Oh Las Vegas....

I am often asked what it is we love about Vegas and why we go so much. To be totally honest it's something that can’t really be answered in one sentence and if you haven’t been there it’s very difficult to explain why. I think it’s one of those places, that once you have nbeen to you either love or hate. The first time we went which was back in 2008 we went with such pre-conceived ideas, such ideas that as non gamblers it wasn’t our kind of place but we would go to see it, and that it would be a one off, tick it off the list and never go back kind of trip. Ha, how wrong and totally unprepared we were for what was awaiting us. On paper Las Vegas is the kind of place we would usually hate to go – its big, its noisy, its crowded and in parts its brash & vulgar but in reality it’s our most favourite place to go. I mean here else on earth can see you a Pyramid shaped hotel, a copy of the Eiffel Tower, shopping malls with moving ceiling so that it looks like your outside, dolphins, white lions & tigers in a hotel garden and lions in a casino all in one day?? The answer is Las Vegas...fabulous Las Vegas.

Our first trip was in May 2008 and we stayed at the Luxor, partly due to costs and partly due to a friend’s recommendation. Our room was in the Pyramid part of the hotel and it was very nice although now we have stayed elsewhere we can say that the rooms and hotel look quite dated and a little dingy. I can still remember being totally overwhelmed by the scale of everything, everything was so big and over the top and totally non-stop. Even in the wee small hours when we couldn’t sleep due to jet lag, when we decided to go for a walk around the hotel to see what we could find, the casino floor and bars were buzzing with people winning and losing, drinking and having fun. The cha-ching, beeping and flashing lights of the slot machines is something you get so used to hearing and seeing and its one of the things I miss the most when I get home. We didn’t stop that first trip, we walked the Strip, we looked around the hotels, we shopped, we did a trip to the Grand Canyon, we saw Cher perform at Caesars Forum and Barry Manilow at the LV Hilton but we still didn’t see all that Vegas has to offer, in fact although we walked the Strip we didn’t get much further along than Caesars Palace...there were so many things we didn’t see such Fremont Street, the Hoover Dam or the insides of some of the hotels further along. In Vegas there is so much you don’t expect to see, a hotel that has a roller coaster partly on the outside and partly on the inside running though it, hotels with dancing girls on the tables, bars selling cocktails by the yard and people dressed up as film characters and pop stars ready to pose with you for a photo or two (providing you slip them a few dollars). So no sooner than we were back we started planning for trip number two......our addiction had begun!!

In May 2009 we moved along the Strip to stay at the Bellagio, one of the plusher and more upmarket Vegas hotels. We had a beautiful room with a full length window that over looked the Strip, Lake Bellagio & the dancing fountains. I can honestly say I lost count of the number of times, especially at night that I sat at the window just watching it all. No matter where we stay now this is something that has become a bit of a tradition for me. I find it totally mesmerizing, especially at night when all the neon signs are all alight, quite often I will wake in the middle of the night just to sit and watch over the Strip. This time around we managed to get to see the full length of the Strip, we also made it down to Fremont Street, we did a Gondola ride in the Venetian, we rode the monorail and the Deuce and again we saw Barry Manilow perform at the Hilton (yes I am a fan for which I make no apologies!!). But even after doing all this we still felt the need to return again, we were well and truly hooked and there was no-going back, we were officially Vegas junkies.

May 2010 was our third trip and again we changed hotels, this time we booked Caesars Palace, somewhere I had always wanted to stay as to me it screamed old school and original Vegas. We were not disappointed at all; our room was in the Augustus Tower and we had two windows with fabulous views over the Strip and the pool area (known as the Garden of the Gods). The hotel is huge and to be honest you could stay here and never have to leave as it has everything you need within its grounds. We had an amazing time, the highlight of which was our wedding vow renewal at the Graceland’s Wedding chapel, complete with Elvis! We were treated like royalty from start to finish, and we both loved every cheesy minute of it, I would happily do it again but not so sure I could convince the hubby!! We also went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and did a trip to the Hoover Dam which was very interesting indeed and something else to tick off the to do list. Oh and we saw Barry Manilow again but this time he was in his new home, the Paris Hotel and Casino. You would think by now that we would be getting bored with Vegas, the been there and done it kind of thing?? Not at all, in fact we were itching for more and were watching every film, tv program and music video that it was featured in. This along with watching our own video footage of our holidays was becoming a regular occurrence between trips just to give us a little fix.

In 2011 we begrudgingly gave it a miss as we were planning to go back in 2012 as a 10th wedding anniversary celebration which we wanted to combine with a trip to San Francisco. It was so hard not to go especially as lots of our friends were planning trips and asking us for advice on places to stay, where to eat etc. Our planned date of Oct 2012 couldn’t come soon enough! Eventually though it arrived and we spent 3 great days in San Francisco doing all the usual tourist things before taking an internal flight across to LV. Again we booked to stay in Caesars although this time we opted for a room in the brand new Octavius Tower. We had our own VIP entrance and check in and again we had an amazing room with a Strip view – gotta love that view. We booked to see Matt Goss of Bros fame perform which was great and we even managed to meet the man himself after the show and get our picture taken with him. A couple of days into the trip we were joined by our friends Andy, Liz and Eileen which was lovely and it was great to have someone with us to share the fun with. While we were there Andy and Liz decided to renew their wedding vows, they booked the same chapel we had used in 2010, it was quite funny when we arrived as the Elvis they had was the same one we had so we knew exactly what they had to expect. Together we discovered the Toby Keith Bar where they serve HUGE Jack Daniel's & cokes in mason jars, Margaritaville for fabulous frozen cocktails and Jarods for jewellery and watches (there is a long story about that but I wont go into it right now). This time though we noticed that there were lots of changes going on and new hotels were beginning to appear and open and some older ones were having makeovers and refurbishments. There were no lions in the MGM Grand anymore and there were lots of works going on all along the Strip, it was all beginning to look quite different from the Vegas we first experienced back in 2008.

In 2013 we said that we would give it a miss for a couple of years but the craving to go again proved far too strong and before long we were doing our research and making a booking. Prices for Caesars were sky high so we had to make a decision on where else to stay. Based on our budget and reviews we picked the Mirage as the reviews were good and its location right in the centre of the Strip and next door to Caesars suited us. We were not disappointed with it and although the room wasn’t as swish and swanky as the rooms we had previously had it was clean and comfy and perfectly adequate for our needs. In fact the bed was one of the most comfortable we have ever slept in; I wish we could have bought it home. We didn’t pre-book or plan any trips this time, we just took each day as it came. For the first time we used one of the Strip half price ticket booths to book tickets to see a show, we chose David Copperfield’s magic show which was pretty good. Tom was even part of the final trick and along with several other people was taken on stage and made to vanish and re-appear seconds later at the back of the showroom. We did all our usual fave things like shopping at the outlet malls, watching the fountains and walking the Strip. We finally managed to get to the top of the Stratosphere and what a wow moment that proved to be, the views are stunning. We tried a couple of 'new' restaurants this time and were very lucky to be around when Buddy Valestro, aka the Cake Boss opened his restaurant Buddy V’s. The night we ate there Buddy was in residence and we were very fortunate as he came over to our table to speak to us and have a photo taken. I think in all the years we have been going 2013 was one of the best as it was the most relaxed, laid back and thoroughly chilled out time. We really didnt want to come home, especially knowing that we wouldnt be back for a few years...cue tears on the plane!!

So here we are in 2014 and much to many people’s shock we are NOT going to Vegas this year (oh the torture – we are going cold turkey here folks!!). We are in fact planning and saving to go in 2015 to celebrate my 50th birthday. If our plans go the way we want them to we will fly Upper Class and stay at Caesars again for 10 whole days and nights – the longest ever amount of time we will have spent there. I am a subscriber to many Las Vegas themed pages on Facebook (my most favourite of all being Las Vegas Lovers which is a UK based page run by a couple who are just as passionate about the place as we are). All the updates I get from these pages keep us informed of what’s happening and changing out there and ever-so slightly keep the cravings at bay. I know that by the time we do get there next year there will be loads of different things for us to go and see...The Linq and Slotzilla just to name a couple. However by the time we go I am sure we will have a huge list of things to see/places to go to add to the list of things we usually do. Soon enough this year will go by and before long we will be in a position to make that booking and get ourselves a countdown.

If you have made it through to the end of this page without falling asleep then I congratulate and thank you and I hope I haven’t bored you too much. Hopefully now you will have just a little insight into what it is exactly that draws us back time after time.There is no other place quite like Vegas..and in my opion no words can truly do it justice. If your thinking about going then get those tickets booked and Viva Las Vegas....

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