Even though you may be fooled thinking the setting of this picture is in Paris, France, it's actually Paris, Las Vegas, or more specifically the Paris Hotel and Casino.
Now that I've visited Vegas I can cross it from my Bucket List, along with jumping from a plane and running a marathon. I don't think I ever need to visit there again.
Fortunately I used air miles and American Express points to fly and stay at the Bellagio Hotel, so it actually cost very little to visit.
View from my window
I'm also not a great gambler, so even though I didn't win big, I didn't lose big either (although I did try my hand at some slot machines).
Playing the Sex and the City slots
For me Vegas seemed ultra gaudy, impersonal and not all that friendly. From the circus-like crush of people in the hotel foyer to the smoke-filled casinos that you have to navigate to get anywhere, it wasn't a pleasure to be there.
Dale Chihuly's Fiori di Como on Bellagio's foyer ceiling
Luckily there were a few highlights, like Dale Chihuly's Fiori di Como glass sculptures at the Bellagio and the dancing fountain show outside.
There's also some great entertainment to be had in the form of Cirque du Soleil shows. We chose 'O', the acrobatic water spectacle, which is amazing - from the tumbling and swimming performers to the intricate stage design, where the set goes from a pool to dry land in seconds.
Cirque du Soleil show costumes
Another spectacle of the popular destination was all the people staggering all over Vegas, in the street and through the casinos, from all the free alcohol. I'm not so puritanical that I didn't indulge, but I opted for a more sophisticated Cosmo at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Enjoying a drink at the Chandelier Bar
at the Cosmopolitan Hotel
Even getting that drink seemed to be an effort, as unless you're loud and obnoxious or throwing around the money, it seems you can be invisible to the wait staff in Vegas. Considering they all survive on tips, they didn't seem particularly attentive or friendly.
Jason at the Chandelier Bar
If I did go again I think I'd either stay at the new Cosmopolitan Hotel, or the Wynn or Encore Hotels, which were much more contemporary and seemed to attract a smarter clientele.
Stylish design at the Wynn Hotel
Luckily I was there with friends who had flown in from the U.K. to visit, so we still had lots of fun catching up, but with all that smoke around the place we all left with stinking colds when we came back to L.A.
New York-New York Hotel & Casino
Excelsior Hotel & Casino
So after two nights seeing the sights of Vegas and averting near death (I had a shard of glass in my souffle at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant), it was time to fly back to the normalcy of L.A. (and I never thought I'd use that phrase in a sentence).
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
'The Shining' corridors at the Bellagio
For me, in the future what happens in Vegas, can stay in Vegas...