Archives for category: Las Vegas

I didn’t realize how short I actually was until I looked at the photos!

I had wanted to do this tour after reading about it on a Vegas site.  It was great and if you get the chance to do it, don’t hesitate.   To be exact it’s an All Access Backstage Walking Tour  and provides a whole different perspective on the Jubilee at Bally’s topless show.  The show is based on numbers around the ‘old Las Vegas’ style shows.

We were met by our guide (the leggy, beautiful one in the top photo), on the actual stage where she and her co-stars/dancers perform every night.  How can I describe her?  Beautiful doesn’t do her justice, amazing is over used but to be truthful she was both.  I’m sorry that I can’t remember her name but let’s just call her Belle for now.

She started by giving a short history on Vegas shows.  How tall you have to be.  Obviously, I won’t be employed anytime soon.   The differences between the bluebells and topless dancers.  She also said that they have to audition every 6 months for their jobs, it’s an iconic post and they only want perfection!

 She gave a good insight about the costumes and the amount of work that’s put in making up a show like this.

We got to see backstage and the dressing rooms, and an in-depth look at costumes, props, headdresses. 

 Some of the bedazzled costumes, can weigh as much as 35 pounds.

We were allowed to poke our noses in the wardrobe crew room.  They handle everything from laundry to costume maintenance, sequin stitching and alterations. Because fishnet stockings rip on a daily basis, the wardrobe team can spend as many as 13 hours a day mending them.   Thank goodness I haven’t got that job!  Although, I’m sure my husband would be up for the post as dresser!

The tour takes you also to see the huge props that are used for the various ‘numbers’.  ‘Belle’ explained that they have an army of stagehands working behind the scenes to create the different stage backgrounds.

So interesting to see another side of my beloved Vegas and one that I would recommend to anyone and everyone!


Again, another unmissable Las Vegas excursion.

Whenever you see Kim Kardashian in Las Vegas, she’s in a bikini!  Let’s just say don’t bother  bringing anthing less than thermal underwear, in December on this fantastic adventure-  It’s VERY EXPENSIVE but worth every dollar. 

Hotel pick up, I can’t remember what time exactly but for us and our jetlag, the earlier the better.  You are taken to the Hover Dam and driven down the little trail that the 1931 construction workers used, whilst builing this amazing project.

At the end of a stone jetty, your raft awaits.  The whole scenic 11 mile float along the Colorado River is filled with interesting things to see.  Some of which, we even managed to photograph.  Again top marks for the guide/skipper, who tells you dittys about the early explorers looking for gold.

As always, we pick our visiting month when it’s coldest, December, so let’s just say it was bloody freezing.  Felt like Pocahontas but unfortunately didn’t look anything like her!

2nd part of the trip was the holiday highlight.

You are then picked up and taken back to the Hacienda Hotel.  Here, unfortunately, they asked us to leave and wait outside because the kids wouldn’t stop trying to play on the casino machines!!!

 Good news was that our yellow “Hummer”, Deep Desert Exploration Vehicle arrived at the same time.  Hooray! 

I was quite nervous at what to expect (being the scaredy cat, that I am) and whilst on the road to the Frenchmen Mountains (where the rough bit starts) you begin to let your guard down and relax. Our guide THE BEST IN LAS VEGAS (I’m so sorry that I can’t remember his name) began to tell us about how he grew up in LA, moved to Las Vegas whilst trying to break from a notorious gang and completely turned his life around.   For a busy body like me it was Christmas come early.


Wham, without noticing we had turned off the main road.  Now it was ‘hold on to ya hats time’.  OMG,  we all started screaming, up and down, how the car didn’t topple over was down to his driving skills.  This was adventure with a capital A .  It really was  the ride of our lives.  Forget theme park fake attractions.  This was Topgear in HD.


One secret I will share is that, at one point he stopped the hummer at the major fault line, at Lava Butte and told us to get out of the car, give him our expensive camera and walk up the mountain a bit and he would take a photo!  Once, we had started walking away from him my husband turns to me and says quietly  ‘We are in the middle of the dessert, an ex-gang member has got our camera, your handbag and has told us to walk up a mountain,  I hope to hell that when we turn around he’s still there’!  He was and here is the photo to prove that we have had the adventure tour of our lives thanks to him and his hummer.  THANK YOU!

Thinking back now, the day I met Mike Tyson was surreal.

It was our last day in Las Vegas and had already checked in for our flight home.  The great thing about checking in here though, is that, you can do it at your hotel and make use of another full day spending money!

My husband spends every waking minute, with a grand camera strapped around his neck.  The one time he didn”t have his camera is when we came face to face with MIKE TYSON.  That could only happen to us.  All was not lost as my son did have an iphone fortunately.

For collectors and enthusiasts of memorabilia Vegas is great.   There are brilliant stores full to the brim of autographed photos, records, sportswear and general tat.  Together with my next holiday fund I will be trying to squirrel away $7500 more for the signed ‘Thriller’ album cover + glove in a presentation box.  Being a Michael Jackson fan and Thriller particularly holding so many happy memories.

Well, to get back to Mike, whilst we were sifting through autographs in a shop in Ceasar’s Palace, I overheard a conversation between two of the assistants.  They were complaining that it was going to be slow because Mike Tyson was signing memorabilia in another shop in the same mall.So, I inched in further and couldn’t resist poking my extremely long nose in and asked, where exactly could I find the former undisputed champion of boxing.   Guess what?  They wouldn’t tell me!  How callous was that???  Calmly I turned,  collected hubby and the kids and pushed them out of the shop.  The hunt was on for Mike Tyson!!!! 

Luckily, for us he was 150yards away at ‘Field of dreams’.  We got in line with our newly bought boxing glove,  iphone at the ready.  The kids excitement was infectious by the time  it was our turn, all six of us were giggling with nerves,   even me.   In we went.  We gave the camera/phone to his assistant and that was that.  The kids were firing questions, left right and centre.  He was soooo nice.  He smelt and looked pristine.  The man definitely looks after himself.  (I had read a few things about him in the newspaper about all his past antics and hadn’t been impressed).  Then, I don’t know what happened to me, whether it was nerves or just complete insanity.  I started telling him off about the tattoo on his face.  My kids started screaming with laughter and trying to pull me out of the room but I still continued to take the legendary Mike Tyson to task.  When I was finally finished, I took the camera off the assisstant and said ‘Goodbye Mr Tyson’ and walked out.  I don’t know who was more surprised me or him. 

We then, still laughing went into Planet Hollywood for a burger and to look at the photos.  Attached is the evidence of my Mike Tyson adventure.

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This year with all 6 of us going, I made an effort to look ONLY for cheaper option tours.  I found it through Viator and at the time it did have an extra percent off.  It was a great tour, small and friendly.  With a great guide.  Well worth doing.  Our age ranges are 40ish, early twenties and under 10’s.  So a real mixed bag and this excursion was charming for everyone!

Hotel pick up is important, seeing as there are a lot of us getting ready at one time + the fact that in Las Vegas distances are deceptive.  Another great plus is that a picnic lunch is included.  Although, they are all the same type of fare, it’s nice quality and does the job perfectly.

It’s not a long drive to the Red rock canyon National Conservation area.  You start off at their visitor’s centre.  This should be made obligatory for everyone visiting Las Vegas.  The scenery is amazing and the silence of the huge surrounding, colourful mountains bewitching.

You are then taken on a leisurely 13-mile (21-kilometer) scenic loop. Stops along the way include the colorful sandstone Calico Hills, limestone Indian roasting pits and the petroglyphs at Willow Springs. 

The finale and most exciting part for me was a visit to Spring Mountain State Park, a ranch once owned by eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes.  The ranch had been owned by various people before Mr Hughes, one of which was VERA KRUPP.  Vera Krupp was an actress, who had married and divorced a wealthy German industrialist.  She had fallen in love with the ranch and with part of the divorce settlement bought it.  She bred horses there, installed a bidet and held wonderful showbiz parties there. 

One night, two men broke into Vera Krupp’s ranch  and pried a diamond ring off her finger. This wasn’t just any diamond: Aside from its 33-karat weight, it had a blue-white center and was set with two smaller baguette-shaped diamonds on either side of the marble-sized center stone. And it was worth $275,000, which was a considerable value in the 1950s.  Krupp and her ranch foreman had been tied up in the robbery and had to drive to the airport in Las Vegas to alert authorities. The FBI found the main diamond in New Jersey; it was sewn into the lining of a coat hanging in a hotel closet.  The side stones were found at a jeweler’s store in St. Louis later in the investigation .  Krupp put her ring back together and it was sold at auction after her death to Richard Burton for about $305,000. Burton gave it to his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, as a gift. She kept the diamond until her death in 2011.

Another great aspect of this tour is that although it’s 6 hours you are back on the strip by just after midday.

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This post could take a long time in writting, so I will keep it to the point.

My favourite is The Wynn because it’s the classiest.  When I go on holiday, I want the best that I can afford.  I have stayed in all 3, The Wynn, The Bellagio and The Palazzo, but the standard never drops in The Wynn.  Unfortunately, in the other 2 (maybe because of the recession) the attention to detail isn’t there at the moment.  It is an absolute tragedy that so much money has been invested in building these wonderful resorts and someone, somewhere is responsible of letting this happen.  Who is in charge of stained carpets in the guest rooms?  Who is in charge of re-touching up the wooden furniture?   Who is in charge of re-filling the tolietries?   It’s in these tiny details that will set you below the benchmark.  What were once the height of glamour and excellance are just becoming slightly lacklustre.  The Wynn (Dec 2011) has the edge.  So for the same amount of bucks, I know where I’ll be checking-in to.

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Over the las 5 years, on our wonderful Las Vegas holidays, we must have experienced 85% of the one day organized tours.  We have tried various companies.  Some expensive options and this year, with 6 of us going, more economic versions.  I’ve decided that spending a bit more makes for a better excursion.

The first year we tried Pink Jeep, west rim to the Grand Canyon.   At the time, I was too scared to go in a helicopter or tiny plane.  So a long but very enjoyable and comfortable trip in a Jeep.  Guide excellent, stop offs interesting, all in all great trip.  This December, unfortunately, we or rather I paid about a third of the price for the ‘same’ tour but by bus.  We used Papillon bus tours.  Never again!  The operation of actually picking everyone up, going to their central offices and wasting valuable time is RIDICULOUS.  Please, if you are reading this and considering going on their trip.  DON’T.  The Grand Canyon is called this for one reason.  This is because it’s Grand and if you are travelling half way across the world to see it, pay the extra and savour the moment! 


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What is not to love about Vegas?  It’s the original ‘Emerald city’, and everyone has the possibility of becoming rich. 

As you exit from the airport and can at once see the outline of the Strip, the rush of excitement starts.  It’s definitely magical.  Unfortunately or fortunately depending upon how you look at it I’m addicted to Vegas!  Fortunately because I spend 11 months and 3 weeks dreaming and saving for my return and unfortunatelybecause  the week that I’m or rather we’re there passes TOO FRIGGIN QUICK!

I’m not a gambling addict or have lots of money to spend.  What is the main attraction then for me?  It has to be the greatest place on earth for an observer.   Don’t get me wrong, it is the best place for shopping, (yes, better than New York, London and Barcelona).  It is the best place for variety of shows (yes, better than the West End, Broadway and I’m definitely not including Barcelona in this comparison as it’s dire).  I don’t know if it has the biggest or best collection of luxury hotels in the world but if it doesn’t hold this accolade, it must be very close.  But the award for most amazing contrasts in one location HAS TO GO TO VEGAS.  That for me, an observer, is certainly the main draw.

For me to physically get to Vegas, is a major undertaking.  I live on the Costa Brava in Tossa de mar, Spain (a very beautiful place and completely different from LV).   It’s a very long way and very expensive too.  To get there, we generally first fly to London and then travel by Virgin Atlantic.  I’ve tried over the years of looking at price comparison sites, with Virgin, with BA holidays and have found that the cheapest for the same holiday + insurance (if booked 3ish months in advance) is  Don’t get me wrong NOTHING ABOUT THE WHOLE ADVENTURE IS CHEAP.  However, after 5 successive years and more hours than I care to think of trawling the internet.  This is my personal conclusion.

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