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?