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Las Vegas for a Boring Bride

Author: Leah Kaminsky
Date of Trip: May 2013

Las Vegas. Just say the name and you’ll immediately invoke images of adults behaving badly. Look at me, tossing wads of cash over my shoulder! Look at me with this gyrating female on my lap! Look at me stumbling drunkenly down the Strip, stopping only to serenade street vendors like I’m on American Idol!

This, at least, was the impression I had when I first visited Vegas as a child. My parents weren’t big on gambling or drinking, and so we’d hurried through the lobby casinos to our room, staying only a night before we headed out to the canyons. I had just finished DARE, and was convinced that a mere sip of alcohol and a single spin on a slot machine would lead to the complete unraveling of one’s life, and I gawked at the gamblers with a mixture of pity and horror.

So why, then, would I pick Vegas as the destination for my bachelorette? A couple of reasons:

1) It was a convenient location for my closest friends, who were spread out across the country.

2) You can get awesome deals there.

3) Since the age of 10, I had learned that beer can be consumed just fine in pint portions. I had also developed a love of dressing up and drinking wine with the gal pals in stimulating environments, and what better place to do just that?

Still, I’ve never been much of a partier and I don’t gamble. Would Vegas still prove an appropriate venue? After all, even though I had bought trip cancellation insurance, it wasn’t like I could easily redirect all of my friends to Napa Valley instead. So…Viva Las Vegas, I guess.

The trip began at Planet Hollywood, where I pushed open the door to our hotel room to find wonderful friends I hadn’t seen in years, a dinosaur balloon (intended to symbolize my “bridezilla” status, but I was just excited to see it because I love dinosaurs) and, most importantly, snacks representing my food manias from across the eras–Swedish Fish and Tootsie Rolls from college, dried mangoes from graduate school, kettle chips and Reeses Pieces from right about now.

I frantically tried to down it all at once while talking at rapid paces to all of my best friends (so much to catch up on!) but was soon told we had more important things on the agenda: Dinner. Ah, and here I thought Swedish Fish was as good as it could get.

My savvy friends had found a TravelZoo deal for half off at the Cravings Buffet located at the Mirage, and man oh man was that a treat. Usually, I find buffets kind of revolting (quantity doesn’t equal quality) but this one was stuffed with food I love: sushi, Asian noodles, soups, ravioli–you name it, it was there in its most sumptuous form. Once again, we all returned to panic mode, trying our best to enjoy ourselves while still exercising restraint, only to spot something tempting on a friend’s plate and bolt straight up from our chairs and back into line. As any buffet aficionado knows, it’s a straight line from the fruit display to the fruit tart to the adorable chocolate espresso cup filled with mousse.

The waitress brought us the wrong glasses of wine, and so she made up for it by bringing us two more glasses each…Still the wrong kind, but who was keeping track at that point? When it was time to go, she brought us travel coffee mugs, which accommodated a full glass each, and made our way to the Beatles Love Cirque Du Soleil show for some high culture.

What we witnessed next was beyond anything I’ve ever seen: Bodies soaring gracefully over our heads. Acrobats flipping from one side of the stage to the next in a single breath. Strange contraptions made of tricycles and shoes. And best of all: THE BEATLES PLAYING LOUDLY ON A HIGH QUALITY SOUND SYSTEM!!!!! Really, no matter how amazing the show itself was, that’s all it would take to satisfy me.

Unfortunately, the wine and the food just about knocked us out, and I caught more than a few heads nodding off during the show–mine included. Thus, as my good friend Kirsten articulated so well, became the central dilemma of our time in Vegas: In no other city are you so simultaneously asked to look great, feel great and pay attention while being tempted by such copious amounts of high quality food.

Our food and wine comas were somewhat fitting for our walk down the strip back to our hotel, as the Vegas experience is designed to get you to drop your guard and give yourself over to a barrage of sensory stimuli. Really, it was like walking through a giant performance art piece. Over here, admire Caesar’s impossibly large Greek columns. Over here, spot a lipstick smeared bachelorette party chant, “Veeeeeegas! Veeeeeeeegas!” on repeat. Over here, admire the elegance of the Bellagio fountains, dancing to Singin’ in the Rain. Everywhere, a spectacle.

It was all we could do to stumble back to the room and fall into bed, exhausted.

Properly refreshed and somehow starving again, the next morning we headed to the hotel pool with Starbucks breakfast sandwiches, intent on lounging for the day. We were disappointed to find only two small pools on either side of a vast plaza, filled with rows upon rows of sun chairs that lacked any kind of discernible shade. As we all have fair skin, there was no way we could stay there without burning to a crisp, and I can only imagine how easy it would be to get heat stroke in the 110 degree weather. It was clear that this was all a tactic to force us into paying $300 for a poolside cabana, a fact we bemoaned for a few minutes before coughing up some cash.

The move was well worth it, as we spent the entire day lounging, floating in the pool, and pretending to read books despite the obnoxious DJ–the perfect vacation activity. Ultimately $40 each wasn’t too much of a price to pay, but we all remained annoyed at this clearly mercurial strategy. Two thumbs down, Pleasure Pools.

For dinner, we headed over to celebrity chef’s Mesa Grill for what was really a perfect meal. Each dish was imbued with textures and flavors that were at once familiar, unique and satisfying to our wide range of preferences. From there, we once again embraced our food comas and explored both Caesar’s Palace and the beautiful Bellagio Botanical Gardens which whisked us away into a European countryside. A few steps later, I found myself wishing that my ceiling could look like this colorful, possibly Chihuly array of glass jellyfish.

Somehow, we managed to survive all of those expansive (and slick!) marble floors in our high heels without a single fall (perhaps that was our “Vegas luck”) and on to the final and most strange portion of the trip: The Party Bus.

Now, if you’re not familiar with party buses, the concept is pretty simple. People looking to have a good time pile onto a tripped out bus, where a host stands among the blinking fluorescence and pours you copious amounts of alcohol before leading you into clubs and skipping you right past the lines. Great, right?

Well, as I would soon find out, it really helps if you enjoy nightclubs. Don’t get me wrong, I can dance my little heart out to the blues or rock n’ roll (anything that mandates singing into a hairbrush), but electronic beats were the soundtrack to both my singledom loneliness and my teenaged emo convictions that there was no meaning in the world, and with just a few thumps I was filled with a sense of unabating emptiness. So…party on!

Matters weren’t helped much by the fact that I was decked out in bachelorette gear, which apparently says to people not, “Fun! Congrats!” but, “Here’s a gal that’s looking to have some FUN *wink wink* before she’s no longer ‘free’!” In my younger years, I used to escape these sorts of situations by vamoosing in a bus or cab without telling anyone (“Where’s Leah? Oh, there she goes,”) but given that this was my party, that wasn’t an option. So I stuck it out with my valiant friends, who disliked the clubs as much as I did but felt a similar duty to be young and free, until the the party bus driver was kind enough to drop us off at our hotel.

So…Vegas. Is it worth it for an anti-commercial bride and bridal party that doesn’t really gamble or party because we’re totally boring like that?

I’ll answer that with a few other questions: Is hanging out with your best friends in one of the world’s most stimulating and sensual environments worth it? Is having your own cabana worth it? Is chowing down on ridiculously good cuisine worth it?

All I can say is I’ll be going back soon.

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