Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

On Thursday (the 4th of December), we went from Anaheim to LAX to pick up our rental car. As I am a slack bugger and don't drive, Sha was on locomotive duty. She adjusted reasonably quickly to driving on the right (or should that be wrong?) side of the road and we took off for Vegas.

We travelled via Barstow, which conjured up Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas comparisons. Barstow is an odd little desert town with about 21,000 inhabitants and we stopped for food and drink supplies. It was here where we ran into a group of three 'wheelchair rollers' who were out supermarket shopping. I have mentioned these type of people before, but they are the ones who seem to have given up on walking and just roll everywhere in their motorised transporters. It does make me wonder about their quality of life - not huge I expect.

While in the supermarket we heard a couple of huge explosions and it become clear why, when we saw a member of the armed forces. Later when looking at a map, I realised that Barstow has various military and marine installations nearby. No doubt the explosions were the army or marine boys blowing something up. Guess you have to fire you guns to keep them warm. Or something.

After Barstow, we did a straight run to Vegas and the sun began to set. When it was finally dark, the car climbed over the final lip down towards the city and we were greeted by both the amazing lights and the Kansas song Carry On Wayward Son playing on the radio (Perraine, you would have loved it). I took this as a good omen. I may have been wrong.

First things first:

We had to get our tickets for the show we were going to see. This involved Sha haring through many streets while being stunned by giant blazing billboards and me trying to navigate to the ticket pick up point. Eventually we made it, but it seemed to take much longer than we anticipated. Yes, we did have a Neverlost GPS device in the car, but it was still tricky.

We of course were dazzled by the light show of Vegas. Honestly, this is mesmerising - all the billboards/hotels/casinos are lit up like electricity is going out of fashion. It's amazing, but also makes you understand just why America uses 25% of the world's energy yet makes up only 4% of the population. Anyway, irrespective of that, it is really a spectacular site to see and I hope the photos can do some justice.

The Luxor - we were staying in one of the 'theme park' hotels - this one being all Egyptian styled (and it's also in the shape of pyramid - a big black one). Luxor was the Egyptian city of Thebes, hence the d├ęcor. To be honest, as we entered, the whole elaborateness of the place fails to sink in, but it doesn't take long for senses to return and realise how cleverly it is set up to make as much money as quickly as possible. Whether it is cocktail waitresses bringing you drinks, 'special offers' which save you a little money somewhere but then lure you to spend 3-4 times that amount elsewhere. We were offered a deal where we give the Luxor $50 and later get $175 back, less what we spend on dinner, a show, gambling and drinks. Wow, that's amazing! The guy explained the magic of how it all worked with some
very complicated long hand mathematics which quickly left me feeling 'too good to be true, walk away' and we did. Casinos are a bit like politicians in that regard.

Blurry, but you can see how the roof tapers and how big the hotel is

Irrespective of the above, the whole place was still very impressive - anywhere where elevators go diagonally and there are 20 floors of rooms tapering into an insanely high ceiling, does deserve some credit.

The actual room we stayed in looked nice, however we quickly found out about few certain problems. Now, before I rant about the crapness, I will freely admit that a) we didn't have a very expensive room and b) we didn't complain at the time as we didn't want to waste our own time and prolong the experience...(one night only you see).

Anyway, the issues we had were
  • 1) Finding half used toiletries (moisturiser) with previous occupants big black short curly hair stuck under the lid
  • 2) dirty glasses - of four glasses in total, two were found to have dirty marks on and inside them - kinda looked like dried toothpaste (and may well have been)
  • 3) a ripped hole in the bed sheet (I really don't want to know!)
  • 4) general 'hairyness' of the floor when Sha tried to wrap Christmas presents and had to do it on the bed rather than floor.
When we tried to voice our concerns (next day upon checking out), we were told that we would be emailed a feedback form (we probably should have made it clear we wanted to complain). It was at this point we decided to get the hell out of Vegas as soon as we could. It also left me feeling that for those in the cheap seats, the Luxor is anything but luxurious.

But skipping back - after we had checked in and had partially discovered the delights of our room, we left for a drink, dinner and a comedy show which we got to by walking the Vegas 'strip'.

The drink and dinner at Tender (which had American Kobe wagyu beef for $105US/12oz steak and $130 for Japanese Kobe wagyu/6oz steak) was fantastic. My Dark and Stormy cocktail, crab salad and Sha's King crab and lobster soup were all fantastic but we didn't have time for a full meal so left for the stand up show. N
eedless to stay our meal was cheaper by forgoing the more expensive frivolities of high end beef nosh.

The strip is a once in a lifetime (or the start of a lifetime) experience but whichever it is, it sure is one that stays with you forever. I don't know if I have ever both loved and hated a place at once. In the end the loathing wins.

Apart from the lights and amazing buildings, there was a heady mixture of people including; cowboys (real ones, in town for a rodeo), Mexican touts handing out girlie cards - they flick the cards with their fingers to get your attention to take them - these cards are then discarded usually 10 metres away making the footpath a crazy mosaic of girlie pictures with stars on their bits, pan handlers, drunk tourists clutching giant yard glasses filled with margarita, ticket touts with half price show tickets, sightseeing tourists, - you name it, they're all there!

Huh, I thought we were in Vegas not New York!

Sha posing in front of the Excalibur Hotel and Casino

Ahh, gay Paree

The comedy show was fantastic. It was a stand up show with Chris Mancini, Doug Starks and Kenny Bob Davis. All absolutely hilarious and one of the highlights of Vegas (along with the lights and the overall scope and insanity). We even had some cowboys sit behind that was funny (they talk real purty too).

After the show we headed back upon the perilous path to return the Luxor. People seemed even drinker about now and a couple of hours later we were back in our room, safe from molestation. The huge number of escalators linking one building/casino to another also helped speed things up too (no, we're not being lazy...the strip is reallllllly long).

Waxworks still scare me - best Bond after Connery

Siegfried and Roy and their favourite tiger...wonder if it's the same one that took a chunk out of Roy?

Trucks like this drive up and down the strip all night

Could that be Zeus or is it Poseidon?


Donny and Marie have never been so big

Hello Mr. Water Horsey...uh, I mean Hippocampus

Catina Diablo giving Hell pizza a run for their money

The next day we got the hell move we ever made (however slightly counteracted by spending two hours looking for a post office on foot the following morning - oh well, we have NOW worked out the intricacies of the US postal system). While we hunted for a post office (and failed), we did get to see a fair bit of the strip but this time in daylight:

What does this MEAN?

The Luxor by day

Paris (again)

I don't need to go to Europe now ;-)

Yes, that is a roller coaster!

Leaving Las Vegas

However, little did Sha and I know - we were about to start heading into some really amazing places - starting with Death Valley. Maybe we will find some peace and quiet? Maybe...but the below picture might make us think not.

Sighted as we were leaving Las Vegas

2 comments: said...

Ha funny you mention that dude trying to sell you the $175 'money back' deal ... I had the same thing happen to me the other day buying your oh-so-precious Radio Times Dr Who token, someone tried to sell me an Evening Standard in the newsagent for 40p and I get £1 off my purchase ... er, which I did actually, cos it saved me 60p. Hmm. Not sure where I was going with that.

Oh yeah and that statue in the fountain? It's Oceanus, representing the oceans. It's a copy of the Trevi Fountain in Rome:

Foo said...

Ahhh, Trevi Fountain. You learn something new every day!

Actually, Las Vegas is just a facsimile of most of the monuments of the world. I think it allows Americans to see Vegas and then decide that they don't need to visit Germany/France/Italy/Greece/Egypt etc.

Thanks for getting that token for me - if you can next weeks issue as well, I'll be only £2.99 away from a super duper Doctor Who poster.