Apologies for the lack of posts these past few weeks, but this sinus/cold/flu thingy had a real hold of me; but let’s not dwell on my aching body, there are far better things to contemplate than that.
So, here is the first post in my Las Vegas series; hope you enjoy!
My husband and I took our first solo vacation a couple of weeks ago. Yes, it has been over 16 years since we last went away together without our daughter!
So, we left the snowy Alberta landscapes and traded them for the warmer climes of Las Vegas; at least to us they were warmer. Whenever we spoke to locals or those from southern climes, they described the weather as positively freezing. It was kind of funny; you could tell who came from the northern snowy parts of the world and who was from the south. Hardy northerners were walking around in jeans, t-shirt, light jacket, whereas the southern folks were donning thick winter coats, mittens, hats and boots. To be fair, the day prior to our arrival the Las Vegas Strip had a forecast for snow, which does not happen very often.
Now, we are not serious gamblers by any stretch of the imagination, so why then did we choose Las Vegas instead of say, Mexico? Well, for starters, we only had 3 nights and Las Vegas is only 2.5 hours flight from us, but mainly because there is so much to see and do in Las Vegas that does not involve sitting in a smoky casino all day.
One of my favourite things to do was to check out all the different hotels. We had been to Las Vegas for a few days some 15 years ago as part of a family trip to the US, and my husband had been 2 years ago, so we knew what to expect from the hotels. However, a lot has changed in 15 years, so it was great to revisit some of the hotels we enjoyed back then, as well as discover some new favourites.
One of my all-time favourite is the Bellagio hotel, not just for their wonderful water fountain display, but their conservatory is something else. As our visit was straight after Christmas we were lucky enough to see their Christmas display – and oh boy, what a display it was. Their display changes with the season, and currently is showcasing the Chinese New Year – Year of the Goat.
The Bellagio is also well-known for its various art installations, one of which is the glass flowers in the main lobby. It is actually a chandelier called Fiori di Como by glass sculpture Dale Chihuly and is comprised of 2,000 hand-blown glass blossoms. I just love the different colours and the way the light plays around the glass.
I should also make mention of the Bellagio’s fabulous Gallery of Fine Art. Until 25-May-2015 it is displaying a special exhibition entitled “Faberge Revealed – Jeweler to the Czars”. It is well worth a visit, as the exhibition includes 5 of the well-known Easter eggs and more than 200 pieces from the house of Faberge. Unfortunately photography is not allowed in the gallery, so no photos of those wonderfully intricate Easter eggs.
My other favourite hotel to explore is the Palazzo/Venetian Hotels, which are connected via the Grand Canal shops, the Grand Canal in miniature itself and a mini St Marcus plaza (complete with a fake blue sky and fluffy white clouds)..
The Grand Canal comes complete with gondolas and their singing gondoliers. There is an indoor and an outdoor Grand Canal, and as it was so “cold” the outdoor area was almost deserted. The price for this pleasure is rather steep at US$75 for a private two-passenger gondola (or US$19.95 in a four-seater gondola); especially as the ride itself is only about 15 minutes long. Admittedly, the singing of the gondoliers is very good indeed and it is not something most of us do on a regular basis. I was tempted, but decided I would rather keep this until I reach the real Venice hopefully in a few years time.
The Paris Hotel is another favourite of ours; the fact that it has a mini Eiffel Tower might have something to do with this. This particular example is 46 stories high and is a half scale replica of the original. The top of the tower is a great place at nighttime to give you a great view up and down the strip, but best of all, it is opposite of the Bellagio and the water fountains look great from up there. We didn’t go up this visit, but had been up, watching the fountains, on our very first trip to Las Vegas all those many years ago.
Another great feature of the Paris hotel is the (fake) cobbled stone street which takes you passed restaurants, shops, cafes and bars. One bar in particular I want to mention is Napoleon’s; in here, every night, two chaps play opposite each other on baby grand pianos. They start off with a few songs and then it’s up to the audience to request their favourite songs (for a tip of course!). We spend one evening in there and had a really fun night out.
Every hotel on the Strip has something special to offer; the Mandalay Bay for instance has a Shark Reef aquarium (of that more in another post), the Mirage is famous for its Secret Garden complete with dolphins, white lions and white tigers (again, that’s for another post) and also has a volcano outside the front which explodes every evening on the hour. The Treasure Island has a pirate ship outside its premises and it used to have a pirate show when we first went, but not so currently.
So you see, you can go to Las Vegas and see a lot of great things without spending too much money, after all, walking around the hotels is free.