Gondolas at The Venetian.
I have actually never wanted to go to Vegas. To me it seems the epitome of everything wrong with society. Over indulgence, greed, sleaze....you name it, I had the impression. So it was a wonderful treat to find Vegas NOT at all like I expected. Sure, you can find all the crap you like there, but overall I found it to be a very pleasant escape from the Winter. Mild weather, great shopping, restaurants featuring all the big name chefs, amazing shows, tastefully designed mega "themed" hotels and great people watching.
The faux sky and courtyard at the Venetian.
For those who have never been, The Strip (main street) is made up of a few dozen mega hotels/malls/them parks. Each hotel has a theme, ie Venice, Paris, New York, Italy, Cesar's Palace etc. Once past the grand entrance, you can dine in a "French" courtyard under a blue sky, listen to opera in the "town square", take a gondola ride through the hotel, view art installations, gardens and of course the best shopping and casinos.
All of these mega complexes are linked, so you can travel from one to the other without having to venture outside. I loved the Bellagio. Especially the espresso and homemade waffles at the well priced Bellagio Cafe. Outside the Bellagio is a man made lake. Each hour, they have a "Symphony" of fountains, all lit up and in moving in time to various pieces of music. It was spectacular.
The Paris Hotel
Vegas is super clean and very safe. Other than the fellas on the street handing out cards for call girls, you don't see what I had expected which was a street lined with prostitutes, vendors and drug addicts. It's a little bit like a mix between Pleasantville and the Truman Show.
Gates at The Bellagio
One of the biggest attractions of Vegas is the shows. Comedy, Burlesque, Cirque Du Soleil, you name it you can find it in under a $10 cab fare away.
The ceiling at the Bellagio...a Dale Chihuly installation was quite fantastic.
Japanese garden at the Bellagio Atrium.
Wolfgang Puck restaurant at the Venetian.....wonderful food, service and ambiance
Luxor Hotel...Well priced but sadly lacking in style. Needs a complete overhaul. Tired and outdated. Good staff. Clean. Slower than Molasses hard wired Internet (to force you not to stay in your room but to gamble). Loud, loud, shake the whole building night club which we roomed above the first night.
Cris Angel Believe Show by Cirque Du Soleil .....Absolute crap. Cirque needs to get its name off these "by Cirque" shows as they are diminishing their credibility....to even link this to Cirque is an embarrassment. A tired and dated Illusionist Show more like a 70's magic show. Cris Angel lack charm, shamelessly plugged his $29.99 magic set right in the middle of the show, had an entourage of clowns including one who had no redeeming character stuffed into a fat suit. If you are funny and happen to be fat, that's one thing, but thinking fat is funny is another. The show had some awkward moments as audience members centered out, did not respond to him well, making each skit nose dive. Throughout the show, excerpts from his TV show were played on the giant backdrop. Save your money.
O with cirque Du Soleil.....at the Bellagio, they have created a theatre centered around a gorgeous pool with incredible sets, music, costume and talent. The levels of the pool change and it becomes a dance floor, then plunges again to allow dives from 65 feet. Acrobats and dances and trapeze and synchronised swimmers. The stage hands are in scuba gear and they have divers providing oxygen underwater for the athletes....and believe me they are athletes. A couple of tastefully done clown acts. I found this show to be nothing short of spectacular. I loved it and have never seen anything like it.
And what does this have to do with Vegas you may ask? This is a shot from the very talented Suzan from The Old Grey Mare blog, Visit Suzan Here who I have been chatting with for the past several months. I ditched rest of the group attending the CES show and met up with Suzan who kindly took me to Boulder City, a town built to house the workers building the Hoover Dam. A charming town with interesting housing and antiques, it was a highlight of my trip. A tour of the suburbs made interesting viewing too. One thing I did not know, was that I was a mere 4 hour drive from California, something Suzan pointed out. I would have stayed longer had I known and made the journey through the Mohabe desert...something I think would be thrilling.
If you ever go to Vegas, you should check out the Boot Barn. I have never seen such a huge place, filled completely with Cowboy Boots. We were educated on styles (Ropers, Cowboy, clipped toes etc) and I purchased a pair of Luchesse (Lou-K-C) boots with a brown lower and orange upper....a complete departure form my neutral preferences in clothing, but mostly concealed by jeans anyway.
One thing I wish I had done was brought comfy shoes with me. Yo can't break in new boots that quickly and my other selections were just not practical....my sore feet were the worst part of the trip.
And because I love to see what people buy when they go away, here are my purchases. A butter dish with a sheep (cow?) or something, an Anthroplogie candle that is so highly scented, I have banished it to the next room, a set of napkins and my boots.
I would love to go back when the pools are open. It would make a nice resort style holiday. I found 4 days in town to be enough. Other that eat, drink, gamble and shop, you start to want to laze around in a park or go for long walk somewhere. A holiday can always be about adventure and experiencing the world. Sometimes it's just for fun and a break from the norm.