Friday, 8 April 2011

Lost in Vegas

Everything in this city is excessive. Each major hotel-casino takes up a city block or more and reaches for the sky; a 'side of fries' would feed a family of four. Not surprisingly, it has to be the huge arse capital of the world. We took a bus downtown on Wednesday and, apart from a few tiny Asian women perched on the edges of seats or wedged in the gaps between more substantial passengers, everyone had the dimensions of refrigerators (only more rubbery). Las Vegas is The Strip, of course, but its suburbs and service areas sprawl out across the Nevada plains to the mountains on every side. Millions of tourists from the US and everywhere else; millions of dollars gambled daily, tons of food, power, water, stuff by the truckload streaming in every minute. Consumption on a scale you just can't quite believe.

But you have to love it. The dress code ranges from couples in Armani suits and gorgeous designer dresses to Billy-Bob and Bubba in their best bib overalls. Hispanic hotel receptionists switch effortlessly from English to Japanese to French depending on who turns up at the desk. The service is fabulous - endlessly friendly, kind and efficient, people can't do enough to help you, even if your problem is nowhere near part of their job description. Nearly everything is open nearly all the time and those slot machines hum and buzz and ching away as background to it all. The shows are amazing - we only had time for one, but it was The Platters, The Coasters and The Marvelletes (Wait a Minute Mr Postman) for under $50. Better still, it was in a cabaret theatre where you can sit on a lounge with a drink while you enjoy the show - it was just brilliant.

There is so much more than casino culture here - amazing exhibitions, artefacts and experiences are everywhere. We managed to get to the Shark Aquarium at Mandalay Bay and the Moden Masters and gardens at Bellagio, but there were also artefacts from the Titanic and hundreds of other interesting things we'd have loved to see and do.

The financial downturn has taken its toll here, far more than in Australia. Lots of businesses have closed down and the frantic building we saw in 2007 has virtually ground to a halt. It's sad to see some of  the great little restaurants off the Strip really struggling (do go to the India Oven on East Sahara if you're ever here) and to feel an air of desperation in many places. Driving downtown this becomes much more evident, with pawn shops, bail bond providers, loan sharks and low rent lawyers in run-down premises everywhere. Ultra-seedy and ultra glamourous sit side by side.

Being on Australian time, it was easy for us to wake before dawn for a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon. We found it awesome on our last trip, just viewing from the rim near Flagstaff, but this was THE way to see the canyon. Words and pictures fail me, but I'll post a few anyway. We're off to Arizona this morning to see my mum at last. Love and best wishes to everyone.


  1. I like excessive. Sounds like a place I'd enjoy visiting. :)

  2. Wow it sounds amazing, I think your blog is going to be the inspiration I need to save my pennies so I can enjoy the wide open world =D

  3. Really great meeting you both! Glad you enjoyed my city! We are unique in the world, to be sure...and things change by the minute here!

    I too LOVED the Grand Canyon helicopter tour...amazing!

    When you are ready to furnish that home, back is a reminder of our collection.

    Happy Trails and Stay safe and well.

    Nicola Olivarez~