When you travel for a while you unintentionally develop certain immunity to new places. The more you travel, the harder it is to impress you. You have seen all those beautiful places and you can't help but compare them.
I have noticed it myself I can't help but compare the cities I live in with London. I lived in London, I got bored of it, and I moved to Australia. Now, my second year in the Australasia region (currently Auckland), I can't help but miss it. For all of its disadvantages, London does have plenty of things you take for granted when you live there. That doesn't mean that I don't like all the other cities I travel to and live in.
Sometimes you visit a city and are prepared to be amazed but once you are there, you find yourself unimpressed. Sometimes you love the city before you visit it just to find out the city is even more amazing than you could have ever imagined (anyone who knows me will know that no city will ever compare to Innsbruck). Sometimes you visit a city not knowing what to expect and it pleasantly surprises you (Budapest) and sometimes you visit a city and fall in love with it. And that was Vegas for me.
But WHAT makes Las Vegas, this city in the middle of the desert, so special?
We landed up in Vegas after almost a week long stay in LA. Whilst I loved Disneyland and Universal Studios, LA as a city didn't really impress me much. Sure, you have beautiful places, amazing food and all the art and bling of Hollywood, but LA just wasn't that impressive to me.
The first thing that we've noticed when we stepped off of the plane was that Vegas was warmer than LA. We were quite unfortunate in LA as there was a bit of a June Gloom going on (basically, a lot of fog). Vegas was noticeably warmer and sunnier. It definitely felt like a weather you are expecting on a summer holiday. So, in my books Vegas already had a head start on LA. (There were also gambling machines, posters for strip clubs and shooting ranges all over the place but let's gloss over those :D)
When you go to Vegas you definitely want to stay in one of the hotels on The Strip. But when it comes to the hotels, Vegas gives that word a whole new meaning.
When most people hear hear the word hotel they probably imagine a building with rooms, dining area and maybe a spa or a pool.
That doesn't apply to Vegas.
When it comes to Vegas, hotels turn into a small self-contained cities. There's absolutely everything you might need covered under one roof. The rooms, casino, spa, pool, world famous restaurants, shopping center, night clubs and bars. One could spend a whole week and wouldn't need to leave the hotel grounds because everything is just there, a short lift ride away from your room.
But to spend your whole time in only one hotel would be a shame. Especially, when you can freely wander around, observe the amazing architecture and entertain yourself in other hotels as well. And believe me, every hotel on the strip has something worth having a look at. Our three days there were barely enough to scratch the surface of what Vegas has to offer.
I think the moment I realised that Vegas is going to be one of my favourite cities was when we have first entered our room at The Cosmopolitan (50 something flor) and seen the view from our balcony.
It was like the whole Vegas was just on the palm of our hand. The world famous Bellagio with its fountains on the left and The Strip and Paris on the right. I honestly don't think you can get a better view in Vegas from any other hotel on the strip. Also, the hotel room was simply gorgeous.
I remember sitting on the balcony, enjoying the views and proclaiming I am simply not moving because view is just too perfect. Eventually, we did leave the hotel room for food.:D
We went for late lunch/early dinner at the Mon Ami Gabi which is situated just under the Eiffel Tower. There was a wait list for the tables on the balcony but we were quite happy with our indoors table with a view on the Bellagio.
Anyone who likes dance music will know about DJs taking residencies at the clubs/hotels (DJs playing exclusively at that venue for a certain period of time, mostly in the summer). We were there just a week before the EDC LV (big electronic music festival) and were lucky enough to have an opportunity to see Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike at the XS club situated inside the Wynn/Encore hotel which was, ironically, situated on the completely other side of the strip from our hotel.
I have seen a couple of their Tomorrowland sets and absolutely loved them, so I was quite buzzed to see them live. And they most definitely didn't disappoint. 10/10. Would go again.
Vegas clubs are taking their dress codes very seriously. You either dress to impress or you are not getting in. We have seen a guy being turned away because he was not adhering to the dress code. Another thing that I've learned is that you HAVE to have your passport with you if you want to get in. Someone (me) thought they would be able to get in with their ID just to be told to go get their passport (which was in a room on the 50 something level of a hotel on the other side of the strip where it took you five minutes just to get to the lifts and don't even ask about the Vegas traffic). Safe to say, I've been carrying my passport with me everywhere after that.
Day two was all about exploring Vegas hotels, shopping, Magic Mike and The Chainsmokers.
As I have mentioned before, you simply HAVE to go out of your hotel and have a look around the other hotels as well.
One of our first stops was at Flamingo Las Vegas where you can observe real life flamingos wandering outside.
We have continued towards the High Roller and stopped to withdraw a cupcake from the Sprinkles cupcake ATM.
Our next stop was The Venetian. You might be in the middle of the desert in USA but you feel like you are in actual Venice.
What with the amazing architecture and indoors shopping district running alongside the actual canal on the second floor of the building! You can also take an actual gondola ride, get serenaded and everything.
I could literally spend days in this hotel, just discovering all its secret corners.
If you ever find yourself here, do look out for an ice cream shop which has a sitting area on the balcony over the canal. It is a amazing spot to observe people and just relax for a bit.
Sadly, I do not remember the name of the place. We were pointed towards it by a very friendly Pandora sales clerk.
When we finally managed to find the place, it was completely deserted (what with it being the middle of the day when most tourists in Vegas actually sleep) so we had the whole balcony to ourselves.
After that, we have made our way towards Fashion Show which is a shopping centre with over 250 shops, 8 department stores and 25 restaurants.
We had a lovely dinner a HEXX Kitchen + Bar before we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for the Magic Mike Live show followed by The Nightswim with The Chainsmokers at our favourite XS Club.
Magic Mike Live was quite good. If you fear of crowd participation, fret not. There's always a hen do or someone celebrating their birthday who is more than happy to be in the spotlight. The show in itself is entertaining though there is a lady who goes on and on about unicorns which can be slightly irritating on the moments. All in all, worth checking out if fit boys dancing are your thing (or you've liked the movies).
After the Magic Mike show, our next stop was the XS club again. This time for the Nightswim with The Chainsmokers.
It was an outdoors event (night pool party if you wish) and it was just our luck that it was bloody windy. As a someone who got spoiled by 40C Australian summers, the cold wind was not ideal. However, The Chainsmokers were amazing and their set lasted for more than two hours. Towards the end I was just standing there, almost begging them to just stop as I was legitimately freezing.
And no, they do not play Selfie in their sets. But they do sing live which is pretty cool.
Our third and last full final day started after a short sleep (we went to bed at like 5 am when the sun was already creeping up on the horizon) as this was the day we were going to fly over the Grand Canyon and have a picnic lunch there.
Big thank you to our lady pilot at the Papillion who made our flight thoroughly enjoyable.
We were flying with EC130 helicopter with luxurious comfort and wraparound windows
Have seen breathtaking panoramic views of the Hoover Dam, Grand Wash Cliffs, Grapevine Mesa, and Grand Canyon West.
Hoover Dam sits on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and involving great effort of thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam is named after President Herbert Hoover. (source)
Landed 4,000 feet below the rim.
And had champagne picnic/time to explore the landing area.
We have spent our last night in Vegas at the Cosmopolitan's club Marquee. We were not really impressed by DJ Mustard (actual DJ name) so after a while we have decided to find the Secret Pizza place.
Somewhere on the food court level there is a narrow corridor that leads you to (now not anymore so) secret pizza place. The line was long and the pizza was decent. The attraction is definitely in the place supposed to be secret.
It was our final night/morning, so we had to (finally) hit the hotel's casino. And we even got lucky! We din't get rich by any means but it was just enough to make the whole Vegas experience even more unforgettable than it already was. It turns out spending hours playing bejeweled online instead of studying did pay off in the end. ;)
We had half a day left before we had to leave for the airport the next day. We have finally made our way to the Bellagio Botanical Gardens where their current display was the Tour of Italy.
Of course one cannot miss the lobby's ceiling adorned with over 2000 elements made of glass - Dale Chihuly's (world famous contemporary glass blower) Glass Sculpture. The whole ceiling piece weights over 18 tonnes!! and is called Flori Di Como (Flowers of Como, Como being a lakeside city in Italy). It is rumored that this piece of the ceiling cost over $1 million.
This artwork was created for Steve Wynn who wanted a spectacular lobby piece to rival the aquarium at his other hotel, Mirage.
When Bellagio opened in 1998 it was the most expensive hotel ever built at $1.6 bilion.
Caesar's Palace Las Vegas
Winged Victory of Samothrace
Fontana di Trevi
Vegas street in the middle of the day
Ducks in Vegas eat popcorn
ARIA Resort & Casino
Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas
Luxor Las Vegas
All good things must come to an end and sadly so did our time in Vegas. It was with a heavy heart that we've left Vegas, barely caught our connecting flight in LA and made our way back towards Auckland.
I can honestly say I had the best time in Vegas and is definitely on the list of the cities I want to revisit at some point. If you have ever thought of visiting Vegas - do it! And my recommendation is - get a room with a view. The view from our balcony was definitely one of the main things that made me fall in love with this city. I honestly don't think any other Vegas view can ever compare with the one we had, but I'm open to trying. :)
Until next time, Vegas.