Friday, June 8, 2012

Vacation in Las Vegas

On my prior trip to Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, I really did not have the chance or the time to walk really around and enjoy the city and its places, so when all my  friends asked me to go again for my coming birthday it did not take much to persuade me.
At the Palms bar
After four hrs of driving from Los Angeles, we arrived at this Hotel Rio that has a pretty view of the city and an enjoyable pool. So after checking in we headed to the pool. The weather was at 97 D, just perfect! Once we were at the pool, I received a few phone calls and quickly took care of business, and by the time I layed down on my chair then I witnessed my first “Las Vegas moment”… a young woman lost her top off while going into the pool for a swim.
 My good Friend Lira Luis spoke about the concept of defining space with light which she presented two weeks ago at the Las Vegas convention Center, Click here see the interview.

NAGVA red carpet at Tropicana
I remember walking the whole strip in my first trip to Las Vegas a gazillion years ago, there are new buildings and hotels now, it still has the crowds walking up and down the strip. I had the same feeling as when walking in Hollywood boulevard in any given day

After relaxing for a little bit in the pool, we headed to our first stop, this trendy bar at the Palm that is managed by a star contest show “Sandro”. We had a few drinks and appetizers for my birthday that will be the next day. This place was amazing, the view could not be better, it is located right next to the pool; they have chairs “in the pool” so you can enjoy this place fully from the pool and still have your drinks and appetizers while dipping in the water.

Drinking and walking in the strip still legal
Next stop was the Tropicana Hotel, I remember while growing up and watching this P.I. show about a detective in Las Vegas. But the main reason to visit this hotel was because all my friends from the Volleyball league from all over North America, Las Vegas held the “Nationals” the national Championship cup, and I could not miss this pool party of NAGVA. Pretty much I’ve seen all the people I had played in the past and the present from all over the place, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, etc, some even from Canada as well. I was surprised to see players (friends) that I have not seen in years all reunited here in Las Vegas. Moving on my friends decided to walk around the casinos, I am not in to gambling so I just stayed at the pool until this even died.

Aria front view in day light
The next day, my BD, we went for a walk to the hotel that is located at the end of the strip, the MGM, so a long walk would be required. My friend mentioned the Lions that run wild inside a glass cage, it sounded appealing to me, so we walked. This day was warm but it was really windy too, we were lucky to be walking on the shade side.

One of my friends complaint at times “I’m too hot, I’m too cold, I’m thirsty, it’s windy, my feet hurt… etc“
So when we reached the hotel I was disappointed to hear the lions were gone! But to hear they went to a ranch where they all run wild and free made me happy, they moved on!

New York New York in sunset
I was a bit concerned about how pricey this city can be, just like Los Angeles at times. I do not drink so food was more of a concern for me. 

While walking in one of those malls, somebody called me and asked me if I would like to get to taste samples for free and get paid for it, but how? Well this sounded more interesting to me than gambling or drinking, so I and my friends signed up for that, $50.00 for just barely one hr, not bad. Well this alone paid for the Hotel room.

Metal skin turned in to lighted glass
One of my friends bought me (for my BD) a can of something that tasted like a Margarita, it was good. So we put to the test if drinking in public was still legal in Las Vegas, and you know what? IT WAS! The clerk at that store basically told us that Las Vegas strip is the only place where you can do this, and you have to be a tourist too, so no locals allowed, and nowhere else but the strip.

The police walked by us while carrying our zippies and they just smiled at us, I do not want to even think what the LAPD would have done!

Then we realized we have ahead another long walk back to the hotel, we decided to take the bus, and while waiting for the bus to arrive we found out the fare for a mere few blocks will be $5.00!! FIVE WHOLE US DOLLARS! So even my friend who kept repeating that he was cold, then hot, that is was too windy and that his feet hurt agreed that paying that would be too much and he decided to saved… to keep gambling it!
Lighted metal skin at the Aria

This time we decided to walk on the other side of the street, so I saw this gigantic bottle in from of this mall, it catch my attention for some reason, I noticed that whoever built this structure carefully thought on the seismic factors by designing the structures big enough to support the external forces of the wind, the heat and the earthquakes too. Each piece of glass was carefully attached to the metal structure giving the impression that it is a continuous place of glass.

Like I said in my prior Blog, this city had been designed to be enjoyed in the night, and while the sun sets in the Nevada desert and the lighting systems came to life we all can see how this buildings turned in to a different look in the night. I would like to come back later in the night and see all this again.
Aria south entrance at night

Metal and steel are what I see everywhere. Now I can see in more detail the new city center at the Aria. This building resembles in my mind a similarity to the Disney Concert Hall, but this building has definitely different features, This building has the metal skin and some other materials, I would describe as glass covered by aluminum in other areas, but I cannot figured the motive for that yet.

Suddenly I looked around slowly I’ve just noticed the people are from all over the world, predominantly from all over the country, but still quite diverse crowd, I can recognized some languages I never heard in my whole life, big and small groups they all walk around frenetically taking pictures and going in and out these buildings. By this day I had several Las Vegas moments.
Planet Hollywood skin turned in to life

While coming down one escalator, one tall gorgeous blond girl with a revealing outfit at the bottom of it keep on looking at me strait to my eyes while smiling, when I acknowledged her she wink at me. When we met at the bottom of the escalators she asks me, ”Hey, do you want to have a good time?”, “I’m already having a good time”

We finely reached the hotel to rest for a little bit and check emails in the cell phone since nobody was in the mood to pay $14.99 for 24 hrs of internet connection (I was told it is almost the same at every hotel), this was difficult for me since I have a “dumb” phone, I do not own a smart one. 
At Planet Hollywood

The night was still young and I wanted to do something different for this BD, so I and Robert went to have a dinner and then heading to the Treasure Island where my sister who also lives in Los Angeles was staying in Las Vegas to celebrate also her birthday. I think we stayed until midnight in the restaurant, then while walking to the Hotel we got lost and we ended at the Vegas Center again, but this was a good event, since I had the chance to see and shoot my night pictures of this place, and also to see it from the inside

Bar inside the Aria
This time I was able to see the outside of the Aria metal structure, it makes more sense at night with it metal skin lighted from the inside out, it had these light formations that moved up and down and sideways, some of the metal seemed to had turned out in to glass and light was coming from the inside, it had different shades of metal and lighting.

I had countless people asking for pictures of the 3 story floor chandelier bar which I was able to see again from a better angle. 

Three floor Chandelier bar at the Aria
There was this amazing party going on everywhere with performers; it was just amazing, quite different from last time I was here.

Then we were at the right time at the right place, and I soot my picture.

Then we were on the right track to Treasure Island, and finely after several minutes of search then we met my sister and her friends for a few hours at the casino of this hotel, we spent some time here until we decided it was time to leave the youngsters alone and go back to the hotel.

Me, my sister and Robert at T.I.
The next and final day I was just ready to go back to Los Angeles, but my friends decided to go to the Palms hotel again, I got to admit it was nicer since last time (two weeks ago) maybe because we spent time walking around and taking the time to really enjoy the premises. We almost go to another pool party here, but the lines were too long to get in (thanks god).

Best buffet ever at the Palms
Then we headed to the buffet here, I got to admit that the deal of $8.00 for all you can eat was the best I’ve ever seen in this City and the Buffet was amazing, the seafood was just endless and for just $8.00 more you could have all the drinks you want (wine), I was so happy with the sea food. I noticed the design of this place was so well done that I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of this place.

Carnival at the Rio
I was so tired that I was ready to leave (I don’t like to drive in the eve or in the night) but somebody mentioned we should go to the pool for a final swim before heading the road.  After spending a few hours in the pool then we went inside for the free parade show, my friend mentioned it is just like the Mardy grass but suspended in the air. Definitely this sounded like something I would like to witness, we waited for a few minutes then the show started, there were these gondolas suspended from the roof with dancers inside that give away beets to the people. I collected a few of those; my friend did so too, this was fun and I’m glad I stayed a little bit more to see this show.

Then we were ready to leave when somebody mentioned the Voo-Doo bar is at the top floor of this hotel and we could go to see it before leaving the city.

We went to this bar, but we were told this bar was closed but we could just walk throughout the restaurant in there to the outside and spend some time if we wanted to, so we did.

Voo-Doo Bar at the Rio top floor
While walking throughout this restaurant I could see this happened to be is a nice restaurant and people is dressed nice for the occasion, and we were just walking in sandals, shorts and t shirts.

Once in the outside the view was just breath taking so it was worth the problem.

When finely waiting for the elevator to take us down and while commenting the view and joking around, one of my friends noticed the plastic bag (where I was carrying all of our dry clothes, and the only one we could find in the car) had a sign that read “Food for Less” that I carried to all over the place without even noticing it.