real life

TRAVEL: Las Vegas, I love you

I had heard a lot about Vegas from friends and I had read even more. That’s not even including the movies I have seen.  And as if that was not enough I had youtubed every possible aspect of Vegas before we left (I was a very excited traveller).

Nothing could have prepared me for Vegas. Nothing. Not even Vegas could prepare me for Vegas.

It is HUGE. Huge and insane.

And there are a couple of things it seems to have forgotten

  • It is in a middle of a desert
  • Climate change
  • Global warming
  • Starving people

All around you nothing at all – just desert.  Perhaps the mafia and the builders of the Hoover Dam took this into account when they decided to build a city but I think not. I think they also forgot that they were in America.  This is how I imagine a conversation between the architects and builder of Vegas (Vegas) and the desert may have gone (Desert)

Vegas:             Let’s build the tallest hotels that we can

Desert:            But there is no water and no rain, how are we going to service these hotels ?

Vegas:             We will get money from gamblers and water from dams. And bottles

Desert:            Okay we can get tall buildings plumbed and I guess we can get some gamblers in but I am looking to you for inspiration on shape.

Vegas:             Me? Don’t look at Me. Look at the world around you. We want Paris, we want New York, hell we’ll take the whole of Italy and stash it in a corner next to a gold soaring    tower. Oh and I want Egypt, a pyramid and a sphinx included. And down the road? A volcano that erupts every hour.


I also want a billion lights per square meter and don’t forget I want more slot machines than lights.   And while I am at it I want ice sculptures in the lobbies of some of my hotels.

Desert:            But I am a desert. You cannot sustain ice in a desert

Vegas:             I’m Vegas baby.

Desert:            No seriously, we are in the middle of a desert, it doesn’t rain and you want lights that never switch off, you want roller coasters on the top of buildings, you want a canal with gondola rides and that’s before we get to the whacky stuff.

Vegas:             What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

Desert:            Stop with the Vegas sayings and think about what you are asking of me?

Vegas:             *Calls in mafia and gets rid of desert to create insane playground*

We had a ball. Seriously as soon as we let go of the guilt of the flamboyance in the middle of the dessert we sucked it right up. Our Hotel was like nothing I have ever seen before – we stayed at the Pallazo at the Venetian and there truly was a gondola ride through the canals of the Venice which just so happened to be in the lobby of the hotel. Our room was magnificent, the pool was perfect and my son thought he would be happy if we never actually left the hotel but when we did there was so much to delight and astound him. And us.

The Fountains at the Bellagio

The most spectacular display that you have ever seen every half an hour during the night. Dancing fountains choreographed to music on a scale unlike anything I have ever seen before.


The Volcano at the Mirage

Every hour on the hour after 8pm up until midnight.

An amazing show where a volcano erupts in front of you – it includes running lava, fire and spectacular effects.

Treasure Island

Two shows a night. A singing and dancing extravaganza with pirates and fireworks.

M&M World

Imagine all the M&Ms in the world in one place. That’s M&M world, now just imagine every single bit of M&M merchandising that you can and you are pretty close. Little Pencil had M&Ms printed with his name on them. Win! He also now owns a lot of M&M “stuff” everything from lip balm to a slot machine where you get to win M&Ms.

Shopping Centre entertainment

We were sitting minding our own business when the HUGE fish tank in front of us went black and from the top who should appear but Zeus. The centre court turned into an amazing show between fire and water – all mediated by Zeus of course. Spectacular effects, very cool show and er, very Vegas.

The hotels

Just walking through the hotels is entertainment for almost anyone with their senses, you can see the pyramids of Egypt, the sidewalks of New York, the cobbled piazzas of Italy and opulence. Lots of it. Also shops. Insane amounts of high end shops that I could not afford to walk into.


Gondola Ride

We rode a gondola through the lobby of our hotel which was niftily disguised as the canals of Venice, complete with the ceilings painted to look like the sky – it’s not just in the casino where you can lose sense of time. It was awesome – although my son and husband had to try very hard not to laugh when the gondolier sang in Italian. It didn’t work


We ate spectacular food. Interestingly enough my favourite meal was at Serendipity of all places. We had gone to try the frozen hot chocolate which is world famous (and deservedly so) but I ate grilled artichokes which were sublime.  Want to go back for them.  I also had the most delicious vegetarian hamburger (eggplant) at a place aptly named I Love Burgers.  It’d hard to find a vegie burger that is not made of beans or chickpeas so this was particularly delicious.


We made it downtown to see a show – the Mike Hammer comedy/magic show which was hilarious and entertaining and Mike (you can call him Mr Hammer if you like but I am comfortable with Mike) was amazing. Spoke to his audience every step of the way and included Little Pencil in one of his tricks which was the cherry on the top.

Don’t know how comfortable I felt in downtown Vegas but I am glad we went to the show.  Outside of the theatre we saw the “other side” of Vegas, and what gambling and excess can mean to the real people – not the tourists who come to give their money away at the strip.  Not pretty. Sad even.

Grand Canyon

The lights and the intoxicating city had us enraptured and it was hard to pull away from it so I’m glad that we booked for our helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon before we got there.


If there are no words for the sight and spectacle of the big lights and excess of Vegas there are not even utterances for the majesty and spectacle of the Grand Canyon. We went on a helicopter tour of the Canyon and the awesomeness of Mother Nature and the sheer vast expanse of the Grand Canyon is something that will live with me forever.

The helicopter pilot was friendly and informative but perhaps most importantly he was also ex air force so I felt supremely comfortable and confident, but I think the sheer magnificence of what we saw would have overridden any fear had I succumbed to it. The tour was expensive but I would have gladly gone without meals for a day or so (and I LOVE my food) to indulge myself with this vision of one of the Great Wonders of the World.

The helicopter took us right to the Grand Canyon and then landed at the bottom where we were served a picnic lunch and champagne.  Seriously. Go there if you can.  You don’t have to be a very spiritual person but it is hard not to feel some connection with the world with this miracle of nature surrounding you.  It is also about as far away from Vegas as you can get – theoretically.  Like Vegas would be if she were a desert…um, not going there.

Loved loved loved Vegas. Much more than I had thought I would and interestingly my 10 year old thought it was awesome. Much more fun than New York…..