Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Las Vegas Weekend - The Start

We went to Las Vegas because my sis wanted to see this place. I saw Las Vegas over 10 years ago. I decided on the trip because I needed one more round trip to maintain my airline frequent flyer status. It happened to work out because Delta lowered their fares and all airlines followed suit. YIPPEEE!!! Plus we heard alot about the Cirque du Soleil shows that reside in Las Vegas.

My sis and I hopped onto a plane early Friday morning -- destination Las Vegas, Nevada. When we got downstairs at McCarran International Airport to catch the tram between the D Gates and the Terminal 1, we were greeted by these guys

Of course, when we saw the Scorpion, we both thought it was some turds until we got closer. The other one is the Horny Toad. I somehow lost the picture I took of the Mojave Rattlesnake. Darn camera was acting up. These sculptures are the creation of David Phelps. They are made of cast concrete and were installed in D Gates in 1999. Mr. Phelps had five on display. Alas, we never found the Blacktailed Jackrabbit.

We took an airport shuttle to our hotel for the weekend -- Stratosphere. The Stratosphere is located on the north end of the strip. The Stratosphere is known for it's Tower which has a revolving restaurant and three thrill rides. If we had stay longer, we may have tried some of the restaurants here, but it was just a place for us to rest our heads after a long day. The only thing I used at the hotel was Starbucks. Though I did not get the chance to try the Starbucks located in the highest point, in the Tower.

Until the landscape changes again, you can say the Las Vegas Strip starts at Mandalay Bay (south) and ends at the Stratosphere (north). And, it will change as I saw at least three more construction projects going on. The Strip is 4 miles.

After checking into our room -- yes, the hotel had a room ready for us at 11am -- my sis caught up on some shut eyes and I skimmed all the materials about the Strip. As our first show was at the other end of the strip, I thought it would be a great idea to start our tour at the southern part of the strip -- Manadalay Bay. I chose the Trolley as our form of transportation -- $6.50 and you can hop on and off as often as you like for the day. In concept, the Trolley sounded like a great way to see Las Vegas. The problem was that the traffic on Las Vegas Boulevard is horrendus. By the time we got off at New York-New York, it was an hour later. It would most likely have taken another half hour to get to Mandalay Bay.

Since we were at New York-New York, we decided to have a late lunch. We roamed around the Village Eateries (food court) to see what tempted us. We finally decided on Jody Maroni's -- hotdogs. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to get to the footbridge between New York-New York and MGM Grand.

M&M World is located close to the MGM Grand. Do you know it is four floors? Yes, it does. One wonders what can take up four floors. First, the allocated floor space is not really that big. We went through all four floors. We even sat and watched "I Lost My M", a free short 3-D movie after going through a small display on the making of M&M's.

As our show was at the MGM Grand and we still had time to kill, time to roam through MGM Grand. We spent some time watching the two lioness in the Lion Habitat.

One of them as actually sitting on top of the human tunnel that runs through the habitat. There were some people who were actually interested in watching the underside of a lioness who was chewing on rawhide. We tried to follow the signs to the shops in the hotel. This was a first lesson on signage. It will not give you the direct route to your desired destination. It will weave you through the casino so you can feel the vibes -- "Come play me. You know you want to." As for the shops, nothing that really interests us except for the Starbucks -- two Caramel Macchiatos. There are actaully three of them on the ground floor.

It's time for the show. The MGM Grand is home to Cirque du Soleil's KA. This production is totally different from the ususal Cirque du Soleil shows. It actually tells a story that you can understand. The stage happens to be a "gantry", a 25x50 rectangle suspended on a boom. The boom allows the stage to be raised, lowered, tilted and rotated. Rarely is the show done on 180 degree stage. The show is outstanding and I highly recommend you catch this show when you're in Las Vegas. You can go here to see tidbits about the show -- KA videos. Cirque du Soleil's website also provides information about the show. I went through the site last night

After the show, we checked out some of the other hotels/casinos. The Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay are connected by a free monorail. We headed to the Excalibur to catch the monorail to Mandalay Bay. We walked through there to the Shark Reef. By the time we got there, we were no longer interested. So we walked back. We thought we were heading back to the monorail to catch it for the Luxor, but wound up walking there. Luxor is a very interesting hotel as it is a pyramid. From the Luxor, we happen across moving walking ways to get us back to the Excalibur. There was nothing special in these hotels. I think it has to do with it being a long day. We headed back across to New York-New York as we knew where the Trolley stop was. It took the Trolley an hour and 40 minutes to get us back to our hotel and it did not even make all it's stops. Did we have dinner? No, we were just too tired to eat. Bed looked very inviting. The feet agreed.

Stay tune for the end of the weekend.

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