Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Vegas: Day 1 - By Travel Correspondent Stephanie Cala

Hey guys! Stephanie here, and today I'll be bringing you the rare and elusive travel blog! (I don't get out much.)

This week I'm in Las Vegas NV for an event planning convention/tradeshow. This is my first time actually stopping and staying in Vegas (and my first tradeshow), and now that I'm over 21, ohhh IT'S ON. I will write about how I'm spending my days, and how to be smart about what to spend money on when on a tight budget. (It was kind of a last-minute trip...found out from the boss-lady Friday night, bought my ticket Saturday, packed on Sunday and left Monday morning, aaaaand I don't get paid until next week. Cheers!)

Vegas, day 1: Monday 

 I caught an early morning flight from SFO to LAS on United. They were surprisingly on time, well-mannered, and my baggage wasn't lost. Other than my spilling hot tea on my book and neighbor, it was a short and uneventful flight. (Seriously, it was the shortest flight I've ever taken.)

 Culture shock #1: The first things we saw when stepping inside the gate at LAS were slot machines. If you didn't know you were in Vegas before, you certainly do now. There's no point in playing the ones at the airport though, because they don't have payouts, so don't waste your time.

 First dollars spent: shuttle from the airport to the hotel. My boss and I opted for the shuttle rather than a taxi because we wanted to see various hotels on the Strip. The driver was pretty cool too - he told jokes and gave us some info about the various hotels.
 Total cost: $7.50. Realizing now that I probably should've tipped too. My bad ):

 Culture shock #2: We're staying at Treasure Island, and lemme tell you, this hotel is BIG. In fact, all of the hotels are HUGE. And there are casinos in every single one.

 You can even gamble in the restaurants while you're eating! Some of the bars have tv screens built into the counters so you can gamble. The restaurant we went to at TI had gambling games at the table, and you just had to give the info to the servers and they took care of the rest. That reminds me...

 Lunch money: Pho for lunch. They had a $15 special running where you got an appetizer, an entree and a drink. I was starving by that point so I opted for that, since the pho I wanted was $13 for a bowl anyway. Egg rolls were pretty good, bowl of pho was a little small and didn't have all of the essential pho ingredients (no tendons, no tripe, etc), but it was a nice, quick meal downstairs and we were in a rush. 
Total cost: $18-ish? Hard to say for sure because I put both meals on my card and my boss gave me some cash back.

 Next thing we did was go to Sands Convention center to drop off some supplies for the trade show. Lemme tell you, this place is HUGE. 2.25 MILLION SQUARE FEET. We walked into the hall and I could not see the back wall. I'll snag a picture later when I get there for festivities today.

 Went back up to the room to collect some things, and then I was off to a class! That's right, the convention has classes! And I get units! I was ecstatic! I AM ecstatic! The class I went to was called "Using A/V to enhance learning, memory, and the meeting experience". TL;DR would be "A/V Psychology". This class was awesome! I wanted to be a psych major when I was younger, so it was really really interesting to see what a difference A/V can make in your presentations. Also, there were so many fun facts! Example: When giving a presentation, audience members will judge you in the first 12 seconds and subconsciously decide if they're gonna keep listening or not. TWELVE SECONDS. Oh, here's another fun one: 72 hours of video gets uploaded to Youtube every second. *boop* 72 hours, *click* another 72 hours. It would take you three years to watch everything that was uploaded in a single day. Like, WHAT?

Please note that my company is now apparently StephCa inc. I couldn't just put "student" or "independent planner".

 More money: After class I went to Walgreens for some snacks, because it was 5pm and I didn't know when we'd be getting dinner. THE WALGREENS HAS A FRO-YO BAR INSIDE. I resisted the fro-yo that time, but I still walked away with a bag of pretzels, a banana, and a sandwich.
 Total cost: $8

 Went back up to the room and changed, and then worked out for about an hour or so. It was kind of awkward because the gym isn't listed on the map for the hotel. Turns out, you have to go through the spa to get there. Anyway, I love me some treadmills so I did that and some yoga. Feels good, man.

 After that, it was time for spontaneous shows on the Strip and dinner!

 Mirage volcano show: FREE
 (I will upload a video when I get home)

 Bellagio fountain show: FREE
 (here are pictures, but I have a video I'll upload later as well)

 Culture shock #3 and #4: You can smoke and drink just about anywhere. We realized this when we saw people walking around outside with open beer bottles and giant 50oz margaritas (I kid you not). Also, you will not find a casino without smokers. It just can't be done. And, you can buy both cigs and alcohol just about anywhere. Outside our hotel there's a corner shop with a Starbucks and a margarita bar. There are a lot of Fat Tuesdays, which is a slushie bar for alcohol-lovers. Think the 7-11 slurpie machines with jagermeister or vodka or tequila. It's just crazy all the time.

 Also, another fun thing: there are dozens of people every block that hand out cards for call girls. They are EVERYWHERE, despite prostitution being illegal. The sidewalks get flooded with these cards. Bewbz everywherez.

 Dinner money: We wandered around and finally made it to Toby Keith's I Love this Bar & Grill inside of Hurrah's. It's a restaurant created by one of my favorite country singers and it's themed around his music as well as other southern themes. There are red solo cup light strings, they give you drinks in mason jars, etc. It was fun. Lemme tell you, the fried mac'n'cheese balls were by far the best mac'n'cheese balls I have ever had. I also had a monstrous Cowboy Reuben sandwich that was ah-MAYYYY-zing. We also got very lucky because they happened to be running a deal on Groupon, so I snagged $40 worth of food for $20, and boss-lady picked up the remainder.
 Total cost for dinner: $24 (with tip); total cost at the gift shop: $10

Red solo cup lighting!

 After dinner we continued exploring around the Strip. We went to the Cosmopolitian hoping to see bunnies and kittens like from their commercials, but there weren't any ): However, there were lots and lots of shiny things, and the DJ was an awesome chick so I was happy.

 Funny enough, across the street from the likes of Prada and Louis Vuitton was a Ross, which was deemed "Ross Vegas". We got there just before midnight so we didn't get a chance to look around for long, but I will return!

 We went on and on until we finally got to the MGM Grand to catch the monorail back to Hurrah's. From there, it was about a 10-minute walk back to Starbucks outside of TI (needed tea....mmmm tea) and another half an hour before passing out in bed around 1:30am.
 Monorail ticket: $5; Tea: $2

Day One Damage Report:
Shuttle: $7.50
Lunch: $18
Snacks: $8
Dinner: $24
Souvenirs: $10
Monorail: $5
Midnight tea: $2
Day 1 Total: $74.50 - not bad.

 Day 2 will be my explore Vegas day. Day 3-4 will probably be mostly tradeshow, or a combination of both.
Day 2 Goals: Go to recommended bars and try specialty drinks. Buy the rest of the souvenirs needed, and spend less on food by buying sandwich ingredients at Walgreens instead. Stop by the tradeshow for the giveaways they're doing today and network with other industry peeps, and check out more classes!

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