Our first full day in Las Vegas can best be described with the phrase, “When in Rome.”

We all decided we should get up as early as we could manage to make the most of our time, so we agreed to meet up at 10 a.m. to get on the go.

One thing many people don’t know about the Las Vegas strip is that you can drink everywhere, openly, any time of day. Up and down Las Vegas Boulevard, everywhere you turn, there are stores and shops that sell beer and coolers for dirt cheap. You can walk into any CVS drug store and buy a tall can of vodka cranberry cooler, crack it open and chug it on the sidewalk at 8 a.m. on a Sunday, and no one looks at you funny. It’s the strangest thing.

I’m not really much of a drinker, normally; certainly not often, and definitely not during the day. The concept of day drinking seemed unlikely before I left, but it’s amazing the things you can convince yourself are normal while you’re on vacation, because before I knew it, we were drinking frozen peach champagne Bellinis at 10:30 a.m.

While we waited for a few stragglers to join us, the rest of us took a walk over to the Venetian. Many of the most famous hotels have boutiques inside, and some have full-fledged malls with dozens of high-end stores lining the thoroughfares. The architecture is absolutely spectacular, and the interior of the hotels themselves is really something to see. I could easily have spent a solid week just touring all the hotels, yet with so much to see in the city, walking around hotels was a time luxury I just couldn’t afford (at least not this trip).

Caesar’s Palace was impressive, as was the Bellagio, but the interior of the Venetian was my favourite. Not many places in the world have gondolas gliding around a series of indoor canals, with a ceiling that looks like a beautiful, blue sky. It was out of this world, and pictures don’t do it justice.

Anyway.

After the Venetian took our breath away, we met outside Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, which was adjacent. Walking around inside and posing with the different wax figures was a good laugh and made for some great pictures, as did the Hangover-themed bar on the bottom floor, where we spent more time and money than we maybe should have. By the time noon rolled around, we were ready to move onto the next plan: a double-decker bus tour of the strip.

This excursion was a perfect way to see the sights of Las Vegas without having to spend all your time walking the 7 kilometres down Las Vegas Boulevard, which would take several hours even if you didn’t stop anywhere. All eight of us sat on the upper level of the bus, for a perfect, unobstructed view of all the hotels and attractions, skipping relatively quickly past things we just wanted to snap a quick picture of, but also stopping in several places to allow people to tour spots more extensively. There are too many landmarks to list, but the Luxor (which is a giant pyramid) and Excalibur (which is a giant medieval castle) hotels were quite something, and we were very impressed by the new Raiders football stadium under construction. And no trip to the city would be complete without a visit to the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign (which, by the way, had a lineup of tourists a mile long looking to take a picture in front of it).

I will skip the part where our excursion went a bit sideways and we ended up scrambling around at an outlet mall looking for one renegade member of our party who shall remain nameless. The moral of the story is, the bus tour was a fantastic outing, and we quickly regrouped at Senor Frogs for an hour of all-you-can-drink, which sure did seem like a good idea at the time.

No one ever said the transition into old age was glamorous or forgiving, because after a full day of sightseeing, a few too many drinks for a bunch of 40-plus-year-olds, and a beautiful feed of Mexican food, our whole group was down to partake in a siesta. We headed back to the hotel at a robust 8 p.m. for the night.

Or so we thought. More next week.