We’re back from Las Vegas, and I will preface this by saying we had a fabulous time with our friends last week. Their wedding was also lovely, and a good time was had by all in our little party of four.

Our trip got off to a rocky start though. As much as I love to travel, I get antsy before we leave to go anywhere. I was especially stressed out by this trip for a couple of reasons. First of all, it was our first trip since Maya, our cat, had been diagnosed with diabetes. We used to just leave the cats with a big bowl of food and water and they’d be fine for a few days. Now she needs daily insulin shots, so we hired a pet sitter to look after her and Gwendolyn while we were away. We’d met the woman who’d be taking care of our beasts, and I was more than confident she could handle the crotchety old kitties. Still, I was apprehensive about leaving the well being of our four-legged family in the hands of a stranger.

We were also tired. I’d had a lot to, both at home and work before we left and my anxiety was not allowing me a restful sleep. Meanwhile, Jeremy hadn’t been feeling well and was also restless. He was having kidney stone issues that seemed to just get worse as the week wore on. Finally, on Friday morning before the sun was up, I took my pain stricken husband to the hospital for the third time that week. At that point I wondered if we would even be going, since our flight to Las Vegas was the next day.

The hospital managed to fit Jeremy in for surgery that afternoon and when picked him up he was feeling good. It looked like we were going after all, so Saturday morning we were on our way to the airport, weary but optimistic. We landed in Las Vegas on schedule and met up with the bride and groom who’d arrived a few hours earlier.

Some advice for the first time visitor to Las Vegas: hand over your wallet and bend over. This may sound vulgar but there really isn’t anything tasteful about this place. I’ll admit, it’s quite a spectacle, but the ostentatious resorts, grossly overpriced, yet mediocre restaurants and countless billboards with scantily clad women offering good times, got tiresome pretty fast. Not to mention smoky casinos and tacky attractions. There ‘s a million different ways to fritter way your money here, and even though we didn’t gamble or see any the expensive shows, we still managed to spend a fortune, just on the basics.

One thing that I did love about Las Vegas was our resort. When we were planning our trip, I’d talked the bride and groom out of the Bellagio and suggested booking at the Tropicana instead. The later had rave reviews on many travel sites, but the room rates were dirt cheap – and we all know how much I love a bargain. After a few days in Las Vegas, it was a compromise we all agreed added to the overall enjoyment of the trip. It was perfect.

The Tropicana is one of the older hotels on the strip and over the past few years it’s undergone a multi million-dollar renovation. It’s comparatively small next to most of the other behemoth resorts in the area, making it cozy. The location was great too. It’s located at the far south end of the strip, not quite off the beaten path, but far enough away from the city center crowds. It was also bright, clean, and had a Starbucks right in the lobby.

The hotel also had a fabulous pool and quiet little café, where we had most of our meals. My favourite part of the property though, was a vintage two-story hotel motel wing they’d left behind after the renovation. It’s unoccupied but it gives the property a touch of retro Las Vegas. It was a nice touch in a town known for imploding their history.

We spent most of our trip wandering though the famous lobbies, casinos, and shops on the strip. We also spent a bit of time downtown – Glitter Gulch, parts of which, I recognized from movies. After having been there, all I can say is that Las Vegas is where culture has gone to die.

I guess it just wasn’t our kind of place. We’re glad to have seen it for ourselves. We can now check weekend in Vegas off our list of quintessential life experiences, but overall, we were underwhelmed.

The Venetian. It’s just like being in Italy!

The flower bouquets dangling from the trees in the Palazzo were actually really pretty.

Of course, our real reason for the trip was the wedding. Despite being in Vegas, they decided to take the classy route. Not an easy thing to do in that gaudy place. The wedding was at a tasteful chapel, and then afterward they’d hired a limousine to take us to the steakhouse at the Bellagio for dinner. Our table overlooked the “lake” where their famous fountain show takes place. According to our server, George Clooney and his pals hung out there during the filming of Ocean’s Eleven. I’m sure he was full of crap, but we were suitably impressed, nonetheless.

Now blissfully married, or friends honeymooned, while we returned home in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Thanks to a suitcase full of heavy-duty pharmaceuticals, Jeremy survived the trip, and is now convalescing at home. We found the cats happy and healthy after our absence, and I quickly returned to the grind. I could have used a longer break, but at the same time, I’m happy to be home.

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