Monday, November 19, 2012

USA 2009 trip - Las Vegas, San Francisco, Santa Monica and more...

In July, 2009, I headed off to the US of A for three weeks.

I had been to Las Vegas once before and was "poor, poor, poor" when I was there and had always wanted to go back and do it properly.

This USA trip was long before I thought up the whole travel blog 'thing'. As a result, this isn't an out-an-out post. There are plenty of photos but they aren't as in-depth as my usual blog post pics (no photo spreads of the rooms or the dining/bar facilities etc) and are a bit more 'touristy'. They're in this post because I thought it would be better to get them onto the blog and share them with you rather than leave them sitting on an external hard-drive. After all, you might be wanting to visit some of the places listed in the itinerary below.

PLEASE NOTE that due to the age of the photos, some of the shows and information advertised in the photos of the casinos may have changed. I link to the casino websites, so best to check there.

The itinerary:

1. Fly from Brisbane to Las Vegas
2. Stay at New York, New York (NYNY) hotel/casino for one week
3. Fly to San Francisco, stay there one week
4. Spend few days driving down coast to Los Angeles
5. Stay two nights in Santa Monica
6. Fly to Brisbane from LAX

I have discovered that this post runs slowly if viewed on Internet Explorer. It's best viewed on Google Chrome or Firefox (not as fast as Chrome).

The hotel in Las Vegas - New York, New York...

New York, New York once the sun goes down.  
Mentioned earlier - the Brooklyn Bridge.
The rollercoaster at NYNY.
The view of the rollercoaster from the room's window.
Every few minutes you could hear the faint - and it was faint - sound of people screaming (the rollercoaster doesn't run all night!).
The eateries in the casino/hotel can be found in what resembles a mini-version of New York's
backstreets, which are situated next to the gambling floor. The cage-like thing at the top of the photo is where the rollercoaster ends.
Another laneway.
The eateries come in all shapes and sizes and you can get fast food - pizza/burgers/hotdogs/ice cream etc - or go slightly more
'non-fast food' - steakhouse/Mexicana/Italian/Asian. A full list of eateries can be seen HERE.
This was my first meal in Las Vegas, bought in one of the NYNY backstreets.
It seemed an obvious choice...when in Rome...
Another back street, this time with 'Bar at Times Square', one of several bars.
A full list of bars can be seen HERE.
Inside the 'Nine Fine Irishmen' pub.
Right next to the backstreets and eateries - the gambling area (some of the MANY pokies/slot machines).
The view from the room. That's Excalibur across the street.
NYNY is on a 4-way intersection and there are walkways across the road to ensure
movement between the casinos is easier.
Excalibur in all its glory.

Assorted Las Vegas sights and hotels/casinos...

This is a map of the 'new' Las Vegas Strip.
The view looking north down 'the Strip' from NYNY.
The same view but at night when, as you can see, 'Vegas comes alive!
On one of the four intersections where NYNY is located is the MGM Grand.
MGM Grand foyer.
Just as the roaring lion begins all MGM movies, the lion theme is strong throughout the MGM Grand.
This one is in the middle of the foyer...
Whereas these ones are the real thing and live in an enclosure just off the foyer.
Those shadows are a couple of the lions relaxing on the perspex-covered walkway (it might have been glass) that passes through the enclosure. 
Bellagio and its famous dancing fountains.
Directly across from Bellagio is Paris Las Vegas, home to Las Vegas' very own Eiffel Tower.
Still at Paris Las Vegas, the legs of the Eiffel Tower come right into the casino.
Part of the way up the Eiffel Tower is the aptly named 'Eiffel Tower Restaurant'.
The meal was fabulous. The view isn't bad, either, and this is the view from the table.
Those are the dancing fountains at Bellagio, which 'perform' every 15 minutes from 7pm each evening.
The Venetian which replicates parts of Venice, Italy.
Just as Venice has canals and gondolas, so does The Venetian.
Venetian-style fresco artwork in The Venetian.
Scaled down version of St. Mark's Square in The Venetian.

Fremont Street was the Strip before the new one came along. Many of the images of Las Vegas people of a certain age grew up on come from Fremont Street - the Golden Nugget and Vegas Vic (the cowboy sign) to mention two.

While the new Strip is very much the centre of attention, Fremont Street has a new attraction - the Fremont Street Experience - to assist in bringing tourists to the area. The Fremont Street Experience is a canopy stretching four blocks of Fremont Street that comes alive (well and truly!) with imagery several times a night. 

Below are a couple of photos showing the Fremont Street Experience but I also found a YouTube clip (not filmed by us) that really shows off what the Fremont Experience is all about. It can be viewed HERE
The canopy covering Fremont Street prior to the start of the Fremont Street Experience.
...and the canopy once the Fremont Street Experience begins.
Vegas Vic, left, with the Fremont Street Experience behind.

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Venturing beyond the Strip (hire car) can be found Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire and the Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam wall.
Hoover Dam water level, July 2009.
The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman bridge, part of the Hoover Dam Bypass project, under
construction. The bridge construction was completed in October 2010.
One of the most photographed signs in the world! There is always a queue of people waiting to get their photo taken.
Leaving Las Vegas - McCarran International Airport with the 'new' Strip in the distance.
'Vegas from the air.

Hello San Francisco!

Looking across San Francisco Bay to the former prison on Alcatraz Island.
The Bay Bridge, linking San Francisco to Oakland.
Coit Tower, on Telegraph Hill.
Tickets to a San Francisco Giants baseball game, booked all the way from Australia.
This was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. This was the last game in a mini-series against the San Diego Padres and on the Friday night
Jonathan Sanchez pitched a no-hitter in the Giants 8-0 win. Two days later i.e. that beautiful Sunday afternoon, the Giants went down 10-0!
Nice view out over San Francisco Bay, where many a ball has ended up after being belted out of the park.
A lovely tradition - after the game, once the field has been cleared, kids are allowed to run around the bases.
I was keen to have a run but I think I might have been too old :(
Sausalito is a lovely area on the north side of San Francisco Bay (that's San Fran in the distance across the water).
San Francisco from the ferry to Sausalito.
Arriving at the Port of San Francisco after an afternoon at Sausalito.

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If you like the photography in my blogs, it's because I am a professional photographer. My photos don't merely show something, they tell a story. And visual stories i.e. photos, are more interesting than pictures that merely show something. 

If you'd like to know how to turn your images into visual stories, I've published a book that takes a whole new slant on photography and 'translates' the art of taking photos into a language we all understand.

To read more about my book and see some of its 100+ visual examples, please click HERE.

***I use all the tips and hints from my book in every photo I take, including those in Travel With Giulio.

*     *     *     *     *

One of San Fran's famous cable cars.
Hilly San Francisco!
A crowded Fisherman's Wharf.
The sea lions that have taken up permanent residence at Pier 39, next to Fisherman's Wharf.
The large Rainbow flag that signifies you're at The Castro, San Francisco and America's largest gay neighbourhood.
San Francisco and fog go hand in hand.
It's a specific type of fog, which you can read about HERE.
Fog aside, that's the Golden Gate Bridge poking out of the fog.
One side of the bay can be in warm sunshine and the other in cold, wet fog.
One of the WWII fortifications lining the coast north of San Fran, with that fog in the distance!
Chinatown - the largest one outside Asia.
One way to get around is the Muni, the public transport system that runs above and below ground. 
Michael Jackson had died days before and this was on the dashboard of a car.
Gravestones at the war cemetery in the Presidio.
Stinson Beach, north of San Francisco.

And, lastly...

This fella isn't on any tourist map but he's one great dog - Zeus! I included this photo for no other reason than I love it.

The drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles (Santa Monica)...

You can't see it but the fog was racing in from the sea and over the mountain range.
Then the coastline changed direction and the fog sat maybe 1km (1,000 yards) off the coast for several hours.
The coastline was rugged and spectacular along Highway 1, which hugs the coastline.
Vast tracts of seaweed hugged the coastline for many kilometres.
Seaweed aside, there were many beautiful bridges, all similar to the one in the above photo, spanning 'gaps' in the coastline.

One such bridge - Bixby Creek Bridge - up close.
Monterey for lunch.
Clam chowder served in hollowed out loaf of bread at The Fish Hopper in Monterey...filling but delicious!
It was really hard to convey how delightful Carmel-by-the-Sea is in a photo.
Here's one of the shopping/retail areas.
One of the many galleries in Carmel-by-the-Sea (think affluent and you're in the ballpark).
The Normandy Inn - fabulous accommodation.
One of the redwood trees at Big Sur.
People cooling off in the creek (stream) at a roadside cafe and camping ground we stopped at, Big Sur.
Marina at Santa Barbara.
Moreton Bay Figs are native to Australia and Moreton Bay is the bay on which our hometown (city) of Brisbane is located. The link explains the story behind this particular tree.
Santa Monica beach looking north - a wide expanse of sand!
Santa Monica beach looking north but much close to the water, hence all the people.
Santa Monica beach looking south towards Venice Beach.
Venice Beach medical marijuana doctor - there are (were) quite a few.
Venice Beach -  crowd gathers around a busker.

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I hope you found this post useful and, if you did, please let me know -

Bon voyage!


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All photos, video and text by Giulio Saggin (unless otherwise stated)
© Use of photos/video/text must be via written permission

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