‘Sin City’ a great place for 21st birthday

Commentary by Lenzie Purcell  
Times-News correspondent

   Have you ever stood behind a bus just before it pulls away or inhaled deeply after opening the oven door that’s been baking on high heat? The same immense dry heat can be felt by simply walking outside in Las Vegas, Nev.
I spent my 21st birthday in “Sin City.” Upon arriving, the slot machines located inside the airport gave a huge clue on what was to come. Not surprisingly, Vegas leaves little to the imagination.
We took a cab to our hotel, The Mirage. A fitting named we joked, as the skyscrapers of Vegas look like a mirage to our tired eyes. It was 125 degrees outside.
Vegas is known for its incomparable night life, and to ring in my birthday, my friends and I embraced the party mentality.
I love Las Vegas and for a while, I couldn’t understand why. A metropolis in the middle of a desert. A facade of glitz and glamour that’s mostly plaster. But I think I’ve figured it out. Vegas is over-the-top, but unlike many large cities in America, it accepts the title of expectedness.
New Yorkers claim that the surprises of the Big Apple are unending. Los Angeles argues that its cultural side outweighs its star power. Las Vegas is what-you-see is what-you-get.
   Over-the-top casinos and resorts glittered with showgirls and Elvis impersonators come by the dozen. And reasonable-priced room fees leave plenty of money to spend gambling. I won more than $100 off of just a few bucks the first night, but I decided to stop while I was ahead.
One evening, we walked through “Old Vegas” where classic neon still lights the town. The old-timey “pull handle” slot machines added to the original feel. Furthermore, there weren’t nearly as many people in the downtown area, which was a nice break considering the hordes of tourist on the strip.
Shopping in Vegas was a wonderful daytime activity as there is a plethora of shopping malls, each equipped with air conditioner.
Other than clubs, casinos and bars, Vegas is full of live entertainment. Shows are offered in various hotel arenas and are mind boggling, especially since the magic of Cirque du Soleil produces many of the productions.
Between the amazing food, constant entertainment, neon lights and wonderful company, I must say it was the best birthday yet.

 Lenzie Purcell is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Teens & Twenties writer.

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