Titanic exhibition, Luxor hotelWe headed out to the Titanic exhibition in the Luxor hotel at 10:30. We were given passenger boarding cards of actual passengers then at the end, you got to see if you survived or not. We had the same one and Neen was our future daughter in law. We survived. Forgot to check Neen’s. She probably drowned. We’re excellent swimmers. We posed for photos – they had the bow of the boat so naturally we recreated the famous Titanic pose. It would’ve been rude not to. Insulting, even. Neen got up on the rails but our short dresses and fishnets wouldn’t allow for that. While our dignity filed for divorce years ago, we’re yet to participate in the ‘accidentally flashing your knickers at the camera’ craze that some people indulge in. The woman at the gate applauded us after the photo was taken. Do not many people do it? Such a waste! You can’t go to a Titanic exhibition and not do the pose! We also struck a pose on a replica staircase in first class.Titanic exhibition, Luxor hotel

The exhibition was brilliant. Everyone knows the story of the Titanic, but to actually see the pieces they recovered was incredible. And to read the stories of the passengers, who they were, why they were there. It’s sad some people were only on the ship because the coal strike meant the ships they’d been booked on, couldn’t sail, so they were upgraded to the Titanic. And they died. One man was due to board with his friend, but was shanghaied. It’s probably the only time being shanghaied was the better option. His friend didn’t survive.  It’s amazing to think that delicate items such as glass or dining sets survived. As well as a lot of passenger’s belongings, like razor blade wrappers! You drop plates on the floor, they smash, but they survived sinking to the bottom of the ocean. There was a large piece of the ship as well, imaginatively named The Big Piece.  The gift shop sold replicas dining sets from the first, second and third classes, which we thought was cool.

Mandalay Bay Shark reefWe then boarded a tram to Mandalay Bay to go to the shark reef. We’ve always had an obsession with sharks and recently discovered our love for terrible shark films. We always cheer when people get eaten. But we’ve never seen a shark in real life. Our ambition is to swim with them. We first visited the sea monsters museum, where they had specimens of different sea life. It was like the Bodies exhibition but with sea creatures. Though we fail to see how an Emperor penguin is any way monstrous. Then we came out of there and got a bit lost looking for the shark reef so had to ask for directions.Mandalay Bay shark reef

There weren’t just sharks there. We felt really sorry for the crocodile – he was in a small tank and looked so depressed. He didn’t really have enough room to swim around in. There were sharks, fish, rays, jellyfish, an octopus and even sea turtles! It was fantastic being so close to them. There were also piranhas, but sadly they weren’t the man-eating kind. Apparently, they prefer beef and chicken.

not a man eating piranha

not a man-eating piranha

Horror films have lied to us. The sharks all had lots of space, so they could’ve given the crocodile more space. Or at least fed it a child to cheer it up.It was amazing seeing sharks up close. We wanted to dive in the tanks with them. We can swim around, looking threatening. Unfortunately, as sharks never stop moving, it was impossible to get non blurry photos of them. We couldn’t spend as long in there as we would’ve like as we had a plane to catch!Mandalay Bay shark reef

We time to do some quick gambling, so we had a go at computerised roulette and Black Jack. Lynx won $2 on Black Jack! 😀 The cashier’s probably never been asked to cash an amount that small, but a win’s a win! We were determined to do some gambling before leaving Vegas but we just didn’t have time before. It would’ve been criminal not to gamble at least once. A waitress took our order – drinks are free when you’re gambling – so we had to wait for her to return after our measly $3 bet was up, so we kept pressing buttons, acting like we were Roulette champions. We had no idea what we were doing and had to read the rules.Mandalay Bay shark reef

It was then time to head for the airport. There was still so much we wanted to do in Vegas! McCarron Airport was very confusing. It said to go upstairs for check-in then sent us back downstairs. We checked in no problem – screw you, Gatwick! Then had to board a tram to take us to our gate. We had enough time to type up what we’ve done so far. Our flight for San Francisco was leaving at 5 p.m. We honestly hadn’t expected to enjoy Las Vegas – when we thought of places in America we wanted to visit, Vegas was never included, but we were so wrong. We loved every minute. Mandalay Bay shark reefThe people were lovely, there was so much to see and do. We weren’t there long enough! We only did 10 minutes of gambling and we never got to use the pool. It closed at 6 and we were always busy in the day. We hoped San Francisco wouldn’t be a let down, as that was the one we were excited about. Normally the things we get excited about don’t live up to our expectations and the things we’re not bothered about, tend to be amazing. Roll on Alcatraz!P1120249

Airwolves

Papillon Grand Canyon tourThere was only one thing worth getting out of bed at 6:20 a.m. for – our helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon with Papillon. The bus was picking us up at 8 and we needed the time to get ready. Unlike some people, we don’t jump out of bed, picture perfect, ready to start our day. We groan, slump out and wander like zombies. Do you know how long it takes to turn zombies into passable humans through the power of makeup? 20 minutes. We’re not big on makeup and get bored easily.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

Papillon Grand Canyon tourWe’re pretty sure the tickets mentioned a limo pick up. Considering the only limo we’ve ever been in is a funeral one, we were excited, imagining this was how film stars lived. The black bus that turned up was certainly not a limo. No spacious leg room and mini fridge for us then. The bus driver seemed really beaten down by life and almost killed us several times on the way. It was like she was determined to end it all and take us all with her! And several other guests went missing, leading to us spending a long time driving around the strip and blocking hotel entrances. We’d been excited about the Grand Canyon for most of the year. No way in hell were we planning to end our morning flattened in a bus. If Sandra Bullock could take the wheel in Speed, so we could we. Luckily we didn’t have to. Our Travel Insurance didn’t cover bus hijacking.Papillon Grand Canyon tour

Papillon Grand Canyon tourThe greeter at the airport not only knew where Wales was, but had just come back from visiting Swansea and Cardiff! A lot of people in America thought we were English. We mentioned Wales and got blank stares. We had to explain it’s next door to England but is not in fact, England. So finding out this guy even knew our cities was a proud moment. Then over the tannoy they announced our names for the flight and added “from England.” A frustrated cry of “Wales!” echoed around the gift shop. *Grinds teeth* There are FOUR countries in the UK. FOUR. We shared the helicopter with three French guys. We sadly did not get to sit in the front, which would’ve made for amazing views. The helicopter ride was fantastic. First time we’ve ever been in one. And we didn’t play the Airwolf theme! Very disappointed in ourselves for that. Papillon Grand Canyon tourLynx only felt sick once on the way and a couple of times on the way back but Cat pocketed a sick bag just in case. The views were stunning and it’s so weird seeing such straight roads! It’s like they’re trying to defy nature. We landed in the Grand Canyon’s Western Rim with three or four other helicopters. It was incredible. We took a couple of rocks as souvenirs. Papillon Grand Canyon tourActual pieces of the Grand Canyon are way better than touristy mugs and keyrings. Though if the canyon collapses now, we apologise. We had a picnic in a shelter. They provided a small tub of Pringles and a packet of apple slices so we were able to eat something. We even drank some water! Check us out, trying new things. Most people just stayed under the shelter with the picnic, but we went exploring and gently hugged a cactus. The half hour went way too quickly. Photos don’t do the scale of it justice. Still can’t believe we were there.Paillon Grand Canyon tour

After a quick stop at our hotel to freshen up, we decided to go to Fremont Street. As we were heading for the bus stop, there were street artists dressed up. One was a Transformer, one was some kind of robot and there was another one. The robot guy wanted a high five from us then the three of them asked us for a photo. We declined, because you have to pay them, then one even said he’d waive his tip for a photo! 😀 Normally it’s tourists wanting photos with street performers, not the other way around! We got a 24 hour bus ticket and headed for Fremont Street.

Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas

canal in the Venetian

Except we’re easily distracted and spotted the Venetian hotel with its gondolas. So we jumped off the bus and booked a gondola ride through the hotel. The inside is amazing, they’ve recreated St Mark’s Square in Venice, complete with canals. Yes, there is a canal inside the hotel.

Venetian Hotel gondola

us and Caj

While we were waiting, a Russian tourist asked if he could take a photo of us. Our gondolier, Caj was brilliant. He was funny and even sang the Cornetto song when Neen asked. Every damn word. He sang the proper version then Mambo Italian while we danced. Nobody else appeared to be dancing in their gondolas. Caj kept blowing us kisses as we were leaving.

Venetian hotel gondola

Neen and Caj

We got back on the bus then stopped at the Mob Museum. That was really cool. We know a little bit about the mob, but not a lot, so it was great to learn the history and put faces to infamous names. They had the actual wall where the gangsters were killed in the St Valentine’s Day Massacre. So naturally we posed by it, with Neen shooting Lynx, Lynx surrendering and Cat doing a death pose.

Mob Museum, Las Vegas

actual wall from the St Valentine’s Day massacre

Mob Museum, Las Vegas

Neen firing a Tommy gun

Sensitive as always. We got to have a go with a fake Tommy gun then there was an electric chair which moved. So we took turns getting electrocuted. Naturally we did the whole ‘juddering as electricity courses through our veins’ bit then slumped into a death pose. Some people who were watching thought we were actors that worked there and even applauded us! Nope, not actors, just tourists messing around 😀 We also fired a bulletless revolver in a training video and kept shooting suspects in the arse as they ran away. Take that, dirtbags. We had our photo taken in a police lineup. The lady there loved our look and even loved our accents. Really? We told her the Cardiff accent really isn’t popular back home. But is appears we sound exotic to Americans. Who’da thunk it?Mob Museum, Las Vegas

Mob Museum, Las Vegas

Vegenation

Inside Vegenation

We headed to Fremont Street and joined it in the middle. We walked down to the end to find the vegan place in Container Park, which is a fenced off area with large shipping containers. Hence its name. The vegan place only served healthy stuff. This is a particular pet peeve of ours. You go to a vegan place and it’s all lentils, tofu (what the hell is tofu anyway?), kale chips, chickpeas, nuts and raw whatevers. People think this is what vegans eat. No! You know what we eat? Ice cream. Chocolate. Chips. Crisps. Sweets. Cake. We eat like normal people, just a vegan version of it. We’re vegan because we love animals, not because we want to eat like squirrels. So we wandered back to Fremont Street, but a different way and happened across a vegan restaurant, Vegenation. They served fries, which were actually large potato wedges sprinkled with paprika, and ice cream! We had vanilla and chocolate. Delicious! Chips and ice cream. It’s not that hard to keep us happy. Vegenation only opened in May. A good find! The greeter loved our hair so sat us near the door to attract customers 😀

Vegenation

vegan ice cream at Vegenation

Fremont Street Las Vegas

Fremont Street

We walked back through Fremont Street. As it was dark, it was all lit up, with people on a zip wire above us. This is what we imagined the Strip to look like. There were street performers everywhere. Some wearing hardly anything. Yet people were taking photos of us. We’re not the most interesting people in Vegas! They obviously don’t get many Goths or twins in Vegas. We were trying to find a bus back then saw one behind us. We ran about a block alongside it and just beat it to the bus stop. It amused the bus driver anyway.

Fremont Street, Las Vegas

Fremont Street at night

Viva Las Vegas!

we're ready to go!

we’re ready to go!

You know your first time of leaving the UK is off to a bad start when you have an argument with airport security over Cranberry and Raspberry squash.

we took our own food

we took our own food

We travelled down on the Saturday night by coach to Gatwick. Our flight was leaving from Gatwick but returning to Heathrow, which caused a bit of a headache and in the end, we decided a coach was our best option. We managed to watch the Wales v England game on the way down with patchy 3G. We were gutted when we found out we were travelling down on game night. But Wales won so our holiday got off to a great start. But that wouldn’t last long. We stayed in Gatwick central Travelodge over night. We were only 10 minutes from the airport.

view from our plane

view from our plane

Then it started to go a bit wrong. The boarding passes we printed at home wouldn’t scan but they checked our passports and let us through. Our big case was too big to go with the other luggage and had to go in a different area. It was dead on its 23kg weight limit. Then at security, Cat set off the bleepers and had to go into a body scanner and stand on the footprints, which were too wide for her and raise her arms above her head. That that didn’t look at all inappropriate. The footprints were shoulder width for most people. We’re pixie people. Lynx didn’t set them off, even though we were wearing practically the same.

Colorado river

Colorado river

Then they seized Cat’s tray and the guy told her she couldn’t take her bottles of Cranberry and Raspberry on. 5 bottles, in a clear plastic case, that had an aeroplane on with a tick, showing they were suitable. Lynx didn’t get stopped for the bottles, even though we had the same set. Guy “What size are they?” Cat “100 mil.” That’s the allowance. Guy “They’re not marked. You can’t take them on.” Cat “They’re 100 ml.” Him “Can you prove it?” Cat “No, I don’t have my eBay receipt.”

our massive Virgin Airlines plane

our massive Virgin Airlines plane

Yeah we know, being a smartarse in the airport was never going to win us any favours. He took out her bottle of foundation, which was also unmarked and said she could have that, but not the other bottles. There was no way she was losing them, after we’ve paid for them. Cat “What do I do?” Him *shrugs* “You can’t take them.” Cat “Well shall I go and find an empty bottle and empty them into it?” Him “If that’s what you want to do.” Then took her passport, boarding pass and the bottles. She dumped her stuff with Neen and Lynx and went to ask him where she should go. He walked off. So she followed him. When she caught him up, she asked where to go. He wanted her to follow him. Then tell her that! He took her back to the boarding gate and left her there. After a while, Neen went and asked him where Cat was. He shrugged. Neen “Cathryn Davies, goth girl. Where did she go?”

biggest plane we've been on!

biggest plane we’ve been on!

Him “I left her at the gate.” Neen “Where is she now?” Him “That’s up to her.” Neen “Will she come back up this way?” Guy “I would advise her to.” Really helpful. By now, Neen and Lynx were panicking that we’d miss our flight and we had no way to contact each other. Cat had to find her way back down to the newsagents. After queuing for ages, they didn’t sell empty bottles. She found her way back upstairs and went to another newsagents. The lady there was really surprised they wouldn’t allow the bottles. Cat went back to the boarding gate and told the lady there. She was also surprised and asked which side she went to. Cat said right, so the lady said to use the left. So she did, put them in the tray and guess what? They allowed them! That other guy was clearly a wankenstein.

plane selfie!

plane selfie!

We boarded really quickly. But 11 hours is a long flight! We watched a documentary called Life After Manson, about Patricia Krenwell from the Manson family; Avengers: Age of Ultron; Poltergeist and Terminator: Genysis. We also played Dobble and dice Carcassonne. In Dobble, you have cards with loads of pictures on and you have to match one to one of the pictures on the previous cards. One of the pictures is a bomb. Only after slapping her card down, did Cat realise calling out “bomb!” on an aeroplane probably isn’t the best thing. Then Neen’s Carcassonne dice catapulted across the aisle, landing beneath another passenger’s feet, so Cat had to retrieve them. Lynx got really sick on the landing ‘cos there was so much turbulence. There was a lot during the flight but it got really bad as we descended and Lynx has always been travel sick. Neen’s nickname for her when we travel is Sicky McSickpants.

Lynx & Neen on the bus to Vegas!

Lynx & Neen on the bus to Vegas!

Cat on the bus

Cat on the bus

Cat soaked a tissue and put it on her neck as she got pins and needles in her hands and feet. As soon as people started clearing the plane, Neen and Cat sent her off while they grabbed the stuff. There were no sickbags on board. At customs, Lynx got quizzed about her trip, whereas the guy Cat went to didn’t speak to her. He wanted to know what Lynx planned to do, what her job was, how much money she brought, where she got her customs form, who was that person loitering nearby (Neen). At baggage collection, Cat nearly took out 2 guys with her heroic dive for the big case, then couldn’t get it off, so a guy helped her.

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas

Had to queue for ages to another customs thing, then Neen had to go to a different area cos she had alcohol and they made her empty her bags while we were waiting at the exit for like 20 minutes. The woman took one look at the small bottle of vodka Neen had and laughed.

Excalibur hotel, Las Vegas

The Excalibur

Walking out of the airport into the Las Vegas heat was immense. It’s like standing below heaters set to their highest temperature. We couldn’t breathe. We got a bus to the strip. It was only $2 each. The Excalibur was huge! Though the air con smelled in our room. We hung out in our room for a bit then wandered the hotel. There’s a couple of outdoor pools and loads and loads of slot machines, arcades etc. Seriously, the entire downstairs was filled with them and there were arcade games in the ‘fun dungeon’ below. We were all too tired to really do anything. Asked about a fridge for our soya milk – they could send one to the room for $28 a night. No way. The guy suggested we get some ice from the machine and fill a container. So we did. That’ll do. Got back to our room about 6:45 pm. Went to bed at 8:30. Living the rock and roll lifestyle in Las Vegas!Excalibur hotel, Las Vegas