Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Newcomer to Vegas

As I've said previously, prior to a couple of weeks ago, I'd never been to Las Vegas. When John's family decided we were going, I asked his Mom if she wouldn't mind taking me to a local Barnes and Noble so I could buy a Las Vegas travel book. Of course, I had one home in New Jersey, but that didn't help me then.

I went through the book, making a list of my must-see choices. The Liberace museum, Bellagio conservatory and fountains, Hoover Dam (see the post here for those pics), Ceasar's Forum, and the Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel and casino topped my list. Although I didn't make it to the Liberace museum, I did get to see quite a bit of the famous strip. Here are some of the photos I took while I experienced Sin City.

Oh Vegas! Home to Big Elvis. When I say "Big" I don't mean big, I mean HUGE. This fellow has to weigh at least 400 pounds.

Connie, John's Mom, knew I have a penchant for Elvis impersonators, so she motioned for us to follow her into the casino next to the Flamingo Hotel where we stayed during our trip. Toward the back of the casino was a little performance area packed with people listening to this big fellow sing from his chair.

All of a sudden he rose, and I snapped this photo, albeit a bit out of focus. I had to catch him while I could because it would be a while before he stood again. His performance was fine and we all had a good laugh. If you're like me, and just go to Vegas for the spectacle, don't miss Big Elvis.

Speaking of spectacle, you should definitely visit the Rio. The casino features Carnevale "floats" suspended from the ceiling that circulate around the casino floor. We watched the procession at least four times while we waited for our turn at the famous seafood buffet.

It was not worth the wait. Most of the food was cold, the crab was very fishy tasting, and there wasn't a big variety of things. I was surprised since it had been rated so highly. You had to peel your own shrimp as well.

Nonetheless, go see the floats. The music is fun, and dancers throw Mardi Gras beads to the crowds on the balcony while they make their rounds.

If you want to see wildlife in Vegas, you can certainly see some at the Secret Garden of Sigfried and Roy at the Mirage. You pay $15 to take a tour of the gardens and possibly see dolphins playing. Within the gardens are white lions and tigers in smaller-than-zoo-size cages. When we were there, the 20 mph winds were making the animals squirrelly, so they paced back and forth in their anxiety.

This make photo-snapping very challenging, but here's one of the better shots of a white lion.

One of the advantages of seeing Vegas on foot is that there are many walkways and bridges with great views of the spectacles.

On the bridge from Ceasar's Palace to the Flamingo, the plexiglass walls along the bridge can provide some shelter from the elements (in our case wind). At night, you can catch ironic reflections such as this one with Ceasar's Palace superimposed upon the Bellagio on the plexiglass.

John took some great shots of the Paris hotel reflected on the Flamingo. By the way, if you want to use the fanciest potties in Vegas, go to the Paris shopping area. It was the nicest public lavatory I have ever experienced (and we tried them in all the casinos while we were there).

Next post -- Carob Hazelnut Biscotti.

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