Just a few notes to begin with, I am Chris from Stoke England at the beginning of August 99 I decided to plan a trip to Vegas as a vacation on my own as I had a very bad year.
What follows is my Vegas story, oh yeah I forgot to mention I did not go to Vegas as a Gambler!
Day 1 — Monday 6th September 99
Took the 0955 am Continental flight from Birmingham UK to Newark NJ for a connecting flight onto Las Vegas which arrived 0435 pm in Las Vegas.
The first thing which really surprised me on arrival at Vegas airport was how near the hotels seem on landing giving me an excellent introduction from Mandalay Bay through to the Stratosphere Tower, the pulse started racing!!
After getting off the plane I walked across to the luggage claim without succumbing to the vast array of one armed bandits. After waiting for what seemed like 2 hours but in reality was around 15 minutes I claimed my suitcase and strode off to the taxi rank.
The taxi journey was rather uneventful, but gave me an excellent view of the South of the Strip, what amazed me was the MGM Grand which was the most classy hotel I have ever seen from the outside in my entire life! We were then approaching the Luxor the place which I was to stay for the Duration of my stay.
My first impressions of the Luxor was fantastic, on entering the hotel I was amazed with the décor and the eerie subdued lighting. After checking in which took about 5 minutes I walked to Inclinator 3 floor 18 to my room. The room was very nice with excellent egyptian décor, big tv, shower and a view of the Excaliber from the pyramid window.
After unpacking my case I decided to venture downstairs for a short while, had a quick go at the one armed bandits and ate a Corn Dog (Yuk!) & Cheese Fries (Yuk Yuk!) from the food court.
At 8pm I was totally bushed and hit the sack until 8am the next morning.
Day 2 —Tuesday 7th September 99
Woke at around 8am and strolled downstairs to the pyramid café where I had Steak and eggs which was excellent apart from the hash browns which I didn’t like very much!
I then took the walkway into the excaliber which I thought was excellent and much nicer than I imagined (maybe nights of the roundtable is a good theme for a hotel after all!!!). Then over the bridge to New York New York another excellent hotel which was very impressive from the outside but not as hot inside but still pretty damn good!, then onto the MGM Grand which was fantastic a very nice hotel indeed and the biggest in the world (at the time of writing), the décor inside this place is amazing and the rainforest café inside which looked great.
Now it was time to venture onto the strip and I took a walk along catching the sights of hotels, shops, foodjoints etc. I dropped into the Imperial Palace to catch the Motor Collection which was fairly interesting (and free with the voucher I had) I got to see Bruce Lees, Marilyn Monroes, Hitlers, Batmans & Liberaces cars all together which ain’t a bad thing and loads of other cars from other celebs worth a 10-20 minute visit for nothing!!
Then offstrip to the Las Vegas Hilton where I joined the “Star Trek Experience” where I met a girl from London who lived in New Zealand which was worth the admission price alone The “Experience” was excellent and original, the motion simulator was the best of its type I have ever experienced, this is a must for any trekkie or motion simulator fan. The ending is even better than most of the films, I will not spoil it for you!
Next I strolled to the Stratosphere tower where I took the ticket for the ride to the top and the two rides, the “High Roller” & “Big Shot” I took the scariest first! The Big shot which is the same as a ride called “Playstation” in the UK at Blackpool, except this one is on the top of a bloody big tower!! I have to say I shitted myself during this ride but it was a fantastic ride and a experience not to be missed for the more adventurous amongst us. The High roller is a rollercoaster around the top of the tower which would be described as very basic by todays standards but on top of the tower it is enhanced somehow by the thought that if you came off the thing it was a long way down! As I got out of the ride the attendant said “Right hand side out please!” DON’T THINK SO!!! Good to see they don’t take themselves too seriously!
After the action of the rides I needed to get the blood pressure back down by taking some photos of the view from the tower which was awesome and then dropped in to the “Top of the World” Cocktail lounge for a cocktail (I needed one!) which was nice with the best view I have ever had from a bar.
I managed to walk to Circus Circus which is about 20 or so minutes walk from Stratosphere when I had the urge to catch the bus (which incidentally runs fairly often and is better than getting heat stroke from walking the entire strip!).
After that I dropped in “Fatburger” for my first taste of pure American food, I took a KingBurger with Cheese, Fries and Coke. The burger was excellent (by UK standards) and the fries were not too bad either.
By the time I finished this I had the urge to do sweet Fanny Adams, so I decided to go to the cinema to see “The Sixth Sense” an excellent supernatural thriller with Bruce Willis, the best movie I have seen this year (even better than Matrix!).
After the film had finished and I had time to get over the shock of this movie (it is really that good, WHAT AN ENDING!), I strolled back to the hotel to chill out for a while.
In the evening I had a little walk through the neighbouring hotels and spent some time in the bar at the Luxor watching a typically OTT woman belting out hits from the likes of Celine Dion and Tina Turner with a little bit of jazz! I also did a little gambling on the one armed bandits but to no avail!
Day 3 — Wednesday 8th September 99
Woke at around 8am went down to the Dollar Rent-A-Car desk in the hotel to pick up my 4x4 Sport Utility for the next day (Dodge somethingorother V8). Took me about 10 minutes to find it in the parking lot and bewilderment overtook me on looking for a gear stick only to find it by the steering wheel (told ya it was my first visit to America!). After consulting the manual for a few minutes I hit the road (rather than the wall in front of me, thank heavens for instruction manuals!).
After driving around bewildered by the American “We don’t have any roundabouts, We have blocks” system, I managed to find the road I was looking for I set off for Lake Havasu the home of London Bridge. The drive itself was about 2 ½ hours through the desert, thank heavens for cruise control.
On arrival at Lake Havasu I dropped into Taco Bell for a bite to eat and then went to the sight of London Bridge. After parking up I had a quick look around the area which consisted of a British phone box, a “Pub”, a snack bar, a jet-ski rental place, a paddleboat trip place, a London Bridge resort hotel complex and of course London Bridge.
I had planned to do some jet-skiing here so I was glad I found a hire place which was relatively cheap at around $90 for 2 hours (well cheap compared to some places!). The actual speed you are allowed to go out of the marina is very slow so my hopes of speeding under London Bridge were dashed, as I chugged out of the marina there was quite a lot of houses etc. to look at until you can get to the lake proper (5 minutes). There is even a boat which goes up and down to tell you off if you are going to fast (which I found out later on!).
The lake itself is fairly large and is great fun for jet-skiing as it is calm waters and you can easily go at full speed into a 360 turn without much trouble (ie. Not falling in!). There is a great scenic backdrop of the desert which is kinda cool and I would recommend the casual jet-skier to go here rather than Lake Mead (see Day 4).
After 2 hours jet-skiing I was rather tired so I dropped into the “English Pub” which has its own microbrewery with a choice of lots of English type beer (which was Chilled!!!!), very English NOT! The beer was good though even though I have never seen a “English Pub” like this before and believe me I have visited a few in my time!!!
Well after that well earned rest I hit the road back to Vegas dropping off at Wendys on the way back (excellent burgers).
On the way back I decided to take a Hoover Dam detour, I parked up for about 10 minutes took a few photos and jumped back in the jeep. Hoover Dam is fairly interesting to look at but it ain’t no Grand Canyon, it was not as big as I expected after seeing photos of it and in films (Goldeneye). It was worth the short detour anyhow!
After this I got some gas from just outside Vegas (took me about 5 minutes to figure out the pump as I have never seen an on/off switch where the nozzle is stored before!).
I took my first cruise down the strip during the night which was excellent even though the traffic can be both busy and hectic, kinda like London on steroids without the roundabouts!
Got back in the hotel and chilled for a while then took a walk round town checking out more casinos and the sights.
Day 4 — Thursday 9th September 99
Early start again, drove North to Overton near Lake mead and onto Overton Marina (after taking ages to find the place, with help from the local cops!). Picked up my jet-ski for a couple of hours which I had reserved before my trip.
Lake Mead is a huge lake which is man-made and is roughly the size of Wales. The lake was very choppy, in fact I would not particularly recommend taking a jet-ski out there when it is like this as you get absolutely soaking wet at slow speed and at full pelt it is like cruising through a storm not knowing when you are going to fly into the lake ! (I managed to stay on, however!).
Lake Havasu is much more suited to the casual jet-skier, but lake mead was an experience!
After giving up after 1 ¾ hours I dried off and jumped into the jeep and took off for the “Valley of Fire” where some major movies have been shot including Star Trek Generations. The VOF is an excellent drive with plenty of places to stop off and take photos in the outrageous heat, definitely worth a visit and it costs about $5.00 to drive through.
Stopped downtown to take in the “Fremont Street Experience”, not very impressed but it was in the day!
Dropped back into the Luxor and decided to take the walkway to Mandalay bay to get a ticket for “Chicago” the musical that evening. They only had the crap seats available until I stated that I only needed ONE seat he managed to get me a decent seat for $88 what a bargain!!!
Spent the rest of the afternoon strolling round the locality.
Went to see “Chicago” the seat I got was pretty good, I actually sat next to a middle aged couple who live near Lake Mead who just love England so that consumed some time before the show anyhow.
The show itself was very good with brilliant leads and some excellent songs, I would recommend this to anyone.
Dropped back into the Luxor and took in the Deli there, which was excellent.
Day 5 — Friday 10th September 99
Got up early and had some breakfast in the Pyramid Café, excellent but still ain’t keen on the hash browns!
Got picked up at 08:45 for the helicopter flight to the Grand Canyon, I pre-booked this with ATV action tours via the internet it is there H-1 “Pegasus” flight. I decided on this for 2 reasons firstly because it is 100% helicopter based and because it actually descends the canyon and lands at the bottom!
After waiting a short while the groups of six passengers were hearded to the chopper, of which I was in the last group! It was pretty good actually cause the group consisted of 5 Brits, 1 Japanese lady who did not speak any English and an Italian Pilot. Before take off the pilot made sure we all knew where the sick bags were and the headsets were working ok then we were off.
The take off was a little stomach churning but was fairly comfortable after that, the view was truly amazing and the journey outwards took us over Hoover Dam and Lake Mead which gave us plenty of opportunity to take in the views and listen to the music & commentary provided by the pilot. On approach to the canyon there was a huge cliff face which disguises the first ever glimpse of one of the wonders of the world which is accompanied by “Mars” from the planet suite, very dramatic and I will never forget that moment! Then the pilot said well lets descend to the bottom for a picnic lunch, with about 2 seconds notice we started what seemed like a vertical drop for a few seconds which kinda took your breath away and then some amazing views before finally hitting the bottom of the canyon (not heavily of course!).
Then it was time to disembark and have some champagne and a packed lunch overlooking the river and a fantastic view of the canyon, all I can say is that it was a truly magical experience! After photo opportunities it was time to take off with an excellent ascent of the canyon (very close, nearly too close for my liking!), then back to Vegas.
The finale to the trip was taking the strip itself starting at Stratosphere and through to Mandalay Bay which was excellent and offered the best view of the strip.
The landing was excellent and I managed to get through it all unscathed, it was a pity for one of the women onboard who threw up 1 minute before landing!!! (I was too busy taking photos to notice!).
After being dropped off at the hotel I took the walkway to Excaliber to have something to have a burger in the “WCW Nitro Grill” which was excellent, reasonable prices and the best service of any place I visited during my stay!
After getting stuffed I dropped into the MGM grand to get a ticket for “Cats” that night which was $68. Not feeling like doing much else I got a ticket to see “Stigmata” at the cinema which was ok but I came out thinking plenty of blood but not much story, after that I saw “Astronaughts Wife” which was an improvement on Stigmata at least!
After that I went back to the room for a while and get ready for the evening.
I then took in the show which was good but not as good as the production I had seen in England years ago. I shared a table with this Guy (local 40ish), his date for the evening and her mother (hmmm!), the guy tried to think he knew everything and suggested I supported Manchester Utd!!! (Bad mistake for any American to make if you know anything about non Man Utd supporters!!!).
Day 6 — Saturday 11th September 99
Again up early and onto the bus to downtown, had a walk to a record shop along the strip (downtown) and got a couple of DVDs’ and a marillion cd.
Dropped into the Sahara for a few hours at $1.00 blackjack, told you I am not a gambler! Was great fun though and I made $20 last hours!
I got out of the Sahara and crossed the road to the bus stop just in time to see the driver get handcuffed by the cops for some reason which according to a woman was to do with a football argument, he had blood all over him anyhow!
Anyway another bus arrived 5 minutes later and I got a free trip to New York New York, dropped out and went to the cinema again to see “Stir of Echoes” with Kevin Bacon which was pretty good.
Went to the Pyramid café for a filet steak which was excellent and spent the rest of the evening on the slots which was fruitless.
Day 7 — Sunday 12th September 99
Up early and decided to take in all the hotels from Luxor upwards via New York New York, Monte Carlo which surprised me as it is excellent inside and took the monorail to the Bellagio which I have to say is my favourite hotel in Vegas as the place just oozes class! Caesars palace which was very impressive with an excellent array of shops, The Mirage which I picked up my ticket for Siegfred and Roy which I had booked weeks ago (front row seat!) took in a pizza at the Mirage Pizza place which was ok but not the best.
Onto the Venetion which was very classy also, love the gondolas and went to Madame Tussauds there which was pretty good but not a patch on the one in London. Then back to Paris which was packed solid inside and very pretty indeed.
Then onto “The World of Coca-Cola” which was pretty interesting and cheap to get in, even if you have to fight the kids off the soda fountain!
Went back to the room for an hour and got ready for my last evening (sob sob!), took the bus back to Caesars Palace as there were two places I had to visit firstly Virgin Megastore for DVDs’ and The Cheescake factory, luckily they are next to each other!
Hit the Cheesecake factory and had an excellent Fried Shrimp meal followed by I am sure you can guess. The menu is like a bloody catalogue! About 40 cheescakes to choose from, this was the best meal I had on my trip! Was a little freaked out when the lights went down and the Atlantis show started in the mall, could just hear loud voices, water crashing and fire flashing!! Took in the main side-show after I had finished the meal, worth 10 minutes of anyone’s time!
Then moved onto the Mirage to take in the show, had an excellent view of the stage and it was excellent magic even though it was a little “Cheesy”.
Took in the volcano at the Mirage which was excellent and then the fountain show at the Bellagio which was teriffic when timed with the opera music.
Walked slowly back to the hotel frantically taking as many last night photos as possible, felt a little sad by the time I reached the Luxor. Vegas what a place!
Day 8 — Monday 13th September 99
Took in breakfast at the pyramid café again excellent.
Did the final packing and took a cab to the airport to check in for my 1100am flight to Newark, picked up some last minute momentos at the airport and had a beer at the Cheers bar there (mega-expensive!).
Started my 13 hour trip back, was well tired by the time I eventually arrived in Birmingham UK 07:00am local time.
I loved Vegas it is fantastic even for non-gamblers and people on there own, I think the time I spent there was perfect.
I will be back next year, hopefully whilst visiting LA and the Grand Canyon.
Oh yeah America is excellent, much better service than the UK and the only other place I have visited where I would love to live.
Thanks for listening