VegasGambling. What Vegas is famous for.. Strikes you right in your face when you land at McCarran airport. Casino machines in excess at the airport itself. And the size of the airport is intimidating. I had to walk for miles, take a metro train to the other terminal, walk for miles again before I reached the baggage belt. Miles may be an exaggeration in the text above but the size and time taken at the airport is not. And once out of the airport, you are greeted by an array of flyovers and of course- the famous strip. The MGM grand, Pallazo, etc are very much visible from the airport.
This was a trip on shoestrings. Add to that the woes of my currency; I decided to take the bus. For $2, it got me somewhere near my hotel, after which I walked for a mile. On the bus I was greeted by a charming couple- where the wife threatened to kill her husband thrice, hit him once and pinched his arm twice. Words that the lovebirds used to address each other augmented my vocabulary substantially. As soon as they got off, the place opposite to me was taken by three: two middle aged women and a gentleman. Observing their chimpanzee-ish demeanor and indiscernible conversation, I could not very well pin down the quantity (in kilos) of dope running in their veins. While all of America had stunned me with amazing mannerisms, this was one experience where gazes burnt my brown skin.
In short, there is a lesson to be learnt. In Vegas- do not depend on public transport.
1. Its highly unreliable. A fact established by an airport bus that never came. I may point out that this was taken decently by the hardened Indian, but the British and German tourists waiting with me at the stop were close to tears.
2. Late in the night, it does not feel safe. This is from my trip from the airport to the Riveria street. While the Strip buses should be fine, but those operating beyond ought to be avoided.
I had got a dream come true deal at the Circus Circus (an MGM hotel). In no time, I was impressed. The only sore point was that walking within the hotel was like walking through a city. I got lost multiple times, reached the casino when searching for the travel desk, found myself at the amusement park when searching for the shopping center in the hotel. No kidding.. There is a spectacular amusement park inside the hotel! With roller coasters and all. At $22 a night, I was expecting to sleep under a bunker bed in a dormitory full of devious characters from gangster movies. What I got was a four bedder room to myself with all the amenities one can dream of. In fact, it is this deal that got me to Vegas instead of LA as per the initial plan.
Today, I had gained 2 hours and there was ample time to loaf around at the Strip. I was on the poorer side of the Strip which worked well as I was closer to the dollar burger at McD, 7-11 and a couple of inexpensive souvenir shops. The walk to the Bellagio was close to 2 miles and in case you are not awed by the grandeur, there is not much to do.
The Grand CanyonThe next day I took the bus tour to the Grand Canyon. At 5:50 am, a connecting bus picked me up from the hotel and took me to the main hub where tickets, refreshments etc were bought. The Hoover dam + Canyon south rim+ lunch is for $95 and in case you opt for the IMax, add to that $15.
The drive took close to 5 hours with a halt at Hoover dam, Kingstown (Arizona) and the National Geographic center for lunch. Kingstown is a small town which prides itself of the historic 'Route 66'. In Arizona, time zone changed again by 1 hour and by this time, I simply gave up trying to keep a track of time.
The Grand Canyons offer a majestic sight. What I saw was just the view, I would love to get into the real thing one day. This means chuck the chopper ride, pink jeep tour and get inside on foot. Or perhaps a mule. For there is a lot more to the canyons than what tourists see from their sweet spots. You can feel their grandeur.. Mesmerizing.. Challenging you to experience the whole thing.
It was 10pm by the time I got back to Vegas. But not to worry, the city works 24*7, perhaps works better at night. I again loafed around the strip and took the usual snaps at those properties that define grandiose.
There's a lot to do at Vegas: clubs, the shows, sky diving (the real thing and a virtual one as well), shooting (with your favorite counter strike guns for real) and bungee jumping.
This is a place which guarantees fun for all. If you do take time to stop and think- this is anything and everything in a nowhere-land.