Sunday, February 17, 2008

Las Vegas and the big "O"

So if you're paying attention to posting dates, you might think that I have been on the biggest margarita bender known to mankind. After all, I only suggested I'd be popping out for a few quick ones. But truth be told, I have been putting off the Las Vegas re-cap. There was so much that happened, writing it all down seemed like a really daunting concept. But here I am, at my computer in the manner of Doogie Howser, all ready to lay out the high points of the holiday. And don't worry, I didn't learn anything worth sharing with you all...

The first thing I have to tell you is that the flight from Chicago to Las Vegas is about 4 hours long. And with a little bottle of cheap red wine on top of a couple of beers from earlier in the night, I arrived in Vegas absolutely shattered. Not drunk by any means, but simply exhausted. I just wanted to discover some sort of Quantum Leap style time travel and beam myself directly into bed. Fortunately I didn't have to worry because JK had been very clever and booked us some bus transfers from the airport to the Hotel.

But it's true what "they" say - Vegas doesn't sleep. Even at 1am on a Friday morning, The Strip was a living organism. There were people of all ages wandering around and through the little slits in my eyes, I could make out people drinking on the streets, lots of big-haired tourists, and best of all - tshirts! That meant that I had finally left behind the frosty streets of Chicago and entered some sort of desert oasis wonderland. Finally!

Close-up of the Bellagio lobby ceiling A sparkly horse at Bellagio Before we trashed the hotel room

And as the opulence of Bellagio greeted me, I assumed my soon-to-become permanent facial expression of open-mouthed goldfish. I suspect that expression is rather common on first glance at Bellagio.

Not to be snobby about the whole affair, but I have been to the real Bellagio, a small hamlet off Lake Como in Italy - something that now reminds me of Rivendell from "Lord of the Rings". So even though I was initially concerned that Vegas would bastardise all the gorgeous things I love about Italy, I have to say that Bellagio the Hotel is an escape to the sort of Lake Como villa you can only dream about. It is stunning in every sense, and nothing is too much trouble for any of the staff. Like the rest of Vegas, Bellagio is open 24/7 so it is always "on", but I never noticed any of that on my first night. Once I got upstairs and took a "before" photo of my gorgeous queen sized bed, I face-planted on it and fell into the sort of blissful sleep only reserved for holidaymakers.

JK had been to Vegas before so I was more than content to rely on him to make sure I saw everything I was supposed to see. And our first port of call on this 'must see' list was the Bellagio Breakfast Buffet. I can't even remember how much it cost, but I will say that the excess of the smorgasboard was really just a food-filled metaphor for the whole town! After a filling breakfast pitstop, we commenced our day's journey.

We caught 'The Deuce' (the double-decker Las Vegas shuttle bus that put-putts tourists up and down the Strip for $5 per day, unlimited travel). JK and I realised that 'The Deuce' is a very cool mode of transportation, but naturally only when you say 'The Deuce' like some sort of Robert De Niro gangster hitman. We were so awesome.

'The Deuce' dropped us off at the Las Vegas Outlet Center first of all, and we spent just over 90 minutes wandering around the suburban strip mall. It wasn't a shopping mecca by any means, though I did score a cute dress and top for about $25 all up, which wasn't bad. Vegas had already begun to take my money it seemed!

Returning to The Strip (via 'The Deuce' of course), we wandered through a couple of the larger casinos down the opposite end from where we were staying. We walked through "Mandalay Bay" (and visited its impressive Shark Reef exhibition), then through "Luxor" which only references Ancient Egypt from the outside, and then across to "Excalibur", which is a knock off of King Arthur's times. The interior of these casinos all look fairly similar but they are all worth seeing. The sheer scale of them all nearly blew me away.

Before long, it was time for a margarita and we hailed 'The Deuce' to take us to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, which had come highly recommended to me. And after an Ultimate Margarita and an amazing creation called Volcano Nachos, we returned to Bellagio for a quick nana nap before heading out again.

Ahead of time, I had bought us tickets to the Cirque de Soleil show called "O", which is a spin on the French word for water, so much of the show focuses on diving, and swimming, and waterplay. It is positively breathtaking. I had never seen a Cirque show before, so I strongly suspect that I was again very much the gaping goldfish (although perhaps appropriately this time), as I marvelled at the athleticism and choreography of the artists. To call them acrobats or (worse) circus performers doesn't do them - or the show - justice. They are just amazing and while Americans seem quite at home doing standing ovations after just about every show, they're not something I'm usually comfortable with. But this time, I was on my feet almost immediately, and was just so impressed. From the murmurs of my fellow theater-goers after the show, my reaction was a fairly common one.

I have just scrolled up this post and seen how lengthy it is, and I've only recapped Day 1 of my Vegas Adventure. Perhaps I should pause here then and give it a day or so before busting out the news and fun of Day 2?


Anonymous said...

glad to see u back blogging - ive missed ya :)

glamah16 said...

Yes welcome back!