Food | Travel | Ideas

Las Vegas – The City of Lights, Fake and Gamble

Las Vegas – The City  of Lights, Fake and Gamble

From San Francisco, where we started our trip, we flew to Las Vegas. While planning the trip, we decided it will easier to fly to Vegas, rent a car there and drive back to San Francisco through famous cities and beautiful national parks.

Recently, I listened to a podcast interview with Richard Branson about his success with Virgin Group. And since Virgin America flies from San Francisco to Las Vegas, we decided to fly with them. The flight was cheerful and safety demonstration video was like a music video. Flying with Virgin America wasn’t very different than flying with Ryanair. It was just purple and pink, plus a free drink.

In Vegas, we got our rental car and road trip part of our holiday could begin. We decided Vegas will be our base camp where we will spend three nights, but during the day we went elsewhere. We stayed at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, on a street parallel with the Las Vegas Strip.

I have never been to such a huge hotel before and just finding the reception area was a quest of itself. The building we were staying in had twenty floors and about 80 rooms on each. There was also a second building, just like ours. The ground floor was filled with shops, restaurants, Starbucks and casino.

We dropped our bags and went to check out the Las Vegas Strip. We went to the Bellagio, Mirage, Venetian and Caesars Palace, probably the most iconic Vegas hotels. Each is built in a different style, with a focus on a specific aspect that differentiates it from all the others.

For example, the Venetian’s design is inspired by Italian Venice, and you can book a gondola ride. The Bellagio is famous for its fountains in front of it and botanical garden inside.

the Venetian

the Venetian

the Bellagio hotel

botanical garden in Bellagio

decoration in Bellagio


After visiting a couple of hotels, they all seemed the same. At least casinos and shops, which occupy a majority of the ground floor in each of the hotels, look pretty much the same.

It was a Wednesday night, and the casinos were half empty. Most of the people were outside, walking from hotel to hotel to take pictures of a copy of Eiffel Tower, the Venetian or fountains in front of the Bellagio.

copy of Eiffel tower

botanical garden in Bellagio

I wasn’t disappointed by Vegas, not at all. The Strip is exactly as you see it on TV, lights, noise, and crowds. It was an experience to be there, to see it and spent one afternoon walking down the Strip. However, I didn’t like it. With all the imitations, copies and pretending, nothing seemed real. It’s not a kind of place I seek, and I was glad we were spending here just the nights.

Every morning we left Vegas and drove somewhere else. One day it was Grand Canyon and another the Zion National Park, but about those in future posts.