April 22-26, 2003: A Trip to New York City
April 5-6, 2003: Frank and Joe Perform in Austin
Return to Index for 2003

April 8-11, 2003
A Trip to Las Vegas


During the week of April 8th, I went to Las Vegas to do a Data Junction class for one of our new clients. The class itself was very routine, conducted in an office complex a good distance from the Las Vegas Strip. Most people don't think of Las Vegas as being anything more than casinos, hotels and vacationers. Although that is certainly what keeps the city alive, Las Vegas also has its share of regular businesses not connected to the gambling industry, and I recall that this company was one of them.

In any event, the company recommended a hotel-casino called The New Orleans where I should stay. It was a large complex on the west side of I-15 from the Las Vegas Strip where all the really large and most of the really famous hotel-casinos are located. The New Orleans was kind of out by itself, as you can see on the aerial view at left. You can also see how far out it is located if you have a look at the northern view from my room window.

It was a nice hotel, but I didn't spend a great deal of time in it. I was either at work during the day or walking up and down the actual Las Vegas Strip at night. I didn't take any pictures of the class or the building where it was held (and I'll admit that of this writing in 2011, I couldn't locate the building on a map unless I dug around in old expense reports to discover its name. But since that's not important anyway, I won't worry about it.

On a couple of the afternoons after class, I went right over to The Strip to have a look at some of the new hotels that have gone up since the last time I was here back in 1999 with Ron Mathis, Chris Young, Mike Racke, Ron Drew, Lowery Evans and Fred. (NOTE: In 2009, Fred and I made another, longer trip to Las Vegas. On the web pages for that trip, I went and found a lot of information about the various hotels and attractions that we toured, and the six of us who were along took a great many pictures and movies of all of them. So the few pictures I took this time are just a taste of what that web page has. So if you are interested in Las Vegas, and want to go look at that page for a while, I will open it in a new window if you will simply click here.

I'll group the pictures I took on this trip by hotel:

Paris Hotel and Casino

One hotel/casino that wasn't here last time we visited was Paris. Almost all the hotels on the Strip have a theme- and most times, the theme is obvious from the name of the hotel. The Luxor, New York-New York and Paris are three that are city-themed. Here at Paris, there is a really nice fountain out front, and the balloon from "Around the World in Eighty Days" is used as the main sign for the hotel. Right beside the casino is a replica of the Arc d'Triomphe, and the skyscraper containing the rooms has mansard roofs- which are common in Paris. Of course, the signature symbol of the hotel is a 1/4 scale Eiffel Tower, the supports of which actually come down through the ceiling inside the casino. There is an elevator ride that you can take to the top of that tower, and the shopping arcade inside looks like a turn-of-the-century Parisian street. All in all it is a striking hotel- one of the most easily recognizable on The Strip- and you can click on the thumbnails left, above, to look at the pictures I took of it.

Bally's Hotel and Casino

The Bally's Hotel and Casino property is a relatively small one, and the property really doesn't have much of a theme. All the public areas are pretty modern, and everything is well-done as is common here. The most interesting feature was installed because the hotel is set back a block from The Strip, and has only a narrow frontage on that street. So they built two escalators that take visitors from the street up to a second-level moving walkway that wisks visitors a block back over an area of palm trees and fountains to the actual entrance of the casino/hotel.

The Flamingo

The Flamingo Hotel and Casino is one of the oldest in Las Vegas, although the building they have now is a new one. The old building was rebuilt in the 1970s and then imploded in the late 1990s (when almost everything in Las Vegas seems to have been built or replaced) and then entirely rebuilt. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, visitors didn't have the expectations that they do now- gambling, a few good restaurants and a showroom were all a casino needed. But now, it's all about families and vacationers who want more than gambling. Sure, the gaming rooms still produce the profits, but each hotel/casino has its own way of attracting vacationers, and appealing to kids and non-gamblers has become big business. At the Flamingo, one of the attractions is- you guessed it- flamingos! Actually they are just one inhabitant of a huge garden in the middle of the complex, with falls, pools, streams and all manner of fish, animals and plants. I hope when I return I'll be able to spend more time in them, but this time, I just took a few pictures so you could see what they are like. Just click on the thumbnails left, above, to view my pictures.

The Venetian

The Venetian is actually city-themed, like Paris; it's theme is, of course, Venice. The signature icon is the replica of St. Mark's Campanile (the bell tower of St. Mark's Basilica) which is located in St. Mark's Square in Venice. This is an excellent example of how huge amounts of money have brought some amazing replicas of world wonders to the middle of the Desert Southwest. Along with the Eiffel Tower, the Egyptian Pyramids, the Empire State Building and more, this bell tower is a testament to the vision and ingenuity of the builders of these mega-resorts. Compare the picture at left with the one I took (St. Mark's Campanile). Impressed?

I rode the escalator from street level up to the tower level, and then walked across the arched bridge (which goes over one of the vehicle entrances to the resort complex) and found myself on a long, outdoor balcony on the second floor at the front of the hotel. From here, I had a good view of the entire plaza in front of the hotel, including the gondoliers in the simulated Venice canals (one of the hotel's signature attractions). When I left the hotel and went back to the street, I looked back at the canals, the gondoliers and the hotel, and you can see that view here.

As I said above, when these mega-hotels were built in the last years of the 1990s, each one had to have a signature- some iconic symbol by which the hotel could be easily and quickly identified. Of course, the Eiffel Tower at Paris is one such example. A couple of others are the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion that graces the entrance to the MGM Grand at the northeast corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Tropicana Avenue (so named because the Tropicana used to be located here) and the replica of the Statue of Liberty that is located west across the same intersection at New York, New York.

For the rest of my walks around The Strip here in Las Vegas, I just took the occasional picture of one hotel or attraction or another. Let me just let you look at the rest of those pictures. Click on the thumbnails below to have a look:

This wasn't the first time I'd been to Las Vegas, and I am positive it won't be the last. Las Vegas has become a uniquely interesting place, even if you don't care about the gambling. There is plenty to do and see, given the huge amounts of money generated by the casinos. That's what funds the aquariums, rides, gardens, shows, fountains and all the other attractions. And things are only getting bigger and more over-the-top.

You can use the links below to continue to the album page for different day.

April 22-26, 2003: A Trip to New York City
April 5-6, 2003: Frank and Joe Perform in Austin
Return to Index for 2003