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Christmas Trip

Am back from my “looooong vacation” and here is the description!!

Here is the details on my Christmas trip….
Seejo and I landed at Las vegas on Thursday night.

Early Friday morning we decided to see Vegas attraction outside of the main city. These included the Hoover Dam,Lake Mead and the Red rock canyon. Hoover Dam is a large dam supplying electricity to 3 states in US. It certainly was large. We took a helicopter ride to see an aerial view of the dam and that was what impressed me. Lake Mead is an artificially created lake. To see a strect of bright blue amidst the dry rocky Nevada desert was wonderful sight from above. From there we went to see the Red Rock Canyon. The red rock canyon is a mountanin range which not surprisingly is red in color. It was pretty good sight to see. Basically all we did was to drive around a route which had various overlook points to see the ranges from different spots.

Aparna landed in Vegas that very evening and we went to the airport to pick her up. Then all three of us went on a tour of the “night life” in Vegas. Las Vegas is just what you expect a “sin city “ to be.Glitzy Glamourous and Great!! . Las vegas is actually a desert surrounded by mountains on all four sides. The heart of Las vegas is the “strip” . It is one road with all the big hotels and casinos are …All these are brilliantly lit with flashy neon signs .All hotels have a residence area,a casino are and shopping arcades. The shopping arcades pander to the richjand the famous and all most any branded shop can be found there, Each Hotel has also some attractions s free show or something. Most of them are developed after a theme. For example there is the Venetian ..having the ambience of Venice. You can have a gondola ride in an artifical canal and the main piazza is decorated to look like it is one of the streets in Venice.

The Luxor is shaped like a pyramid and the inside is also like the streets in Egypt ..Most of the interiors in each hotel leaves you dumb struck..Because they have tried to make it a replica of the streets in that city. There was Ceaser with a Roman Influence ,Alladin with the Arabic influence,Paris ,New york with their charm. etc.

The hotel we stayed was called the Stratosphere. It is built like a tower and is presently the second tallest building in America after the WTC went down. The “attraction” here was a ride called the BIG SHOT. On top of the tower there is another structure like a mini tower. The ride seats you around this second structure about 1000 ft up in the air and then takes you up with an acceleration of 4 G . so basically you are out in the open and you can see entire Vegas before you and then it drops you down with 0G . you get a feeling of floating and it is terrifyingly scary!! But definitely enjoyable,

We gambled a lot using slot machines and even won about 60$ .Did a lot of window shopping. Basically gambled a bit n each casino …almost like well since we were sightseeing here let us give something back to the casino …!!!

Early next morning …by early I mean the ungodly hour of 4.30 am ( which is even more significant in the light that we slept at 2.30 am ) we set out for a drive to San Diego. With Seejo driving and Aparna and me alternately sleeping and chatting we reached San Diego about 10 am., San Diego has one of the most famous aquariums in US .The Sea World had ,other than the usual display of fishes , a lot of shows. There was a whale show, dolphin show, sealion show, a few rides etc. There were Arctic animals like walruses, white whales, penguins etc. Then there were simulated rides which take you on a helicopter ride to the arctic etc.

From San diego the next stop was Los Angeles. We met up with Vidya and Eashwer there. Vidya looked a little thinner and eashwer looked a little fatter than I saw them last.

After dinner we went to see the Santa Monica boulevard. It was one of the happening places in LA cos it is a street which has live musicians street acrobats etc. It was almost dark when we reached there and we were tired and sleepy so we didn’t really enjoy the ambience a lot!! Then back to the hotel where Vidya ,Aparna and I sat talking for some time ,called Siddhi and Pooja back in India ..talked to Pooja ( didn’t get siddhi online) .It didn’t feel as though we were meeting after such a long time….The next day ,Aparna Seejo and I left the hotel early in the morning and drove around the Malibu beach area. (Vidya had already been there the previos day to see the Malibu temple ….All three of us were not really into temples so we decided to bypass that and take the scenic route) The Malibu beach area also houses some of the rich and the famous guys …It had huge houses which we were sure belonged to the Hollywood stars and Aparna and I had a good time assigning houses to different stars!! Especially when a complete stranger asked us totally out of the blue whether we saw “Oceans11” and smirked at our nods. We promptly made him the director of the film and were gloating the whole day that we met a Hollywood director. On second thoughts..he could have been the producer as well….or may be even the spot boy!!!

California has this amazing landscape of having cliffs on one side of the road and the ocean on the other. The drive was beautiful and we really enjoyed the fantastic view. Our next sstop was the famous “holly wood “ sign which we see in movies .Seejo ‘s earthly ambition was to photograph that sign so off we went trying to find a vantage point to photograph it. After seing that sign ..”which actually is ust the letter Hollywood “ on top of the mountain….. we went to see the Walk of Fame.

Walk of fame is this street in Hollywood which has the names of all stars on the street. If i remember right Julia Roberts picks up Richard Gere in Pretty Woman on that street!! The entire road has these star shaped structure with a particular stars name in it stanped across the sidewalk. There are also imprints of their footprints and hand prints. We didn’t have much time to see there cos we had to reach Universal Studio where Vidya and Eashwer where waiting. So after taking the mandatory Patel photographs we went off to Universal Studio.

Universal Studios has this tram tour which takes you around the studio with precreated sets. They have facades with European ambience, Mexican bars, etc. They even show a few speciall effects. My favourite one was that of the earthquake when the train is in the station. You see sparks of electricity and you are certain that the entire thing is going to explode.Meanwhile half the station is come apart due to the joltings and then there is a sudden flood which comes out cos the water tanks are broken .somewhere across you can see a opart odf tha station has caiught fire. Definitely Great. They let you into some of the tricks they employ while shooting.Like you feel the hero is jumoiung onto this huge ocean when actually it’s a small puddle of water!

Other than the studio tour there were several rides and shows. The two best shows were that of the Water world and the Wild West. In water world they actually perform most of the stunts we see in ta film’s climax live. YOU see shootings and acrobatics and vilian bombing the place up and people somersaulting all across the stage. It was wonderful to see . Wild west was another show in imitation of the western movies and that was really fun!! TO see these trigger happy people go shooting each other was great.!

Universal Studio also had a few other rides .Basically all rides were just the same but each had a different amnbience and hence a different thrill …Like the ET ride which made you feel that you had actually reached a planet somewhere …and the Jurassic park ride strewn with dinaousrs everywhere . Then there were a few shows like the 3-D terminator show which was great. It was a 3-D cum live show , so you had people running through the theater. And they had seats which could move you if there was a sudden landing un the film our seats would give a jerk…if there was water splashing on the screen you could feel a spray on your face…It was great!

Next day was Disney land .We were lucky in a way cos it was Christmas eve .Disney land also thas the same kind of shows,rides and 3-D film but in a very cute setting. It was very enjoyalbe to see Sleeping beauty’s castle,Pinochio,snowwhitle and seven dwarves etc. The rides were not as great as in Universall studio ,but perhaps they were beginning to apll after three consecutive days of rides…But as I overheard a visitor say “Disneyland in Christmas time is magical”. There was a special Christmas parade with all the farily tale characters .You sit by the road and see the fairy tale characters we know so well dance by. Snowhite,Cindrella, the little mermaid,gingerbread man,mickey and Minnie ,and finally to end the parade Santa claus with his elvwes and reindeers.

The next attraction was the fireworks, It was a fifteen minute show above Sleeping beauty;s castle and it was wonderful. Quite the best thing I saw in the entire three days.

Colourful rockets lit the sky forming different formations and converting the sky to a fantasy place .

It was good bye to LA and to Vidya and Aparna.Aparna was going to go to SFO to Vidya’s place and I was planning to go to Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon is in Arizona the desert state of America. It’s a drive through nothing ness..On both sides of the road there is anothing to see other than a wide expanse of land with mountains in the distance, We reached William,Arizona(where we were going to stay) just as we despaired of ever seeing civilization again . We had a quick nap before we set off to see the grand Canyon.

The first glimpse of the Canyon is indeed awesome. It was snowing the previous night so the canyon had a sprinkling gof snow at the top. Grand Canyon was really grand. It was amazing to think that a river caused this maginficient structure,we drove around the place ,pausing appropriately at all the outlook points, clicked a humungous amount of snaps and oohed and aahed at the right spots .We drove back to Las Vegas that day evening.

2 days left to see Vegas in….we went in the gondola ride.strolled through every possible casino .saw the beautiful fountain show at Bellagio,the volcanic eruption at Mirage ,the pirate battle in Treasure island.

That ends my description of the trip. Reached home to see Mark’ s mails overcrowding my inbox!!

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