In similar fashion to our recent trip to NYC, Jesse and I decided to steal away for another short stay in the States. This time: Las Vegas. Invited by our good friends, we had the blessing of staying in a home not far from the Strip and had a weekend of non-stop action.
Despite the reputation of Las Vegas, our favourite aspect by far was the desert. The serene, expansive, colourful, mind boggling desert – cacti, red sand and all. We couldn’t resist making the 10-hour round trip to see the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. It was a relief to escape the city after a Black Friday shopping trip.
We returned to Las Vegas for an evening on the Strip. The architecture, hotel lobbies and bright lights were nothing short of spectacular, and the relaxed laws humored us. Where else do you purchase alcohol in a pharmacy and stroll town with a drink in the hand? With no laws on smoking the casinos wafted cigarette smoke and, being Vegas, naked ladies printed on business cards littered the streets.
The dancing fountains outside Bellagio Hotel were spectacular; the imitation Statue of Liberty, and Eiffel Tower, although tacky, were quite impressive. But the best part of downtown – the shows. We bought tickets to Cirque du Soleil, Ka. I highly recommend the front row seats…
Unlike our usual trip, this one was not foodie-focused. Although we ate well and enjoyed a range of cuisines, I didn’t embark on this trip with a list of must-visits, and instead found myself enjoying some American chains (including Chipotle) rather than the usual boutique foodie finds. A highlight was finding Project Pie in the basement of the hotel where Cirque du Soleil was shown; wood fired pizza makes for an excellent midnight snack. Oh, and a trip to the Hersheys and M&Ms stores for dessert.
On Sunday we were taken to Red Rock Canyon by our incredibly hospitable hosts to see the views from above and to look down on the Strip in the midst of the great expanse of desert. They later took us to a local chocolate factory and a cactus garden – to see huge, real cacti in person was yet another highlight for me!
Overall, Las Vegas was a complete contrast to what we expected. The amount of nature and beauty within the vicinity blew us away. We loved spending time with our friends and their family, being educated on the history and the economic downturn that affected the city, and experiencing American culture for ourselves.