Thursday, June 22, 2006

Eating Las Vegas: Part 1

I arrived in Vegas on Wednesday (June 14) after flying out of BWI that morning. Luckily, I was able to secure a non-stop flight that took me straight from Charm City to Sin City. The flight was without incident (guaranteeing a problem on the return, but we'll get to that later) and the only decision I had to make was whether or not to start the whole trip off with a Double R Bar Burger from the airport's convenient Roy Rogers. I passed, settling instead for a coffee and cheese danish since it was about 6 AM.

Arriving in Las Vegas I was surprised to see that the airport there was in the same state of disarray, renovation and repair that greeted me on my first visit back in 2001. You'd think that an airport in such a tremendous tourist destination would have a little more snap and pizzazz, but aside from the slot machines and upscale stores it's just like any other airport... depressing. At least the area where all the terminals meet doesn't have that locker room feet smell anymore.

With the eBay convention/conference/tradeshow on today's agenda I decided to grab a cab (choruses of "Hey big spender!" rattling in my ears) and head to my hotel downtown at the Golden Nugget. This was probably my first mistake since my $35 cab ride took me right past Mandalay Bay where the eBay show was being held. Frankly, my planning was a bit off and I ended up spending as much on cab fare as I would have on a rental car, but the Nugget was pretty clean, nice and newly renovated, not to mention cheap.

After checking in and freshening up I decided that public transportation may be a cheaper way to get around than shelling out $20 to get back up to Mandalay Bay. A quick perusal of the in-room Vegas mag confirmed that there was indeed a tram and a bus that ran along The Strip. Unfortunately, I missed one crucial piece of info -- that the double decker bus ran right through Fremont Street about two blocks from the Nugget -- and ended up hoofing it about two miles in the steadily climbing temps.

At least my walk was scenic, taking me through the old downtown area of Vegas that's dotted by bail bonds shops, titty bars, transmission repair, thrift stores and pawn shops.


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