Published: July 25th 2009July 23rd 2009
(Contiki day 1)
Anaheim to Las Vegas - 38°c
Well, despite last night being the latest night so far for me, it came as rather unwanted when my alarm clock went off at 6:10am this morning! Unfortunately we had to check out and board the coach by 7:15am so it was a necessary evil.
After rolling out of bed and fumbling about in the dark for a good while, packing up the last few things in my case and getting myself ready with only subdued lighting to aid me, because my room-mate those few nights was a little bit strange and went to bed exceptionally early - 9pm some nights, and shot me some very evil looks whenever I woke him up! His 2am wake-up call from me the other night when I got in definitely did not go down well at all, and if looks could kill, I’d could have metaphorically speaking been pushed over the canyon and hurtling to my death around 2:05! Anyway, I made it out of there and I don’t think I left too much behind!
Bumping into Michelle, Lauren and Marnee in the breakfast hall, I grabbed some breakfast still in a somewhat drunken haze from the night before, my body feeling slightly shaky like my blood was still pounding around my system! - A very strange feeling I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever felt before? Still, I don’t think I’ve ever had to get up little over 4 hours after a very drunken night out before!
Once we loaded up our luggage and boarded the coach, we were on our way to Las Vegas! I sat next to Lauren the whole way and we had a good giggle en route, but to be honest everyone was very sleepy and quiet, and it wasn’t until our tour guide Kristina decided it would be a great idea to do “coach introductions” that everyone seemed to wake up again!
Each of us in the aisle seats had to move seats and sit next to the person in front of us and get to know a little about them, before we had to get up in pairs in front of the whole coach and speak into the microphone to share what we’d found out about them. It was so embarrassing and cringe-worthy, and we all felt it was slightly unnecessary since we’d all been chatting and getting along so well the night before without the tour guide’s input, there wasn’t really any need for people to get up there and say something generic like “This is Carl, he’s from England and is loving travelling by himself”. A lot of people I’ve spoken to have already said that she should have organised something the night before the tour and made something special out of it. But whilst she cleared off to bed for her beauty sleep, we made a damn good job of it on our own I think!
After a quick stop off on the way and driving though a massive thunder and lightning storm for a good 15 minutes before coming out the other side to bright sunshine and clear skies again, we arrived in Las Vegas. It was so amazing to be driving into Las Vegas and seeing all of the casinos in the background. Even during the day everywhere looked so impressive and larger than life!
We arrived at our hotel around 12:30pm to find that it was nothing particularly fancy, especially in comparison to the gigantic resorts we could see in the background, but for two nights where we’ll just be laying our head for a few hours, it was absolutely fine with everything we really needed (including free Wi-Fi internet again!). We got partnered up with our room buddies for the rest of the tour, mine being Scott from Melbourne, Australia, which was great, because we’d already spent a fair bit of time chatting anyway the night before and he’s such a nice guy.
We couldn’t check into our rooms until after 3pm, so were able to go and explore the ‘Strip’ until after then. So a bunch of us headed over to the MGM Grand first of all, where a few guys headed straight for a roulette table as soon as we arrived! It was so surreal to actually be there and see it all with my own eyes, and seeing the guys bet at the table I couldn’t help but smile! Whilst they continued gambling for a while, with the rest of us watching, we eventually moved on to the MGM lion habitat nearby. It was really cool seeing them behind the glass, and it was good to see that they actually looked fairly happy (not that I know what miserable lions look like though!) and not distressed by being behind glass. I couldn’t help but think as one of them chewed on what looked like a massive chewy cowhide thing how much it looked like Roxy back home when she’s got a cowhide chewy! I tried to explain to a few of the girls on the tour, but I don’t think they quite appreciated the likeness as much as I did!
From MGM Grand, we headed over to New York, New York, which was so cool. The exterior is probably one of my favourites so far, but I guess that was inevitable since I’ve got such a passion for New York anyway!
After wandering around there for a while, losing track of some more people in the process, Tim and I kept walking as far as we thought we’d be able to walk in order to have enough time to get back again for 3:45pm. We managed to get as far down as the Bellagio and saw the fountains, and a brief look across the road at ‘Paris’ too before heading back to the hotel.
After checking in I grabbed a quick shower, unpacked a few things (not wanting to unpack too much since in 36 hours time I’ll be checking out again!) changed into the smarter evening clothes we were told to wear, and got on the coach around 6:30pm.
We all headed out for dinner at an Italian restaurant called Beppe ti Boppo that Contiki were paying for! It was a really nice meal, and so great for us all to sit down together and chat more in that kind of environment. From there, we headed straight to the airport end of The Strip to get out and see the ‘Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign.
From there we drove all the way up the strip and stopped off at a tiny Wedding Chapel on The Strip that our tour guide Kristina wanted us to see because her parents got married there, so she ran in to make sure it was OK for us to go in and that they weren’t too busy.
However once we all got off of the coach and into the chapel and were asked by a lady who worked there to all sit down in the pews, Elvis music suddenly started blasting out and all of a sudden an guy dressed up head to foot in Elvis gear burst through the doors. It gave us all a bit of a shock, but was hilarious at the same time! After he stood up and told us a bit about the chapel and how long it had been there, and how it was famous for having Bon Jovi once get married there, he then gave up on the charade and revealed that the real reason why we were all there was because a married couple on the Contiki tour were renewing their wedding vows!
From then on, they then had an Elvis infused wedding ceremony right in front of us, which was not only funny, but marginally tacky for my taste too!
After that we boarded the coach again and headed all the way down to Fremont Street to see the overhead light show. This was really cool, and I wished we’d had longer there than the 15 minutes we had, because it really was fantastic to see these massive screens that went straight down the street in a canopy-style fashion over the top of us showing images and video, and with sound blasting through speakers around the street to match. I believe they do lots of different styles of shows, but the one we caught was based on the rock group Queen, so there was Queen music playing and images and video clips of Queen too. While we were standing there, I bought some deep-fried Oreos and a deep fried Twinkie to share out. I saw them for sale and I was immediately curious as to what they would taste like. Both of them were great, but ever so slightly sickly too, so it was good to be sharing them out amongst the 10 or so people standing around near me!
From there we headed to ‘The Palms’ casino, where we were due to be going to a few nightclubs paid for by Contiki, only to be told as we pulled in that in actual fact, it was only the girls who would be getting in for free, and that all the guys would have to pay $25 just to get in! There was a bit of an outrage from us (the guys) about it, but our tour guide Kristina said there was nothing that could be done about it and that was just how it was at this particular venue. In the end though, there was also another girl, Kate, who is only 19 and was subsequently refused entry. So because I wasn’t that bothered in going to the clubs, and certainly not to ones I’d never heard of before for a charge of $25 (£15), I took her under my wing and looked after her, and we made our own fun by having a wander around the casino, checking out the shops and watching the guys gamble on the roulette tables.
After a while, the guys still keen on playing roulette (and trying to make up their losses!), Kate and I decided to head back off back to The Strip. I thought it was really unfair and extremely unsafe that a 19 year old be expected to get back to the hotel on her own in not only a different country, but also a very, very busy place renowned for it's upfront-ness. I felt that the tour rep shouldn’t just be looking after herself and the majority by going into the nightclubs with them, but ensuring everyone, especially those that legally can’t and aren’t with a group of people like the guys were at the roulette table, are safe and accounted for in some way. So I stepped up and spent the evening with her going into several places along The Strip, which was cool by me, as she was great fun to be around anyway and another fellow Brit!
Kate and I walked about a mile back to The Strip since The Palms casino was located off of it, and then proceeded to walk all the way back to the hotel from there too! I think in total it took us about 2 hours, but it was great just calling in at different places along the way, taking in the sights of Vegas in that way.
Once back at the hotel around 1:45am, I did a bit of catching up online, and then went straight to bed, where I think I fell asleep within minutes!