Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sin City

The main reason for hauling ourselves across country was to see Celine Dion (please see my previous post for details). And, besides that, I was looking forward to visiting Las Vegas because of its links with Elvis and more recently CSI...although, despite being an avid fan it did cause a little hesitation; I mean did I want to got to a place where a lot of gruesome crimes took place? What if we accidentally walked into the wrong part of Vegas? The episode of Greg encountering the gang of thugs who preyed on tourists filled my mind!

But I pushed them aside - Las Vegas was on my list of places to visit!

Packed and with Celine tickets in hand, we arrived late evening. And, when I say late, I mean ten to midnight. We found it quite difficult to find a flight that arrived midday but me thinks it's a marketing ploy. Flying over the city is an amazing sight. The strip and all the lights from the surrounding area twinkling above you is impressive. It also has a slightly surreal look to it as the city is ablaze with lights and its surrounded by a deep darkness that makes the place look like it's floating in mid air.

Before we arrived, we checked out the weather as we knew mid-June would be hot. So we knew to expect 100deg/F temps; the airport doors opened and "the air that came in was like the breath of an oven" (Roald Dahl, The Visitor). Hubby and I looked at each other wondering if we would survive the heat?!

We stayed at Caesar's Palace and were given a room in "The Towers", with a 'breathtaking' view of The Colosseum and a 1/3 of The Flamingo hotel. Despite the late hour, we dropped our bags and wondered around part of the hotel. Next morning, as suggested by the guide books, we allowed ourselves to acclimatise to the Vegas staying in mostly! We ambled around the Forum Shops, stopped by a few Black Jack tables and tried to avoid the smoke. We didn't realize but smoking is allowed in all casinos and if you're not careful, as you walk through, a puff of smoke will drift in your direction from the patron 'spinning' the Wheel of Fortune wheel! Lovely..

Our ethos for the week was "path of least resistance". Why? Simply because of the throngs of people that sauntered along the sidewalk, through the one point it felt like we were trapped on a conveyor belt just walking up and down the strip. And the remarkable thing? We walked miles that week but never left the strip! That's how big this place is - you think, lets just pop along to MGM, you see the sign in the distance, 20mins later, you're no nearer!

Hubby and I did quite a lot on our week away. Besides the marathon walking through hotels (I'm sure they perfected the "you have to walk through the entire hotel to get anywhere" stance from IKEA!); we saw the lions at MGM, walked beneath sharks at Shark Reef, donned flak jackets and became CSI rookies; brunched at The Four Seasons, took the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower, met Elvis, Oprah and the President at Madam Tussauds watched the Sirens at Treasure Island, oohed and ahh'ed at the Volcano (ok, I did that) at the Mirage and went to marvel the Hoover Dam.

The best thing we did was visit the Gun Store, which basically gave anyone a chance to shoot a real gun! We had to choose which weapon we wanted to shoot and after a while, I eventually decided on a Glock 19, Hubby went with the Sig Sauer 226 and an M4 machine gun. After choosing our targets it was time to shoot and naturally, I was a tad anxious having never done it before. Boy the recall on the Glock was powerful, I have no idea how gangsters and the like can be so 'baad' ass with these things. And the noise! Geez...we both managed to cause serious wounds to our target, some were kill shots and others - well they were lucky we missed. The time flew but it was great fun..

Vegas is a shoppers paradise! I was amazed at the amount of people who popped into Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Cartier and actually came out with bags. But whilst trying to avoid being enticed, I spotted the Michael Kors handbags. My eyes were drawn to the beautiful Tangerine Gia Satchel. As I picked it up, sales assistants swarmed me. Hubby completely floored me by asking if I wanted it. "Is the Pope Catholic? Ah...if only" I sighed; and then he bought it for me! I kept saying no, you can't but Hubby being just Hubby ignored the mouth and followed the longing in my eyes! Gawd Bless 'im...

Overall, I'm glad we went to Sin City. Although disappointed that I couldn't feed actual quarters into the slot machines, I played the slot Vegas! There were some hotels that really needed a revamp (Imperial Palace was ropey to say the least!) and the cocktail waitresses that bought you drinks as you played the tables/slots were a lot of the times mutton dressed as lamb and some could do with whitening their dentures. The Pussycat Dolls tables were a highlight (I wonder why?!) but the girls doing the pole dancing a) didn't do it in time to the music and b) looked so bored?! Come the nighttime and there was a plethora of men and women dressed up to the nines queuing to get in to the clubs. Which made people watching a blast...ok it was mainly me bitchin' at what people wore, stunned at the heel heights and how many 'sugar daddy's' were around!

So if you're off to visit the great Las Vegas, I recommend (in no particular order) the following:

1. See Celine Dion - Caesars Palace
2. Lunch at Munch Bar - Caesars Palace (the chilli is to die for)
3. CSI Experience - MGM
4. Breakfast - Mandalay Bay/Four Seasons
5. The Gun Shop
6. A cup of tea & a slice of cake - Payard, Caesars Palace.

Oh and if you're going to gamble, study how to play the could go home with a lot of money. Sadly, Hubby and I came away with $25 at the end of the week. Ah well, I'll stick to the Grand National, better odds. But I still won big time anyway...with my fabulous new handbag!! Viva Las Vegas...

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Fabulous Celine

I've just come back from Las Vegas having seen Celine Dion in was AMAZING!!

There are very few artists that I 'love'. Readers of a previous entry will know that one of these few loves is my undying one for Rick Astley; and that was really it until Celine Dion came along.

I wouldn't claim to be her biggest fan, but I certainly have the majority of her albums and know the lyrics to all the songs, the names of her children, that she has a home in LA, Las Vegas and Canada...but, no not a huge fan.

I've always wanted to see her in concert but with one thing and the other, never got around to it. When she announced six years ago that she was going to do a five year show in Vegas, it got me thinking...wouldn't it be great to go and see her. But yet again, life intervened and pushed it to the back of my mind.

The five years came and went and I felt saddened that I didn't make it to see her. Sister kindly tried to get tickets to see her when she was doing her world tour, but it never happened. Then, Celine made an announcement that she was returning to The Colosseum and my mind started to race - for at the same time Hubby and I were America bound.

I again, put it to the back of my mind for a while but then April last year, I called Hubby (who was already stateside) asking nay, begging to go to the concert. I argued cost wise it may not be too much as we're already in America...cutting a long story short, my wonderful and generous Hubby agreed and a year later we were on a plane heading to Vegas.

The evening of the concert, as I got dressed I began to get very excited. Staying at Caesars Palace meant that we had a very short walk from the elevator to the main doors of The Colosseum, so I wore my strappy wedge heels without fear of a blister!

I wasn't 100% sure of the seats that I booked. Looking at a diagram when booking I figured we had pretty good seats. When we were shown to our seats we were less than 10ft away from the stage; albeit we would spend most of the show looking side onto Celine, but frankly, I didn't care! I was seeing Celine live!

Before we went, I said to Hubby that we had to dress up. No ball-gown and tiara but nice, smart jeans and a shirt type thing. So we did that but actually felt a tad overdressed when we looked at what some people wore. Forgive me for sounding like a snob, but why have people lost the sense of occasion? You're here seeing Celine at Caesars Palace! A few people were wearing three-quarter length trousers and trainers, one guy had on a shorts and a vest type thing. I couldn't help but have a look of disdain on my face!

Moving on....

....we settled into our seats and the show began; and boy was it amazing! The stage setting was simple as its main focus was the orchestra that played behind Celine. As she sang her first song, images of when she first started singing appeared. The show included a tribute to Michael Jackson who came to see her at the first set of Vegas shows and a duet with Stevie Wonder and an incredible french song which reduced her to tears.

Her array of dresses were stunning - long flowing numbers with just the right amount of sparkle and the shoes! of art.

The concert was soon over ending with a couple of numbers that had us all on our feet dancing. Thankfully, it drowned out the old guy who sat next to me who insisted on humming away to most songs. I wouldn't have minded except he hummed out of tune and a tad loudly...

Celine's encore was to sing My Heart Will Go On. She wore a sea green/light aqua flowing dress with a jeweled flower motif at the waist. As she sang, she was raised on a podium and as the song hit its crescendo, down came a circular cascade of water around her. Breathtaking!

Even if you're not a fan of Celine, I would recommend seeing her. She's funny, chats with the audience, she sings live every night...and boy is she a powerhouse of a singer. Brilliant stuff...I wanted to see her all over again...but we had other things to do in Vegas and well, I couldn't subject Hubby to another Celine concert....or could I?

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