As you may already know, I recently attended to Steve Pavlina’s Conscious Growth Workshop in Las Vegas. The workshop in itself was a fantastic event and if you want to know more on this, you should check out the series about it. Because in today’s post I’m not going to talk about the workshop. Instead, I’ll give you a little bit of what Las Vegas flavor I experienced.
Flying To Las Vegas
Going from Bucharest to Vegas involves a little bit of effort. As in any long distance flights, I had to chose one of the biggest Europeans airports with a decent selection of US flights. This time happened to be Rome. Been in Vienna a couple of times, and also found out that for Asia, Helsinki is a very convenient link point. The major advantage in choosing Rome this time was the connection time, about 1 hour. It proved to be quite risky, as we will see.
I was at the Otopeni airport (that would be in Bucharest) at 7 AM, knowing that the flight had to take off at 8:30. To my surprise, just when we were ready to board, a young lady announced that the flight has been delayed, due to atmospheric conditions around Rome. I approached her with my ticket and asked if I would catch my connection flight to New York under these new conditions. One hour between the flights, out of which 45 minutes were eaten by the delay, that would have give us only 15 minutes to run in Fiumiccino. I still run pretty good, but I didn’t think I will make it. That was exactly the impression of the young lady who gently confirmed me that I will miss my New York connection. With no idea about how and when I was going to land in Vegas under the new circumstances, I did what every decent man would do: I tweeted about my flight delay.
I don’t know if this triggered a subtle change in the complicated mechanism of flights management, but exactly when I sent my tweet, the lady announced that the delay has been canceled. Honestly, that was a little bit of a semantic twist for me, so I asked her again what the heck that meant.. “It means we’re in a hurry to take off as scheduled, mister, we’ll be there on time”. Huh, that was close.
Once in Rome, after a 2 and half hours flight, I finally found my New York connection, after dumbly looking at some billboards for about 10 minutes. It was a flight for New York, that was clear, only it was 15 minutes earlier than I knew. I went to the boarding gate and asked the lady at the desk if this was the flight for New York. “Yes, this is the flight, but it’s closed. Everybody boarded.”Â I must be looking either extremely happy, either extremely sad, because the lady said to me again: “Can I see your ticket, though?”. I handed her my ticket, preparing to ask when is the next flight after all, just to see her face suddenly starting to shine. “No, this is not your flight, sir”. I was partially relieved. “Is this not the flight for New York?” “Oh, but yes, this is going to New York”. “And still not my flight?”, I asked. “Yes, sir, we have many flights to New York, and this is not yours. Yours is boarding at the next gate”. Ashamed and silent, I started to walk backwards until I reached the new gate. When prompted to show my passport, I realized I didn’t have it. It was at the other gate. Luckily, I run still pretty fast, as I told you, so I was able to jump on the desk, took the passport, and then get back to the good gate in lest than 7.4 seconds.
Finally, I was on my plane to New York. The good flight to New York, that is.
I will quickly go over the flight itself and also over JFK airport in New York. Suffice to know I was on another plan to Las Vegas pretty fast. And there, my first shock waited silently, under the strange name of Gogo Inflight Internet. Yes, that’s right, in my plane from New York to Vegas I had my first internet connection while flying. And I must tell you it was faster than what I have backÂ home. Tweeting live from 10.000 meters above Boulder, Colorado, while going with 900 km/h at -51 degress Celsius is surely one of the highest points of the trip to Las Vegas.
Accommodation In Las Vegas
The workshop was held at Harrah’s hotel so I thought it would be a good idea to book my room in the same hotel. To some degreee, it was a good idea. I was really close to the workshop hall and pretty close to the Strip. Actually, I don’t think I could have been closer to the Strip then I was by staying at Harrah’s. The downside was the room itself. They couldn’t give me a 1 king bed room, so I ended up with 1 bed for me and another one for my laptop. The CPU fan got a good rest, that I can assure you.
The quality of the room was around 3 stars in Romania which is not much. Everything was clean and proper but not too much space around. Later on I realized that almost all hotel rooms in Vegas are pretty much the same (except splurge or glamour villas in the upper class hotels like Bellagio). The reason is that you are not suposed to spend too much time in the room. You don’t get to Vegas to spend time in the hotel room. You get to Vegas to spend time in the casinos. Is that clear?
One thing that should be noted about accommodation in Vegas is the air conditioning. I mean, what they call air conditioning. From where I come, air conditioning means making the air better. In Vegas, air conditioning literally means being hunted with cold air cannons in every spot they can catch you: in the room, in the hotel lobby, in the casinos. They don’t condition the air, they’re freezing it and they’re throwing it back to you in a strange attempt of modern torture. Many of the workshop attendants sadly exposed red eyes every morning, with uncontrollable tears coming up constantly, all because of this air conditioning bad joke.
Vegas Strip In The Morning
Las Vegas never sleeps. I got that from the first seconds of my walk around the Strip. Because of the time difference (9 hours behind home) I was pretty jetlagged when I arrived, so the best thing I could do at 3 AM in the morning was to go for a walk on the Strip. At that time the hotel casino (which basically took 90% of the first floor surface) was working as usual, the little Starbucks coffee shop near the elevators was open and everything seemed to function full speed. It was 3 AM in the morning. There were some security guys watching the slot machines and around 5-6 persons in total gambling. A part from the slot machines there were a few poker tables running and even some craps and roulette tables gambling full speed.
I slowly left the casino behind and started to explore. Vegas is in the desert and despite the efforts for a better weather experience the desert clime can be felt. The nights can get pretty cold and the days can get really hot. Put in this equation the wind (hardly stopped by the big hotels) and you get a pretty good idea. Everything was filled with light and the first word that came into my mind was opulence.
In the morning, the Strip is desert and a little bit of what’s uncovered during the day gets out. The cleaning guys, the late gamblers, the service cars. Only around 4 AM you can really see who makes the city going round and round (like in who takes care of the stuff, not who’s pouring the money which makes the city go round and round).
If you stay up until 5 AM you can actually meet some of the early runners of the city. Surprisingly enough for a tourist, Vegas is a city with regular people. Some of them love to run in the morning on the Strip, for instance.
Another big difference – at least from my European background – which can be spotted really good in the morning is the size of the cars. American cars are still too big for their purpose. And that goes from limos up to the trucks. There’s a deep feeling of overextending the size of everything, which many of the Americans doesn’t get. Being raised in that environment makes it difficult for them to pick this up, but for any European getting there for the first time this is obvious. I wonder how a native Japanese sees this.
Vegas Strip In The Evening
I had a few chances to see the Strip in the evening too. Vegas is not only the world capital of gambling, but is also exposing a lot of scene entertainment. You can go to standup comedy shows, to big, shiny performances, to strip (as in strip tease) shows or to mind challenging and sometimes disturbing shows, like the Blue Man show. Yeap, you guessed, I was at that show :-). To be honest, I really liked it, but don’t go if you’re looking for a harmonious and entertaining performance. They have this habit of picking up people from the audience, putting them on scene and getting them through really annoying situations.
The Strip in the evening is the peak of Las Vegas. Tourists, gamblers, hookers, workshop attendants (that would include me) they all wander around, being surrounded by powerful lights, strange attractions (a gondola ride at The Venetian, perhaps?) and looking for the next manifestation of what they call fun. Most of the time, they’ll get it. Sometimes, they don’t. I saw a few times people getting up from poker tables crying. But I don’t think this is having something to do with Vegas as a destination, but mostly with human nature.
By far the number one attraction of Vegas, casinos left me with the impression of one of the most efficient, smooth-running and evolved money making machines ever invented. If you looked at the casinos halls in a certain way, you could almost see money coming in, as a blue, thin, almost invisible fog, floating around form the street, getting out of gambler’s pockets, entering the slot machines, the poker and roulette chips, struggling to enter in the cashiers desks and then flowing away in the unseen Vegas undergrounds. Well, maybe I was the only one seeing this and maybe I was a little bit jetlagged. But I like that image anyway.
I really see Vegas as a city of every possibility. It has this potential of making things happening faster than any other city I’ve been it so far. If there is a possibility to go completely broke, Vegas will amplify it. If there is a possibility to get rich, Vegas will amplify that too. Behind the mindless fun and inhibition killing attitudes there’s a deeper energy working there. Maybe it wasn’t by chance that a workshop involving deep, sometimes disruptive changes was held there. Vegas is a good point to change your life, if you’re up to that.
Flying Away From Vegas
One of the highest points of the Las Vegas trip was the take off from McCarran airport. The taking off lane was one hundred meters away from one of the Strip ends and my flight for Los Angeles was scheduled sometimes after the dark. Meaning the Strip was all lightened up. Once we reached 500 meters, the plane made a large circle, keeping wings at around 45 degrees and making me feel I could almost touch the tops of Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace or Mirage. That was an incredible image. Of course, i couldn’t make a picture of it. Sometimes, the best moments are inside you ;-).
Apparently, my unconscious desire to stay a little bit more in United States was pretty strong, because I had a little bit of an incident in Los Angeles. As I told you, I got from Vegas to LA, and from LA I had to fly to Auckland, New Zealand. Everything went pretty fine until we boarded on the plane for Auckland. The LAX airport is pretty welcoming and if I wasn’t so sleepy I’m sure I would have enjoying it even more. To make a long story short, once I got boarded and settled I fell asleep almost instantly. Waking up in Auckland seemed like a pretty good plan.
Surprisingly enough, I didn’t wake up in Auckland. I wake up in the same plane, listening to the standard “no panic” voice of the pilot, who said something about a bird. And about dumping fuel. And about getting back to Los Angeles. What the heck?
After the first few minutes of surprise and confusion I finally got it. Apparently, the plane hit a bird, the bird damaged the external temperature sensors and because of that we couldn’t make it to Auckland. We were going back to Los Angeles after nearly 2 hours of flying. We landed without any incidents, the airline company (Quantas, in this case) arranged a hotel for us, and a new plane was scheduled to take us to Auckland at noon the very next day.
But I just couldn’t leave the “plane – bird” interaction without taking a picture of it.
I now know that the reasons behind getting back to Los Angeles must have been different from what the pilot told us. I think it’s pretty difficult to fly a Boeing 747-400 with such a big hole in it. Not to mention that all the sensors of Boeings are in the wings, not in the front. Anyway, everybody is happy when everything has a happy end.
The Vegas Aftermath
It was a really fantastic experience. I will surely go back there. Not only because of the workshop experience, but also because of the city. Many friends told me that Vegas is not the standard american experience. In fact, is pretty far form it. There are certainly high and low spots in my internal Vegas representation, but after I drew a line and did the big math, the result was crystal clear: I’ll go back there again. Maybe after a few visits I will consume every hotel, casino, experience or show and finally get bored.
Or maybe not. 🙂