Day 41 - 05/08/2002 - Las Vegas USA
WOW! ... Las Vegas! ... WOW!
Today I did two of the best things in my life ... the best buffet meal of my life and a visit the best pool/spa complex of my life.
Las Vegas is famous for it's low cost buffet meals - supposedly, at one point they would give food away just to get people into their casino's - now you have to pay a small amount of money. At my hotel, I got a voucher for a free buffet breakfast, but by the time I actually got the voucher it was past breakfast time, so I asked if I could use it for the lunch buffet instead ... sure, I just had to pay the difference ... a mere $1. So, I got to have a full buffet lunch at the Mirage Hotel (one of the best buffets in Las Vegas) for only $1! It was fantastic value ... I will not try and recount all the food I had (you can see some of the photos below), but one of the highlights was all the shrimp (prawns) that were already peeled! I love to have prawns, but hate peeling them ... this buffet had peeled prawns!
It took me the first half of the day just to get out of my hotel ... there were so many distractions and miles of slot machines to walk through. I had a bit of a walk down "The Strip" (main street of Las Vegas) and easily booked a tour to the Grand Canyon (for tomorrow) ... I was going to get a bus, but for only $50 extra you fly and save about 10 hours of driving, so I took the flying option ... the competition between tour sellers was good and after shopping around I got a $214 tour for only $140 (from what I could tell, the tour operator still got to make $15 out of the booking).
Walking up and down The Strip can be very tiring because of the distance and weather. Firstly, to walk from hotel/casino to hotel/casino to have a look inside can be a very long trek ... it can easily take half an hour for some thing that you would expect to only take five minutes (everything here is so big - apparently 8 out of the ten biggest hotels in America are on The Strip) ... and the heat is frustrating - it is a very dry heat and I found myself getting a headache from just walking around, so I decided to retire to the pool/spa area of my hotel.
The pool/spa complex was fantastic ... it was the best that I have ever been to. The massive pools had waterfalls that you could stand under for a wonderful massage and the spas were just the right temperature and have plenty of jets for massaging ... I comfortably spent a few hours relaxing by the pool and if there was nothing else to see and do then I could easy have spent the whole day there ... but I wanted to see more of Las Vegas.
I visited a few more hotels to check out the foyers - all the major hotels here have "themes" with grand buildings and foyers that make you feel like you are in another world ... eg. there is "Paris" which is like Paris, "New York New York" which is like New York etc (I think you get the idea) ... my current hotel is "The Mirage" which is like being in some tropical paradise ... and the hotel foyer and pool area definitely does a good job of helping you feel like you are on a tropical holiday.
Also, lots of hotels have free entertainment out the front or inside the hotel ... for example, there is an exploding volcano outside The Mirage, and next door at Treasure Island, they have a pirate show (with pyrotechnics etc) ... Bellagio has a water fountain show and Circus Circus has performing clowns ... all pretty cool things to see since they are free (basically they are all ploys to get people into their casinos).
Besides the free entertainment, there are plenty of expensive shows to see - like Siegfried and Roy (the Magicians), but since so many things are free and I have limited time, I decided not to pay for any of these shows (at least not during this visit to Las Vegas).
Overall, Las Vegas is very overwhelming. You simply can not understand what it is like to be here until you experience it for yourself. And it is not just about the gambling ... it is the whole atmosphere of the place ... I have managed to go through two days without putting anyone money into slot machines (poker machines) and I am still having a fantastic time.
I have seen enough slot machines to last me a lifetime ... being Australian, I am used to seeing slot machines (poker machines) in local pubs/clubs ... but Las Vegas is unbelievable ... they are everywhere ... and so many of them. Apparently, Las Vegas has approximately one third of the world slot machines ... what I found even more interesting is that Australia has basically the other two thirds of the worlds slot machines, with my home state (New South Wales) owning about one third of the worlds slot machines!
I had a fantastic day for very little money - $1 for all the food and drinks I could manage and besides the ridiculous amount tipping that is expected here, the day was free, but I could not help but wonder "why are there starving people in the world?" ... I was in a place where there was money everywhere and people were gorging themselves on food for $1 and I could not understand why, as a global community, we can have areas of such wealth and surplus of food, while in other places people are dying because they have nothing.
MOVIE: Day 41 [MPG 840KB]