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North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas
October 30th 2014
Published: November 4th 2014
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On my flight to Las Vegas one of the movies I watched on the way was "The Edge of Tomorrow". Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt get to relive the day over and over again, basically until they get it right. It felt like I too had that opportunity, well only the once, as thanks to the miracle of the international date line I landed in Vegas before I left Sydney. Plot spoiler - my days went a whole lot better than Tom and Emily's, even if they did manage to save the world.

It was my first visit to Las Vegas, and it was a whirlwind, but the purpose was see Rod, who I hadn't seen for 2 months. The city of around 2 million people is implausibly plonked right in the middle of the desert. Surrounded by dry dusty mountains, everything is big, vying for your attention. The hotels and casinos are huge and over the top, many with thousands of rooms, dozens of restaurants and several theatre spaces, so you never need leave the casinos. They obviously do their job well, as last year there were 37 million visitors, and the revenue from gambling alone was a staggering $6 billion. If you do manage to leave the casinos though, you can travel the world in this one city, seeing the Eiffel Tower, the London Eye, the Sphinx, Venice and the Statue of Liberty.

There's plenty to see beyond the famous Strip, and my first two nights were spent in one of the nearby suburbs in the hills where Rod was living. For me, it was equally as surreal staying in one of the gated communities, high in the hills, set around a lush green golf course, the velvet greens and manicured gardens tended by an army of Hispanic workers. Beyond the gates were more gates, where the houses got even bigger and even grander. It all felt very strange and unfamiliar, although perhaps it was the 17 hours it took to get there and the lack of sleep which was making me delirious.

Not far away is the Hoover Dam, built in the early 1930s and a feat of modern engineering, which now generates hydro-electric power for use in California, Nevada and Arizona. I couldn't believe that this monstrous celebration of concrete attracts around 7 million tourists a year. My brother visited nearly 20 years ago and the magnitude of the concrete obviously stayed with him, as he told me that there's enough concrete to pave a road from Los Angeles to New York. I've got to say it was fascinating, however I'm not the target audience to visit an engineering marvel and a concrete explosion. However I was really lucky, as my introduction was with Rod on his friend's boat on Lake Mead. We seemed to be the only boat on the water that day. It was beautiful and peaceful and I was fascinated about the enormity of this man-made dam.

Another nearby tourist attraction was not wasted on me though. The Red Rock Canyon is only a few kilometres out of the city and it's a protected conservation area. With stunning red cliffs, and gorgeous views, I could recommend it to anyone as a welcome diversion from the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip though for both of us, was a helicopter visit to the Grand Canyon. It's a long drive from the city, around 450 kms away, and while day trips on buses are available, the helicopter tour finishing at sunset sounded too good to pass up. It really is quite breathtaking, and although there were around half a dozen helicopters that buzzed in on convoy on our trip, it really did feel like we had the place to ourselves. We landed in the Canyon on Indian land, enjoying the majesty with a glass of champagne. It was an extravagant treat, but we loved the whole experience.

Of course my visit, however brief, couldn't pass without a true Las Vegas experience on the Strip. The helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon included a flyover of the Strip at sunset. The lights were amazing, and it felt like a rock-star arrival! We stayed in the Bellagio, a beautiful hotel right in the middle of the Strip, famous for the fountain shows each evening. It is a gorgeous hotel, and while not the largest hotel compared to others up the street, there were still nearly 4,000 rooms. It's quite mind-boggling!

We made the most of our prime location, and explored the famous main street. As we wandered up and down the Strip, my eyes were on stilts. Dinner was at one of the Bellagio's restaurants (I think I counted 14 in total) before heading "next door" to Caesars Palace to enjoy the wickedly funny Absinthe, a kind of crude twist on Cirque du Soleil. I say "next door" because the walk from one to the other took nearly 10 minutes after traipsing through the slot machines and casino tables, passing restaurants, and shops of all imaginable luxury brands. Any newly won cash is easily spent again.

The show was great, very funny, but you definitely needed to come with an open mind and probably a drink in hand. We both enjoyed the spectacular acrobatic feats as well as the wildly politically incorrect, but outrageously funny humour.

It seems like nothing ever closes in Las Vegas, so after our show finished around midnight, we went on to listen to some live music at the BLVD Cocktail Company in the new-ish LINQ Promenade over yet more glasses of wine. Eventually in the early hours of the morning it really was time to find our beautiful hotel room.

Not surprisingly the next morning we had a slow start. After three days in Las Vegas we needed to figure out how we would get to Los Angeles - sadly it was time for me to go home. Yep, I had the true Las Vegas experience, flying from Sydney for a few short days, with a night with Rod in LA on my way back. I certainly made the most of it, it was a fabulous trip, and we are already planning the next one. What a shame I can't relive those days over again like Tom and Emily....... I must've done it right the first time!



Now blogging at www.beautycharmadventureonline.com - check it out!


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Views over Las VegasViews over Las Vegas
Views over Las Vegas

photo credit: Rod Clarke


4th November 2014

Unbelievable
I can't imagine flying to the US. for 3 or 4 days but sounds like you saw a lot. I don't really count Vegas as the U.S. but it can be a lot of fun for a short period of time as you found out. I've done the helicopter over the Grand Canyon but not along the strip. That might be fun. I'm not a gambler but the shows are worth seeing.....any of them. Indeed bigger, brighter, bolder, ......and a waste of electricity. I would imagine small nations could be supported by that power bill.
4th November 2014

Las Vegas
It was a fun trip, if a little short. Like you, I'm not a gambler at all, but it was fascinating to see all the slot machines everywhere - including the airport! I know, I kept thinking about the excesses that surrounded me, including the power. Fun for a short time.
4th November 2014

Big Beautiful Scary
WOW - I always think about visiting somewhere like Vegas and spin out at the sheer human volume......now red rocks on the other hand - going to add that to the wish list :)
4th November 2014

Red Rocks
The Red Rock Canyon was really beautiful and sort of undiscovered in a way, with 37 million visitors to Vegas every year but only around 1 million to Red Rock Canyon. It made it all the better :) It was really stunning.
4th November 2014

Wow!!!
All the way from Sydney to Las Vegas for only three days! Not even time to adjust to jet lag, but it sounds like you had a great time. Many people go to Las Vegas to get married...you didn't mention that?
4th November 2014

Las Vegas weddings
There was so much to boggle the mind about the trip to Las Vegas....and you are right, many people go there to get married. I saw one stat that said that on average, there are 315 weddings every day in Las Vegas - incredible! I wonder how many divorces there are??
4th November 2014

Trapped!
I visited Caesar's Palace once, and couldn't find my way out. In order to get out of the casino, you have to pass through the gaming area, and once in the gaming area, there are no straight lines, and NO exit signs. God forbid they ever need to evacuate the building in a hurry. I would set my eyes on a security guard - there are lots of them - walk to him, ask directions, and walk to the next visible security guard. And of course there are lots of bright lights to tempt you to leave your money with them rather than walk away.
4th November 2014

Trapped!
It's funny you mention that, we had a similar experience! We had a bit of time before our show so went for a bit of a wander, then next thing you know we were completely lost. Obviously we escaped!
5th November 2014

Short and sweet...
Las Vegas isn't my cup of tea, but I would love to see it the way you did. That helicoptor ride sounds amazing :)
5th November 2014

Hit by lightning
I reckon you must have been hit by lightning to fly over the Pacific and back for a handful of days Rachael...or maybe it was the thrill of the chase...then turning around and heading back home again...or maybe you really wanted to be blinded by the brightest lights on the planet...or maybe deep down you are a gambler!
5th November 2014

Las Vegas
I am definitely nuts whichever way you look at it! Definitely not a gambler, I didn't spend a cent. I figured they got $6 billion last year, they didn't need any help from me :)
5th November 2014

Oof what a trip! Not my favourite place in the world, but you made it sound great!
5th November 2014

It was fun for a few days....and let's face it, I don't need to go back!
5th November 2014
Views over Las Vegas

Amazing!
I must say, it's always so curious when foreign travelers say they want to go to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, since for us Americans, those are the last places we visit. And for you to do it all the way from Sydney--mind-blowing. However, it seems you found very exciting things to do and squeezed lots of pleasure and amazing experiences out of it--congrats! Glad you made it to Red Rock Canyon for some balance.
5th November 2014
Views over Las Vegas

It wasn't somewhere I chose to go, but I thought if I was going, I would make the most of it! I've been to LA a few times now, but that's a case of geography as from NZ or Australia that is the entry point, and when I've travelled to either Mexico or Central America it's a practical place to stop off and break up the journey. One of these days I would love to explore the real USA.
5th November 2014

Vegas
Many of my friends were always talking about making it to Vegas one day which always puzzled me a bit... I always thought of it as nothing but a big money making machine... still there is definitely no other place like that in the world... Saying it is totally over the top would probably be an understatement... Happy to see there is more to it than just gambling... Not my cup of tea, but who knows I might make it there one day... Will head to the red canyon first then :-) thanks for sharing!
6th November 2014

Vegas
Wasn't top of my bucket list that's for sure, but was fun for a few days. Red Rock Canyon is really beautiful, and definitely worth the visit!
6th November 2014

Vegas!
As you've probably garnished from the comments, serious’ backpackers/travelers avoid this destination like the plague as it represents to them the antithesis of the ‘authenticity’ that they seek. But it seems you had a great time. I found the place fascinating on so many levels. As I do reading peoples impressions. Fantastic!
6th November 2014

Vegas!
Yes I did have fun! It was also a new destination for me, and I always like to experience something new.
13th November 2014
Views over Las Vegas

Fantastic picture!
15th November 2014
Views over Las Vegas

Thanks! It's a great photo, I wish I could take credit for it :)

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