Holiday Magic in Vegas

Travel There – Bellagio’s Conservatory & The Fremont Street Experience

This is Paul & Kathi. Kathi and I go way back to my days at Stephen F. Austin. She was a sorority sister with my roommate and then the three of us had an apartment in Dallas. I’d tell you more, but we’re sworn to secrecy. Now you’d expect a good friend like that or at least your husband to tell you about the lipstick running down your chin, but no, they just let me have a picture taken looking like this. This is the edited version!!

The Conservatory and Botanical Garden

Horrible as I looked, the scenery around us was stunning. So stunning that somehow we got home without a single picture of it. Sorry about that. Just imagine glitter and lights and trees and snow and more poinsettias of every color than would be reasonable and you’ll have the picture.

We did a little catching up as strolled among the holiday decorations, but between the extraordinary show we’d just seen and the fantastic display in the Conservatory, my chit chat skills were somewhat hampered. We worked in a few more hugs and then parted ways.

Back on the Deuce

I would have happily crossed the street and crawled into bed once again, but Bill was raring to go. He’d already entertained himself for two evenings while I slept off the dredges of my bad cold. It was time to suck it up and see Vegas at night.

The Bellagio fountain obliged us with another show and then we hopped on the Deuce and headed north to the Fremont Street Experience. The further north we got the more lonely the bus became and the darker it got outside. This adventure was getting downright spooky.

The bus driver assured us we were close to the attraction and so we got off the bus on a darkened corner where one might expect to be accosted by a vampire. We focused on the light about half a block away and followed the cacophonous noise to a huge cave-like edifice.

The Fremont Street Experience

I can’t speak to what the Experience might have been like in the pre-Covid world, but during our visit it was more like a nightmare. This band was performing its heart out, but that didn’t stop other performers from doing their thing. The edge of the stage was surrounded by scantily clad women and their grungy escorts. The rest of the Experience was almost empty. For Covid purposes, I suppose, I series of 6 foot circles had been painted on the floor of the area, where other performers did their thing and some distinctly odd people were hawking odd wares, that I suppose were supposed to be souvenirs.

The canopy above it all is the main attraction, but of course, we failed to get a picture of it, too. If you’ve attended one of those “Immersive” art shows where they project Van Gogh, Kahlo, Monet or Tut onto the walls and ceiling of a building, you’ll have an idea of what it’s like, but the immersion stuff is only on the ceiling here. I confess, it’s not my medium, so I’m not the right person to ask. Lots of people have been blown away by it. I can’t say the same for Bill and I. Perhaps we hadn’t had enough to drink.

The Real Experience

I recently watched the old Elvis movie, Viva Las Vegas. In those days, Fremont Street was Las Vegas. The flashing lights featured in the film clustered around this area, but those days are long gone. No one inside the Fremont Street Experience could tell us where we should catch the next Deuce and outside there was NO ONE!

Stumbling around in the near dark I pointed us toward what I hoped was the Bonneville Transit Center, but before we got there, we happened upon what I now believe was the stop for the Center of Brain Health. We knew it was a bus stop, because there was a sign and one of those little shelters, but it was way to dark to wait in it. We placed ourselves in the brightest spot we could find near the Deuce sign and waited.

As we waited we began to distrust ourselves and wondered if the Deuce would indeed be coming by at this hour. It was supposed to be a 24 hour service, but perhaps Covid had effected their operation. Eventually, someone else showed up to wait with us, which was in some ways reassuring, but I couldn’t help but think he was a potential mugger.

I’ve rarely been happier to see anything than I was that bus. Our new not-friend climbed aboard and we joined him. A few more riders joined us once we hit the Strip – but not many. Sin City seemed almost shut down. We hopped off in front of the Bellagio and crossed the street to Paris. It was time to put me to bed.

Come back next week and find out what we did with our final full day in Vegas. Strangely enough we had another friend arriving in town. We had a better social life in Vegas than we do back home!

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Big Night at the Bellagio

There’s nothing quite like the Bellagio. She stands back from the hustle and bustle of the Strip, protected by the waving arms of her fountains. When you step into her looby, which by the way, is free of gaming tables, the Chihullys on the ceiling let you know you’ve enter the Queen of the Strip.

We were in a bit of a hurry, not only to make it in time for the Cirque du Soleil show, but we had friends who’d arrived in Las Vegas for a trip of their own and had tickets to O at the same time we did. We made our way to the theater and by luck ran right into them. The show was starting in minutes and Kathi needed to potty, so we hugged and promised to meet up after the show.

Café Gelato

This should have been a signal to slow down, right. We were at the theater and the doors were open. We should go claim our seats, right? Au contrare!! I had earned a bogo award from My Vegas Slots for Cafe Gelato. That’s one award Bill wasn’t going to go unredeemed!

So we hustled off down the cavernous halls of the Bellagio to find Café Gelato. It was a beautiful place in the style of an old fashioned ice cream shop. They weren’t overrun with patrons, but it wasn’t exactly empty, either. I stood on one foot and then the other, wishing the dipper lady would dip a little faster. Our turn came and she dipped us servings of stracciatella. I’m not big on gelato, so Bill laid claim to both servings. I did have a few bites and they were wondrous.

It was past time to hoof it back to the theater. We zoomed into our seats and finished up our gelatos. The Main Event was about to begin.

O by Cirque du Soleil

If you’ve never gone to a Cirque du Soleil show, then you are missing out on a treat. They do not begin with the curtain going up. Instead you notice strange creatures wandering throughout the auditorium. Some interact with the audience. Others act out little vignettes with fellow cast members.

Eventually work their way to the stage where more of the cast file out across the apron. Suddenly, you realize the lights have gone all the way down and you realize the show actually began when the first cast member appeared in the audience.

Once, during a show in Dallas, Bill was drawn out of audience onto the stage and coerced to ride a bike during the warm up, but this time we strategically chose to sit somewhere out of the limelight. We also knew better than to sit down front where we’d get wet.

There is usually a strange sort of plot that loosely weaves the activity together, but don’t expect to understand exactly what it is, because nary a word is spoken and odd things will occur on the stage. You’ll understand who the main character is, but you’ll also understand they are confused as you are.

If all that sounds a bit weird, don’t worry. You’ll spend the entire show so mesmerized by the acrobatic and aquatic antics of the strangely costumed players on the fantastical stage sets, that the plot doesn’t really matter. The earliest Cirque shows did not have water. They kept their audience agog with acrobatics and costuming. With O, they added the water element and it was so well received they’ve figured out ways to include it in shows, even when they don’t have access to the amazing stage at the Bellagio.

There’s no way to fully explain the drama added by the water element. One moment the stage is just that, a traditional stage with oddly costumed characters cavorting on it. Then in the blink of an eye, characters are diving into the water from great heights or the stage itself will tilt up and somehow the characters are fighting a battle all atilt. I’m always exhausted when it’s all over, but that never keeps us from enjoying the show, wherever we happen to go to it.

Our big night at the Bellagio wasn’t over with the curtain call. Come back next week for more fun at the amazing resort.