_Nick Amendolara III
After an uneventful detour to Los Angeles, and a short flight out of LAX, we had made it to Paradise, Nevada, the official town name of Las Vegas. If you’ve never been to Vegas, the taxi ride through the strip resembles an elaborate amusement park on a massive scale. The hotel New York, New York is a cartoonish recreation of some of New York’s most recognizable skyscrapers and city streets. The Luxor is a giant glass pyramid, guarded by massive sphinx and all. There is a volcano outside of The Mirage that “erupts” ever half an hour. The largest collection of buildings belongs to Caesar’s Palace, famed for its representation in the 2009 film, The Hangover. We had finally reached the front doors of the Bellagio and facing the understated front of our hotel is the Paris, with, you guessed it, a full size recreation of the Eiffel Tower. The front desk had been made aware of the purpose of our visit, which is why we were upgraded to stay in the 1,100 square foot Bellagio Suite, equipped with three bathrooms, a spacious living room with a massive flat screen and two queen sized beds in the bedroom. Each of the bathrooms had a different enmity. The first with a large TV inside of the mirror, the second with a slightly smaller TV and a whirlpool bath, and the last had a granite shower that doubled as a humungous sauna. One thing to say about the weather in Vegas is that it’s always hot, being as it is in the middle of the desert. Ignoring this, I wore only suits during the whole trip to fulfill my fantasy of being a young and less cool James Bond.
The room was absolutely fantastic, but no one comes to Vegas to stay in the room. I couldn’t wait to hit the Blackjack tables, but between you and me, I was absolutely terrified to be gambling $15 per hand (the lowest limit table I could find). I decided to see a few shows first to get acclimated, while my dad would be playing in a few tournaments at Caesar’s. We first went to eat dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s Steakhouse across the street at the Paris. I had Ramsay’s famous Beef Wellington and James Bond’s drink of choice, the Vesper Martini. After the amazing meal, my dad and I parted ways. I was off to see Penn and Teller at the Rio and he was off to compete in a Texas Hold’em Tournament. We had agreed to meet in the Bellagio lobby at midnight so that I could sit and gamble at my first table. I sat three rows from the stage at Penn and Teller, and I used my new privilege to buy some $15 drink from my seat. After the amazingly interactive magic show, I got to meet both Penn and Teller outside of the theater and took a drunken selfie with both of them. I managed to straggle my way back to the Bellagio with 10 minutes to spare before midnight. I waited at the lobby bar where I managed to drink an Old Fashioned for an hour before I got tired and walked back to my room. I woke up the next morning at 11 am with my dad repeating, “You’re not going to believe it” over and over again. I walked into the living room to see a medal from Caesar’s with the inscription, “2015 Caesar’s Palace Tournament Winner.” He didn’t say how much he won, only that it was “a couple hundred dollars.” We then went down to the Bellagio’s race book, which is where they have all the major horse races on televisions. The place was decorated with leather seats, personal desks with small televisions and 9 monstrous projections of every race on the far wall. A few vodka cranberries and a few losers and one winner later, I was off to see an Elvis tribute concert because Elvis is synonymous with Vegas and I wasn’t about to leave without hearing My Way and Viva Las Vegas.
Quite frankly, I could go on and on about this trip. Between the food, the free drinks, the money, the shows and pure display of wealth, it was all pure magic. Turning 21 itself is an amazing life experience, but having that experience in Las Vegas with my father is something I will remember and truly cherish for the rest of my life.