Las Vegas, Sat 31st January (still)
Having crossed many time-zones, it was before 2pm local time when I landed in Nevada. I was quite tired for the next few days, but that was more due to my sleeping arrangements than the effects of jetlag.
I had 6 hours to see Vegas before catching the Greyhound to Flagstaff. My superficial overview of the place is that it is the flashiest (and tackiest) city you can imagine. The wealth is mostly flaunted along the main Strip where 19 of the world's 25 largest hotels are situated. They are built, of course, on all the money frittered away in their casinos. The barrage begins even before you leave the airport, with slot machines in the terminal building! Being on a tight budget, it was a case of 'look but don't touch', but as it happened the hotels were spectacular enough from the street that I wasn't tempted to step foot inside.
Everything about Vegas (and I suppose the U.S. in general) is BIG: the many rows of limo-length parking spaces at the airport; the roads, even in the city centre, have 3 lanes in each direction - can't imagine that in London! On the bus from the airport, I passed 'the world's largest gift shop'. I didn't get off.
And so, to the famous Las Vegas strip. The hotels are unoriginal, imitating various styles or places, but yet they are impressive: the Venetian with its gondolas on a perfectly still canal; 'Paris Las Vegas' with its half-scale replica Eifel Tower and Arc de Triomphe; others are in the Roman style, and even a weird pirate ship/treasure island-type place. But the star of the show is the Bellagio due to its amazing fountain show every 30 minutes. I had an inkling of what to expect from the closing scenes in 'Ocean's Eleven' but it was so much better to experience it in the flesh. The music begins on loudspeakers around the 'lake', and dozens of high-power jets shoot water in the air, choreographed to the music. Standing there watching the fountains dance was quite surreal - I had arrived in the Land of Dreams.