Las Vegas: Debauchery and Canyons

Las Vegas: Debauchery and Canyons

When I first thought about going to Las Vegas, I wasn’t so sure it would be my thing. Most people agreed that it was a great place to spend a lot of money on partying and gambling and not much else – like some sort of adult Disneyland – and my scene is a lot more towards the cheap travel, hostels and Couchsurfing end of things. But I had thought about passing through anyway, since I wanted to go and see the Grand Canyon and Death Valley…and I was curious. So I went. Here are some impressions of Vegas: I won’t go into detail about what happened that Saturday because I now truly understand why everyone keeps repeating the old adage, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. It’s exactly like The Hangover – a place where everyone has carefree anonymity and where anything can happen. If you ever express surprise at anything you have seen or heard, people will shrug, smile, and say “It’s Vegas!”. The strip of hotel and casino resorts is a mirage specifically set up to make you spend all your money, and the Vegas ideal is that you don’t feel bad about it. Sin City is not just a crazy place – it is a sanctuary from guilt, because everyone is in on it. Note: I will say this. If you go up to a good-looking girl who is alone at the bar and start talking to her, even if you think you’re rocking it because the conversation is good and you’re both smiling, EVEN if you’re now conversing in French because she’s Belgian...
Los Angeles: Friends and Sunsets

Los Angeles: Friends and Sunsets

Los Angeles; LA; City of Angels; the home of Hollywood. Though I rarely have expectations of places when I travel, Los Angeles is a ubiquitous sight on films and TV shows, so it’s hard not to think you know something about the feel and look of the place. As with most things, it’s not how you imagine it. One of the most striking things about LA is the sunsets. LA is plagued with smog, but with easterly winds pushing it out to the sea, the sunsets you can see from the beaches are a haze of rainbow colours. Beautiful. LA is also massive. Although a small part of it (Downtown LA) is very busy and reasonably well-served by public transport, that’s only a fraction of the greater Los Angeles area. It’s reminiscent of Istanbul in that there are many “centres” with their own communities and appeal – the buzzing hive of perfect bodies in Venice Beach and Huntington Beach, the family-friendly Laguna Beach, the younger, more relaxed vibe of Long Beach…and that’s without mentioning the many distinct suburbs in the outskirts, which nevertheless have huge shopping centres (“strip malls”) with everything from grocery stores to martial arts gyms. The distances are huge, the whole area is sprawling, and getting around without a car is essentially impossible, although the Uber phenomenon has greatly liberated Angelenos. It is on this note that I count my blessings of having some local friends. Travelling for me is always about the people, and LA has not disappointed. In my 2014 summer travels in Europe, I was lucky enough to befriend two guys from LA...