We left Arizona and said hi to Nevada. The scenery kept changing from mountains and hills to flat rocky desert, and back again but one thing was for certain and didn’t change – the heat. Unbeknownst to us we even managed to catch some of the historic Route 66 and had lunch in Seligman, AZ.
Our GPS said that it’s abut a 4 hour drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Las Vegas. By now we’d learned to almost multiply that with two to allow for pit stops and traffic, and to manage our expectations. We weren’t in rush anyway, it was more important to enjoy the journey (we are deep like that 🙂 Obviously we had to stop at the Hoover Dam which was along the route. By the time we got there we’d been in our car for a few hours listening to podcasts in a cool comforting air conditioned environment. When we parked up at the Dam I remember seeing a woman standing outside and her hair blowing in the wind as if there was a nice breeze going on. Then we got out of the car. Mother of Dog, it was the hottest air ever. Imagine opening a fan oven at 200C (about 400F) and then just standing there in front of that open door, ready to dive in head first. We both started sweating profusely (how unladylike), and the thought ‘we’re going to die’ ran through our minds. In order to survive to the 10 minute sightseeing walk on the Dam we grabbed a medium ziplog bag of ice from our coolerbox and just carried it with, occasionally placing it on our heads, necks and wrists. We quickly walked to the iconic site that features in many movies. We took some photos and marvelled at the grandness of the whole thing, and left. By the time we got back to the car, the ice had become a bag of lukewarm water.
We continued on to Las Vegas, or Narnia as I’d like to call it. It’s really in the middle of nowhere – nothing nothing nothing and then you see it. As reminder that you are on your way to Vegas are the multiple casinos that had suddenly popped up next to the road.
We arrived at our AirBnB which, thankfully, had a swimming pool and air-conditioning. I quickly made myself at home in the pool before deciding where to go for dinner. Sadly, I started feeling quite unwell due to the heat, different altitudes and being in the car for a long time. However, I was quite hungry and despite my headache we ventured to the nearest sushi place, Sushi21. By the time we finished our meal (which was really good!) I had a full on migraine (only a second one in my life) and Triin’s first night in Vegas was spoilt by having to take care of me. (comment from Triin: i eventually was fine with not hitting the town immediately and it was probably a good decision! You could see the lights and mayhem of Las Vegas Strip from our house, it was like a promise of chocolate that the kid in me couldn’t wait to have!)
The next morning we were good to go and as always, food first!, so we went to this restaurant called The Cracked Egg. It was quite weird that even though we had been in the USA for a while, we still hadn’t fully learned that we could share most meals because they tend to be twice the size of a European meal. There was just so much (unnecessary) food! My waistline was definitely growing and we *tried* to pay attention to healthy choices. The sheer size of the coffee, for example – it’s still one or two shot espresso but served with 500ml milk! And that’s the ‘regular’! My biggest problem was the (hidden) sugar content – most things were very sweet, like, yoghurt, granola, etc. Stuff that we’re not used to having sugar added. I missed my Nutribullet and vowed to get one when we go to our African trip.
We relaxed after breakfast, blogged and got ready for the afternoon and evening. We had tickets to a Cirque de Soleil Mystere show at Treasure Island that night, big excite! It was still very hot outside so we decided to avoid walking along the Boulevard and opted for casinos and malls instead. We walked around the mall at the Venetian Casino – it had a canal inside the mall, with gondolas! – you can’t make this up. Who needs the actual Venice? (I do, i really really do!) We took a break at a bar for some margaritas, continued walking through the shops and casinos along the Strip. I saw this highly amusing Oxygen Bar where they sold people oxygen for $25 for 15 minutes to just breathe. I’m sure it’s super useful, especially with the colourful bubbles in glass tanks ‘monitoring’ the air intake. Or, one could just take several deep breaths and relax. For free. After walking around some more in Narnia we decided to gamble. Between me and Triin, i had been to a casino before in Cape Town, so I explained to Triin how the slot machine works – put money in, pull the lever on the side and hope it gives you money. In her ever-analytical mind she had assumed there was more to it. So Triin played with a quarter (25c) and got nothing, played another quarter and won $50. She laughed and left the machine to cash in her money.
We were definitely not what you call a target audience for the casinos, because we just liked looking at all the games, people-watching and the marvel at the buildings. Gambling is really not our thing. Before our show that night we had dinner at this massive buffet restaurant at Treasure Island. The food selection was great but as a vegetarian/pescatarians, buffets are always slightly limited for us. I got cotton candy for dessert, though 🙂 I saw some kids checking our the cotton candy and Triin really had to encourage me to go grab one before the little munchkins ate it all. Then it was time to see the show. It was really good – funny and had some neck-breaking stunts in it. I’d recommend it, plus if they don’t sell out the theatre, they move your seats forward regardless of ticket price you paid.
One sure thing about Vegas – it never closes. Regardless of the time, it is open for business of fun. After our show, we walked along the Las Vegas Boulevard to take in the ‘Movie Vegas’ with all the lights and stuff. It was still really hot but i think we started to kinda get used to it.
I really wanted to play some blackjack but I’d never played at a table with a dealer. We walked all the way to MGM Grand and circled the games tables a few times until we saw an empty non-smoking one with a friendly looking dealer. We agreed to spend $60 maximum and it cost us $15 per play. I played twice and lost twice. Triin was losing, then winning, then losing and at the end walked away with all her money and my money, plus a small extra, haha! I have to say, the dealer and other players were very friendly (not in a creepy way) and taught us rules of the game. At such small bet level, there wasn’t much use for anyone to try and scam us, LOL. So on that high note we decided to call it a night. It took us a while to get an Uber so we ended up walking the streets a bit longer – we saw ‘Elvis’ and also ‘ladies of the night’ in various stages of undress and consciousness.
As a sidenote: if you find yourself in Vegas late at night and need to get a Uber home, go to the main (main) entrance of any casino. Don’t confuse main entrance with a side entrance. The main one usually has a roped off area for Uber and Lynx pick ups and your Uber app is set up only to pick up from there. Otherwise your driver will never find you and you’ll end up getting fined each time you cancel/void a trip. Lesson learnt.
The next day after breakfast we left, next stop – Los Angeles!