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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.