At the Venetian casino in Las Vegas, my husband and I went on a gondola ride in the outdoor canal. They also have an indoor canal, which we’ll check out next time. We wanted to have this experience. Okay, I wanted to have this experience and my husband went along lol! I’ve always wanted to ride on a gondola in Venice, and I hope to one day. In the meantime, there’s the Venetian.
The gondolier helped me step into the gondola at the starting point. Gondolas are maybe 12 feet long by 5 feet (if that) wide. Both the bow and the stern curve upward. Before you take off, a photographer takes pictures of you and your party that you can buy at the end of the ride. Oh, that reminds me: it looks like the gondolas seat 4 people at a time. We wanted a private ride (because I didn’t want to sit with strangers), and ended up paying for the 2 empty seats, but it was worth it.
Finally, we took off. During the ride, our gondolier sang “traditional” Italian songs in English, such as “‘‘O Sole Mio” and “That’s Amore.” He sang unaccompanied and thankfully had a good voice. I imagine that’s one of the criteria for becoming a gondolier.
The ride seemed to only take 5 minutes. It had to be longer than that, but that’s how it felt. We pulled back into the pier. We disembarked and bought 2 of the many photos they took of us, one of which you can see above. I love the gondolier’s face lol!
How do I describe the Fremont Street Experience? Well, first of all, Fremont Street is the main street that goes through the Old/Downtown Las Vegas area. It’s where the casinos first popped up and became popular during the Frank Sinatra days.
As for the “Experience,” there’s a free light show called the “Fremont Street Experience,” and the Fremont Street experience (notice no capital) that describes your, well, experience hanging out on Fremont Street. I’ll cover both. The reason we went to Old Las Vegas in the first place is because of the nostalgic feel of the area, and because of the light show.
When we first walked onto the street, I was excited! There were all sorts of flashing, neon lights and I recognized Binion’s, which is one of the casinos left over from back in the day. Okay, not exactly the same casino; the original was called Binion’s Horseshoe, and I’m not sure if they’re owned by the same people, or by Binion for that matter.
There was about 15 minutes before the first light show, which is on every hour, on the hour from like, 8pm to, I don’t know, midnight? We had time to kill, so we began walking down one side of the street. The moment we set forward, I suddenly noticed that it was very crowded. I mean, not REAL crowded, but crowded.
People were weaving through groups of other people and it was just chaos. Everyone was walking every which way, everywhere! Like I said a little while ago, I don’t like crowds. The worst were the people who stopped and stood still in the middle of the sidewalk! They had absolutely no idea that people were trying to move around them. We had to do some maneuvering around individuals ourselves, and it was very uncomfortable. That made me feel anxious.
On top of that, there were street performers everywhere. They were totally sleazy: men dressed in sad, superhero costumes and scantily clad ladies with whips. At one point, I wanted to stand near a pole until the light show began. But the buskers set up camp at nearly all of the poles! It was super-seedy, and this was the cleaned-up version. (The Fremont Street area was cleared of the truly-seedy during its revitalization efforts in 2012, I think.)
As for the Fremont Street Experience the light show, well…I don’t think we missed anything. It was about 5 minutes long, which was fine with me because I didn’t want to be there any longer than I had to. The light show featured lots of lights configured in abstract ways. Or maybe there was some order to them. I don’t know.
Shows are set to music by a variety of musicians such as Green Day, Linkin Park, and the Who. The one we saw was accompanied by Imagine Dragons songs, none of which impressed me. I had never even heard of them until that night lol!
Uncomfortable as it was, I’m glad I went, even if we only stayed for like, 20 minutes at most. Now I can cross this off my bucket list.
PHOTO: You can see the gigantic, super-long video screen (the largest in the world, I think), on the left side of the picture.
Have you ever been to Fremont Street? What was your experience?
I am a huge fan of the cable channel called Food Network. I enjoy their shows and love the celebrity chefs who host them. Some of those chefs have a restaurant or restaurants in Las Vegas, so of course we want to try them out during the few days that we’re here. That is, the places that have vegetarian options, anyway!
We made reservations at 3 different restaurants. Only one of them had the dress code on their website: business casual. Okay, business casual is doable. However the other 2 don’t state the dress codes on their sites and I’m at a loss as to what to wear. I should have been expecting that there would be a dress code, but oh, well.
After doing some Googling, I now know what NOT to wear: sneakers. So my Converse Chuck Taylor lows, which I wear almost every day, are out. Flip-flops are a no-no at these restaurants, which means I have to wear the dressier shoes that I brought, which means heels (mostly platform heels, but still heels), which means I have to walk carefully, especially because I haven’t worn these shoes for a while and would rather not fall flat on my face.
Jeans, especially torn jeans (even though they’re the current trend) are also out. So much for my “distressed” denim miniskirt and one of my pairs of shorts. While we’re talking about jeans, there’s the matter of t-shirts: not allowed. You must have a collar, but if you don’t you must then wear a jacket over it. Maybe that’s just for men?
I brought 2 t-shirt dresses (no-no?) and 3 “nice” dresses, so I have enough to coordinate outfits for the dinners. Oh, but I forgot to bring a black purse, which means I will worry if people notice my black shoes and brown purse. I don’t care if I don’t match at home, but in Vegas, on the Strip? I don’t know.
I’m left with this feeling that I didn’t bring enough clothes or shoes with a low heel — a condition in which I’m left feeling unworthy and inadequate and awkward. I recognize the feeling: anxiety. And I’m anguished knowing that my fears have followed me on vacation.
My husband and I are going to Vegas tomorrow to see family. We will also have time to be tourists. The only show that I want to see is Lady Gaga. I believe she will be performing jazz tunes solo, and accompanying herself on the piano. It would be an intimate setting in a theater rather than an arena.
However, I won’t be seeing this performance because the cheap tickets cost about $430 — EACH! (That’s what they were when we first checked; now it’s possible that they cost more.) It would be tight but we could afford it. I would have to give up a few things, like buying clothes for a while. And it would be my birthday present, which isn’t until July.
I had to ask myself if I wanted to see her that badly. After much pondering, the answer is no, I don’t. I’m pretty bummed out about this, I’ll admit, but she’ll probably tour again and I can catch her when she’s in town.
Is there an event you want(ed) to attend but had to say no?
Believe it or not (I’m still pinching myself), my husband and I actually have enough airline miles to go round trip somewhere in the U.S. I always thought airplane miles were a myth. Anyway, he asked me where I’d like to go. I couldn’t think of anything at first, because I was still so shocked. But then I started rattling them off: Seattle, Washington; Grand Canyon, Arizona; San Francisco, California; Austin, Texas; and the Berkshires in Massachusetts.
Seattle, Washington: I never got to go there in the 90s back when Nirvana was still performing. Maybe it’s not as hip as it was back then (not that I really care), but I’ll bet they still have great coffee.
Grand Canyon, Arizona: I don’t think the Grand Canyon is in an actual town; I think it’s its own town. What I’d like to do–and this has been a dream of mine for quite some time–is tour the canyon while riding a mule. Just like The Brady Bunch episode! Doesn’t that sound awesome??? But reservations for the mule rides fill up a year in advance.
San Francisco, California: To be perfectly honest, I know very little about San Francisco other than hippies used to hang out there in the 60s, over on Haight Ashbury. I think that’s an intersection. Also the Golden Gate Bridge is there.
Austin, Texas: Austin is the state capital of Texas. It’s also the home of the University of Texas, where Matthew McConaughey went to school. There’s supposed to be a great art scene, and good food. That is, on Chopped many of the chefs are from Austin, so I’m guessing it’s a great place for food.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts: I know very little about the Berkshires. All I know is that it’s a lovely fall vacation destination. I love fall. In spite of the fact that my depression strikes in the fall, I still love it.