Waking up in Vegas

Upon the time of writing, I’ll have been in Las Vegas for exactly three days.

To the surprise of some of my colleagues and friends, this is my first trip to Sin City (a planned trip in 2010 was aborted when it was discovered I didn’t have a working visa – this was changed later that summer) and after visiting cities in the USA such as Boston, New York, San Francisco and Austin in recent years, this has been interesting to experience such a different atmosphere.

To those who have been here, it is a very personal experience as to how you enjoy it. For me, who likes craft beer, the occasional bit of bar food and doesn’t really gamble, then two out of three ain’t bad.

“But Dan, why go to Vegas if you don’t gamble” you may ask, well those in security know this is one of the biggest weeks on the industry calendar, as the world’s finest gather for Black Hat, DefCon and BSides Las Vegas. I’ll be at all three (hopefully to gather T-shirts to pad my case out and meet some great people.

But that all begins on Tuesday, and the early arrival allowed me to get a substantial amount of work done, catch up on emails and in my time, wander the strip to see what this city has gone offer.

A couple of years ago, a couple of Journalists visited on a trip and according to one, the other spent the whole time complaining that they didn’t like it as “it was built by the mafia”. Well be that as it may, but this Scorsese fan is thriving on that – in fact the first time I really smiled was by finding the Bugsy Siegel plaque in the garden of the Flamingo. Godfather fans should know that Moe Green was based on Siegel and I shouldn’t need to explain the rest.

On my second full day here, Saturday, I took the time to visit downtown Vegas and the Fremont Street area which did resemble the Strip to an extent, but I was a bit disappointed that efforts had seemingly been made to modernise than preserve/take it to what it was. This is what Vegas can offer to American history fans like me, so it was a shame that more was not offered.

The next thing – the beer. The craft beer revolution is in full swing in London and offers some fantastic options, but did I expect Vegas to offer something similar? Ok so it is not on Facebook same scale, but Banger brewery and Triple 7 in downtown, and Sin City, Ellis Island and Tenaya Creek (all available downtown) have all been enjoyable.

My hotel did seem surprised when they saw how long I was staying, I’d guess that this is commonly a weekend city, and I’ll concur with Peter Kay that this is like “Blackpool on speed”. It’s been a number of years since the idea of a super casino was cited and refused to the golden mile, but this city doesn’t seem to tolerate bad behaviour on a negative scale, or maybe I’ve not witnessed the worst. If this experience came to England I don’t think it would be a bad thing.

I’ve got a number of days left here and the work begins in earnest tomorrow, but I have a feeling that among some regular visitors I’ll see another Vegas. For now I’ll enjoy the people watching with a locally brewed IPA, and keep away from the tables and machines. It’s a mug’s game you know 😉

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