Las Vegas was never on my wish-list to visit. But two things on my dream-list took me to Vegas- Grand Canyon and O- Cirque de Soleil. The latter two deserve separate blogs.
This blog, I am going to share about the things I found distasteful( disliked), things that were expected and things I absolutely loved. Vegas is 80% the Strip( the road lined with gigantic casinos) and 20% the rest which includes the downtown and other attraction.
Let me get straight to the point.
Vegas I disliked:
Before I had visited Vegas, I used to wonder why do they have the Statue of Liberty, Egytian pyramid, the Sphinx, or the Eiffel Tower and other replicas. It all made sense once we drove by the strip and learned about the casinos.
Each Casino is a huge complex of building, which has gambling-vending machines on the main floor, with shopping malls, and some other added attractions like theatre, where various shows run. Each Casino has tried to create their own ‘impact’ by creating a theme. For instance the Casino called Paris has an Eiffel Tower replica, a hot air balloon looking replica in the front( apparently first hot air balloon was flown in Paris) and a Arc de Triumph on the side.
Casino New York has a midget sized statue of Liberty standing in front of it.
Casino Ceaser’s Palace has created a theme as if you walk into the Greece of Julius Caeser times- with statue of Julius Caeser, Venus, Cleopatra, David and others etc.
Casino Venetia copies Venice, with a narrow canal flowing, lined with high end branded stores inside a shopping mall with motor driven Gondolas giving pricey rides to the visitors in the canal.
Casino Luxor has a Sphinx sitting in front of a black granite pyramid.
Here are a few pictures I took of these replicas:
Casino New York:
Casino Paris( Paris):
Luxor (Pharoah’s Egypt):
Casino Caeser’s Palace( Greece):
All these historic monuments were marvellous creations by genius minds and uber-skillful hands of their times. Their machine-made replicas no matter how perfect they may be, in my humble opinion, are in poor taste. Placed adjacent to big commercial brands are certainly not any tribute to these historic monuments.
Yes, I definitely did view these ‘fake’ monuments in Vegas as tasteful.
Things I liked:
DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS:
Las Vegas originated in 1901 and was incorprated in 1910. The casino culture began in 1930 when gambling was legalized.
Fremont Street is the hub of downtown Las Vegas is known ever since as Glitter Gulch. Fremont Street had Las Vegas’ first hotel (the Hotel Nevada in 1906, present day Golden Gate), first telephone (1907), first paved street (1925), first Nevada gaming license — issued to the Northern Club at 15 E. Fremont St, first traffic light, first elevator (the Apache Hotel in 1932), and the first high-rise (the Fremont Hotel in 1956). The Horseshoe was the first casino to install carpeting, while the Golden Nugget was the first structure designed from the ground up to be a casino. (Source: Wiki).
As fascinating as it’s history is, a walk through the Pedestrian Mall ( aka Fremont Street Experience) after dusk is an incrediable experience, far more fascinating than the walk through the magnaimous Strip. Apart from Casinos( which are omnipresent in Vegas) visitors witness free concerts, local artists performing on the sidelines, Elvis lookalikes offering pictures with them for a dollar, eateries and souvenir shops very authentic, non-branded and much more affordable.
The barrel vault canopy(1500 ft x 90 ft), the largest LED screen in the world, is mesmerizing, as all lights go off in the downtown when the show begins.
GAMBLING EVERYWHERE 😀
As soon as we landed at Las Vegas , my son laughed, “Look Casinos have begun right here at the airport.” Everywhere from the Stirp, downtown, airport, shopping malls, grocery stores, casino vending machines existed everywhere. The kiosks for gambling were perhpas more than the number of visitors to the Sin City. And despite overload of temptation, my son and I refrained from gambling in principle. My husband did try his luck and played with $10. He initially won $22 and then lost everything.
Our hosts joked to him: “You should have walked away with $22.”
I responded: “I think it was good that he lost all the money. This is good enough to deter from playing more.”
NIGHT VIEW OF THE STRIP FROM STRAT TOWER TOP:
Things I loved in Vegas
Fabulous Las Vegas Sign:
Before coming to Las Vegas, this was the only structure from the city that made sense to me. Despite being small in size, and a lot less glamorous than the humongous casinos on the Strip, this sign still holds its fascination. When we went to see the actual sign, it was far smaller than what my son and I had in our imaginations. There was a long line up to take free pictures. On the side were a few guys impersonating as unkempt Elvis( in untidy attires) standing on the sidelines offering to take a picture with them for a dollar.
My son joked how so a number of Hollywood movies have ‘virtually’ destroyed Vegas, but the ‘Fabulous Vegas’ sign still stands firm. 😀
He searched in the shops and found a fridge magnet, an exact replica, of the sign to bring back as a souvenir. “What happens in Vegas, remains in Vegas, only the souvenir goes out with us.” remarked my son.
( In case you are interested, here is a link about the films that destroyed Vegas: Films that destroyed Vegas: https://blog.vegas.com/more-las-vegas-news/10-movies-that-destroy-vegas-58057/
Fiori di Como (Bellagio):
Fiori di Como is a garden of hand blown glass by the renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly at the Bellagio Hotel. It is hard to miss as you stand underneath the masterpiece in the registration lobby. The entire structure weighs over 40,000 pounds, there are more than 2,000 flowers displayed in the glass garden.
The structure is a representation of Italian Fields in the spring. The structure is said to be worth about 3 million give or take a few million.
World’s Largest Choclate Fountain (Bellagio):
If you are a chocaholic, this glass-encased multi-tier chocolate fountain is must-visit place in Las Vegas. This floor-to-ceiling masterpiece is a classic work of art that pour out 20 tons of dark, light and white chocolate at the rate of 120 pints a minute. The Bellagio chocolate fountain is certified by Guinness World Records as the largest chocolate fountain in the world.
Musical Fountain at Bellagio:
This aweinspiring show of dancing water jets, to the music of famous songs is the most viewed attraction in Vegas. In a split of a second the 80 acre quiet lake turns into a stage with some 1200 water jets come to life, gyrating, twirling, whirling, jumping, bending and at times taking turns, perfectly coordinating into a well choreographed dance performance. The show at night adds glamour with color and light effects, but the show during the daylight is no less fascinating.
We chose to watch the show both the times. During the day, the panoramic view atop the Eiffel Tower across the road was . We returned after dark to witness the mesmerizing show with light effect with closer view and louder music.
(The video below is not my own, and taken from Youtube).
O’ Cirque de Soleil:
This theatrical show takes the cake of our visit to Vegas. There is little words can share about this show human acrobatic genius in the air, land and water.
Few things I found unique about this Show which was I did not find mentioned anywhere:
- The show has a story line- at least I felt so. A guy who found a red handkerchief at the beginning of the show is seen running across the stage as if finding the owner of this handkerchief, and the show ends with him presenting the piece to a pretty ballerina.
- The Show represented cultural diversity – not just in the elements- water, air, earth and fire, but also in culture. Costumes ranged from commedia dell’arte, the Baroque, India, the Arabian Nights, Venetian courtly fashions and even animal designs like Zebras.
- There was racial diversity to some extent: black performers from Africa ( with appropriate background in the shadows), Chinese who performed on their music, and Russian acrobats. I also saw a woman in a blue burka( Afghani style) and a girl in Hijab among the performers.
- There was a diverse mix of musical instruments from word over including: Chinese violin (erhu), bagpipes, African guitar and harp (kora), Colombian guitar, cello, ancient woodwinds and a wide variety of percussion instruments.
The show is a must see, as words cannot do justice to its magnificience and finesse.
We chose to save our money from the Casinos and invested in watching this show from the very first front row in the middle. We certainly came back richer with the experience.
Below is an official trailer as videography or photography is strictly not allowed keeping the safety of the performers in view.
I donot think I will go back to Vegas for its humongous Casinos or high end shopping malls. But certainly, will love to revisit for the theatre and to see our wonderful friends who hosted us at their place.
The other reason I may go back is for the visit to Grand Canyons, which merits a separate blog, and will follow shortly.