Las Vegas

Las Vegas! It’s so hard to describe this place. The mammoth hotels and casinos look like fake cardboard cutouts as you approach the city. They are all amazing constructions. It’s been a rapid evolution in only umm 90 years or something  from a whorehouse for Hoover dam workers after the great depression; to the entertainment Goliath it is today.

It seems also an outlet for Americans to take their families on a cheap holiday in more luxurious hotels. There are lots of families here and lots of BIG Americans. Vegas is a place where if you want it its got it. The most disturbing bit you’ll see walking the Casino strip is the human spam sellers popping up offering everybody including kids, playing cards which contain lady of the night details. By mid afternoon they litter the streets everywhere – the cards that is. Vegas takes its roots from prostitution back to its foundation and this part hasn’t really changed.

But that’s the strip, its the crappy part of Vegas. The footpaths – I mean sidewalks.  Don’t think you can walk to far in Vegas. It’s hot. Perth heatwave 40 degree dry heat hot every day here in summer. The distances between the casinos are further than you think. We’re at the New York New York Hotel which is at the far end of the strip in the south. I’m happy with the hotel. It was cheap enough even without the facebook code  I found for us to get a room each @ $57 per night. Their roller coaster ride at the hotel is a constant reminder that Vegas takes no prisoners and the Vegas party will go on without you. It keeps on rolling till 1am, you can hear the punters screaming every 8 minutes or so from the hotel.

The MGM is across the road from us. Their buffet gets a hammering because its one of the free buffets you’ll get if you stay with a MGM owned hotel. I’ve never seen so much food and so many food outlets. We went here and to the Monte Carlo’s buffet for breakfast. The MGM wasn’t as good as Monte Carlo.. relatively speaking. At the Monte Carlo you can have a sirloin steak for breakfast if you desire. If I came here again I’d stay at the other end of the strip. It seems to be more “central” up that end. Caesars Palace and the Aria are up this end. The only dedicated shopping mall is up there too. We went there after our trip out to Vegas Speedway. More on the cars in a minute.

Most of the big name Hotel Casinos have 100’s of shops in them. Shopping malls much like Garden City or Karrinyup shops here in Perth. The prettiest walk through the casinos would have to be the Venetian. That’s the one with the fake sky ceiling. Unless you want to buy Gucci and that kind of thing and pay the same prices for your boutique shops we have here don’t bother with them. Save your feet and legs. The cheapest shopping that everyone is talking about when they come back from the USA is really in their department stores and outlets. There are 5-6 big stores in the Fashion Show Mall in the north section of the strip. One word for one store – Maceys!  I purposely took few clothes with me for this trip.  I hoped to buy some clothes, mostly a heap of tee-shirts while we are here. So I bought a suitcase and filled it mostly in Vegas.

We took the bus tour out to the Grand Canyon.  Its about 4-6 hours by bus to get there (one way) depending on which section or “rims” you choose to see  We chose the West rim because its the shorter trip. Make sure you pick this trip with that operator. Pick their deluxe package for $129.  This is the only tour bus which goes to each vantage point from beginning to end. All the other tours you have to take shuttle buses out to the lookout points. This means more lining up and waiting. You only ride in one bus the whole trip with these guys.  We left the hotel at 7am and were back to our hotel in Vegas by about 4PM. The other suckers on the other tours didn’t get back till 10 PM.  All the tours drive over the Hoover Dam too.  The tour guides were awesome explaining everything.  They’re also good for general tips about Vegas and the USA too.

The West rim also has the Skywalk bridge and Guano Point- the only lookout vantage which gives you almost a 360 degree view of the Canyon.  Its spectacular! You just have to go there and see it yourself.

Here is some video I shot of the Canyon on my GoPro camera.

Now! Driving a Ferrari on a race track – what I have been looking forward to mostly about Vegas.  At the Las Vegas Speedway you can drive high powered super cars.  Exotics Racing runs a race driving school at the speedway. I chose to drive their Porsche Cayman and a Ferrari F430 FI combo of 5 laps in each car.  You do a 30 minute theory session when you first get there, but where you really learn is out driving with the excellent instructors. They are brilliant at helping you to get the most out of the cars and yourself. They have a brake control on their side of the car.  All of the cars have paddle style shifters on the steering column so you don’t have to worry about clutching and gear changing on the opposite side you are used to.  They all have traction control on too.

First up I drove the Porsche Cayman. Its one of the cheaper and slower cars you can select to drive.  So I picked it because I figured my first 5 laps learning the track would be a write off anyway.  Its a nimble little car which is really tight around the corners. It all goes so fast and you are so focused on the instructor that its really hard to take it all in. Then it was the Ferrari F430 F1. Like the Porsche it all happens so quickly and is over so soon that it didn’t really hit me till later that I’d been fanging in a Ferrari.  The instructors really work hard with you to drive as fast as possible. The power and speed difference to the Porsche though is immediately noticeable. And the exhaust noise roaring behind you is sweet music to your ears!  If I had my way and we had more time I’d have went around again for another 5 laps.  Its was $450 to drive both cars. More thrills and value than the Casino tables any day.

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