Thursday, May 1, 2014

Wednesday 30 April - Zion National Park

I think everyone in the group felt that one day in Las Vegas was enough - nobody seems to have gambled and several made the trip out of town yesterday to see the Hoover Dam.  We were all happy to meet our local guide, Montana, and our driver, Susan. Perhaps the best part of the Flamingo is the Habitat which is a mini bird sanctuary. The main draw is the flamingos but there were several types of duck, goose and swan, all in well manicured areas. We enjoyed watching a hummingbird which was trying ti get us away from its territory.
We quickly left the main part of Las Vegas but it took a long time to get out of the grotty outskirts.  We eventually found desert and made our way to Springdale. We checked in and had lunch at La Quinta hotel. The afternoon was spent in Zion National Park which is a  canyon with many amazing and  beautiful rock formations. The colors changed with the light and the  viewing position. We stopped several times on our run through to the other side of the park. At one point there is a tunnel in the sandstone which  contains several window openings in the sandstone. The bus had to be sent through specially because of its width. We turned around at the  checkerboard rock and returned to the hotel.  Words don't do it justice so enjoy the pictures.
We had a group dinner this evening.


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Tuesday 29 April - Las Vegas Strip

We returned to Ballys on the monorail and tried to walk through to Paris. These places are all built like rabbit warrens and once inside management doesn't make it easy to get out.

We finally found our way into Paris which has a lot of stores based on Parisien themes, boulangeries, bistrots etc., even the streets were cobbled.  However, the casino area was modelled around the bottom portion of the Eiffel Tower and the vast sky was lit like an approaching storm. We both felt highly claustrophobic and needed to get out in a hurry.
These mango jalapeno margaritas were very strong indeed
We found a bar with with a view over the street, Cabo Wabo Cantina. The mango jalapeno margaritas were very good (and very strong) and we also ate there.  On the street there was a constant flow of people trying to sell something or get people to visit a casino etc. One man was dressed like a roman gladiator with a mask. He was well  muscled and quickly stripped down to a small thong. He went up to all the women and flashed a fan which read "for tips". There were several batchelorette groups of girls who liked this and many pictures were taken of them stuffing money down his thong. There were many other people roaming around dressed up - Darth Vader, Spiderman, Ironman etc. The street was crowded with flatbed advertising trucks just going up and down, They advertised shows and escort services.

 Bellagio was very well done with pleasant flower gardens, a butterfly house and some ornate glass flowers on the ceiling of the lobby. 
A painting of plants at the Bellagio which was relatively tasteful
Later on we looked at Caesars Palace and the volcano at Mirage. 
 Most impressive was the Grand Canal which contained a miniature St. Marks Square and  a canal with gondoliers. This was inside an overall roof which was well lit to produce a sky effect even when it is night outside.  Very different to Paris.
A bright scene even though it was dark outide
Las Vegas is over the top. Everywhere you go your senses are assaulted with loud music, bright lights and different scents and people trying you to spend money. There was open drinking on the street and the police must have many problems at night.
Our hotel lobby
Time to leave - one day is enough.

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