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Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

I’ve been accused of being a magpie when it comes to anything sparkly (I can’t resist), and I think that could be easily extended to include things made of coloured glass, particularly stained glass windows.  The colours used in glass are usually vivid and bright, and when light shines through, it can be a stunning sight. The artistry involved in creating such windows or sculpture or even jewellery is something I’ve long admired.

The Bellagio Las Vegas at night.

The Bellagio Las Vegas happens to be home to a gorgeous display of glass sculpture that I was overjoyed to see with my own eyes. Created by the world-renowned Dale Chihuly, Fiori di Como is a chandelier spanning 2000 square feet of the lobby ceiling, comprised of 2000 vibrantly coloured hand-blown flowers. There is a constant group of amateur photographers, heads tipped back and gawking upwards, in the hotel daily thanks to these beautiful flowers.

Las Vegas has the reputation of being tacky, and not undeservedly so; however, hotels like the Bellagio have made efforts to inject some class into to this blinged-out wonderland. Today, Vegas is a unique blend of over-the-top glitz with luxury living. Among the glittering, flashing lights and ringing slot machines are gourmet restaurants run by some of the world’s finest chefs, designer boutiques from every top brand you can think of, and spas offering menus of treatments and therapies, all in the service of pampering yourself. The Vegas of 25 years ago could only brag of the world’s biggest gold nugget (though, I did see that nugget too and it is pretty awesome); luckily for us, visitors today can experience both sides of the city.

I encourage you to use Google Images to explore more of Chihuly’s incredible works of art, and you can visit his website for more information on the artist.

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Everywhere in Las Vegas, you’ll see pamphlets and sandwich boards advertising day trips outside of the city, with the most popular being a bus tour to the Grand Canyon. Not wanting to spend all my time in Vegas, I had pre-booked a tour beforehand.

I chose a bus tour to the South Rim – approximately 4.5 hours away. The West Rim is closer and where the Skywalk is located, but the South Rim views are famous. There was an optional IMAX film for extra money, but I declined because I’d rather spend the time seeing the real thing.

Can you see the snow? This was taken in mid-April, but it was still fairly cold. The trails around the canyon are at a high altitude.

This tour was the most disappointing thing about my time in Vegas:

Unfamiliar with American school holidays, I booked my trip to Vegas during their Spring Break. It’s a very busy time for tour operators – they had three buses leaving that day for just the South Rim tour alone, and due to long line-ups from hundreds of people checking in, I ended up on the last bus, which left at least a half hour after the first one. I had left my hotel at 6:00 a.m., and was 8:30 before my bus really got rolling.

I found out at check-in that while viewing the IMAX movie was optional, I would be stopping regardless as the theatre was located where we would be having lunch and the bus would be waiting for those who purchased tickets. The centre was not located at the Canyon, but a 15-minute drive away. The movie ran once an hour, and we just missed the start of one showing when we arrived.

There was a scheduled photo op at the Hoover Dam and a pit stop at a gas station along the way. Every time we had a “10-minute” stop, it took the driver at least 30 minutes to get everyone back on the bus again. Rounding everyone up after lunch was equally as painful.

When we finally arrived at the Grand Canyon, the driver told us we could walk the trail to the next observation point, or come back to the bus and drive there – but the walk was only about 30 minutes, he said. So, everyone decided to walk the trail including two families with small kids and a couple where the husband had difficulty walking for long periods. The trail walk was beautiful, definitely the highlight of the day, but it would take an hour at least for most people to walk it. To sum up, we did not leave the Grand Canyon on time as we had to wait for others who were still out on the trail. It was past midnight before I was back at my hotel – I had been gone more than 18 hours.

Unfortunately, the late afternoon sun washed out a lot of my photos, and they lost any sense of height and depth.

In fairness, the tour did advertise about 3.5 hours at the park and 16 hours total trip time (I got slightly less time at the park, and considerably more trip time overall), but facts are one thing, experiencing them is another.

In the end, I’d advise planning an overnight trip there instead of a day trip. Or go to Death Valley instead – it’s much closer so you spend more time in the park, and less inside of a bus.

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