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Manu’s Las Vegas Diary: Gonna walk ‘dem golden stairs

We present to you, dear reader, the first in a series focused on our coverage of the Juventus U.S. Tour in Las Vegas.

ACF Fiorentina v Juventus - Serie A
Go ahead and count how many of these guys are actually still Juventus players!
Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images


Monday, July 18, 7:48 p.m.

The Girlfriend is struggling badly with packing. We are scheduled to fly to Las Vegas on Wednesday morning, but apparently we bought tickets on a low-cost airline that offers a “Zero” tariff — which essentially means you are allowed to bring a backpack with you and not one more thing. It’s pretty crazy to think that the airlines found a way to be even bigger miserable companies than they already were, but what are you going to do. We were all together in the pandemic, were we not?

I’m a light traveler. It’s a four-day, three-night trip, so my backpack is three of everything along with a toothbrush, deodorant, a hat and my laptop. It took maybe 10 minutes and that’s including my obligatory five-minute lapse in which I just refresh Twitter for no real reason.

The Girlfriend, on the other hand, is the opposite. She needs matching outfits, brings substitute options depending on weather or mood — it’s a whole production that is involved. Forcing her to plan this trip while only allowing her to bring a backpack is an almost impossible proposition. There’s a lot of audible sighing and intense, soul-piercing stares at the dwindling amount of clothes that is slowly getting smaller as less and less necessary items get discarded.

It’s not ideal, but this trip represents a potentially once in a lifetime opportunity and she was eager to join me to be there for it.

It’s not just getting to see the club that I spend so many hours watching and writing about live — though that is a big deal unto itself — but it’s really about the fact that yours truly got a press credential to do so.

I understand that for many people in the business of sports journalism this probably does not mean whole ton, but for someone who has at no point been allowed into any sort of sporting event as an official media member this is a pretty big deal to me.

Call it validation, call it achievement, call it perhaps a low bar in the standards of the gatekeepers of the reputable organization that is organizing Juventus’ U.S. tour, but the real, unavoidable fact is that there is going to be a big badge at Allegiant Stadium with my name on it that signals that I have something worthwhile to say about the event.

And — pardon my French — that’s not fucking nothing.

(Also a very real, undeniable fact? Given that I’m traveling to cover this event and it is happening in a different country than the one I’m located in and that we as writers for BWRAO get a financial compensation for our work, this all makes me technically an international professional sports journalist. A fact that I have been annoying my girlfriend with for days now.)

Wednesday, July 20, 10:05 a.m.

A fun thing about late-stage capitalism is the race to the bottom from companies in all fields of goods and services, all in the search of that sweet, sweet bottom line

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the field of aviation ... and especially in low-cost carriers. A good idea that quickly devolved into companies asking themselves the question “What is the least possible amount of comfort I can provide to a paying customer while still technically providing them with the service they need?”

And slowly, but surely, they have been trying to find that thin line to probably profitable results but a decidedly worse experience for everyone involved. Yay, money.

Nowhere has that been more felt by your correspondent than on this flight from VivaAerobus — Mexico’s premier budget airline.

(I do understand the irony in calling anything about VivaAerobus “premier.”)

Savings, I guess?

To sum them up, it’s like if Spirit Airlines asked themselves “How can we be even worse?”

They print your boarding pass on the exact same type of paper as a purchase receipt. I’m sure that has never caused any mix-ups while fumbling through security and you throw away your ticket confusing it with your recent overpriced Starbucks purchase.

There is no better summary of how awful the flight experience on VivaAerobus is than the fact that they charge you extra for bottled water and, unless you’re flying in the VIP area, your seat can’t recline.

If they could spit on you while you board, they would. If they could make you fly standing up, they would. If they could force you to sit in a stranger’s lap as a new ultra-low cost fare, they would. If they could charge you for the inflight movie they ... oh, they do. You actually have to pay four bucks to watch the inflight movie on their app.

This is an airline that has the balls to hang up advertising banners inside the airplane. Yes, like a goddamn city bus — the word Bus is on the name, so I guess I have nobody else to blame but myself — and there’s little cards advertising bug repellent in the tray tables and larger ones for credit card companies in the overhead compartments. Lucky me, I got one about a preferential price for a prostate exam in a local hospital, which sure as hell feels like I’m getting already.

They carve out where the inflight monitor should be, to charge four extra bucks for a movie.

Here’s the dirty little secret: they are not even that cheap anymore. I probably saved about 100 bucks by choosing to withstand this experience. The more and more they cheap out, the more and more it feels just not worth it anymore.

Anyway, despite VivaAerobus’ best attempts at damping the mood for the journey, spirits are still high for my trusty sidekick and myself. Three more hours to go until touch down at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

Wednesday, July 20, 2:30 p.m.

You know how everything kind of looks closer than it really is when you look for it on Google Maps? Well, let me tell you something, dear reader: if you are so inclined take a quick glance at how far the Rio Hotel in Vegas is to Caesar’s Palace.

It looks pretty close, right?

It’s not, its decidedly not, it's so freaking far away.

You have to walk through the middle of a highway to get there. And look, I got to stay here for almost nothing thanks to some saved credit card points, but still, walking for 45 minutes with our heavier-by-the-minute backpacks in the festering 110-degree heat — that’s 43 Celsius for literally everyone else in the world — was not the ideal way to start the trip.

Where VivaAerobus failed, the desert heat succeeded in breaking us.

We made it to the Rio lobby tired, sweaty and beat up only to find that our check-in time was still an hour and half away. I’ll admit it, this was a nadir.

But, just as there are valleys, there are peaks in every trip, and the peak came with the Smashburger branch located in the Rio Lobby and what I can only describe as the best-tasting soft drink I’ve ever had from their fountain. Did it have to do with the fact that we were close to passing out from heat stroke moments before? Was it because we were starving? I don’t know, but I’ve never been as delighted with a meal as I was with that fast food burger in that moment.

It also helped to check one of the boxes I had for this trip and that’s the last thing I want to talk about in this first rendition of the Vegas Diaries. Every time I leave on a trip I try to do a list of things that I want to do/see/eat/accomplish on said trip. It helps me to prioritize my time, so with that in mind, this are the things I’m looking out for during Vegas Week:

  • Someone wearing an obscure Juventus kit;
  • At least one (1) item from every American fast food chain unavailable in Mexico;
  • Drink a novelty drink in a novelty container;
  • Buy a souvenir specific to the Juve U.S. Tour;
  • See at least one player of any of the clubs partaking in the Vegas game at a casino;
  • Place a long-shot bet that pays an insane amount, even if it loses.

As long as I can do four out of those six things, I’ll be a happy camper once this whole thing is done.

On that note, if there is anything else you want to know/hear/see from Juve’s first foray into the US in a few years let us know in the comments of this piece and follow us on Instagram as yours truly and our very own Danny Penza chronicle our Vegas experience. You can find us @BWRAO_SBN and we’ll try our best to come through for you all.

See you tomorrow.