Splette's Travel Blog


Vegas, baby!

Posted in: Cities, Video

Gambling in Las Vegas

Las Vegas gambling

Las Vegas wasn’t exactly on my priory list of places to visit. But it was on the way from Grand Canyon to San Francisco, so I figured: why not? Hotels are surprisingly cheap (they make their money with the gambling). Many of the bigger hotels have a (more or less ridiculous; usually more) theme. The ‘Treasure Island‘ hotel for example has pirates as a theme and a big show with pirate ship, gunfire and all that crap every afternoon. Not knowing about any of this, I had booked a few nights in ‘Excalibur’ on priceline.com, simply based on price, number of stars and location. Excalibur turned out to be a giant colorful castle (think Disney), complete with countless slot-machines, wedding chapels (yes, one is not enough for all those shotgun weddings), food court (who would ever book a hotel that doesn’t have a McDonalds and a ChuckE.Cheese on the second floor) and for entertainment you can watch the performance of ‘Thunder from Downunder’ (the Ozzie version of Chippendales). Excalibur is located at the Southern end of ‘the strip’. Las Vegas is a surprising big city with university and all. However, the strip is where the tourists visit and all the action takes place: hotels, gambling, drinks, midget strip shows (no kidding) etc…

Excalibur - my castle

My castle: Excalibur

I arrived at the Greyhound bus station which is way North and had to take a cab to my hotel which costs almost as much as a night in the castle itself. Great. Realizing that I was German, the Hong Kong-born taxi driver started the obligatory conversation about cars. He kept cursing the Americans for their extravagance and praised the good and fuel efficient engineering of German car makers. This is the first time during my trip that I stayed in a hotel. What a treat. My castle was an extremely big and anonymous place, I stayed in ‘Tower 2’ – together with a couple thousand other drunk tourists. The room was great though.

Breathtaking view from my room at Excalibur

Breathtaking view

Who cares about the beautiful view over the parking lot. After months of hostel dorm rooms (remember the bed bugs story?) it was a welcome change to have a big room all for yourself. Hey, there was the queen size bed. Do you non-Americans even know how bigAmerican queens are? In my queen size bed I could fall asleep in starfish formation without any of my hands or feet even touching the edges of the bed! And then there was the huge flat screen TV – that I haven’t switched on once. But what matters is that it was there, right? The shower was amazing, too. Plentiful, hot water and endless towels that, unlike my own towel, don’t smell funny because of being wet when getting stuffed into my backpack before going on a half-day long bus trip…

The miniature skyline of the New York, New York hotel

New York, New York

Right next to Excalibur is ‘New York, New York‘ a hotel in the shape of the New York skyline, complete with Statue of Liberty in a tiny pool representing the Atlantic. On the other side of the Las Vegas Boulevard is the MGM hotel and casino that George Clooney robbed in one of his too many ‘Oceans 1#’ movies.
After getting settled in my chambers, I met up with my temporary travel companion Rolf, who also stopped by Las Vegas on his way to California. Together, we explored the strip one insanely huge hotel & casino complex at a time. Yes, the ‘Bellagio‘ is impressive.

The Fountains of Bellagio are quite impressive

Fountains of Bellagio

So is its famous fountain show at the pool in front of the hotel. Those very powerful remote-controlled sprinkler fountains are synchronized to the classical music that’s playing during each of the 4 shows per hour. As a biologist and duck-lover I was amazed by the ducks populating that large pool. They seemed to know exactly when to avoid the center of the pool in order not to get catapulted 70+ m in the air by one of those water jet streams.

Jerry, Celine & Elton perform at Caesars Palace several nights a week

Jerry, Celine & Elton

The next stop of our hotel-crawl was  ‘Ceasars Palace‘. It seemed to be the biggest hotel complex of all. Hey, I’ve never been to Rome but now that I’ve visited Ceasars Palace I’ve seen it all. There was even a real-size marble replica of Michelangelo’s David sculpture. And there was also Jerry Seinfeld, Elton John and Celine Dion (Rolf is a big fan) performing here live every night. Why would you ever want to go anywhere else? Las Vegas has it all in one place. Of course there is also a replica of the Eiffel Tower (who could tell the difference from the original…).

From this angle it looks almost as big as the one in Paris

Eiffel Tower

And yes this is what Las Vegas was all about for me. If you like big, colorful theme-based hotels, lots of drinks (also outside in the street – a rare exception in the US), mindless spending of money and/or midget strip shows, then, my friend, Las Vegas is for you! It was not for me though. I haven’t spent a single Dollar on gambling (sorry Sampath) and I dislike the ridiculous exaggeration, the fake, the decadence and the mindlessness. This place is so unreal and out of this world.
Late at night, when I walk back into tower 2 of my Excalibur castle, I see a few sad figures still clinging onto their slot machines throwing in one coin after the other and being served the free alcoholic beverages that the hotel provides for people who do so. But I guess none of them is going to make the kind of money George Clooney made here…

Countless slot machines. You have no idea...

Slot machines

Several wedding chapels in my hotel!

Wedding chapels

My chambers at tower 2 of Excalibur

My chambers


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