Where Neon Lights Come to Die

A Vegas holiday has never been on my bucket list. I have always thought it’s not my kind of place and now I know I was right. However, that was the destination of my last family holiday and I admit I was curious about it. Plus, that’s the city of The Killers, I wasn’t about to miss that.

What to say about Las Vegas? Must be more fun if you’re a millionaire. However, it is dazzling with its hotels and its neon lights, a mirage in a desert, a city of blatant hedonism and consumerism. All the time I wandered in casinos and malls I couldn’t help but feel somehow guilty and came back with a stronger will to stop buying clothes and anything I don’t really need. So I guess it was good. Of course, the city has some cool things, like awesome antique shops and bookshops dedicated to rare and first editions… and the Neon Boneyard.

The Neon Boneyard is part of The Neon Museum, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of neon signs in Las Vegas. The Boneyard is basically a ditch full of old neon lights and neon signs, some of them from legendary hotels and casinos, some of them famous because of Hollywood movies.

When I was walking through the place I could not help but think about a book we read at uni, The Future of Nostalgia by Svetlana Boym. Perhaps the surge of places like these has to do with our current obsession with everything vintage. People came here to observe the vestiges of a golden era, the rusty remnants of the American dream, and of course because it’s incredibly aesthetic: all these giant signs displaced, covered in dust under the desert sun; there’s something definitely eerie about them, it’s like visiting a ghost town.

In her book, Svetlana Boym says that “contemporary nostalgia is not so much about the past as about vanishing the present”. It is indeed comforting to look at these metallic giants and think of a time where the stood tall, illuminating the cities for years and years. They’re real, so much that they have bones and structures, as opposed to our digital culture in which everything comes and goes in a flicker.

I very much enjoyed walking around the Neon Boneyard. To get in you just buy your tickets online and choose a time between 9am and 8pm. I chose 7pm to be there at sunset and see the neon signs in both day and night. It did not disappoint, they’re somehow mesmerizing. Although I think it’s a bit overpriced for the size of the place, the visit was one of the highlights of my visit to Las Vegas.

Have you been to Las Vegas? What did you think of it?

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A day in D.C.

Wether you are or not interested in politics, D.C. is a city that offers charms to everybody. From beautiful parks and wide avenues to quirky bookshops and blues, this city can be a perfect weekend escape. If you don’t know where to begin, here’s a one-day itinerary for a short visit to the political capital of the world.

Running or biking along the National Mall and the Reflecting Pool

Morning or night are the best times to take this long walk from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, passing the Washington Monument (the big obelisk) because it is not yet too hot. The National Mall is a huge park that borders on many of the Smithsonian museums and you’ll get to see some of the most famous landmarks of the city while they’re not yet too crowded and you’ll get a good workout done. The National Mall ends where the obelisk starts, and then you can keep going straight along the Reflecting Pool towards Lincoln Memorial. D.C. has those bikes you can pick up and drop at several points in the city, they’re comfortable and really useful (for only $8 the day) so you could bike instead of running.

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Lincoln Memorial

Breakfast at Fruitive! 

This is a very nice place that offers organic, plant-based food. Of all the places in which I had breakfast this was my favourite because of their WAFFLES. I love waffles and almond butter, and their ABC waffles were all that. They also offer very good juices, oatmeal and other healthy, high energy meals that will set you up for the rest of the day. They have many locations, but I recommend the one on Palmer Street, so you can take a look at this beautifully decorated, high fashion street in the centre of DC.

Museums!

The Smithsonian Institute has 18 museums in DC. Eighteen! Among the most popular there are the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of Natural History. I recommend the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in which you can find many interesting and contemporary pieces as well as more traditional art. There are also the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American  History and Culture, which you could take a look at too, your pick!

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An interesting piece at the American Art Museum

A quick bite at Protein Bar & Kitchen

This place is another one of my findings (I wanted to eat as healthy as possible). It is located also in the city centre, a 20 minute walk away from Georgetown, a very nice and old neighbourhood in D.C.

A walk along the Potomac River to Georgetown, shopping and coffee

After picking up a juice, shake or a wrap, you can start walking East towards the Potomac River, where you’ll find many water related activities going on. Following the river will get you to the Georgetown Waterfront Park and many coffee places like Baked & Wired and Sprinkles Cupcakes, or the amazing Chinese tea house Ching Ching Cha.

Blues (and cocktails) in Georgetown

When you’re done wandering around Georgetown’s colourful streets, you can head to Blues Alley Club, which is next to Ching Ching Cha. It’s a really cool, cozy place for live jazz music and drinks.

Late dinner at The Hamilton

This is my only non-healthy recommendation, but is definitely worth it. Both the burgers and the fried chicken are really good (and those sweet potato fries). They also have a very wide selection of wine and beer, and very friendly and approachable staff to recommend you something if, like me, you’re indecisive. The Hamilton is back at the city centre of D.C., so afterwards you can easily go anywhere.

The Lincoln Memorial by night

If you’re still up for it after dinner, I highly recommend you take a walk alongside the Reflecting Pool at night. The monument’s illumination is gorgeous against a pitch dark background.

Going from the WWII Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial will surely be a good experience, since there are many people about, walking or sitting around chatting. It’s a perfect goodbye to the city and a perfect meet-up point if you’re clubbing.