Published on April 12th, 2013 | by Ann Rickard


Travel – Viva Vegas, La Stupenda

Is there anywhere in the world you could turn to your travel mate and say: “It’s three in the morning, want to do lunch?”

It’s possible in Vegas. There will always be an extravagant buffet overflowing with food at any time of day.

Vegas pumps 24 hours a day, seven days a week and in the summer, despite the searing heat, the crowds are so deep, walking on the footpath be-come a slow shuffle.

“The blinding lights and flashing machines make you stumble about like a drunkard, and the constant ding of the slot machines makes its insidious way inside your brain.”

But heat doesn’t matter much in Vegas as most of your time is spent in air-conditioned hotels and cool cavernous casinos.

Inside the hotels’ cool interiors where fake and false rule, you could be anywhere in the world.

“Paris would be nice,” you might say to your mate and then check into the Paris Vegas where a replica half-sized Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe are part of the façade, right in the heart of the strip.Vagas - Paris

Inside the hotel, under a bogus Parisian sky complete with counterfeit moonlight peeking through spurious scudding clouds, we sat at Le Cafe, a fake alfresco French bistro and ate cheeseburgers (forgive us) and looked out to false French facaded buildings, atmospheric lamp posts and evocatively cobbled streets. A small stretch of the imagination and we could have been in Paris (apart from thecheeseburgers).

Vegas is stupendous. This dazzling, astounding, glittering city is not the least familiar with reality. We can scoff at Vegas, make snide remarks about its extravagances (and we do), but I reckon Vegas can be summed in three little words. It is fun.

The fakery at the Paris Vegas is good, but it’s outdone by the fakery at the Venetian Hotel, which does fakery so spectacularly it features American gondoliers serenading chubby Bermudashort- wearing tourists in motorised gondolas as they glide down phoney canals lined with counterfeit palazzo which house Mexican restaurants. What’s not to admire about that?

Vegas began life in 1905 but drifted along without interest for about 40 years.

After the Second World War, the Mafia turned its eyes to the small desert town. Then things changed. The gangster, Bugsy Siegel, turned developer and built the Flamingo Hotel for about $6 million and other gangsters came with even more money. The rest is history.Vagas

If you can get up very early in the morning, you might have a chance to walk the relatively empty streets, but be careful, walking in Vegas can lead you places you have no intention of going.

Street escalators and overhead bridges force you into casinos (doing brisk business at 7am) and hotel lobbies you had no plans to visit. Still, it becomes a mini adventure and you’ll discover sights not on your itinerary, but which nevertheless delight you. (In the Luxor Hotel, we became so lost we ended up downstairs in the children’s creche).

The casinos are for the dedicated gambler only – most visitors go for the shows, some even take in a Wayne Newton concert. The casinos overwhelm the senses.Vagas

The blinding lights and flashing machines make you stumble about like a drunkard, and the constant ding of the slot machines makes its insidious way inside your brain. The ding is still there when you lay your head on the pillow in the quiet dark of your room at the end of the day.

Best to enjoy the shows, the food, the extravagance… the fun of it all. And never forget the free theatre that passes you by day and night – local tourists wearing cowboy hats with chubby bums squeezed into Bermuda shorts.

Better than an Elvis concert.

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About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.

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