Travelling by bus, we approached the city from the east over the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial bridge, crossing the Colorado River from Arizona. It was here I caught my first glimpse of Lake Mead shimmering in the mid afternoon sun beyond the concrete walls of Hoover Dam.
After forty five minutes of rolling through the city fringes, our bus came to a stop just on the southern end of the Strip. Our tour party was then unleashed upon the iconic <Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada> sign. It was July and at 105 degrees (40.5 degrees Celsius) the desert heat was palpable. We quickly posed for photographs and re-entered the comfort of our air conditioned bus. I spotted that other icon, Elvis in the car park.
We arrived at our hotel on the Strip via a back entrance, this is normal as there is only pedestrian access off the Strip. After checking into our room, we headed back to reception in the hotel lobby and then navigated the maze of poker machines and black jack tables out to the Strip (hotel reception is on the same level as the casino). There were people everywhere and this was a only a Sunday.
Over the next two days we would visit the Stratosphere and watch the sun set over Vegas as well as watch crazy English tourists bungee jump from the 111th floor, we caught a show at the Rio (Celine Dion, the Phantom of the Opera, Cirque du Soleil and David Copperfield were all headlining that weekend) and take a Pink Jeep tour of Hoover Dam . Incidentally if you see pickup trucks with jet skis in tow in the middle of the desert, this is the reason why – Lake Mead offers year round recreational opportunities for swimmers, boaters, fishermen and those jet ski folk.
There are themed Casinos which in the evenings put on free shows on the hour every hour (like Treasure Island at the Mirage with its banshees and swashbuckling pirates on their pirate ships). There is plenty to see just walking the Strip but do make sure to prepare yourself with plenty of water as it gets hot and the heat is dry. If you get a chance head down to Glitter Gulch in the evenings which is in downtown Las Vegas and catch the Fremont Light Experience – a 10 minute light show choreographed to music.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to see and do everything, Elvis certainly was right, you do need more than 24 hours in Vegas.