Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 32 - Viva Las Vegas

I must have been tired after last night's brief sojourn into the wilds of Las Vegas.  Brett let me sleep until 10 this morning!  This allowed me to start my day fully refreshed and with tons of ambition (which would flag as the day and the heat wore on).  We've run out of mild so that seemed like a great excuse to try out one of the buffets that were recommended to us.  Our first stop was the ticket kiosk for the local bus.  Called The Deuce, they are double decker buses that run up and down The Strip 24 hours a day.  We needed 2 24 hour passes.  How hard could that be?  The nice security guard came over right away to see if we needed any help.  I can run my DVD player so we figured we'd be okay.  Five minutes later we called the nice security guard over for some help.  He got us all fixed up and ready to go.  Our first bus driver of the day was a cheerful soul who had a hearty good morning for us.  When the bus started up he yelled "The Deuce is rolling".  
Our first stop was Treasure Island Hotel & Casino (aka TI).  This place has 2664 rooms, 220 suites and is huge!  We made our way to the casino level and then looked for signs.  Once around this part of this casino and we located the buffet.  We first stood in the VIP line until we noticed a sign.  I don't know how you get to be a VIP but that line does not involve waiting with the other minions for a table to open up.  No bother though.  We moved fairly quickly.  While the price was steep ($53 for 2 brunch buffets) there was an excellent selection of food, drinks (including alcohol) were included and the server was very efficient.  The buffet stations included all the usual breakfast suspects, an omelet station, barbecue, grilled selections, Asian (including pho), pizza and a sushi bar as well as desserts. 

Since I hadn't eaten breakfast this seemed like a good plate to start with.

We both enjoyed our breakfast mimosas.

I paced myself so that I could sample some of the desserts.  We've got pain au chocolat, eclair, fruit tart and cherry pie.

This man was sitting at the table next to us.  I noticed his watch.  How could you not notice the watch?  It is bright blue and gold and practically as big as a salad plate.  I told him that I liked it and he politely said thank you but didn't want to engage.  So I became Sandy the stealth photographer.  Just prop your iPhone up and pretend that you are reading your mail or playing Angry Birds, then snap away.  It is a little hard to act casual and actually aim the thing but I got it!

Once fortified we looked around a bit more.  This is a Chinese carved woolly mammoth tusk from the Ming Dynasty. 
I declared my $1 gambling spree from last night as a practice run and saved aside two five dollar bills to waste on the slot machines today.  My first action was here at TI.  I realize now that when you are playing the idea is to quit when you've won.  But even though I won $6.71, I decided to keep going instead of cashing out and quickly lost the winnings plus my original $5.  I'm not much of a gambler I guess.

 TI has a pirate, seafaring theme to it.  I guess that it was more family friendly a few years ago but abandoned that in favor of the Sirens who are featured in their daily show.  This is their ship which is parked in a lagoon at the front of the hotel.  The siding is certainly interesting.  I wonder what the bathrooms look like?

 Further down The Strip is the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino.  This is even bigger than TI with 4,049 suites and 120,000 square feet of gaming space.  It is definitely one of the luxury hotels.  This is a picture of one of the entrances to the lobby - marble floors and Michelangelo style painted ceilings. 

 The architecture is made to resemble that found in Venice.  Outside there are canals and you can pay to have a gondola ride in the hot desert sun if you wish.  We came here in order to see the traveling exhibition called Da Vinci - The Genius.  It was well worth the fairly steep $22 admission. Unfortunately photographs were not allowed and I dared not go into sneaky mode for fear of being asked to leave.   Many of Leonardo's machines have been recreated based upon his extensive notes.  Some of these are for looking at only and others have "Please Touch" signs.  A very interesting part was called "Secrets of Mona Lisa".  A French engineer/photographer was able to do some scientific research and use some new cameras and techniques to study the painting.  His research proved that she did have eyebrows and eyelashes!  They have also created a 360 degree walk around and you are able to see the markings that are on the back of the painting as well.   There was also a nice film about the painting The Last Supper.  We really enjoyed this exhibit.

This is also where I finished losing my remaining five dollars and where Brett did the same.  So we are $15 wiser about the merits of slot machines.

Here's something you don't see every day.  Show girls loitering on the sidewalk.  I think the idea was that you paid them money and they let you take a picture with them.  Stealthy Sandy pointed her iPhone in that direction and got a free one.  I'm telling you that there are advantages to being an old lady.  When I do it right, nobody seems to think I'm taking photos.

 I also spotted Marilyn and Elvis headed towards the hotel.  Later in the day we saw groups of these impersonators getting their pictures taken with the tourists.

Our campground hosts recommended taking a look at The Bellagio which has 3,950 rooms and 116,000 square feet of gaming space.  We are talking serious luxury hotel here.  The shops included Manolo, Hermes, Chanel and Armani among others.  I believe I saw a sales person cringe when I looked in the door of one shop. 

2000 square feet of the ceiling of the lobby is covered with over 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers created by Dale Chihuly.  The work is called Fiori di Como.  It is lovely.  We were advised to take a look at the flower displays near the lobby.
 The flowers are all of an autumn harvest theme with various glass pieces inter mingled.

 This tree is actually a fountain and it looked stunning with the afternoon sun shining on it.

Here is another view of the tree fountain.

 We must have walked approximately another 15 miles looking for a place in the hotel to buy a water and a soft drink.  I was so thirsty!  And I must have been really thirsty indeed when I agreed to pay $11.62 for those two items.  I guess rip off the tourist is a good game here too.  The walk did lead us along several pretty balconies and offered some nice street views.

 Here is the front of the hotel (the part of the building facing sideways) and it appears quite a ways away.  That's because it is! Note that we are still in the hotel while taking this photo.  Big hotel.

 The show in front of the Bellagio features giant fountains that are synchronized to music (I'm Proud To Be An American this afternoon) and blast water a couple of hundred feet into the air.

The traffic is horrendous and the people are many.  One way to keep them separate is to have walkways above the street level that connect the various venues.

 These walkways can be reached by escalator or stairway or elevator.  It is really quite easy to get around.  We felt ready to return home after the Bellagio.  It was a bit of a walk to find the nearest bus stop but we did find it.  I think we just missed a bus and needed to sit in the hot sun for about 15 minutes before another one came along.  We rode back in air-conditioned comfort and proceeded to lounge about for the remainder of the day.  Neither one of us is even the least bit hungry after the TI buffet-a-thon.  A good day indeed.

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