Saturday, March 11, 2006

Vegas, Round 4

When you go to Las Vegas a few times you never call it like that again. It's Vegas for the people that go there often, like a nearby hangout that we shorten its name so that it's more convenient to use it frequently.

About 12 days ago me and Dora visited Vegas. It was my 4th time there, and Dora had been before but never since the Megaresorts opened in the mid-1990s and the transformation of the city that quickly followed. What I love about Vegas is the fact that each time I go, there is always something new to watch. So far, only Manhattan and Vegas have offered me that unique pleasure.

So what was new this time? Well, not the clubs or the girls, but the city as a whole. We walked a lot and tried to visit as many hotels-resorts as possible.

We start with the best Victoria's Secret store in the US:

Impressive entrance, huge custom posters, plasma TVs... I never noticed the clothes, although I spent overall more than one hour inside and outside the store.

The store is located at the Forum Shops, to my opinion the best shopping center in the US. Among other things, it includes a small store which literally blew my head off. It has luxury household items, and my personal favorite item is this table:

It sits comfortably 14 people. It costs only $15,000, plus $1,500 for each chair, plus $1,000 for each candlestick, plus another $10,000 if you want the chandelier above it. What is money when you are to make the neighbours jealous?

The whole shopping center is indoors (you don't want to know the temperatures at the Nevada desert in the summer!). However it looks as if we are outdoors:

The sky is always blue (although at regular intervals it gets darker to simulate the coming of the evening!), and it never rains. It is truly beautiful just to sit next one of the 4 great fountains they have built inside to spice the place up.

Enough about the shops. One of the attraction I hadn't ever seen in Vegas is the fountains in front of the Bellagio. The first time I didn't know about them, the second time it was too late when I got there (sic) and the 3rd time it was too windy for them to operate. But this time I was fully prepared to watch them, more than once (they have a 3 minute show every 15minutes from 7pm to midnight). My camera did its best, and here are the results.

Not that Bellagio isn't beautiful in the night, but the fountain shows accompanied with the music make it a true spectacle that simply stops people in their tracks.

Later the next day we climbed on the Eiffel Tower located right opposite of the Bellagio, just to watch the fountains from a distance. Again, the spectacle got a new twist and magnificence.

Waiting for the explosion...


From the tower, which feels really high, you can also admire the north part of the Las Vegas strip:
The green hotel on the left is MGM Grand, the largest hotel in the world with 5000+ rooms; to the right you can see the skyscrapers of NY,NY Hotel and the light coming out of the pyramid of the Luxor.

Bellagio is not the only interesting resort in Vegas. Look at the Mirage, for example.

On top of the tropical scenery and the waterfalls in the middle of the desert, every night a volcano erupts (artificially, of course).

Then there is the Venetian, another billion-dollar megaresort with a stunningly decorated hallway (leads to the casino, of course).

How about the Luxor? The main hotel is a pyramid with the strongest "light bulb" in the top most corner pointing more than 10miles into the sky! Inside, there is a very nice recreation of ancient egypt's monuments.

What else did we do? We had 2 buffets: Paris, the best buffet and/or eating place in the world, which is by now a classic in vegas for me, and Pharaoh's feast, a just $20 buffet at Luxor, about 80% the quality of Paris/Bellagio buffets. We also went to David Copperfield's show, that was just amazing. This time we sat really close to the stage (only 2-3m away) and I could see extremely close. It looks so impossible, and it just happens in front of my eyes. When a car appears within 15 seconds out of nowhere just 5m away, it just gets me nervous!

We stayed at the Stratosphere Hotel (the same one that hosts the tower, the tallest building in the West US) for $50 a night (monday and off season, you see). However our best shot was at Bellagio:

Very nice, I think. However the shot that turned out to by very beautiful without me expecting it was the fountain in front of the Aladdin Hotel, next to Paris:

I just love how the water in the fountain has this sort of magical structure, as if it is not water but magic powder... this is due to the slight over-exposure of the fountain to the camera (increased the shutter duration a bit).

I saved the best for last: A set of panoramic images, with as high quality as possible (so that the 1MB per photo limit is observed).

The interior of New York, New York Casino:

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The main entrance of the Forum Shops:

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My favorite store in the world; take a look at the things they sell:

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Finally, the strip; the main street of Las Vegas, north and south, as seen from the EIffel Tower at Paris Hotel:

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