OK.. Blogging has been almost impossible with the crappy crappy hotel internet we have found in the final two destinations of this family trip.. SO now that I have arrived in beautiful London! (to be blogged about next) I better write down how the rest of America actually was.
SO after New York we jumped on a plane and were off to Las Vegas! Which was in the most basic of terms..Just SO much better than New York. The whole town is like a theme park for grown ups – even the airport is filled with slot machines!.
Actually the airport itself was the first adventure – it’s so big that we had to catch an indoor train to the baggage collection area..
Then we checked into the hotel – which wasn’t one of the themed ones on the main strip, but was a nice place (Embassy Suites) just one street back from that main strip. It was a nicer room than we got in New York, with more space and free breakfast each morning and free cocktails for a couple of hours each night.. Sooooo a pretty sweet deal. I would definitely go back there with friends over a summer. And although this holiday was afforded by my parents… I imagine it’d be a much cheaper deal than staying on the main strip in peak holiday season (this is where we spent New Years).
So anyway for our first night in Vegas we just settled into the hotel and waited for my little brother to get in – who having decided to join the whole ‘America’ trip rather late in the planning stage, had a different flight time to the rest of us.. It wouldn’t have been a long wait… BUT he was delayed significantly when he was somehow… accidentally.. checked in.. to a flight on its way to Peurto Rico instead of Las Vegas… Anyway this was a mistake that he was really fortunate to pick up on before he boarded.. Because honestly, I am not sure I would have noticed with all of the flight codes and announcements that compete with one another in airports.. BUT regardless, and despite this mistake being completely out of his control and not at all any fault of his.. the always rarely helpful airport flight staff were apparently reluctant to create a solution.. Which meant he was forced to spend several hours in the New York airport waiting on STAND-BYE to see if there would be room on the next flight to Vegas for him – A flight which he had booked. A flight which he had booked several months in advance, and which he was taken off of because of a mistake made by the check-in clerk of Delta Airlines…
The ultimate result was that he didn’t arrive in at Las Vegas until close to midnight. BUT I suppose he did arrive.
Then, on day two (after a delicious free buffet breakfast) we set out to explore ‘The Strip’ – which is the main street of Las Vegas where all of the themed hotels, shows and general action is. We only made it as far as seeing two of the HUGE shopping malls before we ran out of day… Those things are just so easy to get lost in for hours at a time! And that was despite the fact that we did almost no shopping at all!
The first mall was the Canal Shoppes which is themed to look as if you are walking through a Venetian street, and I guess alongside the Grand Canal in Venice.. because it is complete with a no-expense-spared canal which runs through right through the centre of the mall. AND it actually has gondolas! AND singing punters! Its incredible to see. AND the roof of the shopping centre is made to look like a fine day in Venice, with blue skies and clouds painted overhead. AND there was delicious, delicious gelato. Which we wasted no time in trying. OH! and there was also a beautiful water fountain feature and an impressive chandelier just inside the front entrance. AND at the back entrance was a beautifully painted ceiling, with a generic bodies-in-the-sky kind of scene… I’m not really sure what you call those scenes.. There’s probably a proper name for them… Anyway! the whole thing was amazing from the first look.
And then the second mall was called The Forum Shops and it was just as amazing. This one had a massive water feature inside it’s front doors which was guarded by several gigantic Caesar statues. And these statues all stood reaching up to the ceiling.. which was 3 stories above. Further, the staircase to the upper levels – which was actually a moving escalator – was a winding one, which curved around yet another impressive Roman themed statue. AND after mid-day there were hourly shows in one of the many central spaces within this mall. because I mean of course.. all of these spaces had their own gorgeous water fountains.. So this show was with moving statues. It was also within a water feature, and it casually included both water and fire as two Roman Gods battled against one another for their father’s throne. OH! and there was a floor to ceiling aquarium with fish AND stingrays. And the ceilings were the same, beautifully painted blue skies and clouds as we found in the Canal Shoppes.
And of course although these indoor spaces were gorgeous! We also the general scene of ‘The Strip’ from the outdoors. Where the streets were immaculately clean, and the day was beautifully clear and we got to see all of the well known hotels in their fully impressive and towering states. The Eiffel Tower, Caesars Palace, The Mirage, The golden Trump tower etc etc etc. AND we even caught the iconic water show that takes place outside of Caesars Palace.
Needless to say, we were very pleased with Vegas after out first day out sight seeing and we were very aware of how much there really was to see in this city. So on day three we headed out again and prioritised booking in to see a show! Which ended up being one by The Blue Man Group, and it was really good! It was kind of like a really creative music/comedy show with all kinds of special effects and giant floating eyeballs and audience participation and even a little bit of education – as it was explained how it is that people see and perceive the things around them. And by the end of the show there were rolls of toilet paper and giant, flashing, inflatable balls being thrown out into the audience, and there was music blasting and lights flashing and everyone was encouraged to get up and dance! ..And although the audience that we were a part of was quite demure… It really was an impressive finale for the show.
But actually this was an evening show.. So I should also mention that before hand we spent that day exploring the streets of ‘old Vegas’, which was just a short way out from The Strip by bus. And although this area was not nearly as clean and fancy as the more modern Vegas found along The Strip, it was pretty cool to see. I guess really though.. It was largely just more casinos and slot machines..
We did also have a walk around one of quite a few outlet centres that Vegas is home to.. But there we really only discovered that even the “cheap” outlet centres of Vegas are very high end. So we actually barely entered any of them..
Vegas is very much full of those typical, generically expensive brand names like Gucci and Louis Vuitton and Ferrari – the type of brand names people buy so that they can say that they buy them. The type of brand names that even when made affordable by outlet centres, I am very proud to say, my family has no particular affection towards.. The type of brands that I shall not waste any more space mentioning further.. SO, any way, after another day on our feet exploring we had an awesome buffet dinner at the hotel where the “Blue Man” show was being held (buffets are really popular in Vegas).. Although we did have to shovel it down a wee bit to make sure we got to the show on time..
And then… it was an early wake up on day three to make our way to The “Grand Canyon”! A trip which was made via a couple of buses.. and of which we missed the first one.. due to what I can only assume was a minor mis-communication between my mother and the bus company.. However fortunately! The first bus was only the one which took us from our hotel to the main bus depot.. so after some rather rushed bag packing and a quick and last minute call for a cab, we did manage to catch the main bus in time! And from there.. we spent the rest of the day on that bus.. As it turns out going to see the Grand Canyon from Vegas is a very popular 16 HOUR journey which stops at the canyon in two different spots for a total of something like.. 60 minutes…
Which was a bus:canyon time ratio which we weren’t particularly excited about, and honestly didn’t really understand untill we boarded the bus… But.. The Canyon is just something that has to be seen in America. And.. it really was astonishingly vast. In some ways.. it even lost some of it’s impressiveness through its significant size, because it was just impossible to comprehend how deep and how wide it really was.. I’ve course I have never seen any thing like it any where else before. And I don’t doubt in the least that there is no other trench or pit or canyon or valley in this world that would come even remotely close to ” The Grand Canyon” in size. But it is so big.. that you can’t see the whole thing at once.. And in a really strange way that takes away from it just a little bit. Its very hard to explain. But.. I’ll put in a picture here anyway.. which won’t do it any justice and won’t explain it’s size at all..and I really, I guess that’s exactly what I am trying to say..
Oh, and of course on the way out we passed over Hoover Dam, which was a pretty massive feat of human engineering. Again, it’s size was incomparable. And it was very cool for myself to see.. knowing that the Transformers hid the all spark there once upon a time ;).
And day four was new years eve day! And also.. the day I had finally come to the point of getting over being on holiday with my family. So I went out and had some lazy coffee by myself and wandered the strip one last time. And actually ended up spending the night on the couch watching television and avoiding the loud crowds of The Strip – I had had a big enough dose of crowds to last me a life time after New York.. and I watched the fireworks go off at midnight from the hotel balcony while the rest of the family battled the crowds and wished to be above the hectic street level. So I don’t regret my choice to stay at home at all… New Years has truly never been my holiday.. It’s always passed by relatively un-noticed on my behalf.. And that’s not to say I don’t like to drink and party.. but rather I just don’t require a once yearly excuse to do so.. and as hospitality is my field of choice.. it’s normally just a really long night of work for me..
And then of course.. day 5 was the 1st of January.. and we spent the day walking the remaining length of The Strip which we had been distracted from by malls on our first day. And of course also making some last ditch souvenir and gift purchases.. and we even caught another show – this time by a German illusionist who was pretty good, and did leave us stumped on a couple of his tricks.. but after some post-show discussion we were pretty determined we had also figured out quite a few of them.. and it is a shame to realise that I have become too old to just take magic at it’s face value and accept it as something which is truly unbelievable.. but I do find it hard to accept that any adult in the audience would have whole-heartily believed that the man was a wizard and not a performer.. then again.. people believe all kinds of crazier things. Heck! We’re still debating over marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples because some people believe they deserve more rights than others.. it is indeed and gained crazy society that we live in.
AND finally on day 5 we were off to our final destination – LA!!