April 23, 2015

Thoughts on a Spring Break trip

I think this is the first Spring Break trip that The Girl and I have taken in a half dozen years, maybe longer.

It's also the first chance we've really had because Hamilton and Princeton (or UC and Princeton) have had consistently different spring breaks for most of those times.

Thoughts on a Las Vegas trip with barely any gambling...

We saw a whole lot of hotels and casinos on our trip...walked through all of these...

  • Paris (stayed there)
  • Rio
  • MGM Grand
  • Mandalay Bay
  • Excalibur
  • Luxor
  • Bellagio
  • Mandarin Oriental
  • Monte Carlo
  • New York, New York
  • Bally's
  • Caesar's Palace
  • Treasure Island
  • Circus, Circus
  • The Mirage
  • Venetian
  • Palazzo
  • Wynn
  • Encore
  • Stratoshpere
The actual gambling portions of them weren't drastically different. There were HUGE differences in the non-gambling portions, however.

The hotels/casinos with themes were impressive to me...
  • Paris with among the most complete themes with most of the restaurants and shops along a Parisian streetscape, the Eiffel Tower coming up from within and outside the casino, and the bars and cabaret all having a strong Parisian theme. Even the waitresses on the casino floor had outfits modeled after the gendarmes. 
  • Caesar's Palace also stuck with the theme very thoroughly and attractively throughout, especially in the shopping areas. Holy crud are their shopping areas ritzy, too. Sheesh...
  • New York, New York and the Venetian/Palazzo also kept their theme throughout the hotel/casino.
  • Circus Circus also kept the theme, but it's mostly upstairs in the carnival area and not really in the lower floor casino. 

The best thing we did on the strip was to go up in the High Roller ferris wheel after dark. That was some gorgeous stuff.

The High Roller is a giant ferris wheel, like the world's largest ferris wheel (until the Dubai Eye and the New York Wheel open). Tickets are pricier ($35) at night than they are in the day ($25), but the night scene is fully, totally worth it. The views of the strip are brilliant and certainly the best that we saw. (Admittedly we didn't go up in the Stratosphere way up on the north end of the strip).

I'm admittedly afraid of heights, but I was okay pretty much the whole time. There were a couple of moments of the willies when the smooth ride had a bump (two or three times near the top on the way back down so there wasn't anything 'ahead' of us to smooth out the visible fears.)

Definitely a must see, and our hotel provided a $5 discount coupon at check-in.

The Eiffel Tower coming up through the Paris hotel was also pretty cool, but we saw that one in the daytime, and it wasn't quite as cool as the High Roller was. It does provide a pretty outstanding view of the Bellagio Fountains (every half hour through the day, every fifteen minutes after eight pm). Sadly the show didn't happen while we were up there because the day was too windy.

Admittedly, Las Vegas is totally excessive.

It's an oasis of water and power and building in the middle of the desert where there shouldn't be anything. Walking through the Bellagio I felt particularly aware of the excesses, in their garden, in the gorgeous Chihuly glass ceiling, in the decadence of the apparently-million-item buffet.

Las Vegas shouldn't be in existence at all, not even in the least. But that only bothered me a very little bit and mostly at the very beginning of the trip. After that, the ethical issues faded into the background. If that hadn't happened, I'm not sure I would've been able to enjoy the trip.

The best thing we did all trip long was to go to the Hoover Dam. I've already detailed that over on my other blog.

Off of the strip, the Neon Museum was pretty outstanding but maybe not for everyone. It's more of a museum - with a pretty outstanding tour given by the docents - than it is a gallery through which you can freely wander. It does make for a number of gorgeous photos, though.

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