Las Vegas

by Melita Tue, December 14 2010 08:52

Las Vegas is a town on steroids! It overloads the senses and overwhelms the mind. I have to say that the first night we went out on ‘the strip’, I was stunned. It seems every possible light is lit, every possible surface covered with advertising and every possible vice can be exercised. If I gambled, I’d probably be in thrall. If I gambled and smoked, I’d be a very happy person. If I was a male with other proclivities, I’d be in heaven.

After the almost deserted Zion national park and the quiet town of Springdale, coming to Las Vegas was a huge shock. Cameron thankfully drove into our hotel, but while he went into Excalibur to register, the cars zooming past and the excessive number of people coming and going just in the atrium started getting me stressed.

After getting settled in to our room, we decided to take a short stroll down the strip to see some lights. Our ‘short stroll’ took us several hours, as we walked from Excalibur, past New York New York, and down to the Bellagio, then back again. We saw the Mirage volcano erupting and walked through the very impressive Christmas display in the Bellagio (missed the fountains). We limped home with very sore feet hours later and crashed into bed.

The next day we decided to get ourselves the all-you-can-eat-all-day pass. This worked well as Zane was once again free (actually free for under 4). The food was fresh and mountainous. With our arm bands attached, we could come and go all day and eat ourselves into an early grave.

So, full of every imaginable breakfast food (and some you probably shouldn’t imagine as breakfast foods), we headed out to do some serious shopping at the outlet malls. This proved rather difficult with Zane (as to be expected – no 2 ½ year old likes shopping), but we decided to come back separately as there were lots of great shops and very good prices. We did manage to buy up big for Zane at Osh Kosh B’Gosh and Nike ($20 for a pair of joggers for Zane – I can’t even buy joggers at Big W for that price.) I think I’ll have to go back and buy him several pairs in bigger sizes. As he gets bigger, he’ll always have joggers. Super cute clothes at really cheap prices – jeans for $12 and shirts for $6. Back to our hotel for more food and then a nap. Cameron went out shopping and came back loaded up with Van Heusen business shirts for $20 ($45 - $60 at home) and some lovely casual pants and Levi jeans.

We headed out to see some more of the sights. We were going to catch the bus to see the Fremont Street Experience, but the bus was so slow, we ended up getting off and catching one back to Bellagio, where we saw the 9pm fountains and once again limped home for a VERY late dinner and bedtime.

Next day we found a Denny’s for breakfast before packing up our things and packing the car. Cameron took Zane to the Midway (games section of the hotel) and over to the MGM Grand (across the road) where they saw some lions (real ones) playing with balls. Cameron was disappointed there was no mauling of trainers – I think he was hoping to make some money on You Tube.

Meanwhile, I was working out the credit cards in the outlet centre. I admit I went a little crazy. I started in Van Heusen also (which, to my knowledge we can not get the ladies clothes in Oz). I love their clothes. A really nice make and fit, I bought 2x sweaters, 4x blouses, sunglasses, socks, jewellery and a denim jacket all at incredible prices. Most of the shirts cost me $22 and the denim jacket that was originally priced at $80, I got for $17. Now that’s my price! I also visited a Dress Barn and bought a beautiful party dress for $70 and a beautiful suit coat (incredibly well made and a lovely colour and cut) for $60. I could have shopped for hours, but was aware that we had to travel and I had to rescue Cameron. I’m hoping there will be more outlets as we travel as I have to still get a few things.

Back to pick up Cameron and Zane, and a quick visit to M&M world (a disappointment – 4 floors of overpriced merchandise and chocolate – I can buy cheaper M&M’s at the grocery stores) and then we waved farewell to Las Vegas and headed towards Barstow. We ended up stopping at Barstow and having food and a play at McDonalds before continuing on to Palmdale (nowhere of interest – just closer to the coast) to save ourselves another 1 ½ hours driving the next day.

I’m glad I’ve seen Las Vegas. It was mad and incredible and weird and fantastic! But I don’t think I will ever go back again. I found the casinos really smelly and smoky. As a non-smoker, this was a real turn-off. I hated having to go through the smoke-hazed pokies-filled halls to get to anything (and especially to get to the buffet). I found the excessive grandeur and sheer opulence a little bit offensive. While nothing was tacky, it still grated a little. I loved that things were themed – the Excalibur hotel and Circus Circus all had incredible foyers and decorations and little touches in every room that followed the themes.  I hated that every time we passed the service desk, we were hassled to buy time-share apartments.  Overall, a very mixed feeling about this visit, I can’t say I was sorry to leave.

Tags: , ,

USA

Los Angeles – Las Vegas

by Melita Mon, December 06 2010 08:23

I have not been to the outback, nor have I driven across the Nullarbor, or seen the Simpson Desert, so while I do not have much to compare to the landscape here, the areas we drove through today were some of the most desolate (and depressing) I have ever seen. Mountains of rock, rock, rock, rock and some tumbleweeds are all you can say make up the area called the Sierra Nevada. The road was very straight and very long, punctuated by the occasional ‘town’, which consisted of outlet shopping and a casino.

The scenery may be boring, but you can think about your new gun

Las Vegas is a strange and surreal city. In the middle of nothing, it has somehow survived and seems to be continuing to grow. Big names come here to perform. Big money is spent and lost (and occasionally won, I believe). It is incredibly busy and ridiculously grotesque. I admit I am biased – I’m not a huge city fan.

The Road to Las Vegas - Are we there yet? 

We arrived around 4pm, checked into the Circus Circus and went up to our room for showers before heading down to try one of Las Vegas’ famous buffets. Despite reading reports of 99c buffets, ours did cost $14.99 (plus tax). It was however, very impressive. Salads, hot roasts, vegetables, pizza, pasta and a very impressive dessert selection made up the offerings and we were full in no time.

Walking through the casino on a specially marked walkway (off which you were not allowed if you were under 21), we made our way up to the Midway, a floor especially designed to hold the Circus acts performed there every ½ hour. The stage was surrounded by ‘sideshow alley’ games of skill and luck, where a game of shoot down the clowns won you a small cuddly toy for the princely price of 50c. We managed to accumulate 3 such small toys, 1 of which we got for free, as we had vouchers for free games. We also stayed to watch the Kenyan Acrobats, which were all double jointed, energetic and very impressive.

So ended our night in Las Vegas! We had had a long driving day, so we weren’t interested in trying to see what was on the strip. We are coming back and staying closer to the action next time, so we will make an effort to see the lights etc.

Las Vegas Encounter (Lonely Planet Encounter Guide)The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas: 2011 (Unofficial Guides)Las Vegas for Dummies (Dummies Travel)

Tags: , , , ,

USA