fact for the ladies – if you are a female, you will get approached to get put on the guest list for clubs. Say yes, because you will not only get free entry, but you’ll also get free drinks. Guys – stick close to the ladies. You’ll get into the clubs, but you’ll have to pay. Such is life!
That first night was a blur. Tryst was such a cool nightclub, and even though it was a Thursday night, the place got pretty packed. Things don’t get going in Vegas until after midnight, so we did have a few lonely drinks in the club wondering where everyone was, and if we’d been massively stitched up by the club promoter. Luckily, he had given us plenty of free drink tickets so we just sat back, enjoyed the view of the giant waterfall (yes, inside the club), and watched the crowds roll in. Countless drinks, many dance-floor fails, and endless new friends later, we rolled into our hotel in the early hours of the morning, feeling completely exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.
WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS
The next day, we woke up hungover, but ready for our second day in Las Vegas. While the others recovered by sunning themselves in the desert heat by the pool, Matty & I set off to explore the many casinos that adorned the Strip. We wandered wide-eyed and awed between Caesar’s Place, the Mirage, the Bellagio, New York New York, and countless others. Even if you’re not a partier or gambler, you should check out the casinos on the Strip – they’re incredible, and all so different from each other. There’s so much to see and do (not to mention eat – Vegas is buffet heaven) within each individual casino, and they’re all worth a look. You’ll get lost between all the bars, restaurants, shops, slot machines, theaters, and more! From the dolphin show at the Mirage, to the gondola rides at the Venetian, to the New York New York, which has a roller-coaster inside the casino, you definitely won’t get bored. Don’t ride the roller-coaster hungover, though. Trust me. And definitely don’t ride it more than once when you’re hungover. Trust me!
That evening, we decided to hire a stretch hummer to drive us around the Strip, and out to the infamous ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign, which only cost us about $10 each. People expect a trip to Vegas to be an expensive one, but it actually isn’t. Drinking on the streets certainly helps you save money, especially when you can take your drinks in and around all the casinos, even if you’ve bought it elsewhere. Obviously, you can’t take drinks into the clubs, but girls drink in the clubs for free so that wasn’t an issue either (sorry guys!). Anyway, it’s basically tradition to have your photo taken at the Welcome sign, and as luck would have it, we stumbled upon our first Las Vegas wedding party. I think we ended up seeing about five or six brides over the course of the weekend. Naturally, we gate-crashed this wedding party’s photos, gave them our best drunken marriage advice, and then set off with our hummer full of bourbon and champagne back towards the bright lights of the Strip and another club with our names on its guest list. Not before giving our hummer driver a can of Fosters beer as a tip, though. Why did we have a can of Fosters, you may ask? Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer, but the driver was super stoked that he had been given a can of Fosters by an Australian, and that’s all that matters.
POOL PARTIES, FOOTY PLAYERS & THE PLAYBOY CLUB
The next day, after lounging by the pool and eating our way through all the buffets in the city, we decided the only way to combat our hangovers was to keep drinking, and we found ourselves at Tao Beach Club at the Venetian – home to one of the best pool parties in Las Vegas.
It felt like a scene out of Entourage, except without all the celebrities. But wait, there were celebrities! Well, kind of. Matty was quick to point out a few of the guys from the Sydney Swans AFL team, who happened to be celebrating their end-of-season trip in Vegas. We wandered over for a photo (even though I had basically no idea who they were), had a chat, before continuing to drink cocktails, throw beach balls around the pools and splash around in an attempt to dance to the DJ’s tunes. It was heaven!
Later that night, after an afternoon of fun in the sun, we headed to the Palms Casino, where we’d gotten ourselves on the list for a nightclub called Moon, as well as the Playboy club. We arrived at about 1.30am, and were awe-struck at the view from the rooftop balcony of the club. You could see the entire strip, and it looked absolutely amazing. It was here we had a bit of a moment, and realised how lucky we were to be having such an incredible, yet ridiculous experience.
The night went on to become even more ridiculous. I went to the bathroom, and came out to find Matty talking to a huge bloke. I cautiously went up to them, and realised it was actually Nathan Cayless from the Parramatta Eels NRL team. Turns out, the Sydney Swans weren’t the only Australian footy team in Vegas for their end-of-season trip! Seeing as though I’m definitely more into NRL than AFL, I was far more excited about this encounter. He invited us to come and have a drink with them, and Matty & I jumped at the chance. We ended up carving up the dance-floor and drinking vodka & Red Bull with the likes of Nathan Hindmarsh, Eric Grothe, Tim Mannah, David Williamson (remember, this was the Eels circa 2010), and more, until about 4am. It was such a good night, and they were all really nice guys just having a good time. You’re probably wondering why there isn’t photo evidence of this on this post, and that’s because the hard drive with most of my photos from this trip decided that it didn’t care about my memories, and broke down. I’m still devastated about it. Matty – if you have photos from this night, send them to me so everyone believes us!
UNTIL NEXT TIME, VEGAS
Needless to say, we were broken souls by the end of the weekend. Even as a 21-year-old who had no idea what a real hangover was, I was in a world of hurt by that Sunday night when I had to fly back to Colorado and face the real world (and by real world, I mean barely going to classes and spending most of my time having fun because I was studying abroad). However, nothing as simple as a three-day hangover could’ve broken my spirit. My first time in Vegas was everything I could have imagined; a world unlike no other, full of so many extremes. Extreme partying, extreme eating (those buffets were seriously amazing – go to the one at Planet Hollywood), extreme hangovers, extreme experiences, and extreme fun. Of course, my subsequent trips to Las Vegas were also trips of extremes (more on those trips in later posts), but like I said before, nothing can compare to the first time you experience a place like that.
From drinking out of jugs of beer in the streets, to sticking my head out the top of a stretch hummer cruising down the bright lights of the Strip, to dancing the night away with an NRL team, to pushing my body to the absolute limits in the buffet room, it was everything I could have ever hoped for. It was a ridiculous, hilarious, incredible weekend, and I will never, ever forget my first time in Las Vegas!