Las Vegas

We arrived in Las Vegas yesterday evening. My young friend thought I was being a bit silly because during the whole of the 2 hour flight between Tampa and Las Vegas I kept my hand over my nose for the entire journey, having still not got rid of my bad cold in no way did I want to catch another from the constantly sniffing man sitting next to me. Anyway here we are in The Mirage Hotel.
It seems just to check in you have to transit through hundreds of slot machines and gaming tables before you get to the front desk. And the ever present smell of cigarettes doesn't help.
But after a night's sleep and trying to adjust to the 4 hour time difference we visited Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat here at the hotel.

These pictures were taken through an underwater viewing room. Here at the Mirage many of the bottlenose dolphins were actually born in this habitat. It's good to know that it's also an education and research facility. Unusually for Las Vegas it's rained most of the day but it certainly didn't worry us, and the dolphins were really frolicking in the pools - especially the young ones. Nearby, and inside the secret garden itself, were about five beautiful white tigers. This one looks quite magisterial I think.
The whole garden was a very welcome respite from the general feeling of freneticism we are beginning to experience here.

It's impossible to visit any of the hotels (which is almost exclusively where everything takes place) without marching through acres of machines. We've had a couple of flutters so far - but, believe it or not we've mainly restricted ourselves to the one cent machines. Later this morning we toured the absolutely magnificent Venetian Hotel - right opposite ours on 'The Strip'.
Inside this enormous building are authentic reproductions of almost everything you'd find in Venice from the Doges Palace to St Marks Square - and even canals with Gondolas and Gondoliers who actually sing as they pole their passengers along.
As we walked through 'Venice' we looked up above the buildings and were amazed how realistic the sky looked with all the little wispy clouds. And the quality of painting on other ceilings were superb.

This is not a skilfully carved Roman philosopher, but a live statue. When he moved I must admit I jumped a bit as he was so real.
The afternoon became very wearysome as we walked and walked along the strip often finding ourselves trapped in one of the multitudinous casinos. Eventually a welcome sign 'Monorail' beckoned and we caught it for a ride up to the MGM Grand Hotel. I particularly wanted to see the enormous lion which growls at you at the beginning of every Metro Goldwyn Mayer film. But we were out of luck because we couldn't find it. All we found was another casino!
So, knackered, we made it back to the monorail stop nearest our hotel.