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Going solo

My flight for Vegas leaves at 9:05. T-1, I guess, although it’s really too close to call.

It’s not the first time I’ll have flown alone, but it’s my first time time flying transatlantic.  I went to Guernsey once by myself for a job interview, and mostly what I remember is that they grow a lot of tomatoes there and everyone is so rich they have to outdo each other with their fast cars, even though the island speed limit is 35mph.  Jersey, apparently, has a dual carriageway where you can go up to 40mph.  They grow potatoes there, and cows.

So many things I’ve never had to deal with before that I’ll be learning over the next few days.  Firstly, the all-important question of whether I want a window seat or an aisle seat.  Do I want to be treading over a stranger when I need to stretch, or do I want to be the one getting budged out the way, probably at a critical point in one of the in-flight movies. 

At Christmas the plane was half-empty (or half-full, for the optimists reading) and we were able to move to the front row of the cabin and have plenty of stretching space.  It looks like there’s still room on this flight as BMI was showing seats available for £188 – plus £131 tax, but still the cheapest direct flight I’ve ever seen – yesterday.  Still don’t know what it takes to get an upgrade when the premium cabin is empty, but given that a silver Diamond Club card now doesn’t even get you priority check-in any more, and we had to fight at Christmas to get our lounge privileges, I can’t see that happening.

I’m shooting for an aisle seat mostly because they tend to put the in-flight entertainment units under the window seats.  Here’s what I could be watching.  A better selection on the way back than on the way out (I am not talking about Jackass).  However I’ve loaded up a couple of memory sticks with movies to watch on my PSP now that I’ve finally figured out how to do it – I’m sure it’s more content that the battery life will allow me to watch though – and successed in packing my 8Gb ipod to the brim with many more podcasts than I could ever listen to.  It’s showing 12.4Mb free, which is close enough to capacity for me.

It’ll also be the first time for years I’ll have been in Vegas without a car, so I am going to have to find other ways to get around.  Staying at the Strat there’s a monorail station just up the road, but $5/trip is silly.  There’s a ten ride pack for $35 that’s better value (although still expensive, and uneconomical to get to almost anywhere if you are travelling in a group of two or more) which I’m guessing I could burn my way through in a week.

The Deuce bus which runs up and down the strip and to Downtown (and, as I’ve just learned, sometimes all the way South to the Outlet Center in case my "business attire" is not suitable) is handy, but slow.  The timetable reckons about 40 minutes to get from Sahara to MGM Grand.  The same journey is 12.5 minutes on the monorail, so even by the time you’ve walked for miles through the casino to get to the station at the very back of the property, it’s much quicker.

Getting to The Orleans by bus (they have a few tournaments I fancy playing) takes 1h3m according to the RTC route planner, with two buses and half a mile of total walking.  I reckon I could drive it in ten minute drive, fifteen if I hit every red light possible, so a cabbie can do it in less.  I’ll be going posh if I do decide to go there.  Getting downtown, on the other hand, should be a breeze.  The bus picks up right outside The Strat and takes 17 minutes to get to the Downtown Transportation Center.  Bus station to you and me.

The other thing I’m not sure how I’ll contend with is eating alone.  I can’t live on McDonald’s and Subway for a week.  I don’t think I’d have too much trouble grabbing a newspaper and sitting alone with a breakfast buffet or in a cafe, but I think it will be pretty intimidating to go for dinner alone.  I did fish out a few coupons from the American Casino Guide though that were valid for loners like myself – 50% off your bill, rather than a two-for-one offer.  Kudos to The Orleans and Terribles for allowing that option, but that’s it.  Everywhere else requires patrons in even numbers.

Anyway, need to be up at 5ish.  Better try to sleep!