Las Vegas

The saying goes that "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", but obviously that would make for a pretty crap blog entry, plus we haven't done anything outrageous, so on this occasion I am prepared to share!

The drive in was certainly interesting. Just in case driving a different, left-hand drive car on the wrong side of the road through one of the busiest cities wasn't enough, Anna took the opportunity to hone her inimitable passenger-seat driving patter that always makes me want to drop her off at the side of the road and carry on alone. Highlights from this journey include "can you slow down please?" as I put my foot down to try to merge into a lane of cars going 10mph faster than I am, and "can you just stop for a minute?" as I hang around in the outside lane on a green light with cars beeping behind us wondering why on earth we are stationary. The arrival at the car park was a blessing!

On the plus side, I did wake up this morning to be presented with a prehighlighted and annotated map that Anna had spent last night doing, marking out the places along the strip we needed to go to and why we needed to go there, so that was excellent. Vegas is a strange combination of being exactly how you expect it to be from what you've heard about it, yet also surprising in so many ways. The strip itself is only about four miles long, and as such easily walkable in a two hour round trip, but as you meander in and out of the various hotels to see their attractions and features, a day is easily consumed just exploring this fascinating place.

Having just come from two reasonably backwater hotel locations, the contrast with Harrah's on the strip is phenomenal. God knows how many rooms this place has got (actually, Wikipedia knows too - it has 2,677) but like every other hotel along here it has its own casino, theatre, shops, etc. and is huge! One thing I learnt from CSI Vegas is that casinos deliberately have constant lighting, no clocks, and no/few exit signs, making it (a) very easy to lose track of time because your natural indicators have gone, and (b) very difficult to leave because you don't know how the bloody hell to get out of the place. We wondered into many of these hotels and spent more time looking for the way out than we did at the attractions!

Speaking of attractions, highlights were the Fountains of Bellagio, the Manhattan Express rollercoaster (well worth a ride), an outdoors show put on at Treasure Island, and a very funny stand-up triple act we got for free with the room booking at our very own hotel. All good fun. In order to stand out, some of the hotels decide that being in Vegas isn't enough and they try to adopt another place or country instead. Luxor, for example, with its giant reflective pyramid and Egyptian insides. The New York-New York hotel, too. Trying harder still was the Venetian, bringing Venice to Vegas by means of an indoor/outdoor "canal" system and a really bizarre indoor sky that has to be seen to be appreciated; and worst offender was the Paris hotel complete with its very own "Eiffel Tower", 5/8ths the size of the actual tower but still producing a decent view of the Vegas strip once you're at the top (see photos). Ironically we heard loads of French people as we wandered up and down the strip - I would love to know what they make of the abomination that is "Paris" compared to their own city!

I am pleased to say I've been to Vegas, and if something like a stag do came up here I'd be happy to come back to the place, but now I've been I don't really need to revisit anytime too soon...