Viva! Las Vegas

Viva! Las Vegas
Highlights

As our plane made its final descent towards McCarran International Airport of Las Vegas all I could see from my window through a layer of soft fluffy clouds was an ocean of faded khaki hills girdling a bare brown barren land. I had previously read in a guidebook that the name ‘Vegas’ literally means ‘fertile valley or plain’ in Spanish. 

Give us your dreamers, your harlots and your sins
Las Vegas
Didn’t nobody tell you
the house will always win?
— “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas,” Brandon Flowers

As our plane made its final descent towards McCarran International Airport of Las Vegas all I could see from my window through a layer of soft fluffy clouds was an ocean of faded khaki hills girdling a bare brown barren land. I had previously read in a guidebook that the name ‘Vegas’ literally means ‘fertile valley or plain’ in Spanish.

But at the moment I could not spot even a single sign of that quality - probably it referred to its prehistoric artesian wells that have long-since dried up and turned to sand. Then, just as the plane came to a stop, I noticed that hundreds of private jets of different colours were parked on the tarmac along with the commercial planes. Welcome to Las Vegas - the Sin City, the Entertainment Capital of the World.

Compared with other cities in the USA, Las Vegas is a comparatively new arrival. Founded in 1905, it was for many years a small settlement in the middle of the Mojave Desert of Southern Nevada. Then, several significant events came together in less than two decades that helped shape Las Vegas into the Entertainment Hub that it is today.

The construction of Hoover Dam in 1928 brought thousands of workers to the area. Nevada legalised gambling in 1931, and downtown Las Vegas became an entertainment centre for the dam workers. During the same period, in the 1930s, Los Angeles was also transforming rapidly from a mid-sized city to a global industrial hub. But since gambling was banned in California during that time, the workers began travelling from California to Las Vegas for vacation, recreation, etc.

In 1941, the luxurious El Rancho Vegas resort opened on what would later become the famous Las Vegas Strip. Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel opened the Flamingo Hotel in 1946. The opening of these two resorts had a far-reaching effect on the fortunes of Las Vegas - it kicked off a building boom and established a tradition of one-upmanship with each new hotel/casino trying to outdo the other. That tradition continues even today. The dancing fountains in front of Bellagio hotel is the newest craze in the city.

In Las Vegas, there is an unwritten rule that any hotel in the city should have a casino. The supermarkets too have casinos and slot machines as they have realised that nine out of 10 visitors to Las Vegas are casino freaks. Gambling in Vegas does not discriminate against class. From the poor to middle-class, to millionaires, you see all classes of people trooping into various casinos/hotels to gamble.

The casinos pay millions of dollars every week as taxes to make America more prosperous. We were told how a millionaire whose businesses were going bankrupt came in with what he said was his last savings, $20,000, to stake for a jackpot and got, well hold your breath- $3 million. What do you call that? Sheer Luck? Or providence?

If you are in Las Vegas and you have not visited The STRIP, then, your trip is worth nothing. The STRIP is the most famous and fabulous stretch of a road that has lots of incredible attractions on both sides of the stretch. The attraction is that almost all the major capitals in the world have a presence on the STRIP in one form or another. Each of these has alluring landmarks to hold visitors spellbound. One can move around these areas 24 hours non-stop, and without getting tired. To enjoy the opulence and scintillating view of this place, arm yourself with a camera and wear comfortable shoes.

Las Vegas is dubbed the Sin City as sex is openly advertised here and the visitors are confronted with pimps with postcards of scantily dressed girls. Random smoking and heavily drunk people are common sights too.
In spite of the weird behaviour of the revellers, Las Vegas is still touted to be one of the safest cities in America. The crime rate is one of the lowest.

If you are infirm and need qualitative Medicare, Vegas is the place to be. It is a city that cares as much for men as also for pets. It has luxurious hotels specially built for dogs, cats and horses. Animals here get as much quality care as humans. That is one aspect of this city of sin and gambling that is really astonishing.

So, if you want to be part of the Vegas fun train, just jump onto the bandwagon. You need to be there at weekend to see how people fill up the hotels to the brim, with people queuing up as if waiting to buy tickets for a blockbuster movie; whereas they are only waiting to check in to the hotel. As the hotels are highly expensive, those who cannot afford the high rates or cannot get one take solace in sleeping in their caravans and vehicles.

If you can't travel the world, visit Las Vegas. You've got tastes of New York, Luxor, Venice and Paris all at one place. It is like having a combination platter, the best glitters of the world on a plate.

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