Six Hours in Vegas

Let’s say you’re taking a domestic flight within the US. Let’s say you found an amazingly great deal (NOT) on Whatsitsname Airlines, from which you’ve never heard before, and that it happens to have one of its hubs in a city you’ve never been, Las Vegas for instance, and accidentally you book (and by ‘you book’ I mean ‘a dear friend of you books’) a flight with a six-hour stopover. Oops! What do you do? Go!

HOUR 1.

Get out of the plane at a fast pace. Maybe not running, everyone’s sooo relaxed in Vegas and you shouldn’t distract them. Plus, you maybe wanna pretend you’re just stopping for a lunch meeting with a client before heading to Portland to be awesome and get wasted. Wait. No. That was me.

Anyway, you have no one waiting for you, no hotel reservation, no nothing. You can only rely on the shuttle services and public transportation (RTC) on Ground Level Zero to take you away from the airport. You can take a shuttle for as little as $10 round trip, or you can have a better deal and take the Westcliff Airport Express (WAX) for just $2. Better yet, act lost (not that you’re not, but just act it up) and have no cash, maybe a good lady can pay for your bus ride. Then get off the bus on Tropicana at Las Vegas Blvd. Look up, that’s the New York New York. But no, seriously, do have some cash.

New York-New York Hotel & Casino

 

HOUR 2.

Walk. Walk, walk, walk. You should be getting tempted by all the Cirque du Soleil ads on the Strip, but being realistic, there’s no way you can make it into a paid show unless your stop is overnight, and this is not the case. And it’s still not time for the freebies. Now, keep walking.

The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil, at The Mirage

 

HOUR 3.

This is where it becomes tricky. A) Should you keep walking and see all the madness happening on the Strip? Or B) should you get lost inside the beautiful hotels and casinos? If you keep walking, you might reach the Sirens of Treasure Island AND the Bellagio Fountains on your way back, but if you wander slowly (and have extra dollars) you can pick a nice spot to have a fancy meal. Tough one. Well, you’ve never been to Vegas, you can find fancy meals pretty much anywhere, and you’re really REALLY on a tight budget… so you go with A. Hey, look! There’s that casino Danny Ocean robbed!

The Bellagio Fountains

 

HOUR 4.

So you made it to see the beautiful Sirens of TI. Time to start heading back. Think of security controls, you have to be at McCarran at least about an hour before your connection. And, of course, you checked the RTC schedules to know exactly when you have to be at the bus stop, but your legs are a bit sore and you’re feeling just a little bit hungry. After all, flying low-cost means you didn’t have any peanuts cause they’re about a buck each.

You stop at some Shea’s Casino not because you’ve heard amazing things or even read a blog post mentioning it, but because you just couldn’t believe the amazing Beer+Hot Dog deal they were offering. Do it, you’re hungry, you’re thirsty AND you love playing beer pong with strangers …and you still have about an hour and a half to catch your plane. Wait, what? Now you don’t walk, you run. Your business meeting was cancelled last minute and they just told you.

 

HOUR 5.

The sun just came down and everything’s lit up and beautiful just as seen on TV and movies where people rob casinos. You can’t really take your time stopping at each photo moment you see and you know it. But there’s something you actually knew you could see, the Bellagio Fountains. Oh, what an incredible idea to just shoot water to the sky to the sound of random music and make it a free show.

 

HOUR 5 AND A HALF.

Run for your life. But you can’t leave Vegas without a souvenir for your mom who impatiently awaits the day you come back from a trip to see what new magnet is gonna have a place on the fridge; after all, the time a regular person spends in Vegas conscious and sober must be about what just took you to walk 75% of the Strip. Good luck you spotted a CVS Pharmacy, where besides water bottles and snacks, they also have the cheapest souvenirs in town. Then you make it just in time to take the bus back to the airport outside the Tropicana.

The Strip

 

HOUR 6.

One word, airport.

 

After all, and quoting Tony Curtis, you like Vegas for its spontaneity. And six hours walking and running up and down The Strip are definitely a much better choice than waiting in the airport for so long. So, you know you’ll be back.

An endless quest

I’m on an endless quest to find my favorite burger.

Burgers might be the best invention of man since fire. I’m even convinced that fire came as a result of this one guy desperately and instinctively craving a nice, warm, big, fat, greasy, chunky, medium-rare mammoth burger. I can’t imagine any other reason, really.

Anyway, this weakness for burgers is a bit of an obstacle when it comes to reading a menu in a new restaurant. My eyes start looking instantly for those six sexy letters and don’t care to read anything else. There are times when I have to remind myself there’s a whole new universe outside of burgers and I try something else, but when I hunger for one, nothing can stop me.

So, there’s this place right on Fifth Avenue in San Diego’s gorgeous Gaslamp Quarter. A cozy, relaxed, dim lighted joint with room for everyone and a little bit of a cosa nostra feel. Nicky Rottens.

Nicky Rottens

I tried several burger joints while in Southern California, and this is the place that has that one bite that exceeded my expectations. Not that I had any.

The menu has a total of 14 different options of burgers (among other stuff), and Rottens “Stinky” Burger was the one I went for. ‘Da one thata smella lika Nana Tutu’s feet’ it says. Turns out I was right about that cosa nostra feel. Oh, sweet Nana Tutu! I wish I could have your feet on my plate forev— ok, that didn’t sound very good. Apple-wood smoked bacon, bleu cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and the house sauce went down very well with a deliciously hoppy pint of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale. Plus, I was there on a Monday night, when happy hour goes until close and . Can this get ANY better? I don’t think so, that’s why it currently holds the top spot on my list.

No can imagine it? Well, I was so busy making out with it that I didn’t even think of taking a picture, so no food porn.

Downtown San Diego

Hello, I’m doing this!

It seems only fitting that my opening post should be about why I decided to do this in the first place.

Unlike most travel writers I follow, I didn’t think of taking a sabbatical and travel for a while after college, or taking a career break. I just wanted to live outside Mexico… or at least that’s what I thought.

Long story short. I studied in Madrid for six months during college, traveled around and finally rejected a job offer only to come back home and graduate as a Graphic Designer because that’s what I was supposed to do… or at least that’s what I thought. I graduated and after working in different agencies I felt the urge to go back and start a new life in Spain, so I paid for a two-month course in Barcelona. After it finished, I started looking for a job and I got one. In Moscow. And as much as I was already deeply in love with the catalonian summer, I felt like I had to take it. So I moved to Moscow for three months. But anyway, that’s a whole different story I’ll tell later as it marks a before/after point in my life.

I’m not very fond of getting philosophical about stuff, but back home I started having deep thoughts about what I want to really do or start pursuing. So this is when “this” came up as a bit of an enlightenment when all these clues and facts started and kept coming back to my head, and have actually been there all the time:

FACT 1. I always liked the geography class when I was a kid. I was the nerd that got really excited when the assignment was to learn the capitals of certain continent and started thinking ‘wow, this country has a REALLY cool name, what’s there?’ …of course I’ve now forgotten most capitals, but to be honest I’m kinda still that nerd, though. Thank god for Wikipedia and Travel Blogs!

FACTS 2, 3 & 4. I’ve been taking flights by myself since I was about twelve, and I don’t remember ever feeling afraid or extremely nervous. But I do have a love-hate relationship with airports: something has to happen every-F-time. I don’t know why but it always does, whether it is something as simple as a delayed flight or as awkward as getting off the plane watched and treated as some walking pandemic threat (true story). With that said, when I tell my friends this funny stories, they say I should write them down as a back up if I run out of bedtime stories for my grandchildren.

FACT 4. I’ve come to realize that I have a pattern on my decision-making. I like to get in trouble …but I can never imagine deciding otherwise. In other words, I drink the water before even considering if the glass is half full or half empty.

FACT 5. I’m an Internet junkie. And I can spend hours reading, either experiences from others or just basic information, about places I don’t know if I’ll ever go to. And I love it.

FACT 6. I also love being a designer. I think it has really made me see things from a different perspective. Maybe that’s why I don’t get people most of the time.

FACT 7. I love food. I love wine. And I love beer. And burgers.

End of facts.

So, what is “this”?

Well, I don’t know for sure. But today, “this” is me doing what I think I’m really supposed to do with my life. It’s me starting a parallel career without quitting the one I’ve already started. But maybe it’s me acknowledging that I want a different future than the one I went to college for. ‘This’ is me realizing that ‘to settle down’ doesn’t mean to ‘get stuck’ (not that I want to settle down, though). It’s finding a way to do what I’ve noticed I never ever complain about while doing it: traveling. And this is me not only traveling but sharing my travels.

As time’s gone by, and as a whole realization, I now know I don’t want to just live outside Mexico …what I want is to be constantly moving.

Los Angeles Union Station