Arizona temperatures & self-checkouts

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Sadly, our time in Vegas came to an end, and our time came to leave for Phoenix. This was after a great last evening when I finally figured out the Rolette machines, and won a total of about $40 on the $5 tables – not bad for a beginner.

So it was a 4:30am start to get to the airport by 6 in time for our 8am flight – which incedently was only 45 minutes long.

We are at our hotel in Phoenix – the JW Marriott Desert Resort and Spa, prepering for the Toastmasters Annual Convention. Arizona is exactly like in the old cowboy movies – with barren landscape and the cactus plants holding their hands in the air like on cheap tequila bottles. I beleive that the bigger cactui can hold 5 tons of water – enough for 5 years of drought. The land also reminded me of the Pielandsberg mountains – except with the cactui.

Today I bought a couple of items in the supermarket, and I did something that I have never done before – I used the self-checkout. With nobody supervising, I scanned the items, paid into a machine, collected the change and left! Just like that. Imagine that in SA.

I thought that Vegas was hot, but I had no idea! The temperature yesterday was a min of 28, and a max of about 42 deg C – so hot that the shops give you free water when you leave. Unbeleivably hot, so we will be spending much time indoors.

Off to bed now, will update you soon.


PS – Karen I hope you luggage arrives soon!

France, New York and Shopping

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Today we went up the Eiffel Tower in the Paris Hotel. The tower is a 1/4 side scale model, but almost as impressive as the real thing. You get a great view of the strip from the top – it is about 20 stories or so high.

The Paris Hotel is really impressive – filled with little sidewalk cafe’s and Parisian architecture and landmarks and architecture.

We had a drama in the lift when a woman collapsed, but the hotel handled it quickly and I did not have to practise my first aid skills, but it was still a scary experience. My first thought was ‘what about liability?’. If I get involved – not how can I help her? It was quite a panicky situation, but it all ended well.

We went to the M&M shop, which is three floors of M&M (smarties) merchandise, everything from shirts & caps to cushions, games (they had a M&M monopoly set), and an entire floor of just M&M’s. This is where we bought most of our gifts.The shop is a scary combination – kids and candy!

We had a Mexican supper at the Treasure Island Hotel – great restaurant – first restaurant to serve reasonable sized meals. Most places serve HUGE portions, but here they were perfect. They served a free plate of home made plain nachos with three dipping sauces for free (note: many restaurants in Nevada and Arizona seem to do this). They were home made and very yummy. We asked for an extra hot chilli sauce, and we found one that was scary – but we made a good dent in it none the less!

BTW: at most fast food joints you can buy 4oz cokes, which is over 1 litre, and people do.

Finally, just got back from New York New York hotel, listening to live rock (ok no surprises there) – heard a great band. It was them or the country band, so on arguments there. We have now heard two country bands which both do both kinds of music – country and western! The hotel is an authentic representation of the New York skyline – complete with Status of Liberty and Empire State Building. All in all we got to hear about 7 bands on our trip.

All of the hotels are next to each other – but the distances are deceptively far, so I have sore legs, and Lois has sore feet!

Bye for now!

The Luxor Hotel & Tutankhamen’s burial chamber


I am starting to realise that you “do” Vegas by pretty much walking around the hotels. So, we walked to the Luxor, which meant going past the Excalibur Hotel.

The Excalibur is build like a fairy-tale version of Camelot, complete with Turrets and knights. It is pretty cool – if not a bit cheesy. However the lighting at night is really impressive – it looks fantastic!

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The Luxor has a full size model of Tutankhamen’s burial chamber, complete with artifacts and audio-guide. It is an interesting glimpse into Ancient Egypt, and has re-affirmed my wishes to travel to Egypt at some stage.

The irony of course being that his tomb is in the Valley of the Kings, and not in Luxor!

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The Hotel is also home to the world’s largest atrium, and an IMAX theatre.

You do find yourself using the term "world’s largest" quite a lot in Vegas!

The Springbok Slots

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I decided to try the slots today. You can play 1c machines, and really play for fun. We sat down at a random machine, and yes of all the thousands of slot machines in Vegas, I picked the African-themed slot. Zebras, lions, springboks etc.

I managed to get up to almost $3, so was doing well, but then after 1/2 hour I lost it all – my $1 (ohhh noises now) as all gone.

It was kinda cool, but becomes a bit aimless after a while.

I must point out that I won on the lions, I won on the zebras, I was king of Africa at one stage, but I never won on the springboks!

Off to see the Blue Man Group tonight.

Vegas – land of excess

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What can I say? Yesterday we saw lions in our hotel (in their den), saw a live rock band, a fake volcano erupt 100 feet into the air, gambled, and even got some sleep. We missed the pirate battle, but maybe tonight!

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Vegas is the land of excess – complete sensory overload. Light and sounds everywhere – even slots at the airport. We are staying at the MGM Grand hotel – with over 5000 rooms, and a casino area of 151000 sq ft, and a 17000 seat arena.

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David Copperfield is playing at the hotel and near by are the Beach Boys, ZZ Top, Tom Jones, Toni Braxton, Jay Leno and get this – Barry Manilow!

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So we are off to see the New York Skyline, then going to Luxor to see a full size replica of King Tut’s tomb. Oh, we are going to go past Camelot

You can come here and visit the world!

ps Fear and loathing in Las Vegas now has a new meaning to me!

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