Most of the Greyhound bus ride from San Diego to Las Vegas I spent with shifting a cold towel around my neck. Although there was air-conditioning, the temperatures were rising. In San Bernardino I was lucky that I had a correspondence with only a 30 min delay. Apparently, they were overbooking buses and people had been waiting for a long time already. Somewhere before Las Vegas, the driver suddenly stopped and asked a guy she knew on the bus for help, because there was a big insect in the driver’s cabin. When that unwelcome passenger was removed we reached Las Vegas without further delay.
I started walking towards my hostel but after about 5min I had to admit that it was just too hot to walk and carry a suitcase and therefore I took a bus at the Bonneville Transit Center. I only had to ride about 3 stops and would have had to pay 6$ for a two hour ticket because it’s the tourist strip bus. But it took me so long to find 6 single bucks and the bus driver pitied me (I was melting) that he let me ride for just two dollar.
The Hostel Cat was really cute. Painted in bright colors and with country flags everywhere. They had put me into the Australia dorm J All the people were really nice and for two nights I had a great sleep although people were coming back in the middle of the night. Everybody was very considerate.
I went to have dinner in a nearby Thai place with a German guy who works at the German school in NY. It seems to be easier for pre-school teachers to find places all over the world. We tried to work out a plan for a road trip but since he really wanted to leave the next morning, we weren’t able to travel together. Plus, it was the most disgusting papaya salad I ever had. Probably shouldn’t eat that outside of Thailand.
The next day, I went on a casino field trip. I started at the Bellagio, which had a really pretty artificial garden inside. Then I went to NYNY, where I almost got lost but I loved how they rebuilt certain parts of the city and from there short stops at Excalibur and Mandalay Bay. I had to stay inside the casinos, it was torture to walk outside in the heat. When I had to go a bigger distance, I took the Deuce strip bus. It costs 8$ for 24h but with that you can ride all the buses in Las Vegas. Vegas surely is just a huge fun park.
Once I got hungry, I went to the Palm Casino for the buffet. At the register, there was an Asian lady in front of me and since she was alone too, we sat at a table together. After all, eating is more fun in company and that woman was really funny.
With a full stomach, I was ready to conquer the Premium Fashion Outlet South. Unfortunately, the prices there weren’t that much reduced. It was more like a normal sale in a normal store.
In the early evening, I thought I’d ride to Walmart to go buy some things. I met a really nice Indian tourist couple on the bus who was also trying to get to Walmart. It took a long time and the way back was even worse because they were still in the shop and now there were only weird people on the bus. I hadn’t felt entirely safe while waiting for the bus. That made me realize again that the US is still above all a country where you need a car and that I couldn’t live in Las Vegas because I didn’t feel safe to walk anywhere after dark that was not along the strip.
By the time I got back to the hostel, I thought it was about 8.30pm but since my phone had died, I didn’t have a watch and hadn’t realized it was already 9.50pm and I had only 10min to get ready to go out with a group of people from the hostel.
They drove us to the Whynn Casino in a Hummer. There we signed up for the player’s card to get 10$ free slot money. I walked out with 17$ J Plus, you could order free drinks while you were playing, you just had to tip the waitress at least one dollar or she wouldn’t serve you anymore.
After that, we went to Casino Royale. They had a roulette table for just 4$. I watched for a while and then went to the outdoor dance club next door. But this day of walking miles and miles through casinos and malls had left me quite tired and so I returned to the hostel with the Deuce bus pretty soon, after a short stop at McDonalds. This should have been my last evening here. I hadn’t intended to spend so many days in Las Vegas. However, it turned out harder than imagined to find road trip buddies that were traveling in the same timeframe and direction as I was. After all the travelling I have done, I still don’t like this status of not knowing where I could end up the next day. I like to plan and look forward to things. But I probably have a little more relaxed attitude about that now, since it always worked out somehow, even when it was in the last minute.
Therefore, I had extended previously extended the hostel for another night to give me more time.
So, I went to the Premium Outlet Mall North the next day. This time, I found new sneakers. I needed some good quality ones, since I was still counting on my road trip and some hiking and I had to leave my old ones in Australia because they were so worn out.
In the afternoon heat, I followed some advice from other people and went to the Stratosphere tower. They have a pool on a terrace on the 8 floor and don’t really check whether you are from the hostel or not. Just don’t bring your own towel because you receive hotel towels at the pool. Since it was a concrete floor and there was hardly any shade, I just quickly jumped into the water and then fled to the air-conditioned casinos again.
For dinner, I went to Fremont St in Downtown Las Vegas. That reminded me of the food mile outside Disneyland in Paris. It really is a fun park with rides, artists, casinos and even a zip line along the whole street.
Then, I went back to Casino Royale, where I won 4$ at roulette, with which I then played 1$ Blackjack at the Riviera for an hour. In the end, I had lost my 4$ and so I stopped. I don’t think I have casino luck but you can’t go to Vegas without playing a little.
The whole evening I was also trying to meet up with people from couchsurfing for a possible road trip. However, with international cell-phones and everybody getting lost in the Vegas jungle, we never managed to meet. So, I was still without an exact plan of what to do after my last night at the hostel but there still were some options and so I wasn’t feeling desperate.
The next morning, one of the guys I had been in contact with about a road trip contacted me again and came to my hostel. This time it actually worked out to meet and after a short talk and quick plan we realized that Jean-Baptiste and I wanted to do about the same thing. Is it reasonable to just jump into a car with a traveler you have never met before? I’d say for at least 98% of the time it is, because most people are good at their heart. If I had landed within the rest 2% and not noticed it, that would just have been really bad luck. But JB and I got along great and had the same ideas about things on the trip, therefore travelling with him was very agreeable. Plus, since he is French, I really could brush up this language and we spoke French the whole week.
Renting a car from Las Vegas is horrendous and therefore it’s probably more recommendable to rent it at the coast and bring it back after Vegas. But we didn’t have a choice and so just planned a round trip back to Las Vegas instead of driving up to San Francisco afterwards, since the relocation would have cost about 300$ on its own.
Finally, at about noon, we had a car booked with Alamo and then jovially made our way to the airport by 2$ bus and then shuttle to pick up the car at 2pm. I didn’t like that we were leaving so late because we wouldn’t be able to really profit from this day but at least we could make it close to Grand Canyon and be there early the next morning.
I was surprised how easy it was to get the car at Alamo. Booking over the internet just a little over an hour ago had worked out perfectly. The guy then convinced us to take a motor size bigger for 474$/ week (at the coast you can get it for half price) because of the heat and heights we’d be travelling through. I still don’t know whether he just wanted to make more money or whether we really needed it but in the end, I loved our new VW beetle. I actually always wanted to have a car like that. And it was so nice to not have a single problem with the car (once we had figured out how to open the trunk and the gas lid) and it was cool to have a car with power that felt like taking off with an airplane whenever we sped up.
First, we went to get JB’s luggage from his couchsurfers house, which was another 20min drive out of town in the wrong direction. But after that, we were so eager for our road trip and finally, we were on the road towards Grand Canyon.