Travel: The glitz, glam and golden nugget

The drive to Vegas was long but the scenery was interesting with its large mountains that stood tall either side of the road. It was as though someone had carved through the rock face in order to pave way for the road that we were driving on.

When we arrived in Vegas we had our eyes glued to the strip that ran alongside us. We saw huge buildings with gold facades and hotels that looked like castles, I was very excited.

We pulled up outside the Golden Nugget which was to be our home for the next few days. With little experience as to what to do when you pull up outside a hotel that offers valet parking, we sort of hovered near the entrance whilst one of us went inside to check in. We were then told to give our keys to the man standing outside in a white outfit and to unload our luggage. The entrance to the hotel was magical, this huge fish tank greeted us with all sorts of tropical fish inside. I was impressed and the fear that I usually experience before checking into a new place was not present.

The room was spacious, clean and the beds looked comfy. Even though I was excited to be in Vegas, I could not wait to climb between the white bed sheets and fall asleep on a comfy mattress. Before I could do that we had to go and explore.

We decided to go and look at the hotel facilities so we donned our swimming clothing and headed to the pool. I couldn’t believe our luck as we entered the pool area and I laid eyes on the huge shark tank that had a slide running through it. The first thing I did was head to the three story slide and whizzed down it. On our tight budget I could not believe we had managed to bag ourselves a room at this swanky hotel.

The boys decided to do some more exploring but Siobhan and I felt we hadn’t fully made the most of the hot tub so we mulled around in there for a little longer before retreating to the room to get ready.

All dressed up we went to find something to eat. God only knows how we ended up in a restaurant that had not left the 1970s. The food was very average and the place was filled with old aged pensioners with gambling addictions. Not what I expected from our first night in Vegas. The Downtown strip however, was very glitzy with its loud music and flashing lights.

Siobhan and I watched the boys gamble whilst we drank our drinks. At around 2am we headed to a fast food takeaway, ready to eat some greasy food and call it a night. In the middle of eating we made friends with three Americans who promised to take us to a great place that stayed open until 7am.

All excited we got in a taxi and followed them to where the locals hang outs. When we got there are mouths dropped open as we entered a bar that was about to close. The DJ was persuaded to put some music on and the lights were turned back off. We sat on the chairs and hoped it would get busier. When it didn’t liven up we sat waiting for a suitable time to say we were going home so as not to appear rude, luckily they bailed on us first.

We returned to the room at about 5am and I quickly fell asleep.

The following day I got up and went for breakfast, enjoying some alone time whilst the others slept. As I sat there two men started talking to me, they must have been in there 30s. I discovered that they were here on business and after overhearing part of their previous conversation I new they had wives. This did not stop one of them giving me his number on a napkin and asking me to call him so I could ‘catch a drink’ with him later that night. Needless to say I left the piece of napkin with the number on it on my plate before leaving the restaurant.

I then went and fell asleep on the sun loungers for a good few hours and before I new it, it was time for diner. We ate in the hotel and I ended up watching a film in bed before having an early night. It was a much needed, lazy day.

The following day we planned to take a trip to the Grand Canyon. A lady had told us that it takes three hours to get there so we left at nine in the morning thinking we would arrive around midday. This lady was an idiot! It did not take us three hours, no, it took us five or more hours to reach the gates to the park and then probably about another half an hour to get near the Canyon. When we finally got there, all restless and annoyed, we could not believe our luck because the mist that had rolled in from the east was covering the whole of the Canyon. Feeling like we wanted to commit we couldn’t have been in a better place. Trying to stay calm, we decided to drive a little higher up the road. This was a good decision as we were able, at long last, to see what we had driven all those hours for.

The Grand Canyon certainly lived up to his name and I may be slightly ashamed to admit it but it almost took my breath away. The sheer depth and size of the place was incredible. I have never seen anything like it. I am so glad we persisted with the long drive to see one of the seven wonders of the world.

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A friendly warning, if you go to the Canyon, make sure you wear something warm as it was very windy!

After hours of viewing the Canyon we all piled back into the car just before it started to rain. Josh was very brave as he drove down the windy roads in the pouring rain. By the time we got to the bottom it was dark and visibility was very poor due to the weather. We decided to stop for some dinner at a pizza place and I took over the driving.

After eating we got back on the road and I was driving along at a steady pace when suddenly I saw a ball of fur in the middle of my lane. With nowhere to turn as a lorry sped on past me, I had no other choice but to run over the poor little creature that was in my way. With a sudden bang followed by an incredible smell we all thought something had happened to our tyres. I pulled over and the boys got out to look. I had images of a shredded up tire, just like the ones you regularly see at the side of the road. Luckily we could not see anything wrong so Josh decided to take over the driving and we carried on.

As we got back on the road we could hear a distictive banging sound so we thought it was best to get off the freeway and find somewhere with a little more light so we could have a proper look. We still couldn’t see anything so again we carried on and I was positive I had ran over a skunk which is what was causing the horrendous smell. Getting back on the freeway however proved a little tricky. Josh ended up going the wrong way down a road which attracted the attention of a cop. I could not quite believe it when I saw the blue and red flashing lights in the wing mirror.

We pulled over yet again and the cop came up to the drivers window and asked us what went wrong. Josh explained our story which only led to the officer asking to see his ID and for our entire car to be fully searched whilst we stood at the side of the road in the rain chatting to another cop.

It turns out that we were in one of the biggest and well known areas for drug smuggling and a common story that someone tells, when being pulled over having been smoking weed, is that they have ran over a skunk because it is a similar smell.

We obviously did not have any drugs and I think the officer realised this after chatting to us, so he gave us a souvenir sticker and sent us on our way. We can all laugh about it now but at the time it was just another thing that had gone wrong that day.

After another hour or two we finally made in back to the Golden Nugget and I was able to climb into those lovely bed sheets and fall asleep.

The following day we decided to explore the main Las Vegas strip. We went to the Hard Rock cafe for lunch and Siobhan and I shared a full rack of ribs.

We then wondered through all the different hotels, admiring all the different themes.

The Mandalay had a huge casino floor and an Aquarium inside but unfortunately you had to pay for that.

The Luxor was incredible, with its pyramid shape I really wanted to see what the rooms looked like as they lined the slanted roof.

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New York New York hotel had a huge roller coaster that surrounded the permitter and inside it looked like an Italian market with quaint little shop fronts.

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Late that afternoon we all went back to the hotel and chilled by the pool. That evening we decided to go to a club and I had managed to get us free entry due to a club promoter contacting me on Twitter. The club was called Marque and we later found out, as we were dancing away inside the spectacular club, that you are supposed to pay $90 to get inside.

It had dancers that lined the stage, hot tubs outside that lit up and very expensive drinks. I have never been to a club like it and I don’t think anywhere will ever top the place.

The following day we recovered by the pool in the morning and went to see the White Chapel and the rest of the strip in the evening.

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A highlight of my trip to Vegas would definitely be standing outside the Bellagio hotel watching the fountains dance to music. It was enticing and magical and I wanted to watch it over and over.

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We ate dinner in a place called Serendipity and it just reminded me of the film. We also went inside the Venetian hotel which was had boats floating up and down a river on the second floor.

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The last thing we did in Vegas was watch a very cheesy pirate show in the Treasure Island hotel. It was a great way to end a fabulous trip to such a crazy place.

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