Monday, April 18, 2011

No Fear, No Loathing, Just Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

or how to visit Rome, Paris, Monte Carlo, Egypt, Venice, New York, and the North of Italy all in a single weekend

Authentic it is not... Glitzy, bright, ever-evolving to astounding new levels of outrageous it certainly is: Vegas, the neon-lit oasis in the middle of the desert. Spend a month touring the sights of Europe, or just come here for a weekend:

Paris, France: July of last year; Paris Las Vegas: a fortnight ago

Venice: summer '99; The Venetian, 'authentic,' down to the gondolas on the river, just last month

Bellagio Resort and Casino, in the North of Italy or on the Strip? I passed through the Alps in the North of Italy on the way to Geneva last summer, but not through the town of Bellagio

Caesars Palace Las Vegas or Roma, Italia?

Luxor Las Vegas, or did you just hop across the Mediterranean to see the Pharaohs' ancient tombs in Egypt?

You can, of course, travel to Monte Carlo and New York too, but there was just too much on the Strip to get pictures of everything...

Want to take in all these sights, but don't have three years to roam the Seven Seas? Or the Seven continents? Why, come to Vegas, of course! Elvis awaits. Won't even have to deal with those pesky Euros of a currency, those pesky Europeans who refuse to learn to speak English, and those pesky museums with all of their priceless works of art. Exquisite European cuisine and the high fashion runways of Milano, Paris, and London bear a mention too, but Vegas may just be able to compete with those - after all, if it can be bought, it's on sale in Las Vegas!

Not sure how much more there really is for me to say about Vegas... It was far from my first time here, but I hadn't been in some 5 years, so was intrigued and excited to take in all the new hotels and casinos. More than anything though, I'd been all kinds of responsible ever since September, not having done any serious traveling, and Vegas might still be in these United States of America, but it sure looks and feels like a whole 'nother country ... if not another planet. And it was only Stop #1 on a week-long adventure around the American Southwest that Erica and I were tackling. It was her very first time here, giving me a chance to relive the bright, vivid, seemingly hallucinogenic memories of my first couple of trips here - watching her try and absorb all the lights and sounds all around. Mind blown, as it ever is - the first time in Vegas!

Happy Vegas!

1AM at a dueling pianos bar at Paris Las Vegas. Up next: breakfast, which is [of course] served here from 1 to 11 in the morning. Then back to the hotel for an early night - that would be in bed a bit before 3... The day before wasn't to be such an early night - we began in Seattle at 4AM, getting up bright and early in time for our flight to Vegas ... then were immediately thrust into an onslaught of Slot Machines, Dancing Fountains, Dim Sum, Singing Pirates, Dancing Vixens, high school prom dates, and Cirque du Soleil acrobats of Zumanity ... all the way to a middle of the night excursion to the heart of Old Vegas: Fremont Street, having drinks with Aga and Aneta, my Camp Caribbean camp-mates from Burning Man - all in all, a fitting, appropriate introduction to the life and culture of Sin City! In pictures:

Chilling the way the Romans did (but better dressed) at Caesar's Palace, waiting for my Beijing Noodle #9 Dim Sum lunch

Sunday night: moving on from Zumanity to Bally's classic Vegas Showgirls extravaganza: Jubilee

When I said prom date, I didn't mean some new, quirky, high school prom-themed Vegas musical - no, we met Milarmi, my actual high school prom date, for dinner and a night of catching up. Seeing her for the first time in some 15 years felt awfully surreal. Yet, so very Vegas...

A visit to the 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!' sign also on that evening's agenda

Next goal was to head back to wild, unbridled nature of the Southwest, leaving the glitz and glamour of Vegas' neon lights behind, and heading out to catch a glimpse (and a photograph or two... or a hundred) of the funky red rocks that surround this oasis of hedonism - the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada and the Grand Canyon across the state line in Arizona... trip reports coming soon!

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