Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Las Vegas baby yeah!

Las Vegas was everything I expected and more. We stayed at the MGM Grand, which is located at the very end of the strip. Once we arrived I couldn't wait to go out exploring. Of all the hotels we were to stay at during our trip, this was the cheapest and also the biggest! The lobby on its own was the size of a supermarket! It had around 10 outdoor pools, 2 spas, 3 theaters, 2 night clubs, 19 restaurants and more shops than I could count! It also had a convention center and was home to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where many of the worlds biggest boxing matches have taken place. It also houses the largest casino in Las Vegas, which sounds great but it took some time to navigate around!

Later on we took a stroll down the strip to get a glimpse of some of the other hotels. Directly opposite the MGM Grand were the hotels New York, New York and Excalibur. They had to be seen to be believed! 'Over the top' didn't seem to cut it.............

Welcome to the MGM Grand!
The Golden Lion of the MGM
The Excalibur looked more like Disneyland!
New York, New York
The Las Vegas Strip
Posing on the strip!
The Cola Cola Store
Back at the hotel we retired to The Rainforest Cafe where I enjoyed a nice refreshing cocktail!
Before we went to bed I suggested that we hit the roulette tables................and given that we had to walk past them to get to our room it would have been rude not to! It turned out to be a good decision in the end as I went on to win $80 dollars! Lovely jubbly!!

The next day we had tickets to travel to the south rim of Grand Canyon in the neighbouring state of Arizona. We had the option of taking a helicopter ride or coach journey, but as I don't like flying, we opted for the coach instead. The coach obviously took a lot longer to get there (4 hours each way to be precise) but it was a lot cheaper...................and besides, if we had gone by helicopter, we wouldn't have had the pleasure of meeting our coach driver 'Frosty'. This guy was a legend! He was a jolly fat guy who looked a bit like Father Christmas and sounded exactly like Ned Flanders from 'The Simpsons'! 

On the way to the canyon we were lucky enough to drive past the Hoover dam. This trip was all about ticking boxes and I got to tick 2 in one day! Ever since I was at school I've always been fascinated by it. As a piece of engineering it is a masterclass even by today's standards............which considering this monster was built in the 1930's is saying something! But building this masterpiece did come at a cost. During it's 5 year construction, a total of 96 men lost there lives. Can you imagine if that happened today.................

The Hoover Dam
Welcome to The Grand Canyon!
My first impression was...................WOW!!
When you are standing on the rim looking out over the canyon, it doesn't look real.
It feels like you are staring at a massive painting!
The was a 4,000 ft drop on the other side of the guard rail...................I held on extra tight!
The ledge on the left here has no guard rail. There were always people walking up to the edge to get a closer look.
I have a word for those people........................dickheads!!
I'm not very good with heights so I felt uncomfortable by the edge................even with the guard rail!
We then traveled to another area of the rim where we got even better views of the canyon!
Check out my fake smile! This area did not have a guard rail, just a small brick wall which I was 'brave' enough to sit on.
I remember saying to Aicha...............'just hurry up and take the photo'!!!
Aicha's fake smile was better than mine!!
This is what was waiting for you on the other side of the wall!
Despite being terrified, it was one of the best experiences I've ever had!
Check out that view!
After a long drive back to Las Vegas, we went back to the room where I enjoyed a few cold beers in my pants!
The next day we hooked up with my friend (and former colleague) Matt Wilson at the hotel pool. He was in Vegas with his girlfriend Hannah and it just so happens that Matt had booked the same hotel at the exact same time we were staying there.....................it was pure coincidence honest! After a few frozen cocktails poolside, Aicha and I headed back down the strip to check out what the other hotels had to offer..............

The Stratosphere..............the views from the top were amazing!
The Venetian Hotel
The Gondolas of The Venetian
The ceiling in The Venetian lobby was more like the Sistine Chapel!
The Mirage Hotel
Caesars Palace needs no introduction!
The fountains of Caesars
The Paris Hotel...............complete with its own Eiffel Tower!
The Siren Ship outside The Treasure Island Hotel.
Every evening there was a performance where a group of seductive sirens face off against rival pirates. The girls go on to win by sinking the other pirate ship.................for real!
The world famous fountains of The Bellagio
Caesars Palace at dusk
Once we got back to the hotel I decided to hit the casino again. Feeling lucky after my triumph on the first night, I decided to try my hand this time at blackjack. Maybe it was beginners luck but within 10 minutes I had won $80! I should have quit when I was ahead as then managed to lose the lot on roulette!

The next day we had tickets to see the magician David Copperfield. I am not often impressed or amazed but his show was unbelievable.............literally! I have never seen anything like it! There were things happening before my eyes that seemed impossible. At one point he made a car appear on stage out of thin air! After the show we met up again with Matt & Hannah in the casino. After another win on the roulette we then took a cab to the 'Fremont Street Experience', which is a pedestrianized street attraction in downtown Las Vegas. Fremont Street was main hotel and casino area of Las Vegas before business moved to the strip. Today it's most famous for its LED display canopy, which runs above the street. Every hour from 7pm the casino and street lights are switched off and everyone below is treated to an awesome light show! 

Vegas wouldn't be Vegas without Elvis!
The Fremont Street Experience
Viva Las Vegas!
The light show.............accompanied by Queen's 'We Will Rock You'!
More lights, more Queen!
The Famous Golden Nugget Casino, where Matt and I tried to learn how to play craps.
I still don't understand!
The next day we left for Washington and I was really sad to be leaving Las Vegas. We had the best time there and I didn't lose any money! In fact I left around $150 up! We did so much and there were so many highlights. We didn't get to do or see everything so it feels like we still have some unfinished business there. I've made a promise to myself that I will go back one day.................hopefully more than once!

The place is mental!!

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