Viva Las Vegas!

Trip Start Jun 24, 2012
Trip End Sep 21, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Thursday, August 23, 2012

We woke up this morning, still grumpy and slightly hungover from the night before, and prepared ourselves to get ready to meet up with some of the girls to explore Las Vegas.

We were down in the lobby for 9.30am and met up with most of the girls. Hearing some of the stories from the night before did not do anything to lighten my mood (I can hold a grudge!) but we were soon walking out of Bill's into the hot sunshine of Las Vegas. We somehow managed to lose most of the group before we'd even crossed the road - they were all struggling to move due to immense hangovers - and so it was just the two of us, with Claire, Christina and Viv who wandered down past the Paris hotel, with the Bellagio across the road. We were all starving, so we popped into a nearby McDonald's to grab some breakfast, and then we headed to the bottom of the strip to see the MGM Grand.

We'd planned on seeing as many of the hotels as we could during the day, as that's pretty much the only thing to do in Vegas unless you like gambling, drinking or prostitution (which isn't our sort of scene!), but we wanted to pop to the MGM first as Claire had told us that she wanted to go and see a Cirque du Soleil show and wanted to price up tickets. Walking into the hotel was like walking into a theme park; everything just looked perfect, and so shiny and luxiourious...there were even cars on display in the casino part of the hotel!

I was shocked to see (although I don't know why) that there were already people in the casino sat at the slot machines, mindlessly putting quarters into them. They actually looked like zombies, their eyes only moving when the waitresses brought refills of their really old guy even had his credit card plugged into the machine and looked like he had been sat there for days; I imagine it's so easy to just keep throwing your money away without even realising it. Most of the machines were the same type, small squat boxes with a screen over which multicoloured lines flashed. We had a look at one but couldn't figure out what the aim of it was, or how it was controlled, it was bizarre. However, these games all had really odd names, and pictures, like ''Mighty Zeus III", "Persian Fantasy" (which had a picture of the ugliest Persian you've ever seen in your life) and "Savannah Adventure" complete with African vista...I did quite like looking at all the names and wondering at what point the game-namer had given up on life.

After hanging around the Cirque Du Soleil Theatre until it opened - the hotels are like self-contained cities, with restaurants, shops, leisure centres and in this case, a theatre - we were informed that the tickets were going to be $120 at the very minimum. Laura and I decided not to bother, partly because we'd seen a free Cirque du Soleil performance in Quebec, and so couldn't justify paying such a high price to see another, and partly because when you're working off a budget of $30 a day, that ticket means you don't eat for 4 days! However, Claire and Christina bought theirs, and a spare for Bryan, who was at a poker tournament.

After this was sorted, we headed back out of the MGM to go across the road to the New York, New York hotel. As we were nearly at the exit, we bumped into Rose, Faye, Alex, Abi and Charlie, who were all groaning and not moving very much in a set of sofas, still struggling with spherical hangovers. We picked up Faye as we carried on, as she's a trooper and didn't want to waste her day not doing much. Walking back out of the hotel into the sun was painful; there are no windows in the hotels/casinos, apparently as this helps keep punters inside sending money if they don't realise what time of day it is (no clocks either - they know what they're doing in the casinos!) and so the bright light hurt our eyes, and the heat was overwhelming.

We quickly hustled across the road and into NYNY, heading towards the rollercoaster that is built in and around the hotel. NYNY looks really funky, as it's basically a skyline that is meant to represent New York which makes up the hotel rooms, and it's full of old school advertisements and even a miniature Brooklyn Bridge outside. We headed through the food court and casino to line up for the rollercoaster, all really excited with the exception of Faye, who spent the entire time we were queuing sat on the floor with her head on her knees, as she was so hungover. She was an absolute state haha.

I was ever so slightly anxious as we got on the coaster, but only because Faye was in the seat behind me and Laura, and I genuinely thought she might throw up in the course of the ride. However, she was fine, and the coaster itself was awesome. It's a fairly old one, so was jittery as hell (we all banged our heads) but was really fun and woke us up a little bit! After the rollercoaster, we played in the adjoining arcades for a little bit - Laura found a shooter game based on the Terminator so she was happy - and then the 6 of us popped next door to the Excalibur hotel to have a look around.

By this point we realised that inside the hotels is much of a muchness, as they all follow a similar layout with the casinos and have similar shops and things, but it was still interesting to look at the theming of them, and some do it better than others. The Excalibur from the outside was horrendous; it's meant to be like a fairy tale castle, but looks like it was out together by a consortium of five year olds, and the inside wasn't much better.

We were getting hungry after all of our wandering around, so decided to grab some lunch inside the Excalibur, at an Italian restaurant called Bucca Di Beppo, which was quite nice, and then cracked on with our sightseeing by heading through connecting corridors from the Excalibur to the Luxor. The main attraction of the Luxor, as you might expect, is a gigantic pyramid, inside of which is the usual gamut of casinos, shops and restaurants. The decor inside of this hotel was quite pleasing though, as it was decorated with statues and hieroglyphs, and didn't look at tacky as it could have done.

We walked through and exited from the main entrance (as we're rebels, haha) and at this point, Faye and Claire decided to go back to the MGM to get Faye a ticket for the Cirque Du Soleil show. The rest of us decided to walk back down the strip, and we all arranged to meet up at the Bellagio. We only walked about halfway down the strip in reality, as it was just to hot, so after going past the Monte Carlo, we decided to duck inside the 'Crystals' shopping centre, which is attached to the Aria hotel and hop on one of the free shuttles to the Bellagio. The shopping centre was clearly one that we would never usually be found in; literally every store belonged to a high end designer, and everything was pristine.

The glamour continued as we arrived in the Bellagio hotel, which was drop dead gorgeous. It didn't have any of the ostentatious theming that the others had had, but instead was really pretty and elegant, with soft lighting and fresh flowers scenting the air. Laura and I had eyes like saucers as we walked through the hotel, both wondering what it would cost us to upgrade to a room there for the night! We walked past a chocolate store inside it which contained the worlds largest chocolate fountain, which looked amazing. When we stopped to politely look at the goods on sale, and take a photo of the fountain, we somehow found ourselves purchasing chocolate dipped strawberries and a Nutella ganache cake....I have no idea how this happened! We ate our goodies in an atrium which had giant colourful flowers, insects and balloon sculptures all around. It was lovely =]

We waited for Claire and Faye in the lobby of the Bellagio, which is decorated with beautiful glass flowers, and then when they were later than they were meant to be, moved to sit next to a fountain next to the main entrance. When they both turned up, and told us what had happened, we could unstandardised how they were late; Faye had left here credit card on the table of the restaurant in the Excalibur, and had only realised when she'd gone to take it from her purse in the MGM. Cue a frantic dash across Las Vegas to retrieve it, where thankfully the card was still on the table and hadn't been touched. They recovered and we relaxed whilst the Bellagio fountains did their routine, which was really cool; a piece of classical music is played, and the fountains 'dance' in time to it, culminating in a crescendo of spray, which at night is accompanied by lights.

After this drama, we decided to carry on our hotel tour, and went next to Caesars Palace. From the outside, it didn't look all that impressive to me ( I think it's the bright red font that they use for the just looks tacky!) but inside I was pleasantly surprised. The hotel was decorated with Roman sculptures, fountains and murals, and it smelled a spa! We wandered through the casino bit to find the mini shopping mall which Laura's mum had told us about, and which also contained the famous Atlantis fountain and aquarium. The shopping mall was a bit's all done out like you're in Rome, complete with the ceiling painted to look like sky. You sort of feel like you're outside but you're not, and it messes with your head a little bit, but you get used to it eventually. We found the fountain, but realised we had just missed the big display, which only happens a couple of times a day, however did get to send some time looking at the aquarium, which was lovely. Most of our time in the mall was spent inside the Apple store, where Faye was pricing up iPads and Laura was mooning over a MacBook Pro, both eventually coming away with nothing for all the time we were in there!

Our next port of call was to the Mirage hotel, where it was rumoured they had a fakey volcano which went off at various intervals, spewing fakey lava - all of the hotels have some sort of gimmick like this - and obviously we had to see it! We were disappointed to learn, however, that not only the next eruption wasn't until later on that evening, but that the volcano was just an elaborate fountain, and there was no lava...sad times =[

To ease the pain of this discovery, we popped over the road to the Venetian hotel, the last of the big hotels on our list to visit. As is obvious, the Venetian's shtick is that it is meant to be like Venice. The architecture is in a classical Italian style, with stained glass windows, and it has a series of canals running through the belly of the hotel. It is the most touristy thing in the world to do, but Laura and I were persuaded to go on a gondola ride with Claire and Faye...and Laura was annoyed to discover that the gondolas were propelled by an engine rather than the gondoliers, which was amusing to hear her fume about. Still, it was quite cute and the gondolier we had sang us a little song, so that was nice haha.

By the time we got out of the Venetian, we realised it was getting on for 7pm, which was a shock - being in the hotels all day had completely thrown off our sense of the time (a success for the hotels!) and the others had to start getting ready to go to their show. Laura and I left them and decided we would head to the Hard Rock Hotel to grab some dinner, see the Hall of Fame and try and find the Hart and Huntington Tattoo Studio so I could get some balm for my arm. The HRH is miles out from the strip itself for some reason, but looked like it was walk able, so we set off down one of the side roads.

Almost as soon as we were off the strip, the scenery changed, instead of being clean and bright and bustling, it was dark, grubby and looked more than a little unsavoury. It didn't help that the road we had seen on the map as being fairly big (and therefore safe, with lots of people on it) was not at all this way in reality. I felt uneasy and we practically jogged down the road and across another to reach the Hard Rock, vowing to get a cab back to Bill's when we were done.

Inside the HRH, it was just as if the hotel had been on the strip, back to bright and bustling, although it was noticeably quieter than the others we'd been in throughout the day. We had a mission through the warren like inside to find the tattoo shop, which it turns out was titchy and didn't sell the balm I wanted anyway! Still, Laura got to see the costumes and instruments in the hall of fame, and we stopped for dinner in a diner called Mr. Lucky's 24/7, which was just off the casino.

Pretty much as soon as we had finished dinner, we were both overcome with exhaustion, after walking the strip for just less than 12 hours. We grabbed a cab back to Bill's, and loosely packed our stuff to leave for LA the next morning and then collapsed into bed, pleased with what we'd done that day.

Las Vegas has really surprised us both; we were expecting it to be a glorified Blackpool, with nothing to do unless you wanted to get drunk and gamble, but in fact it is a rather nice city with plenty of sightseeing opportunities - and we didn't even do every hotel. We're glad to have been proven wrong!

Deej x
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