Published: December 22nd 2009December 22nd 2009
Is that what Vegas is? Perhaps, although the pleasure part can get lost amongst the innumerable elements that can grate on your nerves. It's a little like watching a movie where Rambo kills about a million people; subtle it aint and you walk out of the cinema knowing you should pan it remorselessly but somehow you end up guiltily extracting some enjoyment from it.
I remember a guy at work once telling me I was wasting my money and time trying to travel the world. He reckoned he did Rome, Paris, New York, Venice and Cairo in 2 days. It's all in Vegas Baby! And I suppose that's true if you don't mind your landmarks faux.
But it's not just the landmarks that are heavy on the pseudo and light on the panache. You can dine al fresco and still be indoors, in fact almost all "al fresco" dining is anything but. All you need is a make believe sky inside a casino. The guy with the "indoor sky making" contract in Vegas has made a mint.
Of course, it's also difficult to get to any shop/restaurant without being corralled through those interminable casinos. If your idea of entertainment bliss is
an RSL club on megaroids, then book yourself a ticket here now. If, on the other hand, you are more of our ilk and cringe at this genre of entertainment, perhaps you might be better off forking out the cash for a ticket to the real Venice, Rome, Paris, New York or Cairo.
Still, it is fun watching the Vegas merry-go-round, even if it is at the opposite end of the travel cultural spectrum from a wander around the ghats of Varanasi. Having said that, a stroll down "The Strip" isn't too far removed from a jaunt along Jalan Padma in Bali - the sales pitches are endless.
I suppose this has been a bit of a sook-a-thon so I had better find something positive to drag out of Vegas. The Shows! We resisted the temptation for a Donnie and Marie extravanganza (yep, the Ozmands are still alive) and opted for The Blue Man Group (on the Bish recommendation) and comedy magician Mac King. Both were a barrell of laughs but although we couldn't work out exactly how Mac King pulled off any of his tricks, I know that behind any great magician is a decent set of mirrors, ropes
The people? I was itching to get stuck into a few Americans on Republican foreign policy but they are generally so polite and friendly I just couldn't bring myself around to escalating cross cultural tension, even if we had the impression that some of the smiles and amiability are as legitimate as the surrounding architecture.
So that's Vegas. Brash, ornate, tacky and decadent. Will we be back? Probably not. The Vegas box has been ticked, but then, "never say never", and it is awfully close to some mighty fine landscapes we didn't have time to delve into this time. So just maybe.........
There are more photos below