Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Art of Hosting Visitors

It isn´t hard to figure out what to do with tourists in Las Vegas: shop on the strip, walk Fremont St., try new restaurants. What´s interesting as a local, though, is how each wave of visitors perceives their exotic vacation.

The first round of visitors came from every direction: from Denver, from south Jersey, from LA via Australia. We didn´t just walk the strip, we were forced out of convenience to split into smaller subsections because of our sheer size (only 9, but...) . This was the family reunion. So while half the family saw Jersey Boys, the other half went to Zarkana. Except my dad. He got distracted by some frilly slot machine. And now we´re questioning his stance in the family. I mean, he always shows up for meals but ever since he moved to Vegas, he´s taken up craps and betting on horse races (which my mother and I whole-heartedly support, when he wins)....

I have no doubt that this city makes people go wild. Duh, you say. But I´m not just talking about fraternity boyz and sorority gurls on spring break or even Nebraskans at a summer bachelor party. No, instead I want to discuss my aunt. She doesn´t drive; she hates getting into cars, planes, trains-especially when other people are driving them. It´s just one of those quirks people have (Personally, I cry loudly in public when I miss a plane or train, what´s wrong with that?). My dear aunt, Bless her heart, not only made it to Las Vegas from south Jersey with a smile on her face, she voluntarily rode the zipline at Fremont Street. We´re all very proud. Now my grandmother on my mother´s side is here. Slow with thick glasses, she´s almost 80. She wants to ride the roller coaster at New York New York with us today. We´re concerned since we know this is not in her character, but in the words of my mother ¨If she goes, at least she was happy. Buy the picture.¨

The second wave of visitors came with much anticipation. A friend, a solo traveler from Latvia, whom I had kept correspondence with the past few months was luckily in town on business. We met in a kitchen of a hostel in Porto, Portugal, yeah...What a friendship it´s been. We shopped for ten straight hours the first day we rekindled. Yes, ten straight hours for men´s pants, shoes, polo, shorts. It hurt, physically. Blisters ran rampant on my ankles and toes. Just as a warning, if you´re looking for a men´s size 34-34 on the strip, STOP! You just won´t find it. Not at all. Loose hope. You will find nothing between Fashion Show, Miracle Mile Shoppes, and The Forum at Caesar´s Palace.

After we found we still liked eachother a few days later, he decided to bunk at my place for about a week. From this experience, I learned that I can flip a five egg omlette like it´s easy and can now roast potatoes like Jaime Oliver. In fact I should put these on my resume under ¨Skills¨. Unfortunately, I can not stuff an eggplant worthy for my dear Latvian friend. But that really isn´t my fault. He had me cook beef. He´s known since the first day we´ve met that I´mvegetarian. Do we need to analyze further?

Me: So how is the meat?
Him: Cooked...
Me: *should I be offended?*

Either way, he ate it. And I was just dying the whole time. Never had I expected an answer so brutally honest.

There were some other cultural differences: unbearable for him, laughable for me. We spent time by the pool, on the strip, salsa dancing in my living room, even showed him around UNLV, which he found campus life to be awesome. (On the otherhand, he found Fremont Street to be disgusting. He normally stays at the M Resort when he comes to town so I wonder what he thought of my dingy little apartment with brown rugging and stained tile....). Despite our slightly awkward cultural differences (and making me wake up at 6:30 on a monday to make an omlette), I hope he visits soon!

My last two visitors included my Uncle and an old friend from high school. They stayed at the Bellagio and insisted on eating at a place called ¨Heart Attack Grille¨, where you eat for free if you weigh over 350 pounds...We walk in and the waitresses are wearing nurses outfits, one girl puts a hospital gown on us and one of those bracelets. The menu is made primarily of burgers and everything is named after a bypass surgery: single bypass burger (one patty), double bypass burger (two patties), you get the picture. My uncle ordered a vanilla milkshake. It came out with a slice of butter in it...I just ate three of my dad´s fries and called it a night.

Every visitor has a slightly varried take on what to do in fabulous Las Vegas. As a new local, it can be fun or disturbing to see what people come up with. Let´s see who comes next.