Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Nothing Like It In the World (Las Vegas: Part 1)

Night panorama of the Las Vegas Strip.
Photo by Matthew Field.

Las Vegas is an urban cigarette.
Both are glamorous and seductive. One delivers nicotine, the other delivers fantasies. Imbibe and your brain chemistry becomes altered. "Enjoy me now," they seem to say. "Worry about the world another day."

Unable to resist, I succumb to the temptation to revel in the fantastic sights of the Las Vegas Strip.

The Luxor Hotel and Casino
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Our reservations were at the Luxor. Never having been to Vegas before, I wanted to begin with someplace familiar, where I might recognize a thing or two. And since I had visited Luxor, Egypt several years ago, this accomodation seemed to fit the bill.

Truth be told, I wasn't really expecting them to be much alike. The Vegas version is dominated by a 30-story pyramid and a gigantic sphinx. In Egypt, those things are found, not at Luxor, but Giza, over 300 miles away. But they did have this in common: In Egypt, the tourist en route to his destination is often mobbed by many less privileged persons, who try to convince him to part with his cash. In Vegas, that function exists as well, only it has been transferred to the slot machine. Everywhere one goes, there is an opportunity to gamble on and on... I could just hear these machines calling out, "Baksheesh, baksheesh..."

Across the ocean, an older sphinx faces the Nile, the source of Egypt's wealth.
This behemoth watches McCarran International Airport, a more lucrative source of riches.

Pyramid interiors have become roomier over the centuries, and no longer smell like 4,500-year-old dirty socks. This is the largest atrium in the world.

At night, the 350-foot-high pyramid shoots forth a mega blast of light into the sky.

Next: A stroll up the Las Vegas Strip

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