Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Viva Las Vegas!

USA blogs, October 2007:
1. Viva Las Vegas!
2. Elvis does his stuff
3. It's raining in Rapid City
4. South Dakota to Wyoming
5. Devils Tower Wyoming
6. The world of Yellowstone...
7. Your friendly Wyoming law enforcement...
8. New York, New York...

flickr photo link: <USA, Oct 07>
15 Oct 07 CO127 DUB/EWR 1045/1305
15 Oct 07 CO1468 EWR/LAS 1615/1847
19 Oct 07 UA1610 LAS/DEN 1100/1356
26 Oct 07 CO629 DEN/EWR 1225/1810
27 Oct 07 CO126 EWR/DUB 2155/0825+1
Well here we are at the centre of decadence in the western world, and Las Vegas is still well and truly living up to the hype! From the astonishingly huge themed casinos to the endless magic & Cirque Du Soleil shows, Vegas is still pulling them in thanks to slick marketing and a genuine wow factor. We're staying at Excalibur (around US $100/nt but varies massively), and with 4,008 rooms this is the 7th largest hotel in the world. Thankfully, we don't think it's quite full right now! Punters play in the smoky air-conditioned comfort of the casino floor (more than 100,000 square feet) and feed money into the slot machines, then retreat to the myriad of food options including 24 hour McDonald's & Krispy Kreme Donuts, etc, etc. Clare and I have successfully avoided the junk however, and had some some of the best sushi we've ever had at Suski Roku, where everything is flown in daily (more in the next update). So each casino is a slight variation of the next - the outside might be Caesar's or Venetian or Paris, etc. and the rooms might be more plush, but the same smoky darkness and bling-bling machines dominate every design.
I find Vegas very interesting as I first came here in my travel industry days (early 90's). Many of the older casinos have been demolished, leaving huge dusty sites along the strip, and the city is well and truly in the grips of another casino building boom. Everything being built seems to appeal to a hip new demographic, which seems strange as the average age of visitor this week seems like 50+. Certainly the "family" pitch which existed a few years back seems to have disappeared, with less fun park rides now, replaced by more designer shops and casino floor space. Gambling revenues are still the key to the existence of this city. People stroll along the strip each night with their souvenir cups filled to the brim with frozen margaritas, while hordes of marketing canvassers flog time share with "free" shows and cards for call girls. But sorry, no such thing as free round here. And of course once you get away from the strip you quickly see a more real side to Vegas, cookie-cutter apartment blocks sprawled across the desert floor to support the 100's of 1000's of low income service workers here.
Now we're in Vegas as my friends Mahia & Trent are getting married here. So more on that in the next blog update. Bye for now!

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