Ah, Las Vegas. City of Sin. I guess some people would raise an eyebrow at our choice of honeymoon destination, but no amount of leaflets advertising prostitution being shoved in our faces could spoil our enjoyment of this incredibly vibrant city!
|Sights of the Las Vegas Strip (clockwise from top left):|
The Venetian, Paris Las Vegas, Excalibur, The Bellagio Fountains, New York New York
Luxor, Stratosphere tower, Caesar's Palace
The first thing that struck me about Las Vegas when we got off the plane was the heat. Las Vegas is, as I'm sure you know, in the middle of the desert, which means average May temperatures of 20°C higher than we get here. It's a dry heat too, which is very strange when you are used to a more humid climate. The second thing that struck me as we walked through the airport was the array of slot machines in the terminal! We were definitely in the Gambling Capital of the World.
The Strip is massively overscaled. Every building is enormous. Ridiculously so. It took us two hours to walk the length of the strip, from our hotel (Harrah's) down to Mandalay Bay. You can't gauge distance accurately, as the hotels look the same size whether you are right next to them or half an hours walk away. Some of the hotels took our breath away, other's left us disappointed. The Bellagio fountains and Mirage volcano were breathtaking, the Sirens of Treasure Island was supremely tacky yet impressive for it's technical display. New York New York was my favourite, for its atmosphere, its attractions and for how well it sticks to its theme. Excalibur was disappointing to say the least. Of all the themes, Medieval England was likely to be the one they got the most wrong!
We did so much while we were in Vegas, besides wandering the strip and exploring the various hotels and casinos. So much, in fact, that I failed to sit and relax by our hotel pool even once!
I wish I could share photos of the Cirque du Soleil performance we went to see. I have wanted to see one for years, and we did in in style! Unfortunately, Ka was sold out, so we decided to go see Zarkana instead. We got front row seats! It was incredible. Seriously, check out the preview video on their website. The girl juggling the seven balls made a mistake in her performance, and one of the balls bounced off the stage straight into Jamie's hands. They didn't miss a beat, and one of the harlequins came to reclaim it from him and she carried on as if nothing had happened.
I also wish my photos of the Grand Canyon would do it justice. It is vast. Simply unbelievably vast. We did a fantastic day long tour, which involved driving out to Boulder City by coach, before taking a small passenger plane out to the West Rim, via Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.
Once at the West Rim, we boarded a helicopter which flew us down 4,000ft to the base of the canyon, beside the Colorado River.
From there, we walked down a sandy trail to a small dock, where we boarded a riverboat and went on a trip down the river.
It was incredible. It was so hot at the Canyon, hotter than it was in the city. The only fresh air we got was while we were sailing on the river, which was refreshingly cold and clear. Once done with the river, we boarded another helicopter which flew us back to the top of the canyon. From there, we drove in a coach to Guano Point, where we enjoyed breathtaking views of the West Rim of the Canyon.
Unbelievably, you can walk right up to the edge and stare death in the face. A sheer, 4,000ft drop. While I was building up the courage to have a closer look, I saw a young woman fearlessly walk to the edge and sit down, with her legs dangling over oblivion. It terrified me. I'm glad we chose not to go on the Skywalk! We stayed at Guano Point for about an hour, which included a free lunch. But the heat got to us after a while, I was starting to burn, so we returned to the airstrip and chilled out in the shade until it was time to get the plane back to Boulder City.
We filled most of our time in the City itself with wandering and exploring hotels and shops. We did venture to the top of the Stratosphere tower, and ride the X-Scream rollercoaster. That was unnerving. 900ft in the air, out over the side of the tower in a rollercoaster car, being thrown towards the edge at what seemed a ridiculous speed. Exhilarating! Unfortunately the tower's other two thrill rides were closed due to high winds. We also had a ride on the Manhattan Express, my first go on a proper American rollercoaster. It was awesome.
We did have a go at gambling in our hotel's casino - after all, if you're going to Vegas, you might as well! We decided to give the slot machines a miss, as they no longer take quarters, or need you to pull a lever to make them spin, or chuck out bucketfuls of coins when you win. Now, you feed in dollar bills, and print out a ticket with your winnings that you cash on a special machine or with the cashiers. We knew enough to avoid the card tables and roulette wheels, so stuck instead to craps. We won over $500 on the first night! It was crazy. We'd intended only one night of gambling, but flushed with our success, the free drinks you get and how much fun it was, we ended up playing craps every night bar one. We came out up, overall, so we didn't do too badly. Now to resist the lure of the new casino that has opened up in town!
We were sad to come home, but our flight was mercifully broken up into two, a four hour flight from Las Vegas to Washington, then a seven hour flight back to Heathrow. We had enough time inbetween flights to chill and get something to eat as well. We got home on Saturday mid-morning, and the rest of the day was spent in a daze. Again, we failed at staying up to beat jetlag, as we both fell asleep on the sofa after we'd been up for 24 hours straight. We managed to snooze only for a couple of hours though, so were still able to go to bed at the right time and sleep properly.
Am still glad we had the Bank Holiday Monday to add to our recovery before going back to work though!