Vegas, A.K.A Sin City! We both couldn't wait to get here - Kristi has been before but I was going for the first time, so was very excited! However we had a minor crisis before we made it to Sin City...
We arrived at JFK airport at 2pm - ready for our flight at 4.20pm (after some enlightening travel by bus through Queens!) - and then were delayed for about 90minutes before being made to get off the plane... and then waiting a further 5+ hours before we got to leave New York! (I won't go into the horrid details of this extended delay!!! soooooo frustrating!!) but we finally left at about 11.20pm!!! Ironic that our only major flight problem has been in the USA - all the sketchy countries we have been though and we have our first real travel issues in the US!!!
We finally arrived in Vegas at 3am local time and naturally we just wanted to crash… unfortunately our room had been given away so we stayed in a room in the Tower at the Luxor hotel (as opposed to the very cool pyramid!!) for the first night! Still, on the upside we woke up
feeling refreshed and set out to wander the infamous 'strip'! Las Vegas is unlike any other city anywhere in that it truly NEVER SLEEPS!! We wandered the strip and ogled the monstrosities that are the hotel/casinos of Excalibur, New York New York, MGM Grand, Monte Carlo, Paris, Bellagio etc etc etc! We were waylaid quite quickly by some enthusiastic chappy offering free shows and meals so we naturally went along to see what the deal was. We ended up being taken to this new hotel complex and having to endure a 2 hr sales pitch on buying time-shares!! (it was both hilariously funny and painful in equal measures! We couldn’t quite work out if our sales guy was actually for real, the things he had to say!! About being blown up in Afghanistan, being shot another time, etc etc) however on the upside we did end up with free tickets to the 'American Superstars' show and a free buffet dinner AND a free entrance to the Stratosphere tower! After the time share ordeal we changed into our room in the Luxor Pyramid and then decided to relax by wandering the length of 'the strip' and drinking a few beers/kahluas on
the way! We had a great time, including witnessing the ever-impressive Bellagio Water Fountains, wandering through Miracle Mile at the Planet Hollywood hotel, and the general mayhem of Vegas! We made our way down to the Stratosphere Hotel and booked seats for our free show the next night then retreated back to the hotel Luxor for some much needed rest (stopping on the way for a great meal at Panda Express - a large Chinese food chain in the US ... Yum!)
The next morning we had an early start for our visit to the Grand Canyon! This meant being up and ready at 5.15am yuuurrrkkk!!! We made our way, by coach, to Boulder City for our flight in a small 12 seater plane to Arizona and the mighty Grand Canyon. The flight was awesome - the views of both the Hoover Dam and the Canyon were breath-taking! Before we knew it we were landing in Arizona at the Grand Canyon National Park, ready for our coach tour of the Canyon at ground level. There is nothing that can prepare you for the majesty of the Grand Canyon - we had seen Fish River Canyon in Namibia (2nd biggest
canyon in the world) - but this did not prepare us for the sheer immensity of the Grand Canyon! It is massive beyond comprehension! The range of photo opportunities is staggering and the majestic Colorado River adds further to the surreal atmosphere of this amazing place. We visited several different viewpoints and were simply stunned by the sheer enormity of the canyon! IT IS HUGE!!!!!! After several million photos (that still couldn’t do it justice!) we drove to a tiny town for a great buffet lunch, followed by a VERY cool IMax film about the history of the Canyon. This whole experience was really awesome, it sounds very touristy, but we strongly recommend it to anyone coming to the area - it is simply mind blowing and not to be missed!!!!
This fantastic tour finished with us flying back to Boulder (again, incredible views!!) then driving back to Vegas. Despite being fairly pooped we then had to make our way to the hire car place to pick up our car to drive to LA the next day. This turned out to be significantly more difficult than expected! We left the hotel and took the Deuce Bus down to the
other end of the strip, however the traffic was a nightmare and our 15minute trip took an hour… ho-hum. Though we had a weird driver who would use his speaker to yell at people on the sidewalks and would often choose just not to let people board, saying it was full when there were only 2 of us on the upper level! Of course the people trying to board the bus and looking up at the empty level were not too impressed - It was quite bizarre! We began walking down the street to the hire car place and then realized we were still 7500 numbers from the hire car place - oh dear. So naturally a taxi was in order!! We arrived at the hire car place and asked about a Sat-nav (tom-tom) system for the car, as we had been told by several people that the drive to LA was a nightmare if you weren’t prepared for the millions of off-ramps and then navigating the city centre. The lady was really nice and somehow, instead of a 1.3L 2 door hatchback, we ended up with a 4.6L V8 Signature Lincoln Town Car - which was about as massive
as a 4 door sedan can get - they are used as cop cars in the states and are akin to driving a couch with wheels! Very comfy and powerful, with electric everything, the Lincoln was awesome! I loved this car! It had PRESSENCE! Smaller cars would flee in terror as we cruised along the road… (Maybe they thought we were undercover cops??)
After leaving the hire place we drove back to the hotel (experimenting with the Sat-nav of course - it’s disconcerting to have some random disembodied women’s voice suddenly pipe up with direction like “In 5 miles, go straight” … I mean duh!). After a quick change of clothes it was time to head back to the Stratosphere for our free show - American Superstars! The show was very cool, five singers each impersonating a uber-famous celebrity - Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, Tim McGraw, Elvis and Michael Jackson. The performers were extremely talented, Kristi’s favourite was ‘Christina Aguilera’ who sang 4 songs and was incredibly talented - her voice was awesome. However the Michael Jackson impersonator was out of this world - he wasn’t an amazing singer, but oh-my-god could he dance! His legs looked like they
were operating independently of his body! We both thoroughly enjoyed the show, and enjoyed the colossal buffet dinner afterwards just as much! Talk about range - there were literally hundreds of options! We ate our selves silly, yet were still staggered by the enormous portions that some of the Americans consumed (My dad would have been in heaven!!). After the buffet we wobbled our way to the elevator for our visit to the top of the Stratosphere tower. The view from the top was fantastic - as it was the middle of the night we could really appreciate the ridiculous amount of neon that lights up Las Vegas each and every night! The whole strip stretched out before us like a crazy multi-coloured glowing snake!
The next morning we got up early and grabbed a few more photos before boarding the good-ship Lincoln and cruising out to the nearby outlet store mall for some much needed shopping (poor Kristi was suffering from lack of retail therapy and had been shopping in Vegas before so was hanging out for it…). The prices here were ridiculously cheap! It’s hard to understand how, for example, Australian surf brands could be so much
cheaper here than in Aussie? I stocked up on several pairs of Dickies (well Kristi paid actually!) and Bunny got some very cool new sunglasses. We did a bit more shopping for random bits and pieces but had to bail as we were running out of time. This was pretty sad as we both could easily have spent all day there!! The prices were just insane, god knows how they make any money!
We drove down to the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign for a few quick snaps before hitting the long highway to Los Angeles. We did manage to make one final stop at Primm for a final shop at fashion outlet stores there. This was supposed to be a chance for Kristi to stock up on ‘Mac’ make-up, but turned out being Bunny buying me two pairs of DC shoes! (No complaints from my corner!). Finally we left Nevada in style, eating up the miles in our sofa-on-wheels!
With the delay from New York we had ended up missing out on quite a bit of our planned time in Vegas (one evening and then the following morning due to sleeping in after a 3am
arrival!) but we could return to Vegas again and again and will, we’re sure!
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