Las Vegas: Fountains Flowers and Malls - Part 5 of 10

Las Vegas is, of course, renowned - or maybe that should be notorious - for its gaming and gambling; it's past synonymous with organised (and disorganised) crime. I do not know how much of that is still with us; we certainly saw little evidence beyond some over-spirited youths making a bit too much noise. After our return to the UK we read a report of a 'drive-by shooting' near The Bellagio Hotel, next door to Caesar's Palace, so maybe some of the old ways hang around, but Vegas nowadays tries to portray itself as a fun playground where all your desires are pandered to ... if you can pay for it.

Considering the palatial surroundings of our accommodation it wasn't overly expensive, the expectation being solidly towards one squandering one's wealth at the tables or slot machines. I am pleased to say that the doubtful pleasures of gambling passed our little party on the other side, leaving us to take delight in the opulence and over-the-top extravagances of the environment. We were living in a cartoon.

Our second day in Las Vegas, began at Denny's, an inexpensive eatery nearby that provided a stonker of a breakfast (so big it would not fit the camera's wide-angle lens), served by ex-US Navy veteran, Steven; a wise-cracking hyperactive ginger-headed fellow, who apparently spent some of his Service years in Belfast during the 1980's.  He invited us to call him 'Red' or 'Ginger', and I am sure is as much of an asset to Denny's now, as he was with 'Ronnie's Yacht Club' (as he called the US Navy) way back then.

The Bellagio is best known for it's fantastic fountains, which spout and sway every half-an-hour or so to some well-known Show song - when we first saw the display, it was 'My Heart Will Go On' by Celine Dion, who is a regular in Las Vegas. All very impressive, but one can easily appreciate why a regular supply of H2O is becoming a problem for Las Vegas.

The Bellagio is also recognised for its flowers, exuberant outbursts of colour and form appearing at every turn, echoing indoors what the water portrayed outdoors. The ceiling of the Hotel lobby was festooned with bright floral shapes in glass (or plastic), which must be the very devil to clean every morning.
This being Christmastide, the shopping arena here was awash with winter scenery, every particle trying to deny the soaring heat outside and pretend we were at the North Pole. Hence the Polar Bear family. Ma and Pa Bear each made up from 18000 white carnation heads ...
... while Junior - playing on his own little iceberg - had to make do with a mere 10000.

Back on the strip we headed another block along to The Cosmopolitan. While undoubtedly striking, this had less of the trying-to-recreate-a-bygone-age-or-another-land about it and concentrated on being what it was - an enormous glass and steel celebration of American commercialism and ambition. And a little bit quirky too.
It had a giant stiletto-heeled shoe for you to stand in and be photographed. We did that. And it had more shops - of the same 'named' stores as every other hotel/casino, just so you didn't have to leave the premises to pick up your latest bauble from Tiffany & Co, or Chanel, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton or Gucci. Sorry for the myriad others whose names now form a tangle of synaptic sludge in my brain.

After the 'Hanging Beaded Curtains of The Cosmopolitan' we headed across the strip on an over-road walkway to Planet Hollywood. This was where 'all the other shops' hang out in another arcade with a sky-painted ceiling - only this one had a thunderstorm with real rain every 20 minutes. The roof darkens; lights flash and water falls from sprinklers into a mid-mall canal. All in the name of entertainment presumably. The canal was full of coins sacrificed to the great God of Fuzzy-headed thinking, or something, and we then head into another shoe store, or jewellers, or ...
... now this was different! Lobster ice cream! Surprisingly tasty, despite the potentially quease-inducing combination of flavours suggested. Basically it was too cold to realise that you were eating chucks of shellfish in a vanilla ice cream.

Bombarded by signage at every turn - some bold, some crazy, some unintelligible, some funny, some crass - we headed out into fresh(?) air and the fading sun. In all we had seen very little of Las Vegas' sprawling cityscape, but perhaps enough for one lifetime.
An evening meal in an Australian Outback restaurant rounded off the programme of sights and events. Very good it was too, if rather skewed towards steaks and red meats - and the portions were enormous. I think all of us struggled to finish the portions.

After our packed day of intensive sensory overload we returned to Caesar's Palace for our wind down and decided that the Spa Bath in our 'His & Hers Adjoining Bathrooms' would be worth a try, hopefully soothing many tired and aching muscles. This thing took at least half an hour to fill and seemed to need as much water as The Bellagio fountains we had seen earlier. Gill felt the need for some bubbles and put a little (well, half a bottle) of the complimentary stuff into the bath. What we ended up with was a scene from the Peter Seller's film The Party where the foam gets out of control and fills the house, the pool and the garden. Maybe not quite, but we were certainly in danger of foaming up our adjoining bathrooms. When finally under control, all I could see of Gill was the top of her head amidst the foam.

The next stage of our trip was back to Sierra Madre and Christmas...

All photographs are copyright GEORGE JOHN STEWART 2013.


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