Leaving Las Vegas...

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March 8th 2012
Published: March 8th 2012
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Flagstaff - Phoenix - Las Vegas - Los Angeles - Frankfurt - Hamburg

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The hotel Sigfried and Roy have their show in.
Las Vegas is probably the craziest place I’ve ever been to. But leaving the city can be even crazier. I arrived there on Monday afternoon, but let me start this post with my leaving the city on Tuesday. It was a nightmare.

The whole day had been extremely windy. The palm trees were anything but straight, various objects were blown around, and the whole city was underneath a canopy of sand. When I caught the shuttle bus to the airport, we were joking that our driver would fly us to the airport instead of driving us. I was going to catch a plane to Los Angeles in the afternoon, from where I would fly back to Germany the next day. When I arrived at the airport, I could not find my flight on the screens. I was supposed to depart at 4:25 p.m. When I went to the check-in counter, the clerk there told me that the flight would leave at 5:10. Not a problem, I was early, but that was okay. I checked in and went through security and went to my gate. There I could see that more and more flights were delayed. Our flight was too. First
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Replica of the Campo di San Marco, including canals and gondolas!
to 5:45, then to 6, and finally it was cancelled. I talked to several other passengers with respect to the weather forecast, and the wind was going to increase during the night, and it would not be much better the next day. I went to the ticket counter, and the clerk there told me that the forecast indeed was bad for the next day, and even with better conditions the next day, I could not be sure whether he could re-book me on an early flight the next morning.

Now I had to make a quick decision. I definitely had to be in Los Angeles at 3 p.m. the next day. I had not booked the flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles through Lufthansa, so they would most likely not book me onto another flight to Germany if I missed the one on Wednesday. And chances were high that I would not be able to fly out of Las Vegas on Wednesday morning. The only option was to rent a car. But I was sure that many other people would have the same idea, so I would have to hurry. First, however, I had to pick up my
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Water play in front of the hotel.
checked in suitcase from the baggage claim. No chance going to the rental car centre first because that was a ten minutes bus ride. Fortunately, my suitcase arrived soon, and I ran to the shuttle bus stop. Caught a bus, arrived at the rental car centre. There I was told that no more one way cars were available. I started begging, explained my problem, and finally, the clerk found a car for me. I was so grateful, I could have hugged and kissed him.

There was no GPS available, so I stopped at the next service station in order to buy a map. However, there were no good maps available. So I asked the salesperson there for directions to the interstate highway towards Los Angeles. I am not good at following such directions, but I successfully made it to the highway. Later on, I called my hotel in Los Angeles to let them know that I would be late and had them give me directions to the hotel. First, things went alright. The car was running smoothly and there was not much traffic. It was windy, but that was not a problem.

Then it started to rain. And
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Like a Walt Disney castle.
as I got to a higher altitude, the rain turned into snow. First just some flakes, then more and more of them. Big ones. It was windy. It was close to a snow storm, I could see that the snow did not melt when it touched the ground. This was exactly the situation I had wanted to avoid by flying instead of driving to the destinations I was going to visit. I had no clue how good the tyres of my car were. I did not know how the weather forecast was. The only thing I knew was that I would eventually get to a lower altitude, where the snow would hopefully turn into rain again. So I just kept going. Do not stop and wait because the situation will only get worse. Keep enough distance between yourself and the other cars, avoid breaking or turning the steering wheel too suddenly. It was a nightmare, I had the feeling that things were only getting worse with every decision I made.

Eventually, as I got to a lower altitude, the snow turned into rain, and eventually the sky cleared up. I was relieved and made it to Los Angeles easily.
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Replica of a pirate island with ships in the water.
Using the map of Downtown LA in my travel guide, I finally found my hotel and checked in. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I got there.

In spite of this big hassle, I enjoyed my time in Las Vegas. What a crazy city! There are some interesting hotels. I stayed at the Imperial Palace. It is not spectacular, it just has a huge gambling area on the ground floor, with slot machines and tables at which you can play poker, black jack and other games. Pretty much like all the hotels there. The good thing about it was that it was located sort of in the middle of the strip, so that I could walk to many other places.

There are the Mirage and the Bellagio which most of you most likely know from the movie “Ocean’s Eleven”. The Mirage has a huge pond in front of it, and there is a huge volcano that erupts every full hour. Inside, there are screens on which the results of different games and races (for example horse races) are displayed, along with live transmissions of selected races. The Bellagio has a wonderful play of water in
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Replica of the Statue of Liberty in front of the hotel.
front of it. I had a far too expensive but wonderful dinner there. The Treasure Island also has a big pond in front of it in which there are two sail ships. Actors stage a battle and dancing show several times a day, in which one of the ships sinks. The Excalibur looks like a castle, but like one out of a Walt Disney comic, not like a real castle. The New York New York has a huge Statue of Liberty in front of it. The Luxor has the shape of a pyramid and has several sphinxes in front of it. The Circus Circus is shaped like a circus tent. And in the Venetian, they built a copy of the Campo di San Marco in Venice, where you can even ride gondolas with a gondolier inside the building. And these are only a few examples. And this is only the Strip. There is also Downtown, a bit farther from the airport. The Fremont Street in Downtown has a roof that is illuminated in different colours, and once per hour, there is a light show.

At night, the city becomes even more colourful with all the lights. Everywhere, there are
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View towards Downtown Las Vegas
musicians in the streets. There are people dressed up like movie or comic strip characters. There are lots of gift shops. And people were in true party mode. I could have sat in a café for hours and just watched all these people walk by. So I spent Monday afternoon and night walking around and looking at the different places and people. On Tuesday after checking out at my hotel, I had an early lunch at Stratosphere Tower, which is about 350 m high and has a restaurant that revolves around the centre of the tower so that you have a 360° view of the city and its surroundings when you stay in the restaurant for about an hour.

How I got back to Los Angeles you know already. My flight departed on Wednesday in the early afternoon, so I still had some time to go for a walk in the morning. I had a quick breakfast at the historic Biltmore Hotel. It used to host the Academy Awards ceremony in its early days and has been scenery for different movies and music videos. In front of it is the Pershing Square, a nice green square from which you
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The tower, 350 m high, with a revolving platform on top.
have a nice view of the skyscrapers of the financial district. I walked up historic Spring Street and down Broadway (yes, there is also a Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles), and then it was time for me to leave for the airport.

My flight home went smoothly, and I arrived back in Hamburg alright. It was a great trip, I really enjoyed it. It was awesome to spend time with Belinda and Davis. It was great to meet Belinda’s parents and Davis’ brother and sister in law. Thank you Jon and Josie for having us stay at your house in Los Angeles. Thank you Belinda and Davis for letting me stay with you at your trailer. And very special thanks to Belinda for all the planning and organising, I had a great time!

Additional photos below
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Downtown Los Angeles I

Pershing Square, view towards the Biltmore Hotel.
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Downtown Los Angeles II

Pershing Square, view towards the financial district.

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