A is for Announcements

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Las Vegas

I’m pretty sure I think about this city more than is healthy for me.

Pardon this detour from my regular post style, but I’ve got a couple of things I thought you might like to know about this week:

Announcement #1: T-Minus 2 Months!

Who’s going to be in Las Vegas the last week of January?

(waves frantically) Me! Me!

If you are, too, and would like to meet up, please let me know. If there’s enough interest, I’ll set up a semi-official VegasSolo meetup. Otherwise, I’ll just try to catch you individually here and there. I have already booked flights and hotel, so I am definitely committed to that week.

I’ve never been to Las Vegas that time of year before, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like. I know it’s not exactly pool weather, but it’s got to be slightly warmer and less snowy than Vermont. (Right?) One thing I’m definitely looking forward to is seeing the Chinese New Year display at the Bellagio Conservatory.

Carpet

Land of hideous carpet patterns, here I come!

And on a less celebratory note….

Announcement #2: My Clock is Broken

For the past four years, as you know, I’ve been publishing a blog post every Sunday like clockwork, except for the occasional week when I’m traveling or on a holiday. That’s about to change. It’s become crystal clear to me over the past year that writing a blog post every week is unsustainable for me. I think it’s a minor miracle I’ve managed to do it this long.

I live too far away from Vegas to travel there more frequently than I currently do (once every 8-12 months). And it’s exhausting trying to cram a bezillion new activities into a weeklong trip in order to have enough content to write about for the next 52 weeks. That’s not really my idea of a “vacation”.

But I’m not ready to stop blogging. I need the creative outlet, and I love sharing my passion for Las Vegas and for solo travel with other people. Like the rest of you Vegas fanatics, I probably spend way more time than is healthy thinking about that city. It’s just that I can’t maintain my current pace of writing.

So as a compromise, I’ve decided I’m going to scale back on my publishing schedule. From now on, I’ll only post when I have something to say. It may be weekly, every two weeks, or maybe even every three weeks. If this makes it hard for you to remember to come read my blog, I totally understand. You may want to subscribe to my posts by email and have them pushed to you when I do publish. (See the sign-up box in the sidebar on my website.) I will not spam you, I promise.

There are things I could do to keep the weekly publishing schedule even without visiting Vegas more often, but none of them would solve the biggest problem for me, which is my time. For the past 6 years (since I started my SoloFriendly blog), I’ve been working pretty much every day of the week: 5 at my day job plus weekends and some evenings on my blogs. I can’t keep doing that. Life is too short. . .and everyone deserves a life (or at least some down time) outside of work.

So maybe A is also for Apology. I’m sorry to disappoint those of you who have come to look forward to my posts every week. But look at the bright side: If I’m not forcing myself to stick to a weekly publishing schedule, the quality of the posts I do publish should be more consistent. That’s an upside, right?

Thank you for understanding. And before I forget, Happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers!

Cornucopia

Bellagio Conservatory, Fall display 2013

Vegas Shorts

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Butterflies

A random photo for random reviews. How fitting.

You might think that I review in full everything that I see, do and experience in Las Vegas, but you’d be wrong. There are often times when I have every intention of writing a review about something when I return home, but by the time I get around to doing it and look at my notes, I realize I have almost nothing to say about it. Maybe just one thing about the experience really stood out. . .and you can’t exactly write an entire blog post with a couple of sentences, can you?

But then I thought, hey, people write whole books full of nothing but vignettes. Why couldn’t I pull together a collection of my one-off thoughts about some things and create a blog post out of it? It’ll be like an anthology of one-paragraph reviews. So, without further ado, here you go: A small collection of my shortest “reviews” ever:

Continue reading

HelloTel: Is This Really a Good Idea?

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Table

Do you sometimes wish you could order up a dinner date when you’re solo in Vegas?

Last month, a Vegas friend of mine on Twitter forwarded me a link to an article about a new social media app called HelloTel, which allows solo travelers to connect with other HelloTel users staying at the same hotel “for socializing”. Essentially, it works like this:

You create a profile in the app via Facebook–so you need to have a Facebook profile first. (The purpose for this seems to be to make sure people are being honest about who they say they are, though I’m skeptical that actually works; think about all the people who have created fake Facebook profiles to game the myVegas app.) Then when you check your presumably lonely little solo self into a hotel, you can check to see who else is staying at the same hotel (who is a member of the HelloTel community) and connect with them if you want to meet.

So what do I think about this app?

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Swallow a Cloud at China Poblano

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China Poblano

Lame cell phone photo of China Poblano

China Poblano restaurant at the Cosmopolitan, for those of you who don’t know, is a hybrid that serves both Asian and Mexican food. The first word is pronounced “Cheena” rather than the way we pronounce the country for reasons that escape me. I’ve got to admit, this place confounded me for the first couple of years The Cosmopolitan was open. Was it a Chinese restaurant, or a Mexican restaurant? Was it a restaurant going through an identity crisis? I didn’t know what to think of it. So it wasn’t a priority for me to try until I heard Tim and Michelle rave about it on their Five Hundy By Midnight podcast one day. They made it sound so amazing, I knew it had to go on my list. Continue reading

A Taste of the Local: The Downtown 3rd Farmers Market

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Farmers Market Bldg

The Downtown 3rd Farmers Market building, a lovely piece of architecture

One of my favorite things to do in new cities is visit the local farmers market. It’s a great place to interact with locals and perhaps pick up some locally-made food products as souvenirs. You can also often grab a cheap meal at a farmers market, and see what produce can be grown in that region.

Until my last trip, I had never done this in Vegas, because a) it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a trip to Vegas, and b) to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a farmer’s market in the tourist corridor before. But once I decided I was going to stay Downtown for a couple of nights in June, I started researching things to do during the day.

I was stoked to realize the Downtown 3rd Farmers Market would be open on the Friday of my stay. Even better, it was conveniently located right across the street from the Downtown Grand, next to the Mob Museum. I would have time to pop over there before I checked out of the hotel to head to the Strip. Continue reading