America,  TDM,  Travel Journal,  USA

7h stopover in Las Vegas (United States): a Giant Amusement Park

To make Mexico City – Paris, JB found an atypical but economical and interesting route: Mexico City – Las Vegas – Paris with a 7h stopover in Las Vegas. At the beginning, I just wanted to rest quietly in one of the lounges at the airport (because we have the Priority Pass with the American Express), but JB encouraged me and convinced me to go out and visit the city a bit. I admit that I had a rather negative preconception of Las Vegas, but after a few hours of stopover there, I changed my mind.

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

The arrival in Las Vegas by plane is just impressive! I’m placed next to a window on the right side and see the desert, probably the Grand Canyon too… and then a huge lake I didn’t know existed. Las Vegas is a huge city and you can realize its size by observing it from the plane.

Who says Las Vegas says Casino… but not only! Unlike Macau where the only occupation is gambling at the casino, Las Vegas is more like a giant amusement park, with shows for all tastes and ages. In spite of our 7h stopover in Las Vegas, in reality, we could enjoy the city only in 3 hours, between the passage at the immigration (very smooth even if it was slow), the fact of recovering the luggage (our trip was with two different companies so we had to manage the connection in an autonomous way), to deposit them in lockers then to check them again for the flight to Paris…

To go faster, take a Uber from the airport to the city center (about 13 USD + tip). In the United States, the drivers are quite talkative (and even in Uber Pool, people talk to each other), so we took the opportunity to ask for the best place to eat very quickly. The driver speaks to us about “in and out”, one of the best burgers of the city. When we raved in front of “Shake Shack”, he made a funny face like “omg, these tourists!!”.

Unfortunately, his best burger address isn’t so bad. The service is fast, sure, but the fries don’t even come close to McDonald’s or Shake Shack or Five Guys. I validate the burger though (JB is less convinced). Next time, I’ll ask for an address where you can find a good burger AND good fries. Drinks are served of course at the fountain, with refill at will, American style.

Good, our stomach is filled (it should be said that we are up since approximately 10h and we hardly swallowed anything), we can afford to walk. The program is entirely established by JB this time. Program which is limited to traverse the strip, avenue where the most famous hotels and casinos are, while remaining attentive to the hour not to miss our plane

This city is really special because suddenly I feel like a lot of things – me who didn’t even want to get out of the airport ahahah – it’s THE place where you feel like consuming too much and that you would even be happy to consume, spend… it’s crazy!

Direction the Bellagio fountains where there is a mini “show” of water and sound every 5 minutes or so. I imagined the fountain to be smaller and more isolated, it’s actually right in front of a hotel complex, with several view points. It’s super cool. It must be even nicer at night with the lights.

Just opposite is “Paris”, with its Eiffel Tower and its bistro. There is even a mini triumphal arch and a soooo French hotel, it’s super well done.

We still haven’t been to Venice but we have visited fake Venice three times, in Doha, Macau and now Las Vegas. The Venitian looks a lot like the one we saw in Macau, but more beautiful and more surprising. The Venice canal and the boats are smaller though. It is a place that I particularly like because I find that everything is very very well done, we even have a fake bridge, fake balconies… the whole thing.

What surprises us a lot is that access to the casinos isn’t controlled at all. No ID to take out, no verification if you are banned from the casino or not (maybe it doesn’t exist in the United States?)… it’s as open as a souvenir or clothing store. The only thing not allowed is to take pictures, but that’s it!

Caesars Palace is an absolutely essential place: already the complex is huge, there are many buildings, you can see them from far away, but moreover, it is here that Celine Dion had her “residence” for many years.

Other artists have their residency (or a show in residence) in Las Vegas like Shania Twain. We saw posters for 2 Mariah Carey dates. Apparently the two most popular shows at the moment are: Michael Jackson and The Beatles, two Cirque du Soleil shows. It’s about a hundred dollars for these shows. The other less famous shows offer discounts for same day shows.

We also passed quickly in Uber in front of a huge pyramid (and the Sphinx): Luxor Las Vegas. It is so enormous that we also see them from the plane. The hotel Excalibur is also surprising. I would have liked to go to CSI: The Experience to solve a fictitious crime the CSI way, or to go to New York New York… but it is already time to go back to the airport.

I barely have time to run to the Sephora and the nearest CVS to buy a few small gifts (see my list of things to bring back from the USA). We call a Uber and are dropped off at the airport. 3 hours to visit Las Vegas is much too short ! But it made me want to go back one day. We will take advantage of it to discover the Grand Canyon which makes JB dream. It’s funny, I had absolutely no desire to go there, but the city knew how to change my mind in a very short time.

once again, I am well placed (porthole, on the left side)

Part 2: Practical Tips

  • The SIM card I bought in Mexico still works in the US (and Canada), I have the 4G! If you are from Mexico, don’t throw away your Mexican SIM card right away!
  • If needed you can buy an American SIM card at the airport in a vending machine (see our detailed article).
  • From the city center, the hotel complexes and casinos can be easily visited on foot
  • Apart from fast food, count 15% to 20% tips at the restaurant
  • We paid for our flight Las Vegas – Paris with Level (175 € / person one way !! Hold luggage and food included). But this line is no longer offered by the company. Without the Level Plus Bundle (hold luggage + meal), the flight would have cost us only 131 € / person but would have included only one free drink (in 10h !). Even if it can be understood for such a low cost, it isn’t intuitive that meals aren’t included for a long haul. Many passengers seemed to find this out. It was possible to order meals and drinks on board (using the screen, at rather good rates for a flight) but everything was very quickly sold out. Some must have been hungry! We were very pleasantly surprised by this flight (modern and comfortable plane, no delay, …) but if you don’t order your meals in advance, plan to have something to eat and drink on you.

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