Anyone who’s ever had the… let’s go with ‘pleasure’ of working an early shift with me will tell you I’m not a morning person.
I’ve tried soothing alarm tones, waking up to whatever my favourite song of the moment is, even the Superman theme, but it’s always the same result; my phone alarm goes off and I begin the day with a storm of very hurtful abuse towards it, threatening to burn it, its friends and neighbours, and everyone it holds dear to ashes. (Sorry phone, you’re just doing your job. It’s the world of 5:30am that is my true enemy. I was warm, I was dreaming, all was right with the world, and you took that from me yet again you utter piece of -) So until I can sleep again I remain irritable, struggle to function, and look like I just walked off the set of The Walking Dead. (Which I still haven’t seen. Heard it’s terrific.)
But when my alarm signals it’s time for holiday? Vegas holiday? Damn right I’m getting up. Maybe you’re not so bad, 5:30am. All is forgiven… but not forgotten.
Sighted in Manchester airport at around 8am.
(Hang on, who the f**k took that photo?)
Killing 4 hours in Heathrow with alcohol. Like there’s any other way.
First helpful tip: if you’re ever lucky enough to go to Vegas, it’s a near 11 ruddy hour flight from Heathrow. Bring comfy trousers, get plenty of water before getting on the plane, try and get an aisle seat so you can stretch your legs. Because I’m a friggin’ genius, I did none of these. After 2 hours on a plane that was far too warm, I already smelled so powerfully of sweat that the stranger sat next to me looked like he was seriously contemplating the risks of opening a window at 30,000 feet. Apologies, random plane fella.
There are a few ways to kill 11 hours in a giant flying tin can; watch the in-flight movies if they eventually get them working (I watched Finding Dory: The Pointless Sequel Your Kid Made You Sit Through) or go into the cockpit at random intervals to say ‘I just wanna tell you both good luck, we’re all counting on you.’ (Anyone who can tell me what that reference is from gets a mention in the next update!)
Sleep is also recommended, just don’t go too over the top with the travel pillows…
Apparently this is something you can buy, if you’re the type of person who wants to sit on a plane looking like a teddy bear stormtrooper.
(Sorry Ben, but I could’ve made worse jokes about that hole. 😄)
The Excalibur Las Vegas, 11th largest hotel in the world, and almost definitely the largest hotel with the word ‘Dicks’ written on the front.
Have you ever stayed in a Disney(ish) castle? Because we did, only instead of people dressed as Donald Duck and whoever else, ours had knights, wenches, and Mexicans, which are just as good.
You could spend half a week in Vegas without once leaving your hotel/resort and still have a pretty good time. The Excalibur has a huge casino (12000 slot machines huge) a spa, gym, pool, food court, restaurants, an amphitheater where they have the medieval jousting Tournament of Kings show, Thunder From Down Under (it’s an all-male strip show. No we did not go, nor did we star in it despite the organisers’ very generous offer) and a wedding chapel. (I checked, even though it’s Vegas, you can’t actually marry a sandwich there. Bastards don’t care how delicious it is.)
Dick’s Last Resort is a restaurant in Excalibur where the staff are trained to be as intentionally mean as possible to you. Since we’re all sensitive flowers, we decided not to go in. Besides, you can get the same service at any Wetherspoons for a fraction of the price!
Our first morning at around 7am we wandered the strip, one of the most unique streets in the world. It’s not everywhere you can see New York, Paris, Egypt, a poor man’s London eye…
(Tap on pics for a better look)
…and red Lego brick men all with walking distance of each other.
Best conversation I had all morning.
While exploring Caesar’s Palace (Caesar wasn’t home) we were chatted up by a woman who was a little too friendly, if you know what I mean. (If you don’t, I mean she was a hooker. At least I hope she was, or we were rather rude to a very sociable lady for no reason at all.) I’m not sure how common it is to encounter high class members of the world’s oldest profession at 7:30am in Vegas, but you know what they say, the early bird catches the worm. ‘Worm’ in this case meaning ‘penis.’ Sadly for her, as none of us felt like sharing 4 ways, we made our excuses and continued on our way.
Need to work on my posture.
The strip doesn’t stay quiet for long. By 10am the whole place was sprawling with people:
Didn’t think it was possible to photobomb your own selfie, but there you go.
On every corner some guy will ask you if you want to go to a strip club tonight (what I choose to do on my holiday is none of your business. Good day sir) or someone dressed as an Avenger offers to take a photo with you (I don’t remember the Hulk having a beer gut.) There are street entertainers everywhere; an older chap in a pink leotard and feather boas outside the Hard Rock cafe shouted to us ‘Four guys and one girl, that’s called sharing!’ (Actually I believe the proper name for it is ‘gender diversity.’ That’s what I should have said at the time, and not 6 weeks later in a blog on the internet.)
In the evening we took ourselves to see Vegas’s most famous comedy/magic act. No, not Criss Angel. (Who?) Penn & Teller, live at the Rio.
The Harry Potter films may have taught you that magic is all about waving sticks while saying strange words, men with no noses, and the slow muttering of Alan Rickman, but Penn & Teller have always been upfront that what they do is about clever distraction, well-practiced sleight of hand, and knowing the psychology behind tricking the brains of the audience. (If they tried this stuff in Biddulph (as an example of somewhere a bit behind the rest of the world) they’d be burned at the stake for witchcraft.)
There was fire-eating, card tricks involving the whole audience, a unique twist on the old ball & cup trick… At one point Penn, who also serves as narrator, brought an audience member on stage and somehow turned him into Teller, which drew gasps from the audience. It was cool and unexpected and all, but I would have been really impressed if they’d turned one (or preferably all) of my travel companions into Emma Watson. Penn & Teller will never read this, but you never know, just throwing it out there…
The real surprise came after the show, when we went out into the hallway of the Rio, and there, completely unannounced, were Penn & Teller themselves in person. These poor guys have been doing live shows 6 nights a week for 15 years, they’ve appeared on countless famous talk shows and TV shows (and had several of their own) so you could understand if they phoned it in at this stage of their careers. But they both took the time to greet, take pictures with, and thank every person who came to see them (and, in a rarity in America, there were no little extra charges thrown in for any of it.) Teller (actually his full legal name) who never talks on stage or on camera, briefly had a laugh with us and was very soft spoken.
Such a soothing voice… I wanted him to read me a bedtime story…
If Penn found it odd to take a photo with 4 lads after countless couples and families, he was nice enough not to say anything.
At 6’7, he’s also rather tall. Unless it’s another trick and he’s actually 3 dwarves stood on top of each other.
That’s how you give back to the paying audience, by giving up a couple of hours of your time every night. They’re alright, that Penn & Teller. Tremendous respect to them.
That’s enough for Part 1, wouldn’t you say? Hope it was worth your while. Next time: embarrassing videos that my friends (and myself) will hate me for posting! Coming soon…