4 January 2004

Vegas Day 4: Xmas Eve

At this point, we’d had three very active days with lots of walking. We were both pretty tired, it was Christmas Eve, and we were supposedly on vacation. It was time to slow things down a little and relax more.

We start off with breakfast at Krispy Kreme. I pick out three doughnuts for myself—one chocolate glazed with cream filling, one “classic” glazed fresh from the cooling rack, and one festive donut with red, white and green Xmas sprinkles.

The chocolate frosted cream doughnut is light and fluffy, and the Xmas donut has the added crunchiness of sprinkles… but it’s the classic KK frosted plain doughnut that is of legendary perfection. Sweet but not too sweet, and so light and fluffy you can hardly believe you’re eating it. It makes Dunkin Donuts’ best efforts seem like a Clif Bar. Krispy Kreme’s coffee is good too—rich, with no trace of bitterness. It’s good enough to drink black, which is something I wouldn’t advise trying with Dunkin Donuts’ coffee.

Next we head to the middle of the strip to visit the Venetian, the Bellagio and the Mirage. The Bellagio is across from Paris—which, of course, has a large replica of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a cheat, though—the real Eiffel Tower has diagonal elevators which climb the legs, whereas the replica just has a conventional vertical elevator.

The Bellagio is known for its amazing water fountain shows. We catch a surprisingly moving aquatic interpretation of the US national anthem; the majestic towers of water really do seem to add something, and in the noonday winter sun they form a beautiful rainbow too.

The fountains have over 1,200 nozzles, which shoot water up to 75m into the sky. It’s truly amazing to see. They somehow get the water to look as if it’s a curtain of standing columns, then suddenly the entire structure collapses into mist.

The inside of the Bellagio is beautiful as well; it turns out to be decked out for Christmas. One giant hall has a small pine forest in it, with topiary reindeer and giant Christmas baubles, plus a small snow machine scattering occasional drifts of fake snow over the guests. Plastic icicles decorate the trees.

The Venetian’s decor is slightly more austere; in fact, it’s minimalist by Vegas standards. Marble floors and painted ceilings. Oh, and an indoor reproduction of a Venetian canal, with bridges across and shops on either side. Painted skies look remarkably convincing as gondoliers serenade their passengers.

The external architecture is quite Italian-looking as well, if you overlook the giant video screens which seem to be ubiquitous in Vegas. The canals emerge into the piazza outside the hotel.

In the evening, we head downtown. This is the “original” Vegas, containing the casinos you see James Bond speed past in “Diamonds Are Forever”. Nowadays most of Fremont Street has been closed to traffic and turned into a giant pedestrianized mall, with the world’s largest LED screen overhead as a roof.

World class topless girls” are on offer, from “exotic locations” such as Cleveland, Ohio. There are also endless stores filled with cheap trinkets, so if you’re ever in Vegas and need to get small gifts for everyone this is a good place to do it.

We decide against taking our photo outside The Four Queens, and the famous Golden Nugget doesn’t have the neon to compete with its neighbors, so here we are in front of the Horseshoe.

Some old neon signs have been preserved as a kind of “museum of neon”. Most are still in working order.

As far as food goes, the cuisine on offer seems rather limited, so we decide to head back to our end of the strip to find food.

We drop in at the Tropicana, which James Bond namechecks in “Diamonds are Forever” (although the location shooting for the film took place at the Hilton). The Tropicana has made no attempt to become anything more than a casino with hotel, and pretty much still targets the James Bond market—its main attractions being things like topless showgirls and blackjack tables in the swimming pool. The food choices are decidedly unimpressive, so we end up eating at the Luxor again.

When we get back to the room, we channel surf until we end up watching “America’s Funniest (Holiday) Videos”. A clip of a kid trying out his new snowboard and sliding face first into a bush leaves me in fits of laughter.

“I can’t help it,” I gasp, “I’m a bad person, I always laugh at the ones where the little kids get smacked in the face.”“That’s why I love you,” replies sara, laughing.

After that we flip channels and end up watching a documentary about Mormons. Ever since that highly educational South Park episode, we’ve been wanting to know more…

© mathew 2017