Terry and I got engaged during a trip to Las Vegas.
Actually, we got engaged at the Grand Canyon, if you want to be specific. We were there on a road trip from Vegas, though (Pro Tip: don’t do that. Take a helicopter tour. Trust me on this.), so I’ve always associated the engagement with Vegas itself almost as much as with the Canyon, and for that reason, it’s always held good – if slightly surreal – memories for me. Well, where else in the world can your holiday include the Eiffel Tower AND the Empire State Building, not to mention as many slot machines and topless dancers as your heart desires? Exactly.
As much as we enjoyed our first trip to Vegas, though, it was during that holiday that it became obvious to us that Terry was ill. Like, REALLY ill. And probably with something more serious than the “acid reflux” his doctor had kept on diagnosing, too. (Yeah, we’re still not over it. Probably never will be, really.) He didn’t sleep because he felt so ill. I didn’t sleep because I was so worried about him (and also because the jetlag on that trip was a bitch, seriously). Then, three days after we got home, Terry was diagnosed with kidney failure, and told he’d need a transplant: after that, it was almost like the holiday hadn’t even happened.
We did love Vegas, though.
And, because we loved Vegas, I’ve always wanted to go back: to experience it the way it’s MEANT to be experienced – i.e. with no one suffering from end-stage renal failure. That would be a start, right? Well, last month, I finally got my wish. We drove to Vegas on a Sunday morning, and checked into The Palms Resort, which is quite a place, let me tell you.
The Palms isn’t on the famous Las Vegas strip, which we’d worried about a bit when we booked it. As it turned out, though, it didn’t matter: the Strip itself is so long you’re probably going to have to get a bus or taxi at some point anyway, if you want to see it all (The Palms had a free courtesy bus which ran to and from the Strip, but we had our hire car with us too, obviously…), and being off-Strip means that you get amazing views of the Strip itself:
Which is pretty cool, no?
We didn’t spend much time looking at it, though, because once we’d checked in we basically just dumped our bags in the room, quickly changed out of our travel clothes (Well, I did, anyway: I don’t think Terry makes much of a distinction between “travel clothes” and “regular clothes”, really…) and got a taxi to The Bellagio, purely because it was our favourite hotel from our last trip to Vegas:
For me, the dancing fountains in front of The Bellagio epitomise Vegas, and I find it hard to tear myself away from them: I actually teared up a bit watching them. Awkward.
My mum and dad were keen to see the Cirque du Soleil Beatles tribute at the Mirage (we’d have liked to see it too, but the tickets were super-expensive, and we had so much else we wanted to see we’d have struggled to fit it all in: next time, though!), so we headed there next, and they went off to see the show, leaving Terry and I to explore some of the hotels. Because yeah, in Vegas that’s a thing: the hotels and casinos are as much tourists attractions as they are places to stay/gamble, and walking through them is… well, it’s an experience, let’s put it that way.
These hotels are just out-of-this-world amazing, basically. As well as the casinos (Which are so huge you feel like you’ll never escape them), most of them have tons of other stuff to see: The Venetian, for instance, has a replica of the Venice canals. And it’s huge. And you can take a gondola ride in it. It’s a bit like Disney, only with gambling. Oh yeah, and alcohol. Most of the hotels we walked through also had malls inside them (But, like, full-sized, giant malls. I saw no less than three Christian Louboutin stores in the space of a couple of hours, plus a Topshop that was approximately the same size a hotel would be back home. As for the actual hotels, they’re the size a small city would be back home, not even joking. It’s insane – but in a good way. Or a really fascinating way, at least.
According to my Fitbit, we walked at least ten miles that day, most of that through hotels and casinos, and up and down the strip. By the end of that first day, we both felt like we’d experienced Vegas in a way we didn’t quite manage in the week we stayed there last time: no, we didn’t see everything, but what we did see was pretty amazing, and we managed to cram in an impressive amount of sightseeing. And it has to be said that sipping a glass of wine while looking out at the twinkling lights of the Vegas skyline is a pretty good way to end your night…
Vegas probably isn’t a place I’d want to spend a LOT of time in: it’s such an assault on the senses that it starts to feel a little bit overwhelming after a while. There’s nowhere like it, though, and I’m so happy I got to go back, to see it in the summer (Last time we went in December, and I spent the entire week wearing the clothes I’d travelled in, because It. Was. Freezing.), and, most importantly, for Terry and I to get to see it in good health.
Vegas, you were a blast: let’s hope we get to see you again soon.