Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Reluctant Tourist

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.

My reviews
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  Tired and outdated.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. 


  1. I haven't been to Vegas in years. After reading your review, I might give it another try. I hate to gamble...can't stand the thought of handing over my money so easily. I'd much rather buy a new pair of shoes. Thank you for sharing your observations. Cherry Kay

  2. If you go back to Vegas, grab a rental car! Death Valley is so close and it is very interesting. Zion Nat Park is not too far (and I think you can even book an excursion to go up) and it is spectacular. The Hoover Dam tour is actually quite interesting.

  3. BTW... love the boots! What fun!

  4. ooo...that was like a virtual vacation...and I needed one! I haven't been to Vegas in years, so it was quite interesting to hear how it's changed, and what's interesting. I want to go again!

  5. Glad your back!...I enjoy Las Vegas each time I go....and I will be returning Jan. 15,16,17 & 18,this will be my 7th time.


  6. Americans really do know how to do fantasy - I love it... sort of.

  7. Hi Chania - so interested to read this; I have a real thing about Vegas - absolutely loved it when we went and really thought I would not. It does surprise. I would also say I would happily go there just chill on my own - it felt like the safest place on earth as there are so many people about. The shopping to die for. The hotels just have to be seen to be believed. I loved the Bellagio and could have watched that water show all day. So all in all I think it's a great place! OK pro-Vegas rant over - and p.s. love the boots!! Lou x

  8. Now you can kick up your heels in orange cowboy boots! We have not been to Vegas yet so this review is very helpful.

  9. Chania, i am so glad you had such a good time in Vegas. It seems to be a place that people either love or hate. I was there this summer during a cross-country trip with my daughter and found it to be (hot!!!) so much fun. We were there only overnight, so it was nice to hear your thoughts on the shows and restaurants. I like you felt the only down experience were those people advertising the call girls - too in your face for me. How nice that you were able to meet up with Suzan and she could show you some of the "real" parts of her area. She has such a lovely blog. Ann

  10. It looks like a lot of fun - how about that faux sky?? Crazy. I'm not a fan of gambling (at all) but think Vegas looks like a lot o fun :)

  11. Thanks for the tour! Like you, it was not what I expected.

  12. Wwow.

    I would love to see the real Cirque.
    Those things in your pics look like coloured jelly fish.

    Thanks for the update because I have never in my life wanted to go to Vegas...what I have seen, and imagined were exactly your own sentiments....but even after this it would still not be my first place...

  13. Fab boots!

    I've never fancied visiting Vegas but after your post it doesn't sound so bad - it's still not top of my list of places to go but I'm definitely giving it a second thought.

  14. I am so glad you had such a great time, Chania!! I love your photos! We drove from Yosemite Valley down through Lone Pine and Death Valley to Vegas and it was a fabulous scenic trip! Then we drove to LA after 3 days in Vegas. Love your new treasures and hope your feet are recovering, ouch! ~ Txx

  15. Glad to hear you had a good time! Does that mean you shyed away from purchasing the pink boots in your previous post...now that would have been fun!!!

  16. What a great review of Vegas - I have never been and completely had the same view that you had before you went, so it was nice to hear otherwise. I'm glad you had some fun getting away to a new place.

  17. Sounds like you had a great time and I love your finds! I've been to Vegas once and stayed at the Paris but my favourite part was the buffet breakfast at the Bellagio. Oh, we also ran into Tori Spelling there who turned her nose at the huge amount of food on our table! :)

  18. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip! I have only been to Vegas once, and it was when we lived in the high desert in California, we made the 4 hour drive and it was some place that everyone should visit at least once. I couldn't imagine going frequently but there really is no other place on earth quite like it!

    Kat :)

  19. So glad you had a good time, minus sore feet! My husband just loves Vegas and used to go every year with his buddy friend. He wants to take me some day to visit (I have been there 3 times, and not a big fan) but it is a great escape from the Winter Blues. Kit

  20. Very informative! I would love to go to Vegas, and when I do, I will have to refer back to this post! I like the picture of the boots :)

  21. I have or had the same impression of Vegas. Just showing how I allowed movies or TV to let me by the nose.

    Always good to experience someone else's travels, looks like good buys.

  22. Vegas is on my must visit list! I'm hoping to get there soon, everything fun in one place!

  23. So glad you got to get away and see Boulder City. Charming, isn't it! I live in Henderson and I'd say you're pretty much spot on with your critique. I wish I'd have told you to skip Cris Angel and see another cirque show instead. The others are magnificent.
    Happy new year to you :)

  24. Heya Chania....!

    Thanks for your comment the other day Lovey....I'm AOK though a little 'raspy'.....!

    I LOVED your Vegas review....It's a BUMMER about the Luxor....THANK HEAVENS for decent staff....!!

    Your boots are GORGEOUS & I'm SO ENVIOUS you were able to meet up with Suzan....Isn't she a SWEETIE....!!

    So where to next my Friend....You gonna make your way 'down here' or what....?? You KNOW I'd LOVE to show you around Melbourne....!

    Well I must away....Time to get ready for 'TPDJ'....!

    Cheers for now,
    Tamarah xxx


I love to read each and every comment and are thrilled that you take the time to send one. Thank you so much. Chania