Viva Las Vegas

Trip Start Nov 01, 2012
Trip End Nov 28, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Friday, November 9, 2012

I'm sitting in the comfort of my hotel room with my feet propped up on a pillow, coz my feet are that swollen and sore, and reflecting on yet another amazing day.

I had a very early start with the HeliUSA driver collecting me at 6:30am from the hotel. When I got downstairs at 6:25am (coz I'm always early, Chantal), I thought it wise to check with the security guy out front whether this area is referred to as the Rotunda. Coz that's where the driver said he would fetch me from. That niggling voice in my head made me second guess myself and as it happened, it wasn't the Rotunda. The Rotunda is at the other end of the hotel and is actually the entrance to Excalibur Hotel. And honestly, if you see the size of these hotels, the other side would be about 1,5km away, I kid you not. But it's also not as the crow flies, unless its flying on one wing coz there's twists and turns and escalators and walkways left and right. But just as I have gotten to know the ways of the American people, this man quickly offered to take me there and just as well coz I'd never have found it. Seriously, these people here are so friendly and helpful.

So we raced there and arrived just as the bus was pulling in. Incidentally I did go back afterwards to try and find this man to tip him, but I couldn't find him. Anyway, we were transported off to the Airfield where we were weighed (I didn't look) and we signed our indemnity, were shown a safety video incase someone has the good sense to walk into a moving rotor, and we were whisked off to the helicopter. There were only 3 of us on this particular helicopter so when the pilot asked who would like to sit up front, I shot my hand up (we weren't near the rotor) and my spot was mine! How lucky can one person get?

So the lovely pilot, who was Spanish I think, not that it mattered, buckled me in, helped me with my headgear and we were set to go. What an exhilarating feeling to fly let alone over the strip and into the Grand Canyon. One can completely understand why it is categorized as one of the natural wonders of the world and can also be seen from space. We crossed the state line between Nevada, California and Arizona a couple of times which is weird in itself. But he took us over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, a few outlying resorts / Marinas all the time giving us really interesting information about the various places. He took us over an extinct volcano, through tracks laid by cowboys and travelers many years back and then onto the majestic Canyon with the Colorado River winding through it. We went down below the plateau and flew into the canyon and it made me realize how minuscule we really are next to nature. Again it's one of those experiences that you can take photos of, but photos will never be able to do this place justice. The flight was about 2 hours long with one stop to refuel at an actual ranch with herds of cattle and cowboys on horses and tents and wooden buildings. People do stay here in the teepees if they want to experience the ranch style of living. Definitely something I'd like to do some day. We then flew back over the plains, over the strip and back to the airfield. What a perfect way to start the day.

Of course I'd been taking photos like a paparazzi so by 10am, my battery was running dangerously low. So I hurtled back to the hotel room to charge it and to plan the rest of my 'must sees'. I had the bright idea of exploring each of the hotels on the strip and started off at the Mandalay Bay which is next door to the Luxor. Honestly this place is so huge, it took me literally half an hour to get from one end to the other where I wanted to go and see the aquarium. When I eventually found it, it had a $60 entrance fee so I did a quick two step and started making my way back. My feet had started aching at this point already and it was only the start. I eventually found a bridge connecting the Mandalay with the Luxor which is also connected to the Excalibur. Literally all the hotels link up with one another through walkways both through the hotels themselves and over the street. And that's how I wound my way down the strip. Admittedly once you've been in two or three of the hotels, they all start looking and feeling the same. It's a maze of passages and high end boutiques and restaurants and casinos. By the time I got to the Bellagio, which is apparently about halfway down, I was stuffed. There was only two things I had to do here. One was to poo in style and one was to see the fountain show. I had arrived at the Bellagio around 1'ish so it had taken me 3 hours to get halfway. I then found out that the fountain show was only scheduled for 3pm so I had 2 hours to wait. So I headed off to Caesar's Palace and into their Forum Shopping area. This is when I started to feel absolute despair because I honestly couldn't find my way out. I eventually found this humongous fish tank and sat there for half an hour watching a sting ray smiling at me as he floated by countless times. But I had to get out. I was hanging for a Vanilla Latte Grande but it seems these last few hotels didn't have a Starbucks like the ones up my end. It was just Dior and YSL and Jimmy Choo and Gucci and Dolce and any ridiculously expensive boutique you can think of. My sister would've been in her element. The only shop I walked into was the Apple Store and I can confirm, the iPhone 5 32Gig is only $299 - that's about R2 400. Definitely going to get one in New York. Oh and I did put another $2 into a machine and that now amounts to a whopping $3 I've thrown away, quickly! I eventually found my way out by asking various people and got outside around 2:45pm. When I found a spot to watch the fountain show I sat on the ground not giving a crap what anyone thought.

Then at precisely 3pm, the bell tolls and the music that was playing through the speakers on the sidewalk is stopped. These little pipes appear in the water and you watch and wait in anticipation. And then I don't know whether it was Aretha Franklin or someone with as strong a voice, belted out "Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light..." And the fountains were dancing in time and in sequence and I just went cold and couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my face. It really was too beautiful. And then the next song was "Time to say goodbye" in English and Italian with Andrea Bocelli and someone - and that started me off on round two. It ended with the fountains squirting as high as the roof of the hotel and with such force that it makes a cracking sound. Just too spectacular for words.

I was so revitalized by that show that I decided to carry on down the strip a bit further, but when I got to Caesars Palace again, I almost lost the will to live. So I decided to head back and then tomorrow I will catch a bus to the furtherest end so I can go to The Venetian and to Trump Towers and to the Stratosphere. There's just no way I'd be able to walk that without being miserable.

On my way back I also stopped at a supermarket and browsed around. They have everything - literally everything from water to 1,75 litre bottles of Captain Morgan to make up to a dispensary just everything. I bought water and a can of iced tea (i think its a litre can) and came back to my room to put my feet up and reflect. Which is where I started this blog so I guess this would be a good enough place to end.

Starting tomorrow night I have a 25 hour bus ride to Oklahoma City which I can't say I'm looking forward to coz I'm going to have to use the bus's toilet at some stage during those 25 hours. I'll try to make sure I go first. No doubt I will have plenty of time on my hands to update all of you on my goings on of tomorrow.

So till tomorrow...
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Meg on

Looks amazing Les...Hope you get some sleep on the bus.

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