Day 10 – Downtown, near death experiences and magic shows
With yet another belly full of bacon and eggs, we take a cab to Downtown Vegas for some exploration. Away from the strip, Freemont Street is where it all started and its home to most of the Casinos. Since I’m not into gambling that stuff doesn’t really appeal but it’s good to explore the casinos, the shops and watch the street life.
Street entertainers are still setting up their spots for the day, all sorts of bizarre acts, from an old man in a thong and an obese man, sat on a throne in a bikini, onto a kid doing Michael Jackson moves and magic tricks, there is something for all persuasions.
A visit to the Mob Museum is a bit of a letdown compared to the Alcatraz experience a few days ago. Housed inside a former federal courtroom, the Mob Museum has some very cool artefacts on display. Various guns and items belonging to the likes of Al Capone and even the actual brick wall from the Valentine’s Day Massacre.
While it offers an invaluable history of the Las Vegas mob movement, there is a lot of information that is just there on boards to read and to be honest I can’t be arsed with all that, I want to look at stuff!
We decide to walk back to The Strip via the business district, heading for Dino’s, a bar that has been recommended to us. I wonder if it’s the Dino’s Bar & Grill that Phill Lynott sang about. To say the areas we walk through look dodgy is an understatement, in hindsight we maybe should have taken a cab, but at the end of the day we didn’t get shot, so it’s a win! We walk past really sleazy strip joints and drive-thru wedding chapels where people are actually getting married by Elvis.
Dino’s is actually a very cool bar. Its quiet here, as it’s not even noon, come night-time I imagine it would be a different story. Refreshed, we get an uber back to The Strip for more exploration.
We find the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co restaurant for lunch, yet more amazing seafood. And explore the hotels on The Strip. Tonight we have booked to go and see the Penn & Teller magic show at the Rio Hotel & Casino, so we still have some time to kill. To be honest, it’s been a hectic trip and Vegas is mental, I feel like a rabbit trapped in the headlights here and feel Vegas is maybe a holiday that should be done separately from everything we have already experienced. I think maybe we are a bit burnt out, but a foot long, frozen margarita with extra tequila shots certainly does the trick.
The Hotel New York New York has a roller coaster on top of it. I hate roller coasters, they scare me to death. Sedd has been on it before, he loves it and says it is a rickety one and feels dangerous. Fuck it, we go on it. This is what this trip is about, doing the unexpected, the things you would not normally do. It’s scary as fuck, a white-knuckle ride. I hold on for dear life and think I’m going to die, it’s exhilarating and scary and I loved it, I will not do it again.
Penn & Teller have their own residency in Rio. They even have their own cocktail on sale at the bar. It’s expensive, but well, when in Rome and all that, it’s also very tasty.
There’s a guy playing Jazz on piano as we enter the theatre, which seems quite fitting. The magic show itself was disappointing to be honest. The tricks were nothing special and seemed pretty run of the mill stuff, even down to pulling a rabbit out of a hat. For $100 a ticket I expected more, I expected to be thrilled but there was nothing that left me feeling “wow!”. It just seemed like they were going through the motions. Worth seeing if you are a fan but not essential.
Day 11 – Kiss crazy golf and farewell Vegas
We have a few hours to kill before the flight home. Just enough time to drive over to Rio Hotel (where we were last night) for a round of Kiss crazy golf! Kiss crazy golf you ask? Yes, at Rio there is a Kiss-themed attraction where you can play crazy golf on a neon course, a must for any rock ‘n’ roll fan to visit methinks.
The Kiss crazy golf is an indoor, 18 hole mini-golf course and it’s fully glow-in-the-dark. We have a round, the place is deserted and we have it to ourselves. There’s a gift shop and never before seen Kiss artifacts on display, guitars, basses and drum kits, even the car they gave to Eric Carr as a gift when he joined the band.
I wonder what it would be like to play golf here on mushrooms? To be honest it’s trippy enough already without them. The gift shop is, of course, overpriced, so I just settle for a Kiss golf ball!
Job done, we head for the airport. Las Vegas was a wild end to our trip and I’m glad we didn’t go the other way and do it first. I think we did it the right way. We planned it fully and packed our days with as much as possible to get the most out of our experience. There was stuff we didn’t do, that was always going to be the case, there is only so much you can do in 10 days.
There were things we planned that didn’t happen. I wanted to get a tattoo, I wanted to visit a secret speakeasy and drink exotic drinks. We didn’t gamble in Vegas or ride a tram in San Francisco. I wanted to see big bands that never venture to the UK. I wanted to interview the likes of Sammy Hagar or Nikki Sixx. But the stars didn’t align for everything and that’s ok, as hopefully, we can do some of these things next time because there will be a next time.
When we return, we will skip Vegas and spend more time on the road between San Francisco and LA, but that is a future road trip that is still yet to be planned.
Author: Ben Hughes