I hinted in an earlier post that PL and I would be going on a vacation soon (May 10-15 to be exact)! We really need one. I’m in a funk at work and still not recovered from some huge projects. PL spends all of her time studying and still has to get through finals. We’ve been doing ok budget-wise (also translated into too busy to go anywhere or buy anything, but I highly recommend it as a good strategy for saving money) and PL is also going to get a scholarship this summer to help support her in her unpaid saving the world internship. So, we felt like we could afford to take a good vacation rather than going away for a weekend away somewhere closer to home. One weekend would be better than nothing, but we both feel like we need to go further away and just hang out together.
We had a few fun options on the table–Fort Lauderdale and LasVegas were both towards the top of the list since we’ve vacationed both places before and loved those cities. We also still want to go to San Fransisco, Portland, Chicago and Seattle but didn’t think it was the time of year to catch the best weather any of those places. They are also more expensive plane tickets and/or hotels and we’re not sure what we would do with a full week there. The quest for warm and sunny weather aside, Fort Lauderdale and LasVegas are places that are actually quite cheap vacations, even with a plane trip. Airfare is usually pretty cheap to those cities and you can also get really good deals on hotels.
Fort Lauderdale still has a lot of the older small motels from an earlier pre-high rise condo era, and it’s a city where those lodging options are cheap, clean and well-managed. We stayed in a lovely small town just outside of Fort Lauderdale after I turned in my Masters Thesis and we spent most of the week reading by the pool–after 3 years in grad school I actually got to read a novel! Our last vacation was to another beach, albeit with PL’s parents, brother and nephew, and we spent most of that week reading, putting together puzzles, and swimming with the kid. It was great, but that beach literally had nothing to do and we learned that despite thinking that doing absolutely nothing all week seems appealing, we actually are the kind of vacationers that like some activities to keep us busy.
We decided we wanted this vacation to be a combination of doing some fun things and relaxing. So, we both overwhelmingly picked going back to Las Vegas. We went to Las Vegas for 4 days for PL’s 25th birthday and we loved it.
We don’t seem like Vegas people do we? But for whatever reason, we both love it. The fact that it’s not authentic (fake Paris, fake New York, fake Venice, etc…) is amusing but not bothersome. It’s a city that knows it’s pretty tacky and so totally over the top, so that makes it ok. And right next door to something really bright and neon is a super elegant and luxurious hotel, and that’s ok too. I think the first time I saw all the way down the Strip at night I said something along the lines of, “It looks like Capitalism threw up.” We’re not quite as wild as Vegas’ image suggests we should be to party there, but I kind of suspect nobody else really is either–it’s just nice to think that you are a laid-back and cool person who can walk around with foot-long margaritas in the middle of the day.
The hotels are really nice, at least ours certainly was, and they are so giant that they didn’t really feel crowded even though there were lots of people–anonymity without claustrophobia. Hotels also slash prices drastically on weekdays–for example a room that costs $300 or more on a weekend will be much closer to $100 or even less during the week. We stayed in the Luxor since we got an insanely cheap rate for a nice room that week. Luxor is the Egyptian themed hotel (not really my thing but it wasn’t too overwhelming). Part of the hotel is shaped like a pyramid and it’s slightly odd to ride at at a 45 degree angle on an elevator. The hotel also has a Sphinx and a giant light bean coming out of the top, so it’s certainly easy to find your way home. We did a little bit of gambling at our casio and several others and spent time in several cool arcades–which we actually liked much more than the gambling. Mostly we just had fun walking around and seeing the different attractions at the hotels, most of which are free. There’s also an M&M’s store in Las Vegas which just might be the happiest place on earth.
I also took us on a surprise day trip to the Grand Canyon for PL’s birthday. I was so nervous that PL would freak out over having to get on a tiny plane to get there and back, but she wasn’t as afraid of heights or small planes as she claimed to be. I’m such a good influence on her–she eats all sorts of vegetables she didn’t think she liked before we met, she will go up tall things now (except our roof), and somehow Emory Law has gotten her to eat shrimp on several occasions now…next up? Liking beer?
I think the main drawback to Vegas is that restaurants are pretty pricey. There is a good range of reasonably priced places though, right in line with what we usually spend at home, but we don’t normally eat all 3 meals out each day at home. We normally try to save money on vacation by sharing entrees, taking leftovers with us and also getting a few groceries to be able to eat cereal and sandwiches for some meals. But in Vegas there are sometimes charges for extra plates to split meals, and no fridges in most of of the rooms for leftovers/groceries. That’s a lot of meals eaten at restaurants, and that’s never cheap.
We also really enjoyed our hotel, but it was pretty far at one end of the Strip and most of the cool stuff to see and do is in the middle. We wanted to try a different hotel this time, since found that we spent a lot of time in our own hotel since there was so much to do right there. One other hotel we particulary enjoyed visiting was the Paris hotel–complete with 1/2 replica Eiffel tower and 2/3 replica Arch de Triumph. There were frequent cabaret acts all around the casino and lobby, and we just liked the overal look and feel of the place. Paris also advertises extensively in LGBT publications, as does the rest of Vegas acutally, so we wanted to support them. It’s slightly more expensive than where we stayed last time, but still a good deal and also a much nicer hotel.
We’ve started to think of certain activities we want to make sure we do–some new things and some repeats of favorites (I could stand and watch the fountain shows at the Bellagio all day and night). We travel really well together and like to plan a few activities in advance, but are also really flexible in deciding what we want to do each day. Our only vacation problems involve me having low blood sugar and being disagreeable because we can’t decide where to eat. As we make any firm plans, or maybe after the trip, I’ll write more about some of the fun activities we plan to do.