Vegas, baby!

My life is a little crazy, crazy in a good way.  This week I found myself in Las Vegas for a job.  By some miracle of scheduling, I had a free evening – which never happens – and I decided to explore.

I was done with work at about 5pm, and I had to be ready for my ride to the airport at 9am the following day.  Sixteen hours!  Doable.

I had a couple of things I wanted to accomplish:  I wanted to see a show.  I wanted to see the fountain at the Bellagio.  I wanted a great meal.  I wanted to gamble a little.  And, I wanted to smoke at least one great cigar.

Unfortunately I was staying in North Las Vegas, and I have to take a $60 cab ride to The Strip. First order of business: tickets to a show.  I wanted a big, Vegas-style showgirls show, but I settled for a magic show with The Amazing Jonathan at Planet Hollywood.  No complaints though, it was hysterical.

The Amazing Jonathan

Next order of business: food.  I had heard the buffet at Harrah’s was amazing, and (why lie about it?) I really love an all-you-can-eat environment.  I got all the way to the restaurant, but the line was too long; I was going to miss the show.  So, I headed back toward Planet Hollywood, and it was getting so late, I had to grab burger at Wendy’s.  Fail.

After the show, I just wanted to explore.  I went to just about every casino.  I got to see the Bellagio fountain.  I saw the stupid, mini-Eiffel Tower at Paris and the stupid, mini-Empire State Building at New York, New York.
Lot’s of stupid stuff, but the sum of it all is really awesome and fun.  Clearly it’s not a place meant to be visited alone.  When I get a chance to come back with a group of friends, I’m sure it’s going to be a ton of fun.

I had the impression that Vegas was a cigar city.  I’m not sure where that came from, the movie Swingers maybe?  When I arrived and started looking around, I didn’t see anyone smoking cigars.  I saw a bunch of families, from all over the world, all having a great time.  I didn’t want to be rude by firing up a cigar in the middle of a crowd.

That was early in the evening.  After the show, I kept exploring, and the dynamic had completely changed.  It was now groups of friends, bachelor parties, and rich and gorgeous people.  Out came the cigars. (Of course there was still the gross element there: trashy people and sad slot machine addicts, but it’s easier to just look past them.)

I felt more than comfortable lighting up a cigar at this point.  I sat down in the sports betting area at Caesar’s Palace, in the big comfy chairs, and I pulled out a cigar I had brought with me, a Gurkha Park Avenue Series 44 Torpedo (6.25×52).  I was seated near three young guys smoking cigars.  I tried to make conversation, but their English was pretty terrible.  I think they were from Spain.  They tried though; it was actually kind of funny.

I don’t often get to smoke indoors, unless I’m at a cigar bar.  It was refreshing to be able to walk around, gamble a little and smoke.  I am not a huge gambler, but I love Roulette.  I played for a while, always better RED 33, and smoking this fantastic cigar.  Oh, I should mention that at midnight, it became my 33rd birthday, that’s why I was betting 33. I mentioned that to the couple next to me, and I had a birthday toast with them.  People were very friendly.

As a side note, I had never had a Gurkha before, and it was a fantastic smoke.  Great taste.  Very pure tasting.  Simple but not bland.  I will definitely give Gurkhas some thought next time I’m at the cigar store.

At that point in the night, it was just after midnight, and I still had a lot of exploring to do.  So I headed south, and I was determined to see as much as I could before I passed out from exhaustion.  Of course, the free drinks were taking their toll too.  (Yeah, I was drinking alone.  I believe in this rare scenario it is not a cry for help – it’s just what you do.  Don’t judge me.)

Around 2am, I decided I wanted another cigar and searched for a cigar store in some casino.  It seemed like most casinos has one if you looked hard enough.  I found a little store in The Excelsior, and bought a Macanudo Café Crystal in a glass tube for $16.  Maybe I was being cheap, but the cigars were so overpriced, that I wanted to save a little money with a Macanudo.  Also, you always know what to expect with a Macanudo: simple, woody, reliable.

Long story short, I got in a cab at 3:30am and flew out in the morning after 3 hours of sleep and a hot shower.

What a great trip!  I get the impression that you have to go to Vegas a few times to figure out how to do it right: Where to stay, where to gamble, where to eat, where to buy cigars.  But for a couple of hours, I think I did a good job.  And, I gambled for hours, and left only down $15.  Success.