We had made reservations at a fairly new hotel called Vdara. This hotel is attached to the famous Bellagio by a skywalk. All the rooms in the hotel are suites and there is no shortage of luxury. We had this great Panoramic Suite with 270° views of Las Vegas and panoramic views of the city center.
Our biggest surprise in Vegas was that all the hotels we came to (except ours) had casinos on the ground floor or in the lobby. The casinos themselves did not surprise us, but how utterly sad they were did. It is allowed to smoke in the casinos, which means that all hotel lobbies smell of cigarettes, so you can imagine that this group of non-smoking Europeans were happy that we did not have that in our hotel.
Not only is it the smell, the whole setting of the casinos is there to cater for addiction. People (often very sad looking people) sitting alone in front of machines with a cigarette in one hand and a martini in the other at all times of the day. It looked nothing like the cool scenes from Oceans 11 or other Vegas movies.
Well, we spent some time exploring the city and perhaps we saw it at its extreme as we were there during Halloween time, at least we felt it was packed with very strange people :-)
We had made plans to see a Cirque du Soleil show, a Beatles show called Love. That night we went all out and treated ourselves really nice. Hanna Piccinini made reservations for the coolest hummer limousine that took us all to dinner. We went to the Japanese restaurant Nobu and we have to say it was probably one of the best dinners we have ever had. The show was absolutely fantastic so we felt we had experienced a real Las Vegas night out.
Next day was a big one, as we took a helicopter ride over Grand Canyon. Taking off in Vegas also gives the opportunity to see the city from the sky and it did surprise us how big Vegas really is. The “Strip” where most of the action and hotels are is just one part of the city.
We flew towards the huge manmade Lake Mead, which was created with the building of the Hoover Dam. This is considered to be the world´s largest dam and an engineering marvel at the time of its construction in the 1930s. We also flew over Boulder City that was to become our next stop when we were going on our visit to Pirates Cove (more on this later).
When we entered the area over Grand Canyon it was a real eye catcher, magnificent landscapes and different from anything else. After landing in the Canyon we had some time to admire the harsh nature up and close and also enjoyed a nice champagne lunch. This was a great experience for us all, even for Gudrun, who had been the skeptic one and not totally thrilled about going up in a helicopter.
Before this holiday season a new movie was released, called Last Vegas. We saw that movie shortly after being in Vegas and it was so fun to recognize all the places the main characters (Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline) went to. That movie actually mostly takes place in the hotel next door to Vdara, called Aria.