Saturday, February 2, 2013

Escape from The Venetian

Hey hey, whazzup! Took longer than expected to write this post, work and workouts oblige, so I am back to the regular weekend blogging pattern because I just can't find a better time. It's time to take you to Vegas, baby!

As you may remember, at the end of the year we went on a driving adventure to Philly and Disney World, but what you don't know is that the week right after I had to fly to Las Vegas for work. Since I could not find a ticket for Monday, I had no choice but fly on Sunday, so on our way back home from Disney, hubbs dropped me in Pittsburgh and I took a plane from there.

It was really stressful right off the bat because I grabbed my son's passport by mistake and hubbs drove off with mine. Major PANIC, I was shaking, calling, texting, calling, texting and hoping that he'd get my messages before reaching the border. That would have been such a major FAIL, I could already imagine my husband asking for a divorce. Thankfully 45 minutes later, he came back, we exchanged passports and my heart rate calmed down. I must have burned quite a few calories in this panic attack and very likely, as many neurons.

Waited a long, long time in Pittsburgh and somehow my luggage made it to Vegas 3h ahead of me. You can see where this is going, right? Once I got there, my luggage was nowhere to be found and the US Airways agents were all dumbfounded. At the same time, I got a phone call from some limo company saying that one of their guests brought a piece of luggage to Planet Hollywood Hotel and that I would have to go pick it up from there if I needed it. Did I mention it was 11pm and that I was exhausted, cranky and all I wanted was to get into my bed and sleep? When I finally arrived in the room, which was also the suite at The Venetian where my company was exhibiting our products, I had to make one more phone call, to a technician to come and change a light switch that would not turn off. I wanted to SLEEP, dammit!

At least I had an awesome bed!
Next morning I woke up, set up all product demos, had more technicians come by and replace the router because that, too, was busted, and like this my week started, or rather marathon number two, with jetlag as a bonus. The whole week I was trapped into the suite as we had plenty of guests to demonstrate our products to and I needed to run those demos perfectly.

Like in a glass tower, I was stuck on the 36th floor, waiting for Elvis to come rescue me, or any of the other characters that were entertaining the tourists for a buck or two on the strip. By the third day I was going completely cuckoo. See, this was my first trip to Las Vegas and not only I was feeling really lonely, but going "out there" where the lights were shining bright and tons of people with beer in hand and a cigarette in the mouth were going from party to party, or casino to strip club and back, and where so many escort girls were taking  you by the hand, it seemed a bit frightening. I saw The Hangover, ok? I didn't want to end up with a tattoo across my butt and a Mike Tyson lookalike in my jacuzzi tub.

Thankfully my colleagues took me out for a few minutes during the day (to buy water bottles, how glamorous) and I could get acquainted with the craziness of this place. I even brought back a nice stash of cards for all kinds of "services" with QR codes, nonetheless.

But one night, I put on my running clothes and ESCAPED. I decided that I would run for as long as there were lights and back, target 60 minutes. Once I realized that the entire strip was only 5km long, I decided to run it all. Total 10.3km, 1h11, one of the most challenging workouts that I've ever done. Not only because of the people, there were many indeed, and I had to dodge them constantly, but because of the stairs. So many of them, not even funny. To cross any intersection, you had to go up and over the street, then down to the opposite sidewalk. Up and down, up and down... I didn't take any of the escalators, but man, my legs were spent by the end of the run.
In the middle you can see the photo I took at The Bellagio, the water show was on. It was really beautiful, but I only stopped for 10 seconds so I can't even remember what song was on. Sounded more like opera than hip-hop anyway.

That was the only workout that I managed to sneak in during my week in Las Vegas. I was there for work afterall and all day long I was in the suite, talking to people in person or remotely. The last day, after CES was done and over with, I managed to take my camera and go on a walk along the strip again (I still haven't downloaded the pics from my flash card, dang!). I picked up some geocaches as well, discovering more places and people along the way. The rest is in the huge pile of pictures below... that's the best way I can remember it.

Ceiling at The Venetian. The Sistin chapel, or almost.
Walking out of the Venetian
Little Venice
You live in a casino because everything is a casino
Surrender Nightclub, with DJ Steve Aoki and George Clooney in the house
Beautiful Wynn
The wishing fountain at the Palazzo
Caesar's Palace
Another hotel room, last night spent at the Mirage
The strip in magic light
Golden children of Las Vegas
Flamingos at the Flamingo, roasting under a heat lamp
This is not Paris
Le Cirque - amazing restaurant!
Sparkly Horse at The Bellagio
And a huge sparkly cupcake at Sugar
The Flamingo
Chinese New Year at The Bellagio
The fake streets of Little Paris
New York, New York... with a rollercoaster on top.
So in case you didn't get it, Las Vegas is just another amusement park, just like Disney but with prostitutes instead of princesses. Everything is a casino. To take the elevator to your room, you have to walk through the casino. You sleep, eat and do business atop of a casino. The gym/pool is only open 3h a day because you should be gambling instead. There are slot machines on the street, in the airport, at McDonald's. At least the food is decent, when you don't eat at McDonald's, that is. Shopping is extravagant, as everywhere where people with money go. If you can leave your dollars at a Blackjack table, you can certainly leave some at Calvin Klein and Dior.

I think it's fun to go there if you have 3 days to spare, but to stay 6 days like I did, it's torture. It was eye candy, but just like a forbidden fruit, too sweet not to gag on it. I didn't gamble, I didn't drink, I didn't bring back a new husband. Phew. Not sure I want to go back any time soon, not unless I have my hubby with me so we can go together explore the surroundings, and not just this money pit.

I am really happy that I ran the strip though because I am not even interested in doing a race there anymore (unless there happens to be one during a business trips, story of my life). I saw most of it, from both sides of the boulevard, with the lights on, water fountains and all. Bucket list item, done!

At the end of the trip I counted 18 days straight spent in hotels. No, you should not envy me. I was so glad to be back home and see my family again. Back to normalcy, to a routine, to carpooling with my funny colleagues and swimming, biking and running with hubbs, to kissing my boys goodnight and feeding my fish Calypso. I survived Disney and Vegas, now I can look forward to surviving the Ironman.


  1. Phewf! I'm exhausted just reading about your adventures (somehow your posts only just loaded into my feed tonight so I'm kind of behind the game)

    1. Cori, you were certainly quick to comment after I published this one, so thank you :-) I believe these posts should read that way, it was exhausting indeed. And I really missed exercising, so they are kind of whiny too. Not being able to run makes me cranky. Thankfully I've been catching up since ;-).

  2. I think the fact that you were stuck in your suite for a couple of days didn't help your opinion of Vegas. I AM glad that you got out and did some running and photography. I see that a lot of your photos are things I've seen and appreciated in my 5 visits to Sin City, and think you should give the place a 2nd chance when work doesn't factor into the visit.

    I am available anytime to show you what you missed, like old Vegas (Fremont Street) and the Neon Boneyard which I think you would absolutely LOVE!!

    Viva Las Vegas!!

    1. Fran, as I said, I think going there for a few days is totally fun, but I don't see how you can do it without leaving a fortune. For example, I wanted to go see The Beatles show, tickets were starting at $150. Thanks but no thanks. Lodging and food are affordable, but you should definitely be able to move. I had no car, so the farthest I could go was the end of the strip. Aside from taking pics and geocaching, I just couldn't find anything else to do. I'd love to visit the old Vegas and the canyon and all the other amazing natural wonders around, but staying IN Vegas for a week is a waste of time IMHO. Indeed, I need to go there outside CES and with wheels! Also, I definitely need company!! I trust you by the way, I am sure there are things to see that don't involve binge drinking and gambling... One day, maybe for my 40. ;-)

  3. Wow, all is well that ends well? That's a lot of frustration to start a trip.

    Funny enough, I think I was most fascinated by the fact that you were doing business out of a suite in Vegas. When I think of business in Vegas, I think of those large conventions and trade shows -- booths and name tags, square footage and hand models. I guess I know that business happens outside of those mammoth venues, but I just never imagine it that way.

    Love the photos.

    1. Katya, ironically enough, we were part of THE biggest show in Vegas, the consumer electronics show (CES), but not on the floor with all the other booths. The majority of people coming to see us were scheduled in advance. I think it is done more and more lately. At the Venetian, they had 4 floors reserved to this type of suites. The worst part was the waiting time to get in the elevator. I didn't get the chance to see any other exhibitor or go to the convention floor. Pretty sad, really. Oh well. Thank you for stopping by. Xoxo.