We got our first glimpse of Las Vegas driving in on the freeway. We could see the tall buildings in the middle of the desert surrounded by mountains! We luckily got on a road that drove us right upto our hotel without too many dramas!
We were staying in the Excalibur which is a giant castle connected by walkways to the Luxor and Mandalay bay so it was a good choice. As we arrived late afternoon we walked round these three joining hotels amazed by the number of slot machines and gaming tables. At all the big Vegas hotel you have to pay a resort fee, ours was $15 a day but included 2 free drinks a day which ended up almost the same cost. The Mandalay Bay's resort fee for example, was $25 and no free drinks but it is a swish hotel!
The next day Kris went on Gavin's stag do so Emma went sightseeing.
The stag do started at the shooting range. Kris wasn't going to partake but got bullied into it by the people that worked there - they were all carrying guns and in a gun shop with a Rottweiler as protection, so Kris had his mind made up for him!! It was actually good fun even though a little nerve-racking! We fired 4 automatic machine guns. We were firing 1 shot at a time which the worker found funny and then told us to 'man up'. He kept telling us to hold the trigger down which would spray the bullets. It was harder to control but fun. One of the guns fired 1250 rounds per minute! For those gun enthusiasts out there we used;
M16, Mac10 9mm, Mp5, swedish k. At the end we had a shoot out with a 44 magnum 'dirty harry' style handgun. It felt like an explosion in your hand and impossible to aim at the target!
Off sightseeing Emma walked from the Excalibur to the Venetian, past MGM Grand, New York New York, Paris, The Bellagio and Caesars Palace. They were all just as impressive as you would hope, especially New York New York with the rollercoaster weaving in and out. Inside the Venetian they have recreated the canals of Venice complete with gondolas and St Marks Square. Their attention to detail was impressive, including the sky line with clouds that appeared to move as you walked through.
Meanwhile that evening the stag group went to eat at 'Heart Attack Grill' in which you are a patient so get given a hospital gown. They then only have burgers and Gavin (stag) was given a quadrouple with 20 rashers of bacon. There's a huge weighing scales so you can weigh before and after (gavin added 3 pounds when he'd finished) and if you weigh over 350 lbs you eat for free, in celebration of fat Americans! The beer was in supersize cans and there was a tv clip of a man who had a heart attack after eating there which they proudly showed! You pay in cash as 'you may be dead before you can sign the cheque'! It was all good fun and very unique in a town (and country) that is full of burger shops! We stayed in downtown Las Vegas for the rest of the evening which was good and worth a visit. It was very busy and is where the old casinos are, like the '4 Queens'.
Whilst the boys had their fun the girls took a slightly classier approach to Vegas and went to see a show. 'Vegas The Show' covered everything, magic, acrobatics, singing and dancing, so everyone had a great time! The over botoxed, over tanned, very camp lead man was especially fun to watch!
The next morning, whilst waiting for Kris to return from Downtown Vegas and recover from his hangover, Emma headed out early with her parents to do an open top bus tour of Vegas (despite the early start the casino tables and slot machines were still busy! I have no idea whether they'd started early or played all through the night!). The tour took you past all the sites of Vegas, including the Little White Wedding Chapel Britney and other classy celebrities got married in. The tour guide provided interesting facts such as it costs as little as £60 to get married in Vegas, but £500 to get divorced! Also 1.3 million people actually live in Vegas, but they get 100million visitors a year!
Kris walked back from downtown as a) you can't hail a taxi and b) Kris didn't have exact change for bus. It took 1 and half hours which gives you an idea how large the Vegas main strip! It meant he saw all the sights though.
That evening, fed up of burgers and fast food, we hunted for the highly recommended Irish bar in the New York hotel. We all had Sheppards pie and it was amazing. They love the Irish here, they think its this magical land filled with lepricorns and fields of shamrocks! Oh if they knew the truth!
Wedding day! Emma was one of Jade's bridesmaid so went to the bridal suite early that morning to get ready with Jade and Vicky (the other bridesmaid). Jade was really calm and it was a really relaxing and fun morning slowly all getting ready (courtesy of Harmony the American hair and makeup lady) and eating the room service breakfast. The only panic was that we were running 10 minutes late and Jade might have bumped into Gavin walking to the chapel, so we had to get a message to him to wait a bit. He was in a Irish bar having a few 'calm your nerve' pints with all the lads so I don't think he minded too much!
The rest of the guests arrived at the Mandalay Bay wedding chapel and waited for the bride to make her grand entrance. The webcam was on, Gavin was waiting at the front, it was time for the stunning bride. The service was really nice, Jade looked incredible and Gavin was very emotional, bless him!!! Kris was very pleased about this as it gave him a chance to get his own back! Haha. Emma was all emotional too though!
After the ceremony the new Mr and Mrs Smith had hired a limo / party bus to take the whole wedding party to the Vegas sign and the Bellagio for the wedding photos. Only thing was that the driver had forgotten to remove the pole, but that, with the champagne, just made everyone love the party bus more!! The Vegas sign was quite busy, but people didn't mind stepping aside for a bride and groom. And the photos will definitely be amazing!!
After that it was back to the bridal suite for drinks and amazing food!! The room had an incredible view of the Vegas strip and was the most amazing setting for a wedding reception. I think everyone over ate as the food was so good!
The free bar continued late into the evening. DJ Godzilla provided the tunes (although there was a complaint by a neighbouring room, and security asked us to turn it down, but that didn't make a difference to the evening) and the bar tender provided the plentiful tequila cocktails. Everyone had a great evening!! What a perfect wedding!!!
We did however, wake up with slightly sore heads but with a willingness to get a full day of sightseeing. We went to the big hotels to have a wander. In the evening we watched the fountains at the Ballagio and the volcano eruption at Treasure Island. They were both really good and worth the wait. We then had a huge dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Ceasers Palace, which was excellent!
Our time in Vegas had come to an end, it's definitely a very strange and unique place, but we all had a really good time. Mr and Mrs Smith went off on their honeymoon and we picked up our hire car to start the drive to Yosemite National Park.