Wondering about the capital letters in the caption? Does not sound very good??! Right!! That is LAS VEGAS – THE SIN CITY for you!!
The moment we step our foot from the airplane, we are surrounded by tens of gambling machines even as we walk along the gangway in the airport to the road transport, most of them occupied by ‘gamblers of sorts’!
We are entering a bright-lit city that never sleeps; an expensive after- hours theme park, sandwiched between the sounds, the lights and the drinks. The view from the sky in the night is an experience – a galaxy of light in the earth. For sure, the Martians would mistake it as the milky way – the cluster of shining stars. It was 1a.m. that we reached the Hotel after a 5 hours’ flight from the Eastern part of America (we travelled through time!!! – there is a time difference of 3 hours between Virginia and Vegas)
The whole city revolves around some six-mile stretch – The Vegas Strip – McCarran Intl airports runway on one tip and the towering structure of Hotel Strat on the other. We are in the midst of a City which has the best entertainment in the world. Hundreds of Casinos with thousands of games, millions of dollars at stake and the unfathomable greed for quick money is spilled at every inch of this paradise on earth. It is the place of ‘rags to riches’ (pun intended – actually it is from riches to rags ?!!) – the City that is built by the “Losers”. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” is a top-rated slogan, probably expressed by a person who saw it all!! True to its name, the Strip Street would strip an imbalanced greed person, of his wealth. All casinos are designed in a way that natural light does not peep in the place. Free liquor flows – pretty stewardess with minimum attire carrying the drinks (just draw an image of a scene from 007 James Bond movie – it’s all there!) a person in front of the game will forget the time… to lure the first timers, even a win of very small magnitude will be flashed all across the casino with lights and sound- a guaranteed way to trap a person in the web of gambling. I won $10 for $ 1 in my first attempt – then deposited $10 immediately in the next slot, only to be said “Game Over”. My daughter was too strict in refraining me playing any further.
Bellagio, MGM, Caesars palace, Stratosphere, Venetian, Pyramids situated in the Strip are few of the top Hotels and Casinos that generate revenues of trillions of Dollars in a year. These are not just Hotels and Casinos – every place is like a theme park. The hotel we stayed- Stratosphere Casino & Hotel, is the tallest structure in the Nevada State as a whole and the tallest freestanding observation tower in the USA. It is an icon of Vegas’s world famous skyline. The Skypod situated on the 108th floor with fully equipped bar and restaurant offers a bird’s eye view of the whole city – a revolving structure. Notwithstanding these, it offers some thrill rides from the top. A heart pounding, scream inducing , open air leap sky jump is the only one of its kind in North America and the highest in the world. It is a controlled descent similar to a vertical zip line tethered to a metal cable. The heart boggles for anybody who witness this adventurous sport, I guarantee. Hold your breath- there was a roller coaster on the top edge of the tower and has now been removed on safety concerns. The giant-rocking thing on top of the observatory tower definitely made me conclude that there is no living thing as insane a man is ! Whole of the Level-1 of the Hotel is the 24 hour Casino- a separate world.
Each Hotel/Casino/Mall has unique ways of attracting the guests . The Bellagio Hotel – the biggest in Vegas conducts thematic exhibits of different countries – it was the Dussehra and Deepavali function of India when we went. It boasts the biggest synchronized water fountain in USA – an inspiration for the one in Dubai Mall-Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The name Bellagio – movie buffs….does it strike your mind ? Yes ?? the Casino that is looted in George Clooney’s blockbuster Ocean 11 and the MGM Hotel where the famous Boxing ring set was erected for Ocean 13.
The Mirage Hotel has the biggest Aquarium , has Dolphin shows there and also a zoo . The Palazzo at the Venetian complete with the gondolas of Venice and skyline of Italy is a masterpiece of sorts. The Caesars palace- a palatial display of Roman arts so on and so forth. the replicas of Eiffel Towers, Pyramids ,coke bottle, Mcdonald’s Logo dot the sides of the road .Well planned ,beautifully erected pedestrian bridges across the ever-busy roads guarantees the safety of the milling crowds. President Donald Trump owns a big hotel and casino in the mammoth ‘Trump’ tower.
It would be incomplete if I do not mention about the bubbling Fremont Street. It is a tourist hot spot.. with live band, dances of sorts, pretty girls dressed to their barest minimum, magic shows, artists, painters, leaf sculptors and rope ways . The whole place is engulfed in smog – results of cigarettes and cannabis and the overwhelming smell of alcohol. Despite the type of the floating crowd from the cross sections of the society from all across the world, the crime rate is amazingly less, we were told. The normal precautions that one would take in any big city to protect valuables would suffice.
One of the nights we dined at the famous PF Chang’s. We walked miles together in those days of stay at Vegas, but with little tiredness. The ubiquitous Uber is there in case of need, driven by the most friendly drivers around. I feel much younger for my age after a rejuvenating sojourn in this fun-loving city… an Oasis in the desert- the home of famous stars Andre Agassi, Nicholas Cage and Mike Tyson. The Vegas seduction is hypnotic… it has stolen my heart… a trip pleasantly embedded in the achieves of my heart.
Till I lace up for the next…