Viva Las Vegas!
02.05.2008 28 °C
Las Vegas was our first stop in the US after Mexico. We got to our hotel, Excalibur, on the south strip, very tired after an early morning and long flight and were immediately snagged by what we thought was the check in desk but was actually someone who got us to agree to go to a demo of timeshares in exchange for a free show and some free gambling money. Suckers! Oh well, we figured we could be strong and avoid signing on the dotted line. (we did.....just!).
So after a quick nap and shower we headed out to the strip. The hotels and casinos on the strip are just ENORMOUS and amazingly themed. We walked through 'New York, New York' with it's copy of the Manhattan skyline, The MGM Grand which is the biggest hotel in the world, then we got a yard long margarita and wobbled further up the strip dodging drunk people and the odd Elvis impersonator. We had a look in a casino called The Venetian which has gondalas on canals and a whole shopping street and square inside with canals and bridges and sky painted ceiling with lighting which feels like dusk 24 hours. A total brain warping experience at midnight, or maybe it was the margatitas... We put a dollar in a 1c slot machine (hey big spender) and played for an hour or so, leaving with $2.60. He He, we'll break the bank yet...
The sheer size of the strip is hard to comprehend. You can see the place you want to go to 'just down the road'. But, because the hotel is ENORMOUS, it takes 20 minutes to get there. After working this out, we started using the 'deuce' bus (the slowest bus service in the world by the way).
We took the 'deuce' to Fremont St. This used to be the main Vegas gambling street in the days of Elvis and Frank Sinatra. It is just crammed with casinos and flashing lights. Also, there is a roof over the entire length of the street which is an ENORMOUS TV screen where an amazing video and light show is shown every hour. We ducked into one of the casinos and put two dollars in a slot machine and lost. Maybe the bank is safe for now...
Each of the big casinos offers a buffet restaurant with unlimited food. We decided on the Bellagio for a lunch buffet and starved ourselves until we got there at 2:30. The Bellagio is one of the top hotels $500 a night!! The foyer was absolutely stunning with 20,000 massive hand blown glass flowers attached to the ceiling and a beautiful garden complete with butterfly house.
The food was unbelievable. Just phenomenal. We had huge fresh prawns with thousand island dressing, seven kinds of fish including salmon, swordfish and sea bass, salad with blue cheese, chick peas, mozzarella and four types of lettuce, veggies, roast beef and roast lamb for me and of course cake for desert. After struggling through 4 or 5 courses, we waddled back to our hotel for a well deserved nap.
In the evening we went to the Mirage to see an absolutely amazing show. The show was 'Love' by Cirque de Soleil which is a show setting Beatles songs to dance and acrobatics. The show was just amazing. The show is a bit trippy and psychadelic but so well done that I would imagine that all of the Beatles would approve of it totally. Both of us actually became quite emotional watching the show. The whole thing just seemed so right for the music (I am the walrus, day in the life, across the universe, elenor rigby to name a few. Octopus' garden even had acrobatic squid and, of course, octopus). The final song, All you need is Love, was very emotional with the whole cast involved for a very fitting finale. The show is in a theatre built especially for this show only with incredible sets which change for each song (sometimes several times during a single song). The show was so good that it is worth coming to Vegas for this alone.
Next day we hired a Mustang convertible and drove to the Grand Canyon. This has been a dream of mine for many years. Probably since I saw James Bond driving a Mustang in a car chase in Diamonds are Forever in 1972!
The drive was good fun and the Grand Canyon was just breathtaking. Pictures just do not do it justice. It is ENORMOUS! We stopped at several viewpoints including one which was very secluded and gave almost a 360 degree view with no other tourist in sight. We even saw a herd of elks in the forest on the way back to the car. Before heading back to Vegas we treated ourselves to a helicopter ride around the canyon which just confirmed the awesome size of the place (277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide).
On our final nigh in Vegas we put our plan to break the bank into action. Me on the blackjack tables and Jess on the slot machines. Result: 15 minutes later I am bankrupt having lost 12 out of 14 rounds and 3 hours later Jess is $100 up. Net result a win for the McKennas of $10 and the Las Vegas bankers can sleep soundly after all.
Next stop New York.