Part 4: Vegas

Now I’m going to talk about three more hotels as part of my trip to Vegas. They are Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay. These were a bit of a jaunt from my hotel but I was determined to walk all the way to Mandalay Bay, which may be the southernmost hotel on the strip. Transportation is fairly expensive in Vegas. Cab rides can be $15 for a 10 minute cab ride. There are trams and monorails but they cost more than I’m willing to pay. So I was bound and determined to get there despite the sun and the heat.

With this in mind, I walked into the Excalibur. It’s a medieval castle themed hotel. It has quite an impressive façade in front with the castle and drawbridge. But the inside is rather dated for a theme hotel. It has a pseudo-Tudor feel. Something feels 1980s about the whole place. It is disappointing since I really love Renaissance/Medieval themed things (see my gushing about Renaissance faire). I haven’t seen the free show here either but I suppose I’ve never stayed long enough to check it out. I also asked for directions from two different members of staff who were pushing me to use the tram. When I told them that I wasn’t interested, they told me that I had to leave the building to get to the Luxor. They simply refused to show me how to find the indoor ramp that connected the hotels. Bad form.

Excalibur
Excalibur

After exiting the Excalibur, I finally got to the Luxor, the Egyptian themed hotel. The main building is a black pyramid. Palm trees line the front of it. This hotel is awesome. There are additional buildings to the hotel but you can’t beat a pyramid. At night, the pinnacle of the pyramid has a bright light that shoots up into the sky. Pretty neat. We stayed there the first time in Vegas. I seem to recall that the only drawback to the pyramid was that there were no bathtubs. But then again my room at the Cosmopolitan didn’t have a bath either. You can see up into the pyramid from the 2nd floor. It’s just neat. There is a giant Sphinx there and all sorts of Egyptian themed fountains throughout the hotel. It’s rather lovely in its own way.

Then I made my way through the indoor walkway to the Mandalay Bay. I have a fondness for this hotel. It’s sleek with a touch of Southeast Asia to it. There are Southeast Asian sculptures and fountains all over. But there is a wall of female body parts as part of a restaurant. Very odd. It also has an impressive pool area designed to resemble a beach. I’ve never been but it certainly looks nice. I was keen on visiting this hotel because it has a shark reef that I have never visited. I love animals and always wondered about this exhibition.

It’s a nice aquarium but it is not very big. I think I was there for about thirty to forty minutes. The Shedd costs a little bit more but you can spend many hours there. Oh well. But I enjoyed my time. The first thing you see is a Komodo dragon, which is pretty neat. There was also a tank of piranhas with two other fish. One type fish was too fast for the piranhas to catch. The other fish were goldfish for snacking. The aquarium representative at Mandalay Bay said that they would be gone by evening. Only in Vegas would they be so open about it! At the Museum of Science and Industry, they are so coy about the fate of the chicks hatched there. They also feed the piranhas regularly because they would eat each other. Sprinkled throughout the aquarium were Southeast Asian sculptures. The sculptures peered over you from planters or stared back at you from the tanks themselves. It was neat.

Fish tank at Mandalay Bay
Fish tank at Mandalay Bay

Like the Shedd, there was a stingray experience, where you can pet a stingray in an open pool. The stingrays are adorable and remind me of cats. Slimy cats. But this trend of stingrays seems popular. The Milwaukee Zoo also advertises stingray experience. Fascinating. There were horseshoe crabs. It was interesting because the male horseshoe crab will latch on the female and the two will wander around the tank. It’s a pre-mating ritual. There were some giant starfish and a few jellyfish. And yes there were sharks throughout the aquarium. There was one tank that was filled with smaller sharks; they looked like mini-great whites. Later on, you walked through a tunnel through the tank. Fish swam on three sides of you.

The piece de la resistance was the giant shark tank at the end. The aquarium made it appear that the viewing area was the skeleton of a sunken ship. Inside this tank, there were large sharks including a Bowmouth guitarfish or shark ray. It’s a huge bug-eyed shark. Very neat. There’s also a Long Nose Saw Shark that has a long nose with ridges on it. This shark liked to swim over the tunnel. But the best thing were the giant sea turtles. They were table sized! I could watch them for hours. Seeing these magnificent beasts swim was worth the price of admission. Overall, I think the aquarium was definitely something I’m glad that I saw but I don’t think I’ll do a repeat visit.

 

Sea Turtle at Mandalay Bay
Sea Turtle at Mandalay Bay

That’s all for now!

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