Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Las Vegas, 2011

From Cancun, it was an easy flight to Las Vegas. It was the second time my husband and I had been here. Even though we knew what to expect, we found plenty of new surprises.

We stayed in the middle of The Strip this time at the Monte Carlo casino. There were good views from hotel and many Italian statues and fountains out front.

The Cosmopolitan was the newsest casino in town with its open-air nightclub, Marquee, on the roof. We hit the Bellagio and took the time to look up this time at the beautiful glass ceiling and glass sculptures.

We took a closer look at the Venetian on this trip. I was amazed by how much St Marks Campanile, the Brige of Sighs, the Doges Palace and the Grand Canal with gondolas; all replicated the real thing so well.

While my husband gambled at the Mirage, I went to the Secret Garden to see the dolphins, white tigers and leopards. Then we went in to M & M’s World which had four levels, ending in an entire room filled with as many different flavors of the treat that you could think of.

We went to Blondie’s Sports Bar that had a cheerleader as its mascot and tried the tasty Washington Apple cocktail. At Wynn, we ventured behind the waterfall, saw the lake and went to the biggest buffet I have ever been to with cuisine from all around the world. The room was elaborately decorated and the best bit was the toffee apples and other yummy deserts.

Thinking ahead, we had pre booked a sunset dinner at Alize at the top of The Palms. The signature dish, the Lemon Sole, was definitely memorable. On the way out, we passed drenched drunk girls in bikinis at the slots who had just come out from the Rain nightclub.

It was all blue skies above the Pont Alexandre 3 inside Paris. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower for a view of The Strip by night with all the glittering lights. We could see people lining up for the famous Chateau nightclub and the Bellagio fountain show from above.

My pick for a show was Bite at Stratosphere, which turned out to be a lot of topless vampires. My husbands pick, O at the Bellagio, turned out to be a much wiser choice. Cirque du Soliel and water- what’s not to like? The clown also used me as a prop in his pre show, which was fun.

On our last day, we went to Old Vegas, awash with Mardi Gra beads and showgirls with a zipline running through the middle of it all. We saw the famous neon Vegas Vic, Sassy Sally and Golden Goose.

We found the Four Queens and the buffet at Fitzgeralds. My husband had the biggest win of his life with a straight flush at the Golden Nugget, while I was more interested in the waterslides inside the casino.

It was sad to see the neon gallery from demolished casinos and hotels. Here we found the Hacienda horse and Alladins lamp. I guess with a city that is always reinventing itself, there is bound to be some collateral damage.

Related posts: Isla Mujeres and Cancun, 2011, Tulum, 2011,  Chichen Itza, 2011, Campeche and Merida, 2011, Palenque, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011

It’s an American Thing

My favorite city in America is San Francisco with its Golden Gate Bridge. I can image myself living in one of the city’s terraces on a steep hill. A New York loft in Soho comes in a close second, just a short subway ride from Central Park.

And then there is Las Vegas, where you can see the whole world in one place, San Diego where you can see all the animals in the whole world in one place and Los Angeles where you can see all the stars in the whole world in one place.

One of my favorite trips in America was a Californian road trip along Route 66 and Big Sur- seeing the natural beauty of Joshua Tree National Park and the Grand Canyon plus the man made mansion Hearst Castle along the way. California just has so much to offer. There are ghost towns in the desert, seals on the coast and redwoods in Yosemite.

My bestie is from the tiny town of Stuart, Nebraska- a four-hour drive through cornfields from Omaha. I was lucky enough to be included in their annual 4th July celebrations and it was really something special to be welcomed as one of the family.

Of course, my love affair with American culture started early on with Snow White and a trip to Disneyland. I always wondered what it would be like to go to a real American high school like in Buffy, or a real American college like in Beverly Hills 90210 or go to a football game with real American cheerleaders like in Hellcats.

Anne Rice and Twilight peaked my interest in visiting the Deep South and Washington State. The Vampire Diaries and The Originals have made me want to visit Georgia and New Orleans. Gilmore Girls makes me want to go to New England and let’s not forget Sex and the City for New York inspiration, cosmopolitan style.

Which brings me to shopping of course. You can get anything you want at ridiculously low prices compared to Australia, which probably explains why most of us shop online these days.

There is the tasty simplicity of the classic American diner, the best Mexican food and margarita’s outside of Mexico and buffalo ribs smoked the right way. If you have room for desert, there is jello pie, smores and Twizzlers.

The country is so varied, that I can see why you may never want to leave. If you want mountains, you can go to Colorado, if you want water parks, you go to Florida, if you want a history lesson, you go to Washington DC.

I would love to visit a plantation in Louisiana, party for a night in Miami and drift up the coast of Oregon. It would be great to stay in a Boston brownstone, a Chicago skyscraper or a Hampton’s mansion.

The people are friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic about their country. Yes, America has a bit of something for everyone, and I guess that’s what makes the country so great in the first place.

Related posts: It’s a Canadian Thing, San Francisco, 2007- Part 1: Falling in love again, Las Vegas, 2007, USA Road tip, 2007Disneyland, 2007, Los Angeles, 2007New York, 2005, Part 2: Sex and the City Style, TV replays and movie marathons, USA, 1990

Las Vegas, 2007

We had pre booked a room in Las Vegas at The Stratosphere for $30 a night on a mid-week deal. It seemed like a ridiculously low price to me, but my husband-to-be (HTB) explained that the idea is to get you in and gambling- which is where the hotels make their real money.

The Stratosphere, located at one end of the strip, is one of the older casino’s that was recently revamped with the inclusion of 3 big scary rides- Big shot which shoots you up the tip of the tall tower, XScream which dangles you over the edge and Insanity which twirls you around while hanging over the edge.

I personally wasn’t insane enough to try any of them, but I did enjoy the view of wedding chapel road from the top and the planes whizzing by at eye level past our room. They also have a good cheap all you can eat buffet and an fantastic American diner called Roxy’s.

My HTB and I took a stroll along The Strip, which was deceptively far from one end to the other as the casinos appear larger than life.

We passed the demolition site that used to be the Frontier and the new Wynn complete with waterfall. The Sahara rollercoaster screamed past us as we walked by the tent of Circus, Circus.

Treasure Island had a big pirate ship out the front and we went inside Flamingo’s to see the real life flamingos. We continued past Bally’s and stopped to take pictures with the tiger and dolphin statues at the Mirage.

The Rialto Bridge at the Venetian looked fairly authentic, as did the Victory of Samothe statue and Trevi Fountain at Cesar’s Palace. The replica Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe at Paris looked just like the real thing, only smaller; and it was bizarre to see the Empire State Building right next to the Statue of Liberty at New York, New York.

It was definitely awesome to be able to revisit so many of my favourite monuments from other parts of the world in one place.

The fountain show at the Bellagio was everything it promised to be and more and I couldn’t believe that they had live lions inside the MGM Grand casino which was flanked by a huge golden lion out the front.

We passed the Planet Hollywood, Monte Carlo and the horse and cart outside Excalibur, concluding our tour at the Luxor sphinx.

Walking back, we were intrigued by Margaritaville and the life size dressed up M & M’s. I also stopped at the shops at Cesar’s Palace for my Zara fix.

Suitably exhausted, I headed back up to our hotel room, while my HTB stopped at the Black Jack tables downstairs. The next morning he informed me that he had broken even.

Related posts: USA Road trip, 2007, Disneyland, 2007, Los Angeles, 2007, USA, 1990

The Fashion Files

As I have previously stated, I am not much of a consumer. I don’t keep up with fashion and prefer to wear the styles and colours that suit me. I detest the societal pressure to look model thin and the requisite downsizing of sizes that goes with it.

That being said, I am so excited about the new H&M store that is opening in Sydney’s Macquarie Centre this Thursday. I haven’t been this excited since…well, since the first Australian store opened in Melbourne and I went to that one- currently the biggest H&M in the world as the young helpful sales assistant informed me. My favourite section is the comfy casual Logg clothing that I recently found in the Orchard Rd store in Singapore.

I first discovered H&M when I travelled to England to visit my grandparents. I just found that the pants fitted me better in European clothing brand shops. I was also taken to Zara on Oxford St, purchased a black ruffled skirt and a love affair with Spanish clothing brands commenced. Every overseas trip since then has included a trip to Zara and H&M in Europe, Asia and the Americas wherever possible.

After purchasing a t-shirt with an underwater fish scene in Las Vegas, I found the sub-brand Trafaluc and it is now my favourite section in a Zara store. When Zara opened in Sydney I was ecstatic, but this enthusiasm quickly turned to disappointment as I realised that in the tradition of many fashion outlets in Australia, we were at least one year behind all the European fashion.

The same could be said of the Sydney Mango shop, which went one step further and held leftover stock from Europe as far as I could tell as I found the exact same pair of black high heels that I had bought the previous year in Belgium. They used to have a great shop on the Gold Coast, but have now closed this along with all their other shops except for the flagship store in Melbourne and now distribute through David Jones.

On a recent trip to Barcelona, I saw the Desigual label. Very pretty and colourful, but a little too young and hip for me!

Now if I could just take a mental picture of my wardrobe so that I don’t end up buying the EXACT same top twice that would be great.

Related posts: O-P-I- don’t mind if I do, Kicking goals

By special request…

When I was a teenager, all my friends wanted to go to the Big Day Out and I just wanted to see a Janet Jackson concert.

When I started to go out, I got right into dance music and I had all the Ministry of Sound albums. I danced for hours at the Krafty Kuts show and went to music festivals like Good Vibrations and Harbourlife.

My entire CD collection was stolen while I was at university, which probably doesn’t sound so bad in these days of iTunes technology, but at the time it was devastating. Even after replacing many albums, my collection has never been the same.

Working in grass roots events early on in my career, I found myself driving all day with a packed car to places like Parkes and Gunnedah. My CD’s were my friends on these drives- they would pass the time, keep me awake and exercise my vocal chords.

In melancholy moods I listen to The Cranberries, Portishead or Dido. In more upbeat times I favour Texas, Fat Boy Slim or Black Eyed Peas. I have always liked Sheryl Crow and her wonderful lyrics.

But my all-time favourite band is Garbage. My friend Sarah introduced me to their debut album in 1997 and I have been a fan ever since. After not releasing an album for seven years, “Not Your Kind of People” hit the shelves in 2012 and I was lucky enough to catch their accompanying live show in Sydney.

My mum first took me to a musical when I was younger and I have been addicted to show tickets ever since.

I will go to pretty much anything by Shakespeare and have dragged my husband to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet.

I love watching the ballet at the Sydney Opera House and have been lucky enough to see The Nutcracker at Christmas time and most recently, Cinderella.

Of course, my obsession with vampires has led me to see more than one show at Dracula’s.

I like to catch a show while travelling and have seen Lady Salsa on the Gold Coast, Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas, the Lion King in London and Avenue Q in New York.

Recent musicals that I have enjoyed are Strictly Ballroom for the Spanish dancing, Legally Blonde for American cheese and Priscilla Queen of the Desert for the fabulous costumes.

But my favourite musical so far is Chicago which I saw after a bottle of wine with my bestie on a Melbourne girl’s trip. The question is- was it the wine, the company or the show? Perhaps a combination of all three.

Thanks to all my theatre buddies past and present- you know who you are! I hope you have enjoyed the show as much as I have.

Related posts: I first started writing, Home is where you make it, All Creatures Great and Small