Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Las Vegas Day 1

Las Vegas

Day 1
New York to Las Vegas

After an early morning flight from JFK on Virgin America I had finally landed in Las Vegas to begin, what I hope becomes, a new birthday tradition. What is that new tradition you ask? Well, I plan to spend every birthday in a new place I haven't been to before, and if that place is warm and void of snow, all the better. And since I would be going solo, I thought for my first adventure I'd chose someplace that would be a little safer to travel to and is known for solo travelers (mainly due to the large convention scene there).

So, back to the trip. After arranging a pick up/drop off from McCarron Airport to my hotel, the Luxor Hotel and Casino, with Super Shuttle ($16 round trip), I finally arrived and basked in the warm rays of the sun before checking in. I had done a whole bunch of research and read that checking in could take a bit of time, however, Super Shuttle dropped me off at the side entrance and voilĂ , there were no lines and check in was a breeze. 

After getting my room key complete with coupon book (with coupons for both the Luxor and the connected Excalibur Hotel and Casino) and instructions on how to find my elevator, I made my way to my room, a King Pyramid Deluxe, and was not disappointed. My room was situated on the 17th floor with a view of Mandalay Bay and The Hotel, which provided me with one of the most beautiful views of sunset as the passing airplanes silhouetted by the sun's last rays passed over the mountains in the distance. 

Not wanting to waste too much time I decided to walk around a bit, grabbed my camera and went out. And naturally in my own true style promptly got turned around and lost. Perspective in Las Vegas is a little skewed when walking through some of the largest hotels on the planet. It wasn't until I reached the front of the Luxor that I realized the last true "meal" I had was an egg white breakfast sandwich from McDonald's at 6:30am. So I went back inside the Luxor in search of some actual sustenance and libation. 

Window washers, really high up.

My first Vegas meal was at the delicious Tacos and Tequila where, due to my waiter forgetting to place my order, of which I was blissfully unaware while snacking on the complimentary chips and salsa, my second glass of sangria was on the house. Not too shabby a way to start out my Vegas adventure.

After dinner I went up to the room, got my camera ready, watched the sunset and then started my first foray down the ever famous Las Vegas strip. 

As I started to make my way down the strip I quickly learned a valuable lesson: things look a lot closer than they actually are. Although the people movers between connected hotels and escalators make the journey up the the strip a wee bit easier, the Luxor was rather far from the action. Still a bit jet lagged, I walked all the way to Caesar's Palace, making the customary Hangover jokes when I arrived before turning back and heading in for the night to catch upon some Z's and get acquainted with the time difference.

Escalator up to the pedestrian walkway to cross the street. 

Pedestrian walkway.

The Bellagio was decorated to celebrate the Chinese New Year. 

Did Caesar live here? 

Aquarium in Caesar's Palace located on the back side of the Fall of Atlantis fountain.

The free show, The Fall of Atlantis, is an animatronic production about the fall of Atlantis complete with fire, water and a fun story. The animatronic figures need a bit of an upgrade as one of the King's fingers (ironically enough I think it's the middle one) was broken and flapping around. Also, the daughter's clothing was flapping away from her body.

Fun Fact and Tips:

* The Luxor emits the single brightest light source that can be seen from the international space station, 
    projecting 275 miles in to the sky.

*Be careful when walking the strip at night, there are a lot of people out to take advantage. I had a woman,
  who along with an older man and another younger woman with a stroller and a toddler, circle around me  
  asking for .50 or anything to buy diapers for the kid. 

*Also, there is a relatively high homeless population in Las Vegas. Most of them are harmlessly looking for a 
  hand and hang out on the pedestrian walkways, while others can be a little more aggressive (luckily I didn't
  have a problem with the latter).

Stay tuned for another Vegas post.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Contiki England and Scotland Overview

I'd just like to thank you for following along on my blog, I hope you enjoyed the review, tips and photos! 

If you're deciding on whether or not to Contiki or about to go on this trip, here are some quick links to each day on tour, as well as, what I did before and after the tour started.


Day 1    Day 2    Day 3   Day 4   Day 5   Day 6   Day 7  Day 8


Contiki England and Scotland: Day 9 Leaving Glasgow to London

Contiki England and Scotland

Day 9
We had a somewhat early start to our last day in Glasgow to make sure that we made it in time to catch the train back London. After a short taxi ride we arrived to Central Station and only waited a short while before boarding. Then not too long after finding our seats we bumped into other Contiki tour mates who were also making their way back to London. The ride was smooth and featured beautiful views along the British countryside and the whole trip only took roughly 4 hours. 

After arriving in London and making my way back to the Imperial Hotel in Russell Square, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. Then I remembered that on my first day in London a little old man told me that I should go and visit Portobello market. So after a quick Google maps reference of where on the tube I needed to head, I made my way there and naturally, just as I came up out of the tube, the true London weather started to shine, and by shine I mean rain. 

The market had some truly neat shops which were starting to close by the time I found my way there.One of my favorite shops to look around in had to be Alice's; there were so many odds and ends antiques and knick-knacks to search through. Even though it's a small shop, I probably could've spent hours looking through the jumble of things on display but, unfortunately, they were starting to close as well. 

After grabbing dinner though, I thought I'd try to get some night time shots of the ever famous Big Ben and Parliament and stroll along snapping away on my last night in London. The next day involved the flight home from London's Heathrow Airport back to New York and I decided to make the most of it. 

Well I hope you enjoyed my review of my time before, after and on the Contiki England and Scotland trip as much as I did!