Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 3: Viva Las Vegas

The serta beds sap our energy and lull us into the best night's sleep ever. Upon awakening at 7:30, I decide to read, but the bed sends me back into the land of slumber. It is 10:30 before we finally rise and prepare to meet the day and the splendour and OTT-ness that is Vegas. Having driven along the boulevard yesterday, we decide today to leave the car safely ensconsed in the garage and acquire shuttle tickets instead. For $7 we can ride the buses for 2 days - more than enough time to see all the sights that need to be seen. Our intention is to grab one of the famous breakfast buffets, but the queues are too long and our appetitites have been diminished by the heat, so in the end we share a yoghurt parfait.

Vegas is insane - the buildings truy to outdo themselves in craziness but somehow it doesn't seem tacky - anywhere else in the world, yes, but this is Vegas. What gets me is the sheer amount of water used for decorative purposes - given that we are in a desert - fountains, waterfalls, waterwalls, pools - it is the sheer height of indulgence. However, it does add a coolness to the air.

First we walk throught the Bellagio - it is too early for the fountains  but their indoor garden with its giant bees and flowers, herons, lighthouse and rowboat is quite bizarre. The entrance hall ceiling is covered in glass flowers. Then we walk through the pillars and statues of Caesars Palace before checking out the wildlife habitat at Flamingoes - the air is much cooler in their courtyard and grackles fossick about on the grass, stealing food from the flamingoes and other waterfowl.

The footpaths are a mass of humanity - people from all walks of life pushing their ways back and forth. On some of the sidewalks and many of the overbridges, homeless people sit beside their signs. One proclaiming "Lost all my money in Vegas" fails to spark much sympathy. Other entrepreneurial souls sell cans of coke or bottles of water from chilly bins filled with ice. And everywhere, there are people flicking together piles of cards that depict scantily clad models, advertising particular strip joints, flick-flick-flicking their cards and attempting to hand them to me. Me more than Tim, funnily enough. The footpath is littered with ones that have been taken then dropped.

We enter into the Mirage, with Sigfried and Roy's secret garden (which has dolphins but costs to enter) and their aquarium. Outisde their lush water garden provides habitat for Asian lions and turtles, tropical plants and waterfalls, flanking their signature volcano, currently dormant.

Further down, Treasure Island's pirate ships make a noteable landmark, and the scorch marks above the masts are somewhat disturbing. Maybe their cause shall be explained later, when we attend the Siren Show.

After sticking our heads into a couple of fashionable malls, we catch the shuttle back to the Gold Nugget. It is standing room only, ant I am separated from Tim and entertainined by a couple of New Yorkers. I also learn of the hazards of biking/motorcycling in LV when they describe - in gory detail - an accident they witnessed earlier between a motorcycle and a limousine. The rider is FUBARed, apparently.

Back in our hotel we take in the pool - complete with sharks. A quick dip, a swift slide (through the shark tank) and then off for a late lunch/early dinner before we catch the shuttle back down to far end of the Strip.

The Excalibur

The Luxor has a great sphynx, black pyramid and egyptian statures. It rubs shoulders with the crenaltions and towers of Excalibur. Next over is New York, New York, in all its splendour - complete with Statue of Liberty, skyscrapers, rollercoaster and inside - a smaller Statue of Liberty made of jellybeans! It is very hot, my fingers are swollen with the heat, hands and face dry and application of lip gloss has become a constant.

New York, New york

We weave through a maze of casinos and overpasses, b efore parting company a few blocks from the Freeway. I head off to see the Mermaids of TI whereas Tim is picking up our tickets for tonight's show - Penn and Teller, over at the Rio.

Tiriki makes some new friends

The Sirens Show is corny - with scantily clad lasses claiming one ship - they are the Sirens, and the pirates entering in another. There is a lot of back and talk arguing and the sirens dancing seductively, followed by a fire fire that sends huge plumes of flames licking up into the sky. Which explains the scorch marks.

Afterwards, I try to reconnect with my husband. This is not as easy as it sounds. We still only have one cellphone and although we arranged a meeting point, we forgot some of the geography of the place and also, it was a longer walk to the Rio than we had expected. Luckily there is a shuttle and we meet up again near the volcano of Mirage, to watch it erupt. Then it is onto the free shuttle and off to the Rio.

Rio is more old school, less kitsch, and we collapse into our seats, exhausted. After declining to join the envelope signing and the box viewing (Teller later jumps out of this seemingly solid box), the show begins.

There are some moments of slightly painful patriotism - (but we are in America), a bit of gore (as they explain the sawn-in-half trick and then proceed to actually cut her in gory half - since we never see her again, you do wonder...), turn coins into golodfish, turn Teller into a teapot (not literally), turn a punter into Teller after a complicated trick including plastic cow cloning and changing as much of the scene whilst distracting the audience, and they open by taking a cell phone from a member of the audience, and eventually removing it from a fish packed in ice that has been hidden in the audience. Throughout it all, Penn insists that magic is false, it is all trickery, and this somehow makes it all seem more impressive. I have no idea how they do it. They conclude with the "magic bullet", where they each catch a fired bullet between their teeth.

Afterwards, the first bus fills before (like just before) we can get onto it, but the second one is only ten minutes away. After dark, Vegas really comes to life - with neon signs illuminating the darkness in all their bright glory. We drop into Paris, watch the Bellagio fountains, listen to two fellows playing "welcome to the jungle" on double basses which is pretty extraordinary given how fast that song is, before catching the shuttle back to our hotel and collapsing, exhausted into bed.

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