DAY 9: I booked all airport transfers via website called Viator - a total waste of time, because they neither booked the transfer nor guaranteed it - they just took my money and gave me a voucher to hand to the driver – we had to ring and book him ourselves (they called it confirming the booking!). If I did it again, I’d either sort it on arrival or research it more thoroughly on the web and book direct. Supershuttle moved us to the airport, America West 5hr flight passed over fantastic views of mid-America including unusual circular fields, desert and snow-covered mountain ranges. We gained another 3 hrs on arrival. Coach USA transferred us to Circus Circus, where we spent the afternoon getting our bearings in the hotel complex and relaxing (mainly watching the washers and dryers in the laundry!). Hotels here have 2000 to 4000 rooms each – there’s a mono-rail shuttle from our tower to the hotel front lobby! Later we took our first look at the Strip, visiting Caesar’s magnificent Forum shopping mall (Trafford Centre x10 in its over-the-topness!) and watched the Mirage Volcano erupt and the specular Bellagio Dancing waters. Photographic opportunities every which way we turn.
DAY 10: Scenic Airways called at 07:30 (I had pickup time noted as 08:00), transferred us to airport where 09:00 flight took off at 08:30! Their Grand Voyager flight to Grand Canyon with Papillon helicopter ride down in and the boat trip were all great experiences. This was followed by helicopter back to the rim, where things started to go a tad wrong, due to lack of itinerary and communication. We were coached to a site where an amazing glass overhanging walkway was to be built and shown around a Hualapai indian ‘village’ – we were expecting a BBQ/buffet, but there was no sign of it and we didn’t see our coach leave. We waited around with several others, a coach arrived and took us on (unexpectedly) to Guava Point where we were to eat, but we arrived at the time of our scheduled departure, so we missed out on the food to get back to the airport for our 13:00 flight - but nothing happened, and no-one knew what was going on, for an hour. Apparently, some who were travelling with us had also missed the coach, but had decided to stay for the food and the plane and the rest of us just had to wait for their return! Back at base, we caught a few hours sleep before a second evening on the Strip, this time visiting the amazing Luxor, Ballagio (definitely our favourite) and Caesar’s Palace interiors.DAY 11: Lazy morning spent cataloguing photo’s etc. Weather in Las Vegas and Grand Canyon, so far, has been sunny with whispy clouds and light breeze, 70°-ish dropping to 55°-ish at night (it’s great here, they think in English – Fahrenheit, miles, gallons and pints, feet and inches). All walk/don’t walk signs (Toronto-New York-Las Vegas) have been replaced by white walking man/orange hand (= don’t walk) – with the Strip 10 lanes wide at one point, the signs need to be obeyed! Good food, service and value at the hotel’s Pink Pony restaurant, our second visit, was again spoilt by them taking absolutely ages to get people seated (when there were plenty of tables vacant) - we’ll probably give it a miss from here on! Next stop: Celine Dion’s ‘A New Day’ show at Caesar’s Palace Colliseum – stunning, comfortable theatre. She has an amazing voice, great microphone technique and audience interaction, and the staging, musicians, lighting and dancers matched her performance. Although she’s not my favourite artist (this was Teresa’s choice of show), I’d be very happy to go again.
DAY 12: Back down the strip, in daylight this time, to look for a hotspot at AppleStore (unfortunately it’s Thanksgiving Day and the mall was shut - we found a public one on a noisy plaza). Then, after fish and chips at Denny’s (best range/value/quality restaurant we have found), on to the Venetian for a look at their canals – we took a gondola ride on the internal one. After a look around The Mirage and Treasure Island we were off to the Cirq de Soleil ‘O’ show at the Bellagio. Great effects coupled to trapeze artisits, fire acts, spectacular high diving and synchronised swimming - the entire stage could be flooded to a great depth and back to nothing in seconds (well worth looking out for the touring show in the UK, even though it wouldn’t be water-based). After watching Bellagio’s dancing waters again (they are amazing!), we took coffee at a bar in Caesar’s (best coffee we’ve found), before catching ‘the Deuce’ bus ‘home’ (frequent modern, but slow, service. Everyone here (and in Toronto and New York) tries very hard to make you feel welcome – strangers on buses talk to each other!
DAY 13: First went to the Fashion Show Mall to take advantage of the Applestore hotspot, everywhere absolutely crowded as the whole of the US had seemed to take the day off (twixt Thanksgiving and the week-end) and decended on Vegas. After eating, we returned to Circus Circus for our second exciting laundry visit. Later, we set out to visit ‘Paris’, yet another stunning casino/hotel, gave the Eiffel Tower lifts a miss because of the queues and passed a bit of time away watching a band called Destiny. Just about to settle down for the night, the fire alarm went off and we set off down the 25-floor staircase. Someone had lit a cigarette in a corridor on a lower floor. By the time we got to the ground, they were re-setting the lifts and it wasn’t long before everyone was on their way back up - I doubt whether more than 10-15% of the people actually left the floors, presumably on the basis that there’s no fire without smoke!