Vince Vaughn is one of my male underdog heroes. At the beginning of the movie Swingers, him and a friend are driving
to Vegas from LA and he keeps saying that phrase, “Vegas, baby. VEGAS!!” It’s strange how things stick on the inside of my brain.
There I was. In Vegas. Was I excited? Not really. I’ve never been one to buy into hype and Vegas is seriously hyped. Gambling is not an activity I would consider fun (I could have bought a lot of really good beer with that money), so what does a person do in Vegas when they don’t gamble? Well…go to a 1950’s Rockabilly convention called Viva Las Vegas.
But it was Wednesday and the convention didn’t start until Thursday. So what do I do? Well, see what it might feel like to be a local, of course. I went to the grocery store . I figured out how to use their bus system. Realized there’s no shared bicycle program. Got a good grip on the insanity of how big the blocks are and how much bigger the casinos are. That the only place you really want to walk is on the strip but there’s a ton of drunk people there. Cabs are ridiculously expensive.
Yeah…don’t go to the grocery store. It’s super sad. I thought the veggie section of the Un-Safeway in Denver was horrible. This Vons made me seriously question what the hell people eat in Vegas. It made me re-appreciate Colorado grocery stores so much more.
The bus system, RTC, is only $2 to ride or you can buy a pass at one of their ticket vending machines(TVM), online, or from a list of stores. If you’re on the strip though, NONE of the listed stores carry passes(like the 15 day or month) and you have to buy it from one of the transit centers. If you want just the pass for the strip, then you can purchase it at a TVM on the strip. There’s a 2 hour pass for $6 or a 24 hour pass for $8. If you’re planning a trip to Vegas on a budget, I’d say buy the 15 day pass(depending on how long you’re staying) because it gets you access to everywhere including the strip and buy it in advance online if you can. If you can’t, plan in advance a trip to one of the transit centers. And the bus goes to/from the airport. Bonus!
The cabs are expensive. To ride from where my friends and I were staying to the convention was under 3 miles and it was between $12-$16. I’m a frugal person when it comes to certain things and transportation is one that I skimp on. It’s a means to a destination and arriving in style is not a concern for me.
After a bit of adventure during the day, a nap and downtime was necessary for the evening ahead.
Enter: Double Down Saloon. Best. Punk. Dive. Bar. EVER. Okay…maybe best one out of all I’ve been to. I’m not sure how to describe this little piece of heaven in Vegas. It’s Punk. It’s gross. It’s a serious dive bar. It has a photo booth. It has gambling. The best part besides the trashed out bathrooms was the wall by the stage that says “SHUT UP and DRINK”. The jukebox is filled with all the favs of punk, ska, garage, surf, and rockabilly. If you’re not sure if you can make it there while in Vegas, then you’re a wimp because this place is open 24-7. Really. It’s an oasis from the glitz and glamour.
After 2 shots of tequila and a PBR there, the next stop was just around the corner. The Hofbräuhaus is the only German beer hall (they claim) in Vegas. Lucky me! Half way into my liter of beer, my cohorts and I decide that the polka is the way to go. The oompah band playing was a little less than enthusiastic when we arrived but once we got our jig on, boy did their spirits rise! Note: When traveling, if a band is playing that you can dance to, do it. There is nothing more fun than potentially making a good fool of yourself trying to dance. Seriously. The back of the haus was pretty neat since it was made to look like you were outside at dusk.
The rest of the night was dancing and bad behavior in general back at the Orleans. My first lesson about casinos happened that night: there are no short cuts when you’re drunk through a casino to your room. It is undoubtedly the longest walk to ever occur in my memory, even after having done 15 mile hikes, so be sure you have a drink with you to keep you company.
P.S. Thank you for the photos, Miss Amanda. 😉
Part two is on it’s way….