Las Vegas, Baby

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Las Vegas was the next stop on our road trip after our amazing visit of the Antelope Canyon. And it was also our last stop after 2.5 months working and traveling on the West Coast.

When it comes to Las Vegas, I think everyone has a picture in mind due to many films, tv productions and music videos which take place there. And my picture was smashed as soon as the city was in our sight. Las Vegas is big, crazy, VERY loud, more than crowded and surprisingly not as warm as I expected it to be. To me, Vegas is definitely the most surreal city I have ever been to …

Las Vegas – the most populous city in the state of Nevada – bills itself as “The Entertainment Capital of the World” and is famous for its mega casino–hotels and associated entertainment. But the city’s tolerance for numerous forms of adult entertainment also earned it the title “Sin City”.
In general, the name “Las Vegas” is used to describe not the city itself but the resort areas on and near the Las Vegas Strip – the 4.2 miles (6.8 km) of the South Las Vegas Boulevard. The city itself is huge and has nothing in common with those few miles along the Strip.

The first casino on the Strip was the El Rancho Vegas opening in 1941 – with 63 rooms. That casino stood for almost 20 years before being destroyed by a fire in 1960. Opening in 1969, the International Hotel (with 1,512 rooms) began the era of mega-resorts. The first MGM Grand Hotel and Casino opened in 1973 with 2,084 rooms.
In 1989, the opening of The Mirage set a new level to the Las Vegas experience: These huge facilities offer entertainment and dining options as well as gambling and lodging.
Today, many of the largest hotel, casino, and resort properties in the world are located on the Las Vegas Strip. Fifteen of the world’s 25 largest hotels by room count are on the Strip, with a total of over 62,000 rooms.

So what made Las Vegas surreal to me (besides those huge hotels/casinos)?

First of all, the Strip is not a “normal” road – the Strip is a 3 to 6 lane (per direction!) broad road which can be only crossed by footbridges. But no worries, there are only few miles where will find sidewalks. Most of the time you have to walk through casinos, shopping malls or hotel alleys since many hotels are connected to each other and it’s not even possible to find an exit and get out.

From the distance, most of the buildings look really impressive. But the closer you get the more of its glamour fades. Maybe I’m spoiled with great historic architecture from Europe but facades made out of plastic and plaster only seems cheap to me.

And last but not least, the absurd waste of water. It takes a 4-hour-drive from LA to Las Vegas through the desert, a place where water is quite rare. And at the Strip, palm trees are everywhere and nearly every hotel owns a massive fountain, pool(s) and/or garden(s). The best examples are the Bellagio and the Venetian:

  • The Bellagio is famous for its fountain, which is a large dancing water fountain synchronized to music. And by large I mean a 8-acre (3.2 ha) manmade lake including more than 1,200 nozzles and 4,500 lights. The show takes place every 30 minutes in the afternoons and early evenings, and every 15 minutes from 8 pm to midnight.
  • The Venetian is a Venice themed Hotel which features architectural replicas of various Venetian landmarks like the Palazzo Ducale, Piazza San Marco, the Lion of Venice Column, St Mark’s Campanile and the Rialto Bridge. Oh, and the Canale Grand inside the hotel on the second (!!) floor including the possibility for gondola rides. That’s definitely the most insane thing I’ve ever seen in the world.
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