Home at last! The hardest part of writing this blog is that it’s out of sequence to the last few blogs in that this is the Las Vegas part (the first four days) of the holiday, the second part of which was in San Francisco. There was no internet connection in Vegas hence why no blog from there, so today, I’m going to do it all in one go – bear with me!
Las Vegas, Nevada is not for the feint hearted nor is it (in my opinion) somewhere to take impressionable young children. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things for them to do, but the basis of the holiday scene is gambling. The attractions that kids would love, and there are several, can be accessed through casinos. Kids can’t gamble until they’re 21, but they are not excluded from the casinos with mum and dad.
Go for a ride with a Gondolier in the Venetian (the sky by the way is painted on the ceiling - spectacular), Thursday 7th October 2010
Vegas is bright, brash, commercial, over the top in places, opulent, hot and busy, occasionally jaded, and let me say this for any would-be Vegas holiday makers, make sure you are fit enough to get around the various hotel complexes. Even if you could afford cabs or cheaper public buses, the hotels which have the attractions and exhibits and interests in them are absolutely huge. There is a useful if somewhat limited monorail experience for a $12 a day roving ticket which takes you up and down the back of the hotels on the strip, but you have to walk from it a fair old distance to get anywhere.
The Luxor (left) shaped like a pyramid and the rear entrance over which guards the huge Sphinx, Thursday 7 October 2010
We stayed at the Luxor hotel at the south end of the strip which was okay. The rooms are on the side of this huge pyramid and the lifts go up at a peculiar angle along the side of the hotel. We were self catering and so the holiday was quite expensive, so we tended to snack during the day. I was good and only played the slots once with a hundred dollars which provided me with three hours entertainment and nothing to show for it at the end!
The best day was a coach trip to the Grand Canyon in neighbouring Arizona, the West Rim, owned by the Hualapai Native American Indian tribe and they own and run the famous Skywalk where you can see into the depths of the Canyon through a clear floor. We didn’t go on it, a) because I am not good with heights (well not a ‘thousand foot sheer drop into oblivion’ heights anyway) b) they charged for the privilege and c) you can’t take photographs – you pay them handsomely to take a photograph for you. The Skywalk is safe apparently, it can carry the weight of a fully laden Boeing 747!
The Canyon itself is indeed spectacular in its sheer size and raw beauty with the muddy brown Colorado River running along the canyon floor. This is worth the trip even though it’s a long day (starting at 6.30 am and finishing about 8 pm), you pass through some spectacular countryside to the west of Vegas via the Hoover Dam, and quaint retirement spreads on isolated plains, through the Joshua Tree Forest and rough dirt roads. When we got there, there were three vantage points to see the Canyon from, all via a shuttle bus which was very efficient, Eagle Point, Guano Point and The Ranch.
I kept a diary of the holiday to help me write the blog and to jog the memory and we did see a great show at the Sahara Hotel – the Rat Pack experience which was good quality entertainment by four talented guys taking off Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jnr., and Bishop backed by a small ‘big band.’ Other than spilling a glass of diet coke on my trousers, it was a good night. Lots of other shows are available including some famous names.
Another highlight was the graceful and moving Bellagio fountain display. An extraordinary five minutes of sheer indulgence.
The Bellagio Fountain, costing $30,000 per show using recycled water because of the water shortages, Thursday 7th October 2010
Positives: scenery, warmth, things to do and see; Negatives: need to be fit, self catering can be expensive for reasonably healthy meals, time share touts at every hotel and street vendors at strategic points on the Strip giving away adverts for ‘working girls.’
An advert on the top of a cab; you can try out a fully automatic weapon at a range before you buy! - Only in America! October 2010
It was a good experience, I’m glad I went, but once in a lifetime is enough. Viva Las Vegas!