Vegas wasn’t initially on the radar when I started planning my biannual visa renewal trip. I looked at a bunch of other destinations first: LA, Belize City, Panama, Miami, San Antonio, El Paso, New Orleans, and [even] Sacramento.

Most of the destinations failed because they either had really crappily long or awkward travel schedules: like be at the airport at 4 am, or route me 600 miles out of my way through your hub in Atlanta. Huh, why?

Or they were just too expensive (Belize was an astounding $900). And it was insane when I paid $650 six months ago to make the short non-stop 3 hour flight to Dallas and back. But 2-stops would have only cost $475. Where is the logic in that? Are airlines deliberately trying to piss us all off?

Note: Volaris Airlines – my ride to Las Vegas – made me go through something like 15 web pages to enter in all my data and answer all their mostly do you want to buy these services questions. And their advertised $395 fare turned out to be $440 after you added a couple of chickenshit things like paying for your seats; as in those things that contain the seat belts. You know those things, the safety things that the flight crew are constantly nagging everyone about.

Oh and Volaris wouldn’t let you leave a box unchecked about whether you wanted to (like it was your choice) donate either $2 or $4 to help offset your part of the flight’s carbon burden. This was like web page ten and it was a f**king wonder I didn’t have a stroke on the spot. You literally couldn’t exit the page without making one of the two mandatory donations.

In the end – after much searching of prices and schedules on Kayak – it turned out there were only three real possibilities: LA, Las Vegas, or Sacramento. I ruled out Sacramento because after much thought I didn’t/couldn’t just parachute in on family or friends with such short notice. Everyone has jobs and responsibilities and I didn’t feel like putting anyone on the spot.

LA and Las Vegas were close contenders. Guadalajara offers short (3.5 hours) cheap ($400), nonstop flights to both cities. Las Vegas won in the end because the city is smaller – faster to get around – and yet hosts more or less the same feature set as LA. Okay, it doesn’t have an ocean but I am only going to be on the ground for 25 hours so who cares?

Except for restaurants, I’ve pretty much got Las Vegas dialed in. I’ve got a room reserved at the Plaza Hotel with a lovely midweek rate of $32/night (yup). It’s well off the strip and is in the old part of downtown where the city is presently spending money to re-gentrify. So that is where all the really cool older architecture is (or so I’ve read). The oldest hotel (1906) in the city is just a couple of blocks from the Plaza Hotel; itself one of the few left standing ’50s Brat Pack era hotel casinos.

The old downtown Plaza Hotel

The old downtown Plaza Hotel

So the minute after I collect my checked bag (totally not needed, this is a decoy bag for the benefit of my return into Mexico), I drop from the Level One Concourse to Level Zero, and purchase my 24 hour RTC public transit pass and I am good to go. Eight bucks will service my entire transportation needs while I am there including airport to my hotel and back again.

I’ve mapped out the bookstores, cigar shops, and a couple of other minor stops. None of these are really important. I really don’t need books or even cigars for that matter. They are there to serve mostly these days as touchstones of civilization.

But food. Now that’s important. I have time for just three meals: a late lunch, late dinner, and a late breakfast the following morning. And they all have to count.

I’ve been jonesing for shellfish for a long time. I am thinking clams in a spicy black bean sauce for lunch. Then maybe Korean Seafood Soup and some kimchi for dinner. One thing you can say about Korean food is that it is very consistent across the board from Seoul to San Fransisco to New York (and believe it or not even Mexico City).

From my experience it appears that the average Korean traveler doesn’t take kindly to quality or flavor variations. Unlike those bastard Chinese and Thai places that have popped up everywhere across the world. Places where you can’t get quality or authenticity unless you speak the language.

I remember eating Thai at a place near my daughter’s university and contrary to the menu description I got American broccoli instead of the more tasty and costly Asian variety. Bastards! Cheap, f**king bastards.

And the Italians are equally guilty. Italian food in New York is mostly cooked by Mexican immigrants. Am I the only one out here who is outraged by all this?

I am going to do my LV restaurant homework and I am going to find a couple of those little hole in the wall eateries that serves up good food at the right price point.

Yeah, baby! Viva Las Vegas.