The Las Vegas Strip stretches about 4-1/2 miles along Las Vegas Boulevard. It's considered an All American Road and though it's impressive during the day, it's outstanding at night. According to Wiki, half of the world's 50 largest hotels by room count are on the Strip, with a total of over 62,000 rooms. We haven't walked the Strip in years. We started at the south end of the Strip at the Mandalay, not far from the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, and worked our way north.
In 100F+ (38C) heat, it's a long, hot trek along wide, crowded sidewalks, moving walkways, over pedestrian bridges, up and down escalators, elevators and stairs … with lots of opportunities to stop to rest, drink, eat, gamble, buy or generally be entertained. Each major hotel/casino has its own theme to draw in the crowds and it was fun discovering the unique aspects of the more prestigious ones.
We'd never been inside the tropical island-themed Mandalay Bay and were drawn to it because I read there was a headless Lenin statue there. (Not sure how this fits with the theme, but …) We found the Red Square Vodka Bar and sure enough, there stood a larger-than-life Vladamir Lenin … headless and complete with simulated bird poop on his shoulders and shoes. I learned later that it was the folks at Mandalay Bay that beheaded the Russian Communist revolutionary in response to complaints from visitors. The rest of Mandalay Bay was nice, but not outstanding. They have a 1.6 million gallon aquarium which houses over 2,000 aquatic animals with an $18/admission fee, a House of Blues and the usual casino stuff. All in all, despite the delightful decadence, other than headless Lenin, we weren't impressed.
We took the free tram to the Luxor. There's no confusing its theme … the wonders of ancient Egypt. A Sphinx guards the entrance and the tip of the pyramid-shaped hotel is the Luxor Sky Beam, which at 42.3 billion candela, is the strongest beam of light in the world. The interior boasts gigantic Egyptian statues and, though we weren't allowed up, an “inclinator”, not an elevator, takes guests to their rooms on the inside of the pyramid walls. There's lots of entertainment at the Luxor … Bodies-The Exhibition, the Titantic Artifact Exhibition, a Cirque de Soleil performance and of course, the casino. Enough … let's move on.
We took another tram to the Excalibur. The theme is King Arthur's Court. There's Tournament of Kings, a jousting, eat with your hands dinner show and two Australian-inspired shows … one a musical Bee Gee tribute and the other, Thunder from Down Under, touts “Australia's hottest hunks”. Hmm … we've seen lots of Australian hunks on Australia's beaches. We gave that one a pass. Excalibur seemed like a tired place … perhaps all that jousting.
Lest you think the Strip is just one casino after another (which it pretty much is), there's lots of local color to catch your attention. I warn you though … try to snap a pic without paying a tip and you'll get properly (or improperly) chastised. This is a “make a buck” town.
We were a bit peckish and needed a snack after all of our walking and gawking. A huge pretzel with mustard from a vendor on the streets of New York, New York seemed just the thing. We passed on the Big Apple Coaster, “the world’s first roller coaster to feature a 180-degree “heartline” twist and dive maneuver”. We could have purchased the Big Scream package which would have given us an all-day pass and a 5x7 photo of us vomiting, but we preferred to watch and sedately eat our pretzels.
We had to cross the street to get a pic of Leo, the iconic MGM lion. This hotel, the largest in Vegas, is the second largest in the world. David and I met here about 30 years ago at a medical convention … it looks a bit different now. Come to think of it … so do we!
I got a giggle when I saw this clever young fellow and gladly paid him a $1 for a pic.
We'd barely made a dent, but it seemed we'd walked for miles and miles. We were tuckered out for the evening and headed back to Paris, the Eiffel Tower and Paris Balloon clearly visible from most anywhere along the Strip.
There's so much more to see. Join us as we resume our explorations of Vegas. We haven't lost a dime yet, but the leather on our shoes is wearing down fast.