We drove to Vegas from Black Canyon City, Arizona where we had spent 5 months, about a 5 hour trip. Our friends, who were on their way from Black Canyon City to San Francisco had planned a stop in Las Vegas and asked if we would be interested in joining them for a few days of fun in Sin City. We drove separately in our truck but stayed with them in their RV at the Circus Circus KOA campground that is located on the north end of the strip. The game plan was to see most of the casinos on the strip and the first evening we walked about 6 ks or more to check out Treasure Island, The Mirage and Caesar’s Palace. At the Mirage we were treated to an outdoor show of a volcano that spewed fire on top of and down a waterfall. We could feel the heat of the flames. The pirate show at Treasure Island was cancelled due to high winds. In all we walked through at least 15 themed casinos and Janis and I rated them, both of us usually in agreement.
The windows frame a lovely outdoor setting that one might see in a European city, decorative stone balustrades beside the water. A walk into the Conservatory put us into a joyous mood, as well as invoked a sense of awe. The entire room showcased brightly coloured azaleas, crysanthemums, birds of paradise
A scarlet bridge led to a similarly coloured Japanese Pagoda. The entire Observatory was done with Feng Shui to keep the Chi (energy) flowing. Flowers, rock and moving water made this a very calming place, a refuge from the busy Vegas sidewalks. Outdoors, neatly manicured hedges and green grass (a treat to my eyes after living in the desert) provided contrast to the concrete on the strip.
Janis and I were delighted with New York, New York from our very first sight of the replica of the Statue of Liberty, complete with tugboats in the water below, the Brooklyn Bridge, facades of brownstones and tenement buildings. I commented that I half expected Tony and Marie of West Side Story to emerge onto one of the balconies. Inside the casino the bottom floor is replicated to make you feel that you are strolling in a NYC village, complete with steam coming up from manhole covers. Cafes, bakeries and eateries delighted our senses and Lloyd joked that he was looking for the soup nazi (think Seinfeld). Janis and I were absolutely charmed by the authenticity of this reproduction of the Big Apple.
Caesar’s Palace is absolutely stunning with busts of Caesar and marble angels trumpeting at the top of one building. Fountains, marble statues and many Romanesque buildings make this one of the largest casinos on the strip. The Coliseum was built especially for Celine Dion’s shows that are featured 200 nights a year. I would have loved to attend her show but at $200 a ticket I settled for listening to her CDs.
As one might expect, the Paris casino can be identified by the Eiffel Tower that looms over it. Once inside we were enchanted by the Parisian theme. Just as in New York, New York, streets resembled the ones in Paris and those I had actually seen on a trip I took to Paris. Awnings above Parisian Bistros and actual trees added to the authenticity of this French capital.
Alladin also enthralled us with its ceilings of white clouds and blue skies, shops resembling villages you might see in the Middle East. Apartments with potted plants on balconies and soft lighting behind curtained windows looked inviting. Earthenware pitchers holding crimson geraniums rested on windowsills. We ate a tasty lunch at a restaurant surround by this middle-eastern motif, though oddly enough the food was totally western.
Wynn Casino, one of the newest casinos on the strip is total class. Gaily coloured carpets on terrazzo floors lead to a tastefully decorated casino where the leather chairs were softer than in any other casino. To get to the gaming floor we strolled under an archway of real trees that were softly illuminated to create a peaceful atmosphere. I commented that it would be a great place to exchange wedding vows rather than in one of the many tacky wedding chapels on the strip. Downstairs there is an outdoor restaurant where patrons can sit beside a waterfall that cascades down a natural rock wall.
When one hears the name Venice one immediately thinks of the canals in this Italian city and the Venetian not only has the canals but gondolas and oarsmen that serenade you as they steer the gondolas through the canal. Unfortunately for us, we had just missed a wedding ceremony before we ambled in. Darn that stop we made at Hagen Daas! As you can imagine, the casino was beautifully decorated in an Italian theme.
Some of the casinos are more difficult to recall than others but these obviously were our favourites. All of the casinos feature high end shopping with retailers like Cartier, Tiffany’s etc. and I personally was surprised that Vegas is such a shopping mecca. I was also greatly surprised that Las Vegas is not the tacky tourist destination I had feared it was. You can also try your luck at gambling if you are feeling lucky.