Monday, October 8, 2012

My Vegas experience

Casino in the Paris
First, a disclaimer.  I cannot seem to move photos or text where I want them, so they will be where they land.  I can't help it.  So my post may look like a mess, but it is filled with photos and a lot I want to share.

  I want to tell you about my trip to Vegas.  I was there for an advance birthday celebration.  My college roommate and I shared a our 18th birthday together our freshman year, back in the fall of 1970.  Since then we have lived on opposite sides of the country.  While we see each other rarely, we do stay in touch.  This year is a milestone birthday for us; in about a week we'll each turn 60.  So we had this crazy idea to meet and celebrate together.  She picked Vegas.  I'd never been there; it wasn't even on a bucket list.  Neither of us are gamblers, and really had very little interest in the casinos, other than exploring them.  And we didn't even make reservations till three weeks prior to leaving, so this was a crazy adventure.
This is NOT New York City; It's part of the hotel NY, NY

 Most of the photos in this post will NOT be the typical Las Vegas photos.  As a matter of fact, several are a 1/2 hour away from Vegas, in the astounding Red Rocks Canyon.  WOW, WOW, WOW.  You'll be able to tell the difference, but they are all mixed up.  (Thanks, Blogger.)  And there are no photos of one of my favorite things from our long weekend.  Cirque du Soleil says no photos, and we obliged.  But nevertheless, it deserves another set of WOWS here.  We saw the show KA and it is beyond spectacular.  We hemmed and hawed about the ticket prices, but it was worth every dime; not like anything I have ever witnessed before.  The theater is amazing, and the show is astounding.  Get the app for your iPad or iPhone and check it out!  SO Red Rocks and KA were our two favorite things we did in Vegas. 

Evidently I have an obsession with ceilings and the things hanging from them.  Here's a few I especially liked, including the Chihuly ceiling in the lobby of the Bellagio.

in the lobby of the Bellagio, Van Gogh's Haystack, all in flowers!
window shopping at the Bellagio.  I saw a price tag on one item for $95,000.00!  I didn't buy it.
gondola at the Venetian
Look carefully.  There is a climber on the right side of the red rock.  Holy moly!

paper flowers
And there's another climber here.
Nancy & I took a much milder hike than them.

look carefully to see the Native American handprints on this rock wall.
 These two photos (one above and one below) look like what happens when kids have problems following the rules of perspective.  How do these buildings all stay up?!

Koi pond at the Flamingo
The Emerald City?  The MGM Grand, where we stayed.  It is big.
view of Excalibur from a walkway
Arrgh.  The NY, NY roller coaster looks scary enough, without being tipped sideways.  Thanks, blogger.
Caesar's Palace, of course
Eiffel Tower (restaurant) at the Paris

wild burros
Back to the Flamingo -  oops it is sideways. 
Natalie Portman?
a flamingo at the Flamingo

The fountains of Bellagio show, choreographed to the Pink Panther music
Me and Nancy.  The fountain show behind us has ended.  
  • So, what were our impressions of Vegas?  Hmmm.  Like I said, we loved KA, and had a spectacular day at Red Rocks.  I totally recommend them both.
  • Loved the pool complex at our hotel, especially floating around on the lazy river.  Aaahhh....
  • And the hotels, the over-the-top-ness of everything, was a real treat to see. The Bellagio in particular was a hit, with the harvest lobby display, the fountain show, and a wonderful Monet exhibition borrowed from the Boston MFA.   
  • It was wonderful walking for miles on end in the bright sunshine and sparkling blue sky.  
  • And it was great to be able to explore with my friend.  We had a marvelous time.  But there were a few things that bugged me. Here they are...
  • Cigarette smoke EVERYWHERE in the city - in the Casinos, the restaurants, the glittery malls and food courts that fill the hotels, the lobbies, the streets, the pool; EVERYWHERE.  My eyes hurt and my hair stunk.  It has been so long since smoking has been allowed in restaurants and bars etc in NY that I forgot that it wasn't like that everywhere. 
  • And the pervasive thumping 'top 40's' sound track.  Again, EVERYWHERE.  The casino, the lobby, the street, the pool complex, the hotel mall and food court, the sidewalks....  There is no escaping it.  It was so good to get in the quiet of the desert during our Red Rocks trip.
  • Don't get me wrong; I love music.  But this was pervasive.  I was disappointed that, with the incredible effort to make hotels that recreate the atmosphere of Paris, Venice, etc, that it wasn't reflected in the music.  I expected to walk into the Paris and hear accordians, or music for dancing girls a la the days of Toulouse Lautrec.  No.  How about some good jazz and blues in NY NY?  No.  It was, to me, the missing link.  The only exception, again, was the Bellagio, that seemed to have a more sophisticated sound track. I really needed to escape the thumping sound of modern hip-hop music.
  • By the way- we also managed to get to see a really fun Beatles tribute show - cute, corny, and a blast.  The whole audience sang along with every song, and we left smiling.  I forgot to include a photo here.
I'm glad I went, but I'm tired and also glad to be home. I didn't see any celebrities, didn't play strip poker with Prince Harry, and thankfully didn't do anything that would have to 'stay in Vegas'.  And by the way, my kitty was so glad to see me!!  It took me a whole day of flying (three flights and lots of time in between and no sleep) to get back  home, where the autumn colors are at a spectacular peak.

Have you ever been to Vegas?   What are your impressions?  Do you gamble?  (Just realized, I didn't even discuss my opinion of the casinos, which stretch on FOREVER.  I wonder if anyone knows how many slot machines there are in Vegas.  Hundreds of thousands I'd guess!)


  1. My husband went to Vegas about 7 years ago on business when he worked for the fashion industry in NYC. He is not a gambler but loved all the cool hotels and LOVED Cirque de Soleil! His company bought all of them front row tickets as a treat for all the hard work they did while they were out there( trust me they would work like dogs! He was the multi-media guy behind the scenes for all their big presentations,fashion shows,etc...) He said Vegas is not somewhere he would ever choose for a vacation but was happy he got to experience it! He wanted to see Red Rocks(his type of vacation spot) but they never got the chance because of work. Glad you had a great time with your friend! :)

  2. Wow! I can't say that Vegas is a place I have every thought of going to (and it costs so much to travel anywhere from Australia, you tend to be quite selective :)) however I can see the appeal for so many - it's just so over-the-top decadent! But give me Red Rocks (or Ularu, Wave Rock or the Olgas) any day :)

  3. Gorgeous pics seems like it's a trip you'd want to take and come home to share with all your many art lessons I can think of just looking at your photos!

  4. Aside from the stinky cigarette smells, I'm glad you had a good time! Your photo's reflected a Vegas that I never took the time to see before. Happy 60th Birthday, Phyl!


  5. One correction - that's MONET's Haystack all in flowers, not Van Gogh's, even though he painted them as well.

  6. I have been to Las Vegas, although not for years. It is right on the way to Montana when driving to see my brother. I've taken to flying now instead of driving, so Las Vegas is pretty much a thing of my past. Wish I had known about Red Rock -- I would definitely have stopped to see it!! I do love Cirque de Soleil productions -- they never disappoint!! I also liked walking around the "Strip". My memories are of the sidewalk misters (it was always hot when I was there!) and the casino at Paris (I tried to ignore the smoke and pretend I was outdoors in France).

    1. Didn't see any sidewalk misters. And like I said,the Paris casino wad cool but would have been so much better with the appropriate 'Parisian' sounding music. Rihanna and hip-hop was so wrong...

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  8. I have to correct myself. It is Red Rock (singular) Canyon that is in my photos and that we hiked, not Red Rocks (plural), which is in Colorado and I believe forms an outside natural amphitheater where concerts are actually held. I've never been there.

    Red Rock Canyon is in Nevada, no more than 1/2 hour drive from the Vegas strip!

  9. I hear you about the cigarette smoke - we had an Az state conference in Laughlin, NV (just across the state line) since we got such a great rate but never again! Even though the rooms & workshop areas were smoke-free we had to travel thru smoke-filled rooms & elevators. Our clothes reeked of it...
    If you enjoyed Red Rock Canyon, you have to make another trip west to Sedona, Az. The red rock formations there are amazing and breathtaking. We've had a few state conferences there - it was hard to keep our attention on conference activities with all that natural beauty around us!
    Glad to see you're making the most of your retirement...

  10. You saw so much more of Vegas than I did. The only hotels I went into were the Bellagio (which I really liked) and the Cosmopolitan (which had that awful bump, bump, bump trendy music playing nonstop.) I'm sad that more than just that one hotel had that awful noise. SO glad you saw a Cirque show. That had to be my favorite part of my trip. I'll have to try KA next time. I have a feeling I will go there one more time in my life, just to see the things I missed the first time.

    1. The Cosmopolitan had that gorgeous chandelier! But I think the Bellagio,in its elegance and grandeur,was the only hotel that wasn't thumping with loud music. I think their 'sound track' was definitely more 'gentile'. Funny we had to head out to the Mohave Dessert for peace and quiet! Our tour guide/driver played a CD of Native American music on the road that was really lovely. I would recommend him and his tour experience to anyone. Fabulous.