17.01.2014 - 19.01.2014 -10 °C
We packed up and left our beautiful apartments at MGM grand signature apartments. If ever you are looking for accommodation attached to but out of a casino, this is the place. There was complimentary valet parking, wifi, a concierge desk that were extremely helpful and a Starbucks onsite. (I booked mine through airbnb)
There were pools, and access to MGM resort pools also, although we didn't have the time to enjoy them and it was the wrong season. To be honest, we would have enjoyed longer time in Vegas and yes, I am surprised by this reflection myself, I didn't think I would like Vegas. Many people who have been here have said 2 nights is more than enough, and have highlighted things about Vegas that aren't so great, but there is more to Vegas than this......
Yes Vegas is a big desert that has a city sitting on it, it is in the middle of nowhere, so it seems. It is a city of gambling, girls, drinking and people trying to sell you something (mostly girls) on each corner. We saw poker machines in 7 eleven, in the airport, in petrol stations and there are parts of these city that are a little seedy - you wouldn't walk those parts alone at night (but then almost every city has areas like these). However, it also has history and interesting things to see and do. There are grand casinos (each one bigger and grander than the next), they have there own theme and highlight, the gondolas at the Venetian, the roller coasters at New York, New York, the pyramid and sphinx at the Luxor. There are also restaurants, the Vegas sign, the neon sign museum, or graveyard as they call it - and this sounds like an interesting place, I am disappointed to have not had the time to explore here! The history on Fremont st is supposed to be great, the shows, we saw two (David Copperfield being the second- see below) but 'pink' is there at the end of the month, there is a rat pack show, as well as other well known singers and artists including comedians (Brad Garrett - the big brother from 'Everybody Loves Raymond' has a comedy club in Vegas). The 'Bellagio' fountain was magic to see, the erupting volcano at the Mirage , there are flamingos to see in a natural reserve inside 'the flamingo' casino - we missed these also, as you can enter before sunset, and we found out about them after dark.
There is a shark experience at Mandalay bay, and many fancy and famous restaurants and chefs - we went to one of a chef - (Michael Mina ) who is well known for his fancy restaurants over the US. He opened a 'pub' to tap into a different market, his food has a slightly unusual edge to it. My goodness, the boys had free soda refills all night, the biggest nachos platter you have seen and Michael and I shared a rack of the most amazing ribs I have eaten (yes even better than my recipe) with 'kaleslaw' and Mexican beans.
Finally, there is shopping, which we didn't have time to do, but I have heard the outlets here are pretty good, they are however, some distance away from the 'main' part of Vegas.
So if you haven't been and are planning a trip to Vegas, perhaps allow another day or two than we did to see the other parts of Vegas, I imagine too much time might be a bit extreme, but there really are more things to do and see than girls, drink and gambling....... of course if that's your thing......enjoy that too!
About David Cooperfield - we enjoyed his show, he was interesting and very clever with his illusions and was entertaining, however, we have also seen the illusionists - and they were much more entertaining and left you in awe and wonder in a more dramatic way. In hindsight, perhaps I would have chosen a different show to see. But it was a good show....... After cirque de soleil - Michael Jackson 'one', perhaps anything would have paled in comparison!
Our trip to the Grand Canyon.......- so there are easier options to get to the canyon, helicopter tours, there is a Grand Canyon airport, so maybe flying is also an option. But for us, we have always wanted to drive it and see the roads and desert in the USA. It is a long way, 4.5 hours, adding in pitstops and food stops, and that increases it by an hour, so yes it's long! But I am glad we did it, we did get to turn off and drive on Route 66 for a few meters..... We also saw the changing terrain of the US desert.
It did remind me a little of the movie 'Cars' mountains with dirt, then with grassy tufts, then Rocky Mountains, then as we got closer to the Grand Canyon national park, there was Forrest with deer and elk.
We also got to drive through where Hoover Dam is, this is a pretty outlook, and the other little towns very very small.
We made a stop in a place called Chloride and this had a population of 3-400, it was very interesting to see....... These smaller towns put the initial of the town in white on the mountains so it can be seen from a distance.
The surroundings on the drive to Grand Canyon change more than from LA to Vegas, that drive is one long freeway the whole way, so could probably be skipped and a flight instead may be a time saver, there really isn't much to see.
We arrived at the Grand Canyon just as it was getting dark, so glimpsed the Canyon in the almost dark, settled ourselves in out log cabins (Bright Angel cabins http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lodging/bright-angel/) and headed for a hearty dinner. Now we weren't sure what to expect from our accommodation or food, there were mixed reviews, but being one of 2 places to stay overlooking the canyon on the south rim (and the other being closed for renovation when we booked) we were keen to find out. If you are looking for a luxury stay, this isn't for you, but we had a very comfortable log cabin, with bathrooms that were nice looking (they looked to have recently acquired new tiles). We are campers and have stayed in pretty dismal cabins before as well as tents, so we thought these were great. Their location is amazing, where can you look out your window and see such and amazing natural wonder?
If you want a bit fancier, the 'El tovar' is a very short walk away and was built in the early 1900's, so again, it isn't the 'park hyatt', but it is lovely and situated on the south rim also.
Dinner at bright angel was as described above - hearty, the staff we're very friendly and the carrot cake for dessert was amazing. There were options of snack type food if you weren't too hungry, or you could indulge in a big American meal. Sharing meals in the US is a good choice as the servings are large and the food comes with fries, potatoes or a 'biscuit' which is what we would call a scone back home. Also breakfast's come mostly with a choice of pancakes, waffles, toast and most likely potatoes also. I will be very surprised if I do not come home heavier that when I left...... With no gym also, I would put money on it!
Tomorrow morning, Hubby and I are planning to get up early and see the morning light over their canyon change at sunrise.