We were due to fly out on the 17th of May and would you believe it sat there in the posh Max Jet lounge with yummy free food, drinks and alcohol we were told, ‘sorry but we have a problem with the plane we will keep you updated.’ Ok we thought these things happen, but as we were due to fly at 1pm and we were still sat there at 5pm it wasn’t looking good. Then a voice came over saying that we wouldn’t be flying that day and that we were all being put up in a hotel for the evening. I’ve never had that happen on a flight before, but the airline was paying for everything so at least that was one consolation. We were told to ring a help line at 10pm to find out info on the flight, yet at 10pm the message said ring back at 6am! So 6am we ring back and were told to be at the airport by 8am and we would be flying. So all excited and with bags packed we get there, check in AGAIN! And wait in the lounge thinking this is it. Yet 10am we are still sat there, 1pm we are still sat there, 4pm we are still sat there! But at 8pm we finally got on the plane and at 8.45 we were up in the air, thank god for that.
At least on the plane itself there was so much legroom even I had room to spare, something I was so grateful for. We had champagne on arrival on the plane, a 4-course meal, which was really yummy, and drinks galore. We had our own entertainment system where we could watch anything from TV programmes like ‘friends’ to music videos, to top movies like ‘the Queen’ and even listen to music if that’s what you preferred.
As we were travelling through the night we thought we would sleep, but I think the excitement was too much, and we didn’t sleep at all. So at 1am Las Vegas time we arrived in Las Vegas, 11 hours after we had left London. It took around 30 minutes for them to find my wheelchair and get it up to me and then we had to go through security. Though once outside we thought there would be a taxi waiting for us, but alas there wasn’t. After a few frantic phones call we managed to get hold of them and they returned having been told that they had been given the wrong information by the travel agent, they had no idea which terminal we were at. So at 2am in the morning there we were stood outside the airport, 23c looking like lost sheep. Having had to pay the taxi fair yet again! Even though it was pre-paid, but at the time we just wanted to get to the hotel. Thankfully the check-in was really quiet, something it wasn’t for the 12 days we were there
The room thankfully was fab, the bathroom fully accessible with rails for the toilet, a higher sink to enable a wheelchair to get underneath and a roll in shower with shower seat and handrails all around.
The day after bright eyed and ready for anything we decided to try the buffet breakfast in one of the hotels restaurants and how yummy that was. Everything from fruit, cereal, cooked food, and danish and doughnuts. So of course I couldn’t resist a toffee doughnut for breakfast, who would?
Later we decided to try the buses and see if I could get on them with my wheelchair and would you believe it, it fitted! They have a special ramp that they place at the middle section of the bus, though you can use the electric ramp that comes out. This however is at the front of the bus and there wasn’t enough space for me to get round. We took a trip down to Mandalay Bay, the furthest hotel at the south of the strip.
It was so hot, couldn’t believe how hot it was, a chance to get a lovely suntan though. Had an interesting look around the Shark Reef at Mandalay, though dozy me using the camcorder thought I was taking a film of this lizard, only to realise later that it was a tree bark I was filming lol.
Having a slow wonder back up the strip taking many photos of the hotels, Excalibur and New York New York, I noticed not long after that I had lost my camera. I didn’t know if it had been stolen from my knee or if it had dropped through. After retracing our steps we couldn’t find it, so had to report it to the police and pray to god that I can get the money back from the insurance.
Thankfully it was just the start of the holiday so I didn’t loose many pictures, so the day after we went to one of the big shopping malls to see if wecould get a replacement. Luckily they did the same type of camera just an undated version, so now I had a new camera to take to the Grand Canyon with me.
The Malls are so big though, can take an age to walk round, though they have some good cheap shops for clothing and the food is plentiful, especially the cookie and chocolate shops. I’m drooling now just thinking about it!
That evening we set off for the Grand Canyon, would it run smoothly? The taxi was a bit of a squeeze but I managed to get into it, though I had to duck down all the way, thankfully it was only a 45 minute drive to Boulder City airport. The plane to take us to the Grand Canyon was really small, I wondered how it would get off the ground.
The little hold for the wheelchair and luggage, well the luggage had to go into the front of the plane and it took 5 men to lift the wheelchair up there, but at least they got it in there without breaking it. Though as I was stepping into the plane I put my hand out to rest on the back on the seats and didn’t know that they moved forward, so as it clasped forward so did I and got myself stuck right in-between the seats. I couldn’t turn over to get up, couldn’t bend my knees to get up and was wedged with my legs, luckily a strong man managed to get me up, though battered and bruised, but I wasn’t going to miss out on the trip to the Grand Canyon.
On our flight over there I managed to get some fantastic pictures of the Canyon and Hoover Dam too.
Once we arrived I thought that everything must be ok and no more problems could occur. Yet here we go again I thought as I was lifted onto the coach via the tail lift only for it to break half way up and it wouldn’t come down or go any further up! So what the heck was going to happen now? After 30 mins or so 5 airport guys from standing positions in the coach pulled me from my seating position into the coach itself! God talk about a scary moment I dread to think what would have happened if they had dropped me.
After finally arriving at the hotel/lodge we were so knackered and didn’t get any meal that was arranged. So had to walk up to the main reception and find something to eat, it wasn’t great I must say but we didn’t have much choice. After an early night we decided to get up at 4am to go and see the sunrise, though it was SOOO cold outside I couldn’t believe how cold. It wasn’t as spectacular as we had thought, I think mainly due to us being at the wrong part of the south rim, but it was still a nice scene. The tour we got wasn’t what we expected due to the lift still being broken and powered manually. Though we did get to go to one of the best places to view the south rim and it was spectacular to say the least, so it was photos galore.
On the way back to the airport we stopped for lunch, I must say it was awful, it was just like a load of slop in each tray and you didn’t know what you were eating. However despite the problems I wouldn’t swap the experience, as it as always been a life long ambition to see the Grand Canyon.
Back in Vegas we spent a few afternoons by the pool, me in shorts for the first time in ohh years and years. It was so hot though that you couldn’t stay out there too long cos it was just like burning.
We spent many a day going up and down the strip, going in to all the brightly lit hotels, watching people loose loads in the casinos, I did have a gamble but only lost around $2 not much in the grand scheme of things. Plus watching the various free shows and enjoying the food and drink. Ohh I have to recommend that if anyone goes to Vegas you must try, in one of the 50 diner type places, an Oreo cookie malt, a drink. It is very sweet and kinda sickly but soooo soooo good and yummy. Plus the 50’s diner (Roxy's) in our hotel had singing and dancing staff while you ate your meal, and they weren’t half bad either, some of them should go for American Idol! Plus if you fancied a dance then you could join in.
We went up the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel. It was fab the view was great, though it did say that there was only 90 people allowed up there, wonder if I counted as 1 or 2???? Sue wasn’t too keen on the glass lift, it was rather unnerving, but fascinating too to see the city as we went up. Just have to go to the real Eiffel Tower now to compare.
Went to see Mamma Mia (Abba play). It was a good night and a chance for a good sing-a-long to well-known Abba hit songs. Also got to see Celine Dion and wewere sat very near the front, she was fab, what a voice though she wasn’t on long enough for my liking.
We also visited the MGM lions on display there. The enclosure is pretty small which kinda concerned me, but apparently they are only there for 6 hours a day and they alternate which lions they use. Plus at the end of the day they go back to a 40 acre grounds to play in. At least this time they didn’t go for me like they did at Whipsnade Zoo!
Watched the dancing fountains at the Bellagio, who dance to the sound of music every 15 minutes, at night they are quite spectacular, but really at any time they are worth seeing, especially when you get a bit of spray to cool you down!
The erupting volcano at the Mirage hotel was certainly different, all done with water and the odd flash of real fire for effect.
At the Mirage hotel there is a secret garden with dolphins and animals, lions, tiger’s etc. with the dolphins they are there for conservation reasons and to learn from them. They are studying the dolphin’s capacity to remember things and it was fascinating learning all about these amazing creatures.
We went to the most interesting exhibition that I have ever been to. The Bodies exhibition at the Tropicana Hotel shows how the body works in a really fascinating way, by using real bodies, dead ones of course! There were arms, legs, hearts, muscles, brains that had had strokes and lungs that were riddled with cancer. Plus there were bodies of babies that had died through complications and foetus’ that hadn’t gone full term, which was quite bizarre and a strange thing to see (although disturbing). They showed MRI scans of bodies - made me wonder if I would look the same, maybe one day we will know.
We had a few trips away from the strip; one was to the Hoover Dam and the other to the Red Rock Canyon. However both trips we had to cancel because my wheelchair would not fit on the tail lift, despite both companies being told the dimensions of the chair and the weight. Though we didn’t let this get too us too much and managed to rebook a trip to the Hoover Dam, though it was a short trip it was such an amazing place to visit. The fact that they built this dam in an era when the technology wasn’t as it is today, no mean feat by any means.
It was strange being so far away from home and being recognised by an Austrian man, though I don’t speak German so it was a brief conversation!
Though I do have to say that some tourists were very rude towards my disability, even to the extent of trying to take pictures of me! I mean I ask you what goes through peoples minds?
On the day we had to leave even though I would be glad to get home to have some rest, I was sad to leave because it was such a great place and would love to go and spend more time there to see the things I didn’t get the chance to this time. Plus I’d love to spend more time at the Grand Canyon.