Visiting Uncle Sam – 9 – Viva Vegas

After coming so far it isnt fair to miss out on one of the places that I ever wanted to visit in my whole life time, “The Grand Canyon”. So I decided a month ahead that I would go there all alone even if I want to spend my money for flying out there. I would need a place to stay and then go via the bus tours to Grand Canyon, because it always helps to go to these places with good tour company who can give more insights on the historical backgrounds. And what other place can it be other than Vegas 😉

That is how Vegas came to my to-visit list. I booked my tickets via American Express vacations for the United Airlines and Circus Circus hotel (a budget family hotel) for 403$ (not a bad deal at all…) On Friday 22nd October, early morning I went to the SFO Airport to get my UA airlines to Las Vegas. First shock, the SFO airport is so HUGE. When I landed, if you had read my blog you would know that I mentioned that it looked so kutty. But guess what, its just the International area and immigrations and hence they dont feel it necessary to expose people to any other area at all. But the real airport is really very Big..2nd shock, they dont have people to do the check in for you. You have to check in (i.e. get the boarding pass, mention the checkin baggage etc, pay for the checkin baggage if any etc) all by yourself. I was confused for a second and then got into the swing. Then you go in the queue for security check and just like what we have, remove the shoes, the belt, remove the phone, etc etc etc.. They take the security so seriously !!! (or, are they so scared ??? ..what ever) After that it was just roaming around in that huge airport and then going through those gates and finding out your particular gate. Well this is my first inter state travel within US in an airline. Another experience 🙂

It was almost an hour and a half journey to Las Vegas, Nevada. I landed @ around 8 am in McCarran International Airport. This is another huge and funky airport. They have slot machines near the gates !!! Whew!! It was like telling everyone “Welcome to the gambler’s paradise !!! ” What a statement to make with those machines… But it was cool. Got into the Belltrans Airport Shuttle , waited for the other passengers (its a group ride like the Easycab in Bangalore) and then got into Vegas !!! The first thing that I noticed was the Las Vegas University which is right outside the Airport. Such a big one!! Why doesnt anyone speak of this University, why doesnt this get recognised ??? The airport is much near to “The Strip” and Circus Circus hotel was on the North end of the Strip. The shuttle went to the main hotels to drop off people (MGM Grand, Hyatt, etc) and then went to my hotel by around 9.30 am. The check in time was 2 pm but since it was already paid for the early checkin, I got the checkin done and they handed me a map of the hotel and told me a way to follow and continued with the next person in the queue.

I was so dumbstuck with the magnanimity of the hotel and the various levels and sides of it, they had casino tower, West side towers, sky rise manor towers, etc etc.. I went to the wrong side and in the 9th floor didnt find my room so had to walk all the way back and with the help of someone got into the right wing and then found my room at last. But guess what, by that time I have crossed the Casino, the circus floor, the various gift shops, a couple of restaurants all inside the hotel!!! Oh my god, moochu vaanghudu solradhuku.. imagine my condition. I got into my room only @ 11 am. Can you imagine that. Freshened up a little and first came down to have my brunch. After a hearty meal (salad and coffee) decided to go out on my own to explore the city. What a surprise, it was drizzling… Very good!!! and it was awfully cold..Thank God I had my jacket. And here I come , Vegas 🙂

I had the map of the Deuce transport which takes you up and down the Strip and stops @ all of the hotels. Before leaving the hotel , I played the slot machines for 2 $ and gained around 9 $ and then I decided I didnt want the money 😉 and played it all in a single slot machine and lost them too 🙂 And I booked the ticket to “The Phantom of the Opera” musical show which is held in “The Venetian” hotel @ 7 pm. This was the only day where I can really see the night life of Vegas till 10 pm coz the next two days I will be busy with the Grand Canyon trips that I might come in late and would want to rest. I had a tie between the “Blue man show” and “The Phantom”. But phantom looked more appealing because I always wanted to see a opera 🙂 and what other better place other than “The Venetian” and in Vegas too…

I got the Deuce day pass and then started my journey in the strip. I decided to get down at the farthest end and then walk back 😉

I got down near the Harley Davidson’s cafe and went to Aria, saw the small musical fountain there, then started walking back enjoying each and every hotel, their magnanimity, the unique features that each of them have got (like Caesar’s palace is really like a palace, Harley Davidson’s cafe has a real motorbike in the front for people to sit and take pictures, Serendipity 3 has this romantic environment with pink all over, Casino Royale has slot machines even in the road side of their hotel, The Venetian has a environment inside where it resembles Venice , you can even take a boat ride inside the hotel, etc etc etc.) I would have to list each hotel and their specialty now. When I came to The Venetian, I went down and got my tickets and chose my seat in the Front Mezzanine 2nd row, which is exactly the center of the stage and at the balcony seat. It would give a good view of the opera (I hoped) and then went around and almost at around 4 pm I came back to my hotel to give my feet some rest (Imagine walking since 12 to 4 continuously except for stopping @ places to take pictures) I rested for a while and then started by 5.30 pm again to be a little ahead for “The Phantom” show. Went to “The Venetian” played for a dollar and got 50cents 😦 and then went and had a coffee and watched the Venice style boating in the entrance. It was so peaceful just to sit there and enjoy the view. If you like observing people and places, this is a wonderful place to be. I was there till 6.30 pm and then went in again to the theater. They opened the gates @ 6.30 pm and I was getting little excited  I was happy with the seating. It was perfect. I can see the whole stage and the orchestra vividly. Wow….it was an amazing stage. The chandelier was already broken (it gave that effect) and was hanging (for the perfect intro to the story) and the seats started filling up slowly.

When the lights went out @ 7.10 pm and the stage opened along with the Orchestra.. I knew I would like it 🙂 I knew the story, I know the songs a little so I have no issues following it. I wanted to try out if I would like a musical stuff on stage (I have never seen an onstage performance live) and when they started it , I loved it. I would like to see it again if possible. It was AMAZING. It was even better than the movie. God!! The kind of effects they made on stage (real fire, real crackers, real water!!!) You have to see it once if you like music. Toooo Good… I was so glad I chose this over Blue man show. The Blue man show is also equally good, but again that depends on your mood and tastes. I would like that too, but this I loved.. I didnt miss any of the phantom’s locations, be it in the Chandelier, entrance / exit of Raoul from the stage etc etc.. As they say, “You have to see it to believe it”. I was so so so happy and content after that show. It was around 8.30 pm. Next should be the Bellagio fountains. I can see it only today. So I started to rush out. Opposite to The Venetian is The Mirage. I wondered why people gathered there in huge numbers.. and after I started crossing the road I heard the music and then I realized it was the Volcano show in Mirage. So stood for it to complete. It was ok.. not to my taste though 🙂 and then I rushed to Bellagio. By the time I reached there, a song was half way through. It was a classical jazz number. Oh my God.. seeing it in Oceans Eleven is a thing and to see it live is just another thing.. It was like the fountains doing the salsa and what a salsa it was.. just perfect 🙂 Since I missed the whole song, I stood for the next one which would be in another 15 mins. Got my camera ready and there it came. This time it was a soft rock. The patterns differed for each song and it still mesmerized me. So I stood for another song 🙂 It was almost 9.50 pm by the time it got over. I have to get back to hotel and try to get a good nap because my Canyon trip starts @ 6.15 am.

At nights, the traffic is so much there that you better walk than waiting for the buses. I guess Vegas comes alive only @ nights. Jaga jyothi yaa minichu andha whole strip. It was like a whole different world. But my main attraction in Vegas was done… “The Phantom” and “The Bellagio Fountains” I remembered the Oceans Eleven scene when I was standing there and watching it :)… Idhuku mela enna venum… While I was waiting for the bus for almost 15 mins or so, I started noticing the people out there.. Boy they are crazy.. After a few pints I guess the light and music of the city gets to them and they become crazy… The old ladies near me in the bus stand were scolding a set of guys in a car who literally got down and were shouting at the top of their voices… Good Lord!! but they have cops all around to have a check on these guys. This place is an open invitation for all kind of prohibited activities 🙂 and the invitation is so loud that I almost laughed.. But guess what, it has place for everyone. You have separate activities for kids, for bachelor parties  (I saw 2 weddings that day ) , girl gangs, old people, every one. Actually I saw equal number of older couples too. They were just there to have some fun and throw away some of their hard earned but excess money :). People from all over the world were there. In that one strip…. hmm..

The next day and the day after was the Canyon trip, which will be in another post. On Monday I got up @ around 9 am and had to check out by 11 am even though my flight was only @ 8 pm. So packed up and since I didnt buy anything there except for a handbag it was ok. Checked out and kept the bag in the bellroom and then walked off to the Strip again to see some left overs. I went straight to MGM to see the Lion Habitat. I didnt find it attractive. Rather I felt pity for those lions. In one of the interviews or movies ( I dont remember which one) Sathyaraj used to say.. “yean yaa ellathukum singam poala singam poala nu singatha poyi utharanamaa kaamiakareenga… singam sariyaana oru waste praani. thinitu thinnitu thoongaradhudhaan adhoda velaiye.. ” Seriously, it seems like Lions need 18 hrs of sleep.. And mostly its the female ones that hunt for food.. They look very majestic when compared to its counterparts.. agreed..otherwise!!! ennavo.. these lions in MGM were so tired and they were playing. Its like watching them in a zoo.. no big deal there. Walked a little to see the Paris and Newyork Newyork hotel. And came to the Fashion show mall. Seems like they have live fashion shows (free) on Fridays & Saturdays. I noticed that even though this place is a tourist destination, the clothes were cheaper and you could get good souvenirs within 5$. hmm.. But what they loose out there they gain in the Slot machines :). Nice way to attract people. These hotels have slot machines everywhere and they have this clincking sound that it always attracts people.

I have seen old people sit there for so many hours ( I would have gone out, roamed around and come back to see the same people sitting there in the same slot machine for hours together) and keep pressing the button and some did earn good money. Then I saw the free Circus acts in my hotel and then by around 5 pm got ready to go to the Airport. The Belltrans pick up was scheduled for 5.20 pm. It came around 5.40pm after a few more pickups and then landed in the airport by 6.30pm. Checked in and then went to the gates and waited for the boarding back to SFO.

I could have chosen an earlier flight to SFO, but I chose this one because I wanted to see how the city looks from above @ night :). It was so so so amazing. I was waiting for the flight to fly over the bay area… was so beautiful.. It was a full moon night and I could see the bay bridge and there was nothing in the bay water except for the reflection of the moon light. I missed my camera (it was in the over head cabin) You must have seen the images or pencil drawings of the moon light over the water.. I saw it live.. it will stay with me forever. It was such a beautiful sight.. I came back to the hotel @ around 10.10 pm and had a peaceful sleep after a peaceful and fulfilling journey.

Viva Vegas means “Long Live Las Vegas”. Las Vegas is a Spanish word for “The Meadows”. Because it a huge  valley surrounded on all side by huge Canyons and Mountains and when Spanish explorers visited this place they found enough water to quench their thirst that they named it Vegas. Ironically, this place was chosen for quenching all kinds of thirst now other than the thirst for water (which is fast reducing here due to the reduction or depreciation in its sources)

Some of the hotels have more than 3000 rooms available and they make use of well known singers and stars to perform to attract more people. Each hotel has its own attraction. If you want to see all of those you would need more than 2 weeks. I missed on the downtown area, because I wasnt really excited about it. But would have loved to see the historical places of Las Vegas as such. Its just another city just like any other places in the world, but due to this single 3-4 mile strip, its very famous and its worth that attention too. They maintain it so well. Each one has its own identity, its own attraction etc.

People come here to get married. I saw almost 2 weddings each day. Seems like getting married and getting divorced is very easy in Vegas.

There is a city next to Vegas on the way to the Canyons, Boulder city, where even today gambling is prohibited and you dont see a casino as soon as you enter the city. Even drinking was prohibited there until recently it seems. They dont have any high rise buildings, the max limit is almost 2-3 floors only. Even the MacDonald’s logo sign was small here 🙂 Its a very calm and peaceful neighborhood.

The money you spend on the casinos, a part of it goes to the city’s development and its schools. Poker is supposed to be “The Game” for people here. Marketing strategies are very good. They lure people easily to spend money out here and they make them spend in such a way that they dont feel bad about it….thats something 🙂

Next time you get an opportunity to visit Vegas, make sure to keep your wallets in a safe place so as to not use it in the machines, but rather enjoy the city, trust me , it has lot of other stuff other than the nightclubs and casinos and dont forget to get your discount coupons and use them too. I couldnt use them coz most of them are for nonveg food and for drinks.


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