las vegas 4

Our last hotel at Vegas was Flamingo…checked out of Bally’s and checked in at Flamingo.

It is one of the oldest hotels on the strip and has Flamingos as its theme…it has a courtyard which is a habitat for flamingos. The decor in this hotel is all pink…to match the pink of the flamingo.

Good hotel and the advantage of having a monorail station just behind; it makes commuting out of the Strip very easy.

The illuminated entrance to flamingo hotel and casino

Flamingos inside the hotel

Flamingos…outside!!!!!!!!

A short video clip of the Monorail

Having heard a lot about Fremont street, we decided to go there . Took a bus from The Strip to Fremont street which is in down town Vegas.

Fremont street is actually the older part of Las Vegas and hence the hotels, casinos etc are older than the ones on the Strip. The glitz ,glamour and feel of Las Vegas is the same here too. The neon signs …some of them flashing incessantly were actually blinding at times. The  crowds were of course there with daiquiris in their hands, smoking away.

We saw some of the most famous casinos here…golden gate, golden nugget and queens…to name a few.

Some famous casinos on Fremont street

The Fremont street experience was our next stop…

Fremont Street Experience

It is a pedestrian mall and attraction occupying a few blocks of Fremont street known as Glitter gulch. The central attraction is a canopy which is approximately 90 feet high. Various shows are held here under the canopy.    Music is played throughout this area except at the performance venues. There are 3 stages where free performances are held.

People with painted bodies dressed up like for a fancy dress and giving performances are also a common sight.

The lit up canopy at night

A live performance under the canopy

One of the main attractions here is the Zip line…we were not adventurous enough for trying it out and stood and watched others zip by …

A video clip of the Zip line

After experiencing Fremont street, we returned to our hotel by the regular bus.

Glitter Gulch ……this is the name that downtown Las Vegas got in the 1940s. The building of the Hoover Dam( to be covered in my next blog) brought abundant electricity to Las Vegas and soon the main thoroughfare of Fremont street was glowing with neon lights everywhere. This set Las Vegas apart from the rest of America…the sheer number of Neon lights….and that’s Glitter Gulch for you!!!

Glitter Gulch…..

The following picture symbolizes Vegas….happiness and cheer all around….

So friends let us say bye to Vegas on this happy note….

C you all next week with another exciting episode…

Now we move on to the Canyons….so brace yourself up for some exciting journeys….through some of the vast and beautiful landscapes of the Canyons in America…..

Las VEGAS 1

Hello friends…welcome to Las Vegas…the Sin city …….known for its gambling, night life, dance bars, casinos,fun and frolic. For the next few weeks we are going to be at this fun place…seeing things which are quite unfamiliar to us….so come along with me…

We flew in to Las Vegas from San Francisco….as usual on Southwest airlines . Las Vegas is located in a desert in Nevada in USA. As one approaches Vegas by flight, the landscape changes to sand dunes and dry desert areas.

The desert like Nevada landscape

The Las Vegas Strip….as we landed at the airport...

The Las Vegas airport is itself a mini casino with slot machines and bright flashing lights and gizmos. As one enters the terminal , one gets a feel of what lies on the other side of the terminal. I noticed a general difference in behaviour of the people from here itself. Everyone seemed to be on a HIGH… literally!!!

Slot machines at Las Vegas airport

Taking an airport shuttle, we reached Luxor Hotel and Casino where we had our room bookings.

The Hotel is built in Egyptian theme ; the main building is in the shape of a pyramid and the entire decor inside including the wardrobes have an Egyptian feel . Luxor is actually a city in Egypt on the banks of the river Nile and is famous for the Karnak temple…the second largest temple complex in Egypt.

The Luxor Hotel Pyramid Building with Sphinx                   

Main Entrance

The Hotel Lobby…everything Egyptian!!!                                                   

The Hotel lobby and interior as seen from our room

The pyramid has a sky beam touted to be the strongest beam of light in the world. We had a room somewhere in the middle of the pyramid and we had a view of Las Vegas airport from our room. The adjacent resorts are Mandalay Bay and Excalibur and all three are connected by a tram system.

After some rest, we freshened up and explored the hotel and casino. Amazing to see the sheer volumes of people at the machines and the number of restaurants and shops at different levels of the hotel.  It is a world of its own. There are various shows and exhibitions at the hotel for which you need to reserve tickets.

Later in the evening we stepped out and had our first experience of walking along the Strip. The Strip is basically a road with hotels and casinos on either side with pedestrian bridges across the roads with escalators .There are various restaurants and shops…all lit up with neon lights. Las Vegas strip by night is really very colourful.

Another unique thing was the various Cannabis shops and cabs displaying neon lights with phone numbers for cannabis supply.

There were people dressed up like for a fancy dress and one could take pictures with them for a price. Semi clad girls with various colourful gear was also something unique.

The Las Vegas Strip by day

A typical pedestrian bridge across the Strip

The Vegas Strip at night

The bright neon lights and the crowds on the Strip

As we walked along the strip, the mood was very festive….lots of loud music from the various bars and restaurants, the flashing lights, people walking around with diaquiris in their hands….all laughing away and generally having a great time…

We enjoyed the festive spirit of the strip and returned to our hotel looking forward to trying our hands at the slot machines the next day…

See you at one such machine next week….let’s try our luck…

        The Columbia River Gorge

Our last day at Portland …

we had a pre-booked tour of The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The bookings were done online from India itself. As usual, it was via VIATOR…they have never disappointed us…The local agency assigned to us was Hub World Travels..Portland.

The tour was scheduled for the afternoon and so we took a late breakfast at the hotel and took the Tri Met train to town. One of the most beautiful sights in Portland is The Willamette River...As we traveled to town on the train, we crossed the Willamette….

The Willamette River

The Willamette is a tributary of the Columbia River and we can see how the lives of the people in Portland are so intimately connected with the Columbia River

Alighting at Lloyds centre station, we took a quick round of the Lloyds centre.….the high end shopping mall. Once we were inside, we were in for a very pleasant surprise…an ice rink in the centre court of the mall and a couple skating gracefully to the strains of music.….Mesmerized by their graceful moves, we stood and watched in awe….Unfortunately could not film it for you…privacy issues are sacrosanct in these countries…

After a quick round of the mall, we waited for our tour company to pick us up and soon we were on the tour bus. As we left the city ,the beauty of Portland unfolded itself in front of us…

Before we actually reached the destination , our guide gave us a brief about the place. Let me share it with you….

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area is located 40 km from Downtown Portland, and is a naturalist’s delight!Extending more than 100 miles, the Columbia River carves this canyon on the Cascade ranges. In the process it creates innumerable waterfalls.

The Gorge itself is up to 4000 ft deep at places and forms the border between the states of Washington and Oregon.It is an ideal place for outdoor adventures like hiking, camping, mountain biking, fishing and windsurfing .Over 90 waterfalls  dot this area; notable among them being Latourell, Multnomah, Wahkeena, Bridal Veil and horsetail.Some of these freeze in winter.Further east , is the Hood River which is also a popular destination with recreation facilities.Breweries and wineries are an added attraction.

In 2017, a lot of destruction took place in this gorge area due to a forest fire triggered by a teenager.As we drove along, we could see the aftermath of wild fires at several places .

The road skirts the Columbia River as it turns and twists between the mountains and it provides loads of beautiful view points. Our first halt was at Latourell Falls. The peculiarity of this waterfall is the straight fall from the height unlike various waterfalls where the water trickles along the edges of the slope…

The Latourell Falls

After spending some time at the falls we drove down to Crown point Vista House. Located on a 730 feet cliff, it offers a panoramic view of the Gorge, and has an observatory and museum.

The Vista House and the Columbia River with adjoining hills in fall colours

A short video clip of the Columbia River and Gorge as seen from Vista House

From Vista house, our next destination was:

Multnomah Falls

Located on the Columbia River Highway and fed by rain and melting snow, it is a year round attraction and partially freezes in winter

The peculiarity of Multnomah Falls is that it is a two tierd waterfall..two levels with a wooden observation bridge( Benson Bridge) in between. One can take a short hike up to this bridge.

The two tiers of the waterfall with the Benson Bridge spanning the lower falls

The lower falls as seen from the wooden bridge

On the Wooden bridge with the upper falls in the backdrop

There is a small picnic area close to the falls with a coffee house and a trinket shop. We sat around sipping some hot coffee enjoying the sound of the falls.

After that, we returned to Lloyd centre station and took the train back to our hotel marking the end of our Portland holiday…

See you next week at….Las Vegas!!!