(One must see the other side to get the whole picture.)
When contemplating the city, a comparison between it and LA first sprung into mind. LA is known for similar chaos and similar depletion of bank accounts, albeit in very different manners. Both are very famous cities (and they are about a four-hour drive away from each other), the most famous parts of both are as flashy as things can get, and both have the same wax museum (LA's is better, though)... Yet, they are two very different cities.
Wherever you go in LA, you can't escape the film industry. There is a sense of undeserved self-importance in the air – like the fetor of real celebrities, incidentally – that actually degrades the image of the city. Nobody wants to be around useless people who think they are important.
Our Las Vegas hotel, technically a block away from the strip, had absolutely zero slot machines in it or in its perimiter. (With casino-resorts the size that they are, it's no wonder that "a block away" isn't reasonable walking distance.) The Red Rock Canyon welcome center has no electronic blackjack table with a rattlesnake croupier. Nor does the Hoover Dam offer themed promises of financial prosperity.
All this creates the impression that you aren't smothered in what the average loon thinks the city is all about. There are a lot of loons in LA, plaguing all the non-gang-claimed parts of the city with the hollowness of the Hollywood effect.
I didn't get the same impression of Las Vegas, though. Gambling is confined; it doesn't take over the entire city.
Things that can easily be monopolized and price-gouged surprisingly aren't: for example, a 24-hour bus pass costs $7, parking is absolutely free, and gas is noticeably cheaper than in other famous US cities.
Furthermore, the tour guide unwillingly left the impression that the locals avoid the Strip and its prices like the plague, preferring to spend their time and money in the rest of the city. The fact that the Las Vegas housing market has collapsed further confirms this idea.
So, this is still the same old train-station city, now neatly accustomed to the idea of being a much bigger city with a unique entertainment district. It's a normal city that's at ease with showing off a little.
But you're still curious about what Las Vegas has to show off after midnight, aren't you? There's only one way to satisfy that...and it's not by reading.
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