Las Vegas, the promised land of all things fake!
I thought I just saw a pyramid and a sphinx and yet now we’re driving past the Statue of Liberty, while the Eiffel Tower is clearly just down the road. Is this road, weaving it’s way through palm trees and skyscrapers, a part of a dream or some kind of a fantasyland? Nope, it’s definitely reality; Luxor, New York and Paris all in the same city! We’ve arrived in the wonderland that is Las Vegas, the copy-cat capital of the world.
We park up at a campsite run by “Circus Circus” casino, right at the heart of the city and set off on foot to explore the city’s most famous street, the Strip, famous for its many casinos. As well as the sea of neon lights there are huge screens, advertising the different shows and evening entertainment available alongside with gambling opportunities. There’s everything from magic shows to Acrobatics to dance groups and concerts, all performed by world class stars.
Luxury hotels boast impressive water fountains by their entrances. The water gushes up to considerable heights, accompanied by music and colourful lights. We nip into the “Venetian” mall, and as soon as we step in through the revolving doors my jaw hits the floor. It’s like we’re in Venice! There are little canals inside the shopping centre, complete with gondolas, manned by men in stripy t-shirts, and straw hats, ready to take shoppers for a ride and entertain them with Italian songs. The shopfronts have been made to look like venetian blocks of houses , complete with glowing lanterns outside . On the indoor plaza there are lots of Italian restaurants, with red and white tablecloths on their tables. There’s also a gelato bar, selling authentic Italian ice cream. A white marble statue stands tall on a stand, smiling wryly at passers by. All of the sudden, it winks, scaring a group of Chinese tourists that break in to bursts of laughter. The “statue” turns out to be a painted man, with an incredible ability to stay absolutely still. Above all this there’s the ceiling, which has been made into a blue “sky” with white clouds moving along it.
Our chosen destination for the day is Madame Tussauds waxwork museum. The added specialty in the Las Vegas edition is interactivity. Here the waxworks have been placed so that the visitors can participate in interacting with their chosen “celebrity”. I have a jamming session with Jimi Hendrix and share a piano stool with Stevie Wonder. Pekka plays a game of basketball against Shaq O’Neal and has a boxing match with Mike Tyson. We meet many other celebrities too, including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Halle Berry and Robert de Niro. Our visit’s finale, is an action adventure with superheroes, thanks to a 4D movie experience. The 3D glasses make the film come alive, and the extra sensory effects add to the experience, allowing us a taster of life as a superhero, as we run to escape the gigantic hulk, and save the world together with spiderman and colonel Nick Fury.
In the evening, we stand on the bridge across Las Vegas Boulevard and watch the city’s night life come to life. The traffic is steadily getting busier as flashy sports cars and stylish limos take over the mainroad. People have flocked here to have fun and queues of punters are quickly forming outside the best restaurants, cocktail bars and show venues. Las Vegas really is the perfect place for anyone wishing to escape reality for a little while and immerse themselves in a world of fantasy. On the otherhand, the whole city feels like a bubble of sorts. It’s nice to visit, but real, authentic life is probably found elsewhere.