We quickly learned that at most meals one serving is more than enough for both of us. (Well, they included 16oz steaks). A bowl of fruit for breakfast was as much as I would put out in a serving bowl for three or four. But even that was chicken feed compared with buffets which offered more than 300 choices. The corollary to this is of course BIG people. Sadly, women seem to be outdoing the men in size. Sizes in women’s wear departments go up to eight X in front of Large. In other words XXXXXXXXL . How the wearers of these garments could fit into an economy airline seat is a mystery.
And there’s the hotels – if that’s the right name for them. Hundreds upon hundreds, huge and not just named but themed - after their namesake cities. New York New York
offers a ‘classic Manhattan skyline’, The Venetian
offers real life-sized gondola rides, (indoors or out) and Rio
tempts with South American delights.
We’re staying in Paris
(the hotel not the place). It has just under 3000 rooms,(2916 actually) multiple restaurants and bars. But, relatively speaking, it’s a tiddler. Some of its neighbours have 5,000 rooms. In Paris
, the hotel architects went to great lengths to create a Parisian atmosphere. The place has an Eiffel tower - an exact replica of the one in Paris but half size. (Full height would have interfered with the airport flight path).
Inside the hotel there’s an area equalling about two city blocks, covered with a sky complete with clouds on the move. Around it are shop facades, two and three stories high, cobbled avenues and street lamps identical to those in the real Paris.
Across the boulevard from this hotel city is the Bellargio
hotel which is much newer - and much grander. One thousand synchronised fountains play to opera music at its front entrance. Inside there are no less than three wedding chapels with weddings held every hour on weekends. In Las Vegas marriage is big business - last year, 220,000 wedding licences were issued (only 22,000 in the whole of New Zealand). We watched a couple of brides married off in what was clearly a slick commercial exercise. The hotel provided the flowers, the photos, the cake and just about everything else the bridal parties needed.
In the centre courtyard of this hotel is a huge conservatory with elaborate gardens landscaped up multiple levels. Within its vastness, model trains journey across ‘America’ and through its changing landscapes.
We stayed with the Italian theme and visited the Venetian hotel, taking a full sized gondola ride around its canals. We walked around ‘St Marks Square’ and watched opera. All that was missing were the pigeons.
And Las Vegas’ Shows - what would this place be without them. We went to see Jubilee
, a girlie spectacular with a hundred topless dancers. Top line talent, ambitious stagings, it’s showbiz on the same scale as everything else - and performing night and day. Paradise for insomniacs. For the wide awake amongst us, there is one forgettable aspect to this city. It’s a community which likes to communicate.
More than half the people we see are either talking into, or listening to their cell phones. Most of those who aren’t, are texting. Many have the in-ear model of phone with a little speaker microphone projecting around their faces. Some don’t even have that so it seems as if they are walking along talking to themselves. And everywhere we go advertising is in our face - and our ears. An amazing range of huge animated billboards and screens advertise hotels, shows and products. Over street speakers each hotel blares out music ranging from rock, to opera. Inside, there’s constant music (or is that Muzak?) and the clatter and ringing of thousands of slot machines. All the while voice messages extol the virtues, the luck to be had at the city’s casinos.
If you don’t enjoy airports, queues and security checks but want to ‘see’ some of the world’s cities, just book a trip to Las Vegas. There you’ll find you can have breakfast in Paris, lunch in Rio - and dinner in New York.
PS Don’t forget your wallet.