Flying in the (hopefully) tail-end of a pandemic
I flew out of Midway Airport on mid-day Thursday and back in on Sunday afternoon. On my admittedly non-peak outbound flight, the airport felt eerily empty - maybe 35% of normal capacity. Only about half of the normal stores and bars were open. The flight (Southwest Airlines) was full, so I assume Southwest has reduced the number of flights to accommodate the reduced travel demand.
Facemasks were required everywhere, including on the plane, except when "actively eating or drinking." They were polite but insistent - the rule was lift your mask, take a sip, put mask back down. McCarran in Los Vegas felt busier and everything was open. How much of that was an illusion due the the million slot machines everywhere I don't know.
Los Vegas proper
I stayed at the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino. This was my first time staying in downtown Vegas. I'm a blackjack player, and downtown used to be known as the home of cheap blackjack tables. Whether due to the 50% capacity restrictions or trends since my previous visit, that is no more. $10 tables were the standard, with the only $5 tables being one or two at my hotel. Also, it was eerie seeing a bunch of tables empty (no dealers) on a Friday or Saturday night. Lastly, table games followed the same mask rules as the airlines.
The hotel itself was nice - a newer property with freshly-renovated rooms. I ate dinner twice at their steakhouse, the Triple George Grill. I highly recommend the pork chop. As far as the "Fremont Street Experience" - the light show is nice, the crowds not-so-nice.
The Mob Museum
The Mob Museum was less than a block from my hotel, so as a history geek I visited. Although all the marketing says "Mob Museum" the official name of the place is the "National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement" and the story told by the museum is from the law enforcement perspective. If you're downtown, it's worth a visit.
The museum is the converted county courthouse. The highlight of the visit for me was their Underground Speakeasy. It's in the basement (duh!) and aims to explain what speakeasys were. Part of that explanation is selling various cocktails of the era. Try a Bees Knees (gin, fresh lemon juice, and honey, served shaken and chilled). Also, the liquor for their Old Fashioned comes in a fake book. It was a nice way to spend a few hours.
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