by Rebecca Shoval, Sun Senior Writer
It took us until we got about five minutes outside of Los Angeles to bring up the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reference. Of course, Las Vegas looks nothing like it did when Hunter S. Thompson visited there in 1971. Following an almost five-hour drive past the occasional cluster of homes, a solar powered-energy plant and one large rest stop occupied almost entirely with fast food chains, arriving in Las Vegas gave mirage a new meaning.
The strip appeared somewhat miraculously in the middle of the desert, attached to a city sprawling out into a county containing about two-thirds of Nevada’s population. Giant billboards advertising everything from iPods to strip clubs stand next to 30-story hotels, each built to outdo the next. Walking down the strip, lit up enough at night to mistake it with daytime, my friends and I saw near museums outside of many of these places: models of the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe in front of the Paris hotel; pirate ships and a fake ocean outside Treasure Island; a man-made outdoor and indoor river complete with gondola rides at the Venetian; a giant fountain of water dancing in time with music outside of the Bellagio.
In a more cynical moment, I thought about the other side of this elaborate Disneyland for adults. Nearly two million residents and millions more tourists are drinking, swimming in and looking at water in the middle of a desert. The hotels create the mock cities and elaborate decor to attract people to their casinos. Gambling is everywhere in Vegas, as are advertisements for prostitutes (who will supposedly be at your hotel within 20 minutes) and prostitutes themselves. As we walked down the strip, people would try to thrust cards into our hands, tapping them loudly against each other to draw our attention. Unlike quartercards on Ho Plaza, however, all of these advertised prostitutes.
Inside the casinos, free drinks called our name — but only after we put $10 into a video poker machine, $20 into a slot machine or paid $100 for a spot at a blackjack table (minimums vary by casino). When we weren’t sitting at the video poker machines conveniently located at the bar, waitresses would come by and offer us free drinks. Free-ish, of course, because we were losing some of the money we would have spent on drinks on the machines. After my short foray into this mirage of a city, I can safely say that Vegas is entertaining and elaborate — and extremely exhausting.
by Jonny Lieberman, Your Baja Bud
The trip from Ithaca to Cabo San Lucas with 20 sweet bros began early Friday morning. After what seemed like 24 hours of traveling, we deplaned in the middle of the desert, convinced that we were still in Phoenix. One sketchy liquor store and a half hour of bargaining with the hotel manager later, we were kickin’ it on the beach, throwing back Miami Vices and cursing ourselves for going to school in the tundra.
Though most of the Baja Peninsula is pretty unexciting, Cabo is nothing short of exceptional. The sleepy fishing village is in the midst of a rapid real estate development, including the installment of casinos, which means one thing: plenty of places for college kids and well-to-do Americans to spend quid.
In Cabo you’re bound to meet absurd people if you forcibly remove yourself from the comfort of the beachside resorts. On our first voyage into town, a man named Enrique handed us a flyer for a restaurant called El Pescador and convinced us to eat there; he knew four languages and had a brother with a Cornell MBA. Go figure.
Most of the Cabo spring break crew, however, consisted of ’roided out Pac 10 dudes and their blonde bombshells. Since we were from Cornell, we were certainly an anomaly. One dumb girl on the beach even remarked, “Cornell?! I didn’t even know ya’ll had a spring break!” Nevertheless, we made the daily and nightly exodus in full force like legends.
If waking up at 6:30 a.m. for deep-sea fishing wasn’t your thing, The Mango Deck and The Office were guaranteed good times during the day. These two adjacent beachside bars are walking distance from pretty much anywhere, and promise a remarkably high level of Spring Break frattyness. At Mango Deck, there were plenty of games to please the drunken masses during happy hour, which, by the way, began at 9 a.m. The daily 4:26 Wet T-Shirt Contest was clearly the favorite, made all the more hysterical with the Mexican emcee screaming in a thick accent “Show us the tweeeeennnnns.” (Worked like a charm every time.)
We usually started off the night around 9 at Nowhere Bar, which is basically an outdoor version of Johnny O’s but with Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash holding down the patio. A hole-in-the-wall shack called Sangria was our next stop because, well, they offered two tequila shots and two Coronas for six bucks a pop. One word: Winning.
After a few rounds, it was time for El Squid Roe, the crown jewel of Cabo nightlife. Featuring multiple floors of sweating and grinding, Squid Roe is probably the only place in the world where sketchiness is encouraged. And with lightweight champion of the world Floyd Mayweather holding down the VIP area, it was certainly the place to be.
Except almost getting kicked out of the hotel for multiple noise complaints, the trip was a great success.
A few pieces of advice:
Don’t get mugged and robbed by the police.
Don’t leave your belongings in the open.
Don’t try and be a wise guy and inappropriately respond to every question with “mas o menos.”
Montezuma’s Revenge strikes … hard.
If you try and tan your face, you may get boils.
Bienvenidos a Argentina: Lomas with Linda
by Rebecca Weiss, Sun Senior Writer
Se hablan espanol where I went for spring break, but I didn’t go to Cancun, Cabo, Punta Cana or San Juan. Fui a Buenos Aires, you know, on the underside of your globe.
Buenos Aires isn’t really a place that has specific landmarks, museums and tourist attractions you could point out that someone has to see while he or she’s there. It’s really just about feeling the movement of the city, which has all of the luxuries of one of the world’s most cosmopolitan, but the pace of South America. Some of the things you could do and that we did was visit the Tim Burton-esque (shoutout to Dana) Recoleta cemetery to pay respects to Evita, see or dance the tango, visit the colorful houses at La Boca (home to the Boca Juniors) and eating asado, the best steak/heart attack on a platter I’ve ever tried. One of the coolest things to do in Buenos Aires, though, is to visit Plaza Serrano on a weekend afternoon when all of the bars are converted into shops by jewelry, clothing and art vendors, while still serving drinks. The classiest way to get wasted (EVAH).
We spring broke it down every night in Plaza Serrano in Palermo SoHo until the sun rose over the Rio de La Plata and on chiller nights in Belgrano sipping some brews at pubs that looked like Epcot Germany. By day my group of 12 sponsored by Cornell Hillel painted a dilapidated community center in Lomas de Zamora, a southern suburb of Buenos Aires. Feeling productive made getting trashed in a foreign country all the more rewarding, and we’ll probably remember both equally fondly.
The people are unbelievably friendly, the food seriously amazing, the nightlife on par with the top destinations in the world — basically coming back to Cornell was like getting punched in the face. Ugh, I just wish that dude at customs would have stamped my passport harder — It’s the only reason I even bother going to foreign countries. But one spring break isn’t even enough, so I’ll be back. There’s no checking it off my list, (unlike another list I had while I was there.)
Spring Break, Continental Style
by Julie Block, Sun Arts and Entertainment Editor
Normally when you think of wooooo spring break! What comes to mind are MTV wet t-shirt contests or hanging out at home for a week, not tripping around rainy (and sometimes hailing) London/Dublin. Not the case. Not only did I bump into almost half of Cornell in the UK over break, but half of the American college population as well. And they were all pretty damn drunk.
Especially over St. Patty’s weekend in Dublin. After my poor, sleep deprived, jet lagged body recovered, we traipsed around the rain in Dublin and quickly determined there were more tourists than residents. It wasn’t just the American college population looking for a good time; it seemed like all of Europe decided to drop by between Friday and Monday and grab a pint. St. Patty’s Eve is packed, with tourists lining the streets of Temple Bar (tourist partying central, and home to “Hen Parties” — the name for British bachelorettes who travel to Dublin to harrass cute locals and frat boys abroad on their last night of freedom).
There were a number of family friendly events too; a parade and a miniature carnival, which included, disturbingly, one puke-inducing ride called “American Dreamz” with Britney’s and Paris’s likenesses displayed prominently. Always good to know what image we’re portraying to the world. I can’t really blame them though, given that on Monday morning, a friend dragged us into a pub where he very politically incorrectly ordered an Irish Car Bomb. Instead of lobbing a leprechaun at us (hey, who knows what the Irish have in their arsenal), the bartender bemusedly asked us what went in such a drink, and proceeded to call my friend Mr. Car Bomb for the rest of the day. We’re pretty sure that if we ever return to that pub, it will proudly display a sign, “Home of the Irish Car Bomb.” Which could get him into a little trouble.
by Patrick Maloney, Sun Contributor
As the four of us strode up the stairs, leaving the dingy Underground (although far less dingy than New York’s) I fumbled for the piece of paper on which I had scribbled the address of the theatre when I heard the magic words, “There it is.” And there it was indeed, a 25 foot bronze statue of Freddie Mercury. The 3000 mile journey across the pond would soon be completely validated and my horizons would be broadened to a degree that I would not have thought possible. I learned that a play can have an encore. I learned that a combination of the Lord of the Rings and Tommy could actually produce a viably entertaining result. I am speaking of course about We Will Rock You, the musical chronicling the trials of a futuristic rock rebel in his attempts to save music. Most importantly, there was never a period of more than five minutes without a Queen song. We could tell from the moment the curtain rose, when people cheered like it was the midnight screening of a Star Wars movie, that this was going to be epic. The absurdity of the stage performance may have been outdone by only the audience’s open laughter (there were very few actual jokes), raucous cheering and most importantly, glow sticks. Above all, I learned that the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” are just as screwed up as you thought they were.
Two nights later my horizons would broaden further, with an experience not available in America. Aided by Britain’s non-existent open container laws and an inexplicable desire to dance (read: hit on 17-year olds), our posse ventured into Fabric, arguably the most renowned club in London for what proved to be every bit the finale we had hoped it to be. The theme for the evening: “Everything is just so dumb; this is great.” After nearly four hours of bumping to beats of live DJs mixing everything from Rage Against the Machine to House of Pain, we left the bodysonic dance floor (a floor comprised of a giant speaker sending pounding bass throughout the body), sweaty ravers who appeared to have visited the man pedaling “Pills, pills, pills,” and that one damned, transfixing green light and retreated to our hotel.