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Trip Report Short Trip Report about a Short Trip to the US!

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I've just returned from a 10 day trip to Los Angeles and Las Vegas (I won a prize actually with flights and accommodation in Los Angeles as prize package - we extended this to include 4 nights in Las Vegas). I travelled with my two sons and the partner of one son - so two gals and two guys!

We did the typical touristy things such as Universal Studios, Disneyland, Hollywood Blvd even a Movie Stars Homes Tour. We were very impressed with Universal as we'd paid a little extra to get the Top of the Line pass, which not only got us to the top of the line it also allowed us to remain after the shows - WaterWorld and Terminator and meet the cast, ask questions, photos etc. We enjoyed Disneyland and had our photo taken with Mickey Mouse - my boys are 24 and 22 years - but I told him it was better late than never.

We hired a car on day two and drove to Disneyland - with the GPS it was dead easy. Traffic was flowing going and coming home and we experienced no problems. American drivers are extremely polite and courteous. My eldest son did all the driving and I was a little worried about driving on the other side of the road but as he does stunt driving for a living I needn't have worried at all.

We drove out to Las Vegas and again had an easy run. On a recommendation from a fellow Fodorite we stayed at Bill's Gambling Hall and Saloon. This was a great recommendation and we were very happy with the hotel rooms. They were actually quite large and roomy and had been renovated 3 years ago - so reasonably modern. I too, wouldn't hesitate to recommend this hotel as it's location is fantastic - opposite Caesar's and diagonally opposite The Bellagio. You felt like you were right in the middle of things.

We enjoyed Vegas but a couple of observations - we were stunned that you can drink alcohol whilst walking down the street - especially drinks in bottles!!! Man you just couldn't do that anywhere here in Australia. However, everyone was very well behaved with it all so we had no problems it was just interesting that's all.

Another thing was smoking in the casinos etc. We really struggled with that and at times we'd just have to go out for fresh air. We have very tough smoking laws here and you can't even smoke at an El Fresco restaurant any longer. They are even talking about (if they haven't already done so) about banning smoking on the beaches. Again, not a real biggie but an observation.

We had a ball at the outlet centres in Vegas. Clothes in the US are incredibly cheap by our standards - INCREDIBLY!!! So we were able to get brands like DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger, Converse, Levi's for up to about 70% cheaper I would estimate. Even Napoleon Perdis make up which is Australian was cheaper e.g. an eyeshadow compact retails here for about $60 we got for $28!! Figure that out!

We drove out to Hoover Dam and the Skywalk at the Grand Canyon - we really enjoyed learning all about the Dam - it was extremely interesting and I have previously seen the other end of the Grand Canyon but was happy with what we saw. However, the drive back to Vegas was horrendous - it took us 2 hours to travel 3 miles as they were doing security checks heading back to Hoover Dam. When we got to the check point there were two security guards, asked us to wind down the back window, shone a torch in the car and told us to move on. They wouldn't have known what we had in the car - and I do understand your need for national security but well....it was very frustrating.

We also saw the Cirque de Soleil show "O" and we very impressed - absolutely loved it and would highly recommend it. My eldest son had some friends come and meet us in Vegas - one is an upcoming hopeful movie star and the other is a stunt man whom he works with so we had a wonderful night with them. We could have easily spent another night in Vegas and were disappointed we had to go back as we girls hadn't done anywhere near enough shopping.

But the drive back to LA was very good - we really didn't have trouble with traffic - and things flowed pretty well.

The level of service provided in the retail and service industries is extremely high - probably the best I've ever had. It was wonderful to be treated so well just about everywhere we went. Very impressed. A lot of our meals seemed like they were on the run so to speak and we didn't do any fine dining - we enjoyed breakfast such as pancakes with hash browns and bacon. I really did miss my food though - since my weight loss I realise I've become somewhat addicted to fresh and healthy but all's good I've had all my favourite meals since my return.

Oh I did have my Red Velvet Cake at Sweet Lady Janes - another recommendation - and enjoyed it very much - it is very sweet though isn't it?

Thanks to all of you who offered suggestions for this trip e.g. hiring a car to drive to Disneyland and the hotel recommendation etc. We all had a lot of fun together and came away from America with wonderful memories and we'd all love to go back again sometime soon.

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