As I sit here eating breakfast, ‘All you can eat breakfast’, in The Exclaibur Hotel, Las Vegas I finally find a few moments and some space to recount yesterdays events. I did struggle to sleep through to sunrise this morning, eventually giving up around 5AM, rising, showering then descending to the casino floor once more to gamble yesterdays winnings until the breakfast buffet opened at 7AM.
The flight was, well what can you say about long haul flights? The flight was, long, although the entertainment offered on the Virgin Atlantic flight kept me occupied for some of the time and the two elderly ladies from the midlands regaled me with their tales of previous visits to Vegas. I watched a coupe of movies, The Hunter with Willem Defoe and Prometheus. Both were nothing to write home about or indeed mention in any detail, except that the latter was a bag of bollocks, nuff said.
The countryside passing beneath, when visible was spectacular; rugged, untamed and vast there was little sign of human intervention. Indeed, when settlements were visible they appeared to nestle in convenient nooks and crannies surrounded by the harsh wilderness, brooding mountains and majestic rivers. Roads existed where they could, following the course of rivers or dry valleys in the mountainous regions and scarring the expansive plains with a arrow straight line.
Flying over the Hoover Dam Vegas hoved into view; an oasis in the desert, a sprawling manufactured habitation. Palm trees were everywhere, almost as though the original architects of this shiny illusion were seeking to recreate a Floridian paradise. The plane touched down, taxied towards the brand new terminal 3 at McCarran international airport and the engines stopped. Immediately the mayhem that always precedes disembarkation commenced. I helped my new traveling chums with their cabin baggage and dragged my laptop bag down from the overhead locker. In the cramped space available I foolishly attempted to don my jacket, I heard a sharp exhalation as I felt my elbow hit something behind me The stewardess I had just elbowed in the face staggered back into the awaiting crowd but was caught by a scowling passenger. I apologised profusely and was assured that it was OK and it was only a superficial fracture (joking, I think). Then we were at the mercy of the US Border Control and baggage reclamation.
Nearly an hour after the plane had touched down I was in a taxi chatting with the driver about the new terminal and the recent increase of British tourists to the city. He asked me in his Western African accent about some turns of phrase in English as Monsieur Obama had used some he hadn’t understood in a recent Presidential debate. I couldn’t really help him but in my most helpful manner offered and explained the phrase ‘talking bollocks’ which he quite liked and promised to use as much as possible in the future.
He dropped me at the Excalibur entrance then, stilling muttering, ‘You’re talking bollocks mate,’ in a fair approximation of a Nigerian Michael Caine he drove off. The check staff were friendly and the process practiced and swift. Afterwards I was left standing on the casino floor with absolutely no idea where the hotel section could be, let alone my room. Shamefully I asked directions and within minutes was in my room on the 19th floor overlooking the unrealistic Disney-esque towers that formed the frontage of this gaudy hotel and casino.
It was still only just after 5PM Vegas time, I had to ensure that I stayed awake for a reasonable amount of time in an attempt to phase myself into Vegas time. A plan occurred to me, I would drink and gamble my way out of jet-lag.
Two hours later after a meal of beef enchiladas, three bottles of beer and a rum and coke I staggered through the slot machines feeling every bit as much brain dead as the middle-aged gamblers sitting with vacant expressions pressing buttons at their slot machines like automatons bereft of all emotion except a glimmer of hope which surfaced whenever a minor win materialised. It was after 2AM in Gosport and way past my bed time. I cashed in my winnings at the blackjack machine and submitted to tiredness.
It was around 8PM when I hit the soft pillows of my, all too empty, king-size bed. Nearly four hours later I awoke feeling very refreshed and ready to go, well I would it was time to get up in good old Gozzy. I forced myself back to sleep, dozing fitfully for a couple of hours at a time until I eventually could stand no more and dragged my carcass out of bed at 5AM.
Which brings me back to breakfast. An amazing affair, for around a tenner, everything you could feasibly imagine, and a few new ones; country steak and gravy (the gravy is a beschamel with additives), biscuits and plenty of tater tots.
I have one day, today, to explore Vegas before the spectacle of The World Food Championships so I am off to explore and leave my hotel for the first time (not strictly true as I ate at The Luxor last night).
More later, with photos hopefully.
Oh and for Emma, as I sit writing and drinking coffee I am at %90.