Las Vegas 2-7 July 2008

We thought that 2 nights would be enough in this glitzy city, but we ended up spending 5.  We drove in from Mammoth Lakes, a 5 hour journey that took us from the snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada, through a dry mountain pass and into the….desert.  We crossed the state line into Nevada, the Silver State.

   

There is much history in this desolate area.  Indian tribes have lived here for centuries, prospectors of all kinds of metal and ore have tried their luck here.  There are ghost towns to visit, and historical plaques depicting what had happened in various areas, such as Goldfield.  Small turns off the interstate led to tiny sheds and dirt roads leading far into the hills.  It is ranchland too – farmsteads surrounded by trees are to be found at wide intervals.  The landscape reminded us a lot of the great flat expanses in Patagonia.  And it is hot hot hot – the car told us it was well over 100F, and stepping out of the car revealed a hairdryer-type wind.

As we approached Las Vegas, the traffic increased out of nowhere, and then we saw the tall buildings of the “Strip”.  We had booked ourselves into the Venetian Hotel for a couple of nights as a treat.  After a month in a tent, this prospect was much relished!   The casino in the hotel is massive, and deliberately confusing, to keep the punters trapped.  With 4th July weekend approaching, it was also rather busy.  We checked into our room, which was basically an apartment.  For the next 48 hours we treated it as our house, I spent much of it in a robe!  We watched the movie “21” to get in the gambling mood.  

   

The Venetian is one of several monster hotels in Vegas, it is like a town.  The is the casino, a shopping complex in the style of a Venice boulevard, and the piece de resistance, an indoor St Marks Square, complete with fake sky!  The security guards wander around in Italian style uniforms.  Gondolier punt up and down the “canal’.  It is hilarious.  Glamour is key here – weekenders are dolled up and ready to party.  


We celebrated Cathal’s birthday here in Vegas – Caesar’s Palace Hotel kindly put on a firework display – well it was 4th July after all.  We visited several of the megopolis hotels, and drank several “yards” of frozen cocktails.  We went to “Paris” complete with Eiffel Tower, “New York New York” with its famous skyline and extreme rollercoaster (which we rode on), and the Bellagio, of Oceans 11/12/13 fame.  Cathal was very excited to discover the Coca Cola store, where he subsequently did some damage!  

    

You can’t visit Vegas without taking in a couple of shows.  Through “Half Price Tix” we picked up seats for Crazy Horse at the MGM.  This turned out to be a topless yet stylish affair, a dance and light show.  It was developed in Paris in the 1950s, the theatre at the MGM is a replica of the original one in Paris.  A highlight on our last night was “Le Reve” show at the Wynn hotel.  For starters, the Wynn Hotel is extravagance and style to beat all the others.  It is a supreme piece of architecture and the interior exudes plushness.  We arrived late to the show, having had to battle our way up the Strip,  firstly in the “Deuce” bus which was mired in traffic and latterly pegging it in our crocs in 110F heat to the amusement of casual strollers.  It was worth the rush – Le Reve was incredible.  The acquatic theatre was built specially for the show – it is stadium style seating around an ever changing circular stage/pool.  The show was an incredible mix of acrobatics, dancing, gymnastics, diving and synchronised swimming.  

After the luxury of the Venetian we downgraded to Tods Hostel, near the Stratosphere tower.  We lucked out and were given a studio apartment, so the downgrade didn’t feel so extreme.  It meant a longer trip to get to the Strip, but this gave us a chance to ride the monorail.  We really enjoyed our Vegas experience, marvelling at the incredible hotel/casinos, the extreme desert heat, and trying to figure out just how this place manages to exist in the middle of nowhere!

 

By the way we didn’t bet a single red cent!

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