Monday, August 31, 2015

The Sin City - Vegas

Early in the morning we boarded the bus from China Town in LA for a 4 day trip to Vegas and Grand Canyon. By noon we had entered Vegas after passing through the San Bernardino Valley Area and the immense Mojave Desert. Our tour guys let us explore the Sin City by ourselves and I have to say each hotel has its own charm and is a spectacle in itself. No wonder Vegas is called the “Entertainment Capital of the World”. You can walk in at any time of day or night; inside the hotels you can never get to know what time of the day it is since there is a constant flood of people at all hours. It doesn’t matter which hotel you enter, you would be astounded at seeing a different city and atmosphere in every hotel. Time runs very fast in Vegas and after hopping through so many hotels we were ready for out night tour. We saw Treasure Island, MGM, Planet Hollywood, Caser Palace, Palazzo, Venetian, Monte Carlo, Mirage, Trump, Encore etc. This tour is ideal to see the hustle bustle and night life of Vegas Strip.

Our first stop was the Volcano Show at the Mirage that displays high explosions of lava with fireballs dancing to the tunes of music and tabla of Zakir Hussain. Whenever I am out of the country and see Indian talent getting recognized it makes me feel very proud. Our next stop was the Bellagio Fountains which mesmerizes you with the interwoven show of light, water and music. The beautiful choreography of water dancing to the tunes of music looks amazing against the buzzing backdrop of Las Vegas. If you are an art lover then you must visit the Venetian hotel to see the spectacular art work. Our final destination was the Freemont Street Experience which is in down town Las Vegas. We were just in time to see the Viva Vision light Show. The atmosphere was amazing. When we went I didn’t know about the zip line and while we were there they weren’t doing it else I would have loved to do it. After spending some time at the Freemont Street we were finally taken to our hotel which was the Stratosphere. I was very happy since it is the tallest building in Las Vegas and the tallest observation tower in the US that has some crazy rides.

Early in the morning we were super excited to board the bus which was taking us to the Western Rim of the Grand Canyon which is considered one of the natural wonders of the world. After a 4 hour drive we finally reached our destination and straight away booked a helicopter ride. The immense size of the Canyon along with the intricate and colorful landscape is enough to visually overwhelm your senses. I would definitely say that one of the most exhilarating ways to see the Grand Canyon is by a helicopter. The excitement reaches no bounds when the helicopter slowly flies over the edge of the Grand Canyon and descends into the gorge and lands next to the Colorado River. The experience of being on a boat in the Colorado River surrounded by the canyon on both sides is also amazing.

From there we went for Skywalk which is a horseshoe shaped steel frame which projects about 70 feet from the canyon rim and has glass floor. It is suspended at a height of 4000 feet above the river bed. I am very scared of heights and was finding it impossible to walk on the glass. After I took a few steps Aakaash started jumping on the floor which was freaking me out completely; finally a passerby said “Be kind to your wife” which took the humor out of Aakaash and I was able to relax. The view is gorgeous indeed. While we were walking on the glass platform we saw an eagle glide below us so you can imagine how high it is constructed and it indeed has a gorgeous view.

I wanted to stay longer at the Grand Canyon but going with a tour bus has its disadvantages. Nevertheless the plus point is that they make sure that you see many more things that wouldn’t have been possible if you were doing it on your own.. On the way back to Vegas we made a stop at the Hoover Dam. It is an impressive dam, especially given the fact that it was constructed in 1936. By late evening we reached Vegas, had dinner and retired for the night.

This was going to be our last day in Vegas. In the morning we found ourselves in the arms of celebrities in Madam Tussauds.  Aakaash and I also got our hands immortalized while the kids were too small to keep their hands still so as to get their wax hand souvenirs. In the evening we saw the Treasure Island’s Pirate Show which was quite interesting and Aan loved it. This was the only free night we had got and I really wanted to go for Holly Madison’s peep show but of course to arrange for a baby sitter and other things it was too much to do so Aakaash forcefully dropped it. Ironically even though we were staying in a casino we didn’t gamble at all. 

We just roamed around the strip and came back to our hotel to do the fun rides. Two crazy rides that are compulsory for everyone to do are X-Scream & Insanity. In X-Scream you are in a ride which propels you out headfirst around 27 feet from the building. You are literally dangling midair from 106th floor and then suddenly the ride stops brings you back in the building and shunts you out like you are about to dash out of the building and you can see tiny cars and people 106 floors below. It is the third highest thrill ride in the world. While Aakaash was on that ride I was with kids and we could see him and suddenly Aan asked “What happened Mumma why does papa look so scared”. All I could do that time was burst out laughing.

Insanity was also a mind boggling ride which is rated as the second highest thrill ride in the world. It is like an octopus with arms and you are sitting on it and it ejects you out of the building and the floor is removed from under your feet and you are dangling outside the building on the 106th Floor and then it starts spinning at 40 miles an hour. It sure is enough to make you insane if you stay in it longer. Since we were with our small babies we had to go turn by turn. Aakaash was lucky enough to get to Big Shot which is the highest thrill ride in the world. It just shoots up and down with a great speed. By the time it was my turn, it had become very windy and they had to stop the ride for the night. So this is how we bid goodbye to Las Vegas and gathered all the memories to store down in the memory lane. Tomorrow we would be enduring final leg of West coast.

LA & Huntington Beach

I remember my mom say this to me once, “I really want you to go to California.” Probably in her heart of hearts she really wanted to visit this place. So when the plane touched down at California I was remembering my mom. We were picked up by Amarjeet uncle a friend of my mother-in-law. It was very sweet of him to come all the way to pick us up from Los Angles and we had a pleasant stay in his beautiful home in Huntington Beach.

After taking us out on a scrumptious lunch uncle took us straight to Huntington Beach. It is also known as Surf City due to the windy warm weather almost all through the year making it perfect for the surfers. Just yesterday from Atlantic Ocean in the East Coast we went straight to Pacific Ocean in the West Coast. Aan and Aananya kept themselves busy by running after the seagulls. We took quick snaps on the lifeguard post since we were not allowed to go up there. The wind was so cold that we didn't have the guts to run into the sea therefore the weather didn't permit me to go complete Baywatch.. lol. From there we went home, had dinner and just crashed.

The next morning Amarjeet uncle took us around LA. The first place we went to was the Griffith Observatory. This was the first visit to a planetarium for Aakaash and the kids. The kids had a great time looking through different telescopes and enjoying the show in the Samuel Oshchin Planetarium. This place also served as a great vantage point over LA and we got our pics clicked with the famous backdrop of Hollywood sign. We then went to Hollywood boulevard to see the walk of fame but had only enough time to find Marilyn Monroe and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stars. While we were heading back home I insisted on seeing the Playboy mansion although uncle discouraged that there was nothing that you could see but still went up till the gates and drove past it.. Just for kicks lol; was following Girls Next Door that time.  From there we headed to uncle’s gorgeous home where the dazzling gas pit table was inviting us into their patio to make us cozy enough on a beautiful cold clear starlit night. The next day we were visiting the Sin City.