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Published: June 26th 2017
Las Vegas. Just saying these two words can conjure up different visions to different people. To some it is a playground where fun never ceases; where there is plenty to keep the adrenaline flowing through the veins whether it be the excitement of the roulette table or the exuberant white knuckle rides. It's a case of: Eat. Drink and be Merry, for tomorrow we fly!!! (home!). To others it is garish, a vulgar tourist trap full of over the top glitz and tacky novelty shaped hotels and casinos. Blackpool on speed! To me, it's just an excuse to write another blog!!
I was last in Las Vegas thirty-six years ago. A lot has changed since then. This was a time when Las Vegas was no more than a one horse town, Caesars Palace
was little more than a B & B and the Golden Nugget w
as as good as it got!!
Earlier this year, a colleague spent two weeks in the Entertainment Capital of the World who is definitely in the 'out of this world' camp. I related some of his stories to Roisin and happened to mention: ‘It would be interesting to see how the ‘ol city has
changed in all those years'. I had barely finished uttering the final syllable when a voice came from the kitchen: ‘I'm already on it!!!'
Our itinerary will take us first to stay three nights in the Casino Royale. During this time we have arranged an excursion, driving motorised trikes up and down the ‘Strip'. We then drive to the Grand Canyon via Hoover Dam where we will spend a further two night before heading back to Vegas for our final two nights at the Luxor Hotel. We intend to take in a show but apart from that we'll let Vegas work its magic and just go along for the ride!
The distance from Manchester to Las Vegas is just over 5,000 miles. Our flight time took 10hrs. That's a long time in the air. That's more than a full working day. In fact it is a full working day plus 2hrs 36m flexi credit to be exact!!! The plane was a 747 and we had reserved seats in the bubble
. This is the upper deck of the aircraft. We were only sat three rows behind the pilot!!
Due to the curvature and rotation of the earth, the
route took us over Greenland, Canada's Hudson Bay and down in to the USA crossing the Dakota's, Utah then finally in to Vegas. This was a daytime flight so much to Roisin's frustration, flight socks weren't part of the deal (reserved for night time flying only.) Once we had left the confines of UK air space, most of the flight was cloudless. This revealed the diversity in climate of our planet. From the frozen wastelands of the far north and then only a few hours later, the scorching aridness of some North American desert.
We were kept well fed and watered during the flight. At one point the trolley came around (it must have been at snack time!) offering up a choice of peppered steak or cheese PASTIE. This doesn't hit me as your typical airline food!! Unless Greggs have suddenly won a lucrative contract with Virgin Atlantic!! On another occasion, we were all presented with lolly ices. This went well with watching Angry Birds – the movie. It felt like I was actually in the cinema. It's a shame Virgin Atlantic don't yet do popcorn!! All these extras were nice surprises and they weren't on the main menu.
Two hours before landing and we received afternoon tea, I kid you not. A selection of finger sandwiches, several cakes and a scone with strawberry jam and cream. Previously, the highest altitude we had taken afternoon tea was only the week previously. This was at 300ft atop Liverpool's Panoramic restaurant in the Beetham Tower. We had now just smashed that record by 34,700ft!!!
An hour from landing, we had descended to 11,000 feet and the pilot made an announcement that out of the starboard window one could see our sister aircraft that had taken off from Gatwick. The race was on. Our driver must have taken the scenic route for at one point it looked like we were flying over the Grand Canyon!!
We touched down exactly on time at 2pm local time. The Gatwick flight was already on her stand. US Customs and Immigration has at least 800 crew and passengers to clear. The queue snaked around the arrival hall for several hundred yards but to their credit every Immigration booth was manned. It took about ½ hour to clear and another 15 minutes to collect our luggage that was already riding the carousel; hand in our
customs declaration and out in to the arrivals concourse. The taxi stand was also very busy. This was so well organised. Along the kerb were numbered sign posts. Taxis were constantly arriving from small saloons to medium size mini vans. Depending on the number in your party you were directed to a relevant stand to await the taxi. This was efficiency at its best.
So far, despite the time and distance travelled, everything had gone according to plan and without incident…
…enter conversation with taxi driver:
‘the Casino Royale' r
What does he mean which one? How do we know?
‘What are our options?'
I said. ‘Give us a clue'. ‘Well…'
started the taxi driver. I hope our meter hasn't started ticking,
I thought. This could be a long conversation!!
‘…there is the Royale and the Royal'.
He wrote down the two words and showed us.
we both cried in unison. ‘It's Royale, as in the James Bond movie!
The driver then went on to talk about the weather. Knowing that we were Brits he probably thought that that's what
we do! He showed us the temperature on his iPhone, 93 degrees F. (34C) That's certainly warmer than the 65F we left Manchester in.
The journey to our hotel took about 20 minutes and cost just over $23. At just before 4pm we entered our hotel room at the Casino Royale.
With 152 rooms, the Casino Royale is actually the smallest hotel/casino on the strip. After freshening up we headed out to get our bearing and perhaps a bite to eat (as if we hadn't already had enough!!)
The Casino Royale is very central on Las Vegas Boulevard South (known as the Strip.) At either side of our hotel we have Harrah's Hotel and Casino with a modest 2,677 rooms and the Venetian, the world's second largest hotel with a whopping 7,177 rooms. As part of the Venetian complex, there are scaled down replicas of the Doge's Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, the bell tower in St Mark's Square (the Campanile) and the Rialto Bridge. The Venetian even comes complete with its own canal and gondolas although the cost of such is $30 each (4 sharing) for 10-13 minutes or $120 for two. An actual Gondola in
actual Venice only costs about €40 each for 35 minutes!!! The Venetian also has its own self-contained mall and houses Madame Tussaud's wax works. Oh, and I'm sure there are one or two slots somewhere within as well!!
Our hotel is across the road from the Mirage, another stunning backdrop of waterfalls and it even has it's own active volcano. I think Las Vegas have missed a trick here. They should have a hotel called the Pompeii where on every night real lava flows from the Volcano in the Mirage towards the Pompeii hotel and casino!!!
After a bite to eat in Denny's, we strolled a few blocks south, to the Flamingo where on Thursday we'll take in the Donny & Marie show (Osmond, just to be clear!!) The Flamingo is just across the road from Caesar's Palace and the Bellagio. Wow, there is so much, so close.
Having only spent an hour or so on the Strip, it is difficult to avoid having tickets, vouchers and cards thrust in to your hand. Most are for discounts at eateries. 20% off the total client check at Denny's hence why we ate there!! I do have a vouchers
for 35% off Busty Bertha's Beauty and Massage Parlour. Somehow I don't think I'll convince Roisin that it's just another restaurant but maybe worth checking out anyway!!
Tomorrow we are on a trike excursion from 3pm to 8pm. We had to ring to confirm the booking today. The company advised us that they will pick us up outside Starbuck's next to Treasure Island, only a five minute walk from the Casino Royale. We did a quick rece to ensure we knew were we were going. Although the tour starts at 3pm we are not being picked up until 3:20!!
We returned to our hotel at 8pm and finally retired at 8:45pm. This was really 4:45am UK time so it had been a really long day. Tomorrow, the vacation starts for real….
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