Grand Canyon was my first ever visit to a world wonder (well I have been to Agra but have seen the Taj only from a distance). Excitement was all over, when we started the day with an early morning walk to board our bus. This was the first road trip of the vacation and that added to the excitement. We were offered a complimentary breakfast of croissants and coffee and off we started. Its a 5-6 hours drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon. Trip to the Grand Canyon is quoted as one of the great American road trips. It takes one through Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada past red rocks, blue skies and the wide spread desert. We crossed the Colorado river and the hoover dam (and managed to click some postcard shots of sky high dam and the beauty surrounding it). We took the historic route 66 which added to the fun. Words fail me when it comes to describing the beauty of driving on route 66. It was one of the best road trips I had been to. Desert and no habitation for kms altogether, this route takes one miles away from civilization.It was a relaxed ride with our bus driver cum tour operator narrating the history of the route and the popular tourist spots we crossed on our way.
First stop of the trip was Kingman. Kignman is at the heart of route 66 and is a popular spot for hikers. We could only get a 15 minute window to appreciate the beauty of the landscape (and that is the only problem with guided tours with a fixed schedule). After a short walk on the scenic roads, we were back on the road. It was a windy day and we were absolutely loving the ride.
We stopped at Williams for a buffet lunch on our way and managed to catch a glimpse of the world famous grand canyon coach. After a fairly smooth ride, we reached the Grand Canyon national park. A detailed set of instructions from our bus driver cum tour guide on the number of hours we had to roam around the park and the assembly point etc, and there we were, on our own, roaming around this huge world wonder. The girls were joined by a solo traveler from Canada, who volunteered to be our official photographer for the day and vice versa :)
Well, coming back to the grand canyon, the immensity of this two billion old wonder leaves one smitten. A two and half hour walk around the park was spent reading about the rocks instrumental in the current state of the GC, formed over a period of 2 billion years. We were quite amazed to see 100 million years old rocks named after Indian gods (Brahma, Rama Vishnu). Vishnu rocks form the basement of the canyon. Clicking pictures, singing old Bollywood numbers, the trek inside the park was an absolute delight. The trek was followed by a stop over at the grand entrance of the grand canyon (well, everyone needed photographs around the sign as a proof of their visit :P), we started our back journey to Vegas. Rain, sun, multiple hues of sunrise and sunset, we saw it all in a day. We caught a glimpse of the beautifully lit up hoover dam on our way back
By the time we reached back, it was already 10 pm, but the resolve to party (especially after the goof up last night) grew even stronger. After an hour of quick showering, dressing up and with high heels on, we were all set to explore the much talked about nightlife of Vegas. And all i can say is, it deserves the attention it gets. On our walk back to the hotel , we got an invitation to 'Marquee nightclub' at the cosmopolitan, and that was our party place for the night. Whatever we had heard about night life in Vegas, and seen in the movies, all of it was live in front of us. We explored the crowded inside area for a while and chose to spend some time in the open bar dancing with people from across the world. We were quite surprised to meet a lot of them who had come to attend business conferences, and few others who were in the city for weeks and months and didn't want to go back. Well, we didn't have that luxury with us but coming back to what I said - the city has something to offer to everybody, we got to see that happening.
After the day long sojourn and the partying, it was time to call it a night. So we decided to walk back to our hotel. At 2.30 am, the city looked even more vibrant. Vegas gives you that feeling to stay awake 24*7 and just live life. Given our body clocks, we just couldn't afford to do that. Well, after exchanging pleasantries with visitors from across the world on our way back, we retired to our respective dream world. Quite a day it was!
For me, the next morning started with a walk around the city as I haven't had a chance to explore the pace of the city during morning hours (and i love doing that). So, while others were still in their dream world, I ventured out all by myself. It looked like a normal city with people jogging on the strip and grabbing their favorite cup of coffee. Just that there were many others who were walking in and out of the casinos. Some sad because of losing, while few others happy because of their lady luck. After spending around two hours observing the pace of the city, i came back to the hotel. We were to shift to the Flemingo for the night (one of the oldest properties in Vegas, it promises to offer that classic Vegas feel). After a quick breakfast of snack bars, we were all packed and ready to check out.
Another hour in the check-in queue at the Flemingo (there is no such time during the day when the check-in counter is NOT brimming with people), there we were, in our room for the night. It was our last day in Vegas and we had to utilize it to the maximum possible. So the girls got ready and the first agenda on the list was FOOD. We chose a European style outdoor fine-dine and ate at leisure. It was a sunny day and walking in the sun didn't look very tempting. We had to take a city tour, so we got bus passes for ourselves and decided to try our hands at playing casino while waiting for the sun to set to start the tour.
The casino part didn't last for too long, given our limited risk appetite and the resolve to 'not lose'. So we ended up winning 1.5 dollars :P (well that's better than losing any). After exploring multiple shopping outlets inside the hotel we were done with our sovenier shopping. Donning our' I love Vegas' tee-shirts , we set out to see the much talked about 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign. It was a good 2 km walk from the strip. As soon as the strip ends, one gets to see the real landscape of the city. This dry land houses a huge Harley-Davidson showroom and a number of wedding chapels (some of these have featured prominently in Bollywood and Hollywood blockbusters including the much talked about 'What happens in Vegas'). After grabbing some snacks at subway, we boarded a bus to the other part of the city- downtown Las Vegas!! Sitting on the front seat on the 1st floor of a double Decker bus, observing the pace of the city in the fading twilight was a good way to spend the evening. I never wanted that bus ride to end. With tired feet (because of all the walking), a view to die for and an awesome company, this pace of life seemed too good to look for an alternate.
By the time we reached downtown, the city lights had started creating that magical ambience. With a dancing DJ under the world's largest screen (and an option to do zip lining under the screen), downtown seemed like a perfect place to spend the night at. Downtown seemed more laid back as compared to the strip (which is generally very crowded) and we were happy to have ample space for dancing to the tunes of the awesome music. the girls chose to try the world famous Slotzilla zip-lining, i decided to stick around the stage and enjoy the live performance while the crowd went crazy.
Once the girls were back, we danced our heart out till the time we could manage to. On the expense of overusing the word FUN, i will still say that it was one of those few nights when I danced without any inhibition, right there in front of the stage with the crowd cheering, hooting and joining us. that experience shall never be forgotten. while the night was still young (it never gets old in that part of the world), our tired feet were begging us to stop. After a quick round of the area, we decided to board the next bus to the strip. And there we were back, craving for a dessert at 2 .00 am (well it wasn't a tough deal to find one in Vegas)All satisfied, we retired back to our room with a heavy heart as this was our last night in Vegas and we were not done with the city yet.
Nevertheless, the day ended with a promise to take us to another city with another set of experiences.