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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Day 1 - Monday:

Well the first part of the visit to Las Vegas involved a conference lasting almost 3 and a half days. Having taken the Virgin Atlantic flight (luckily it was direct and from Gatwick Airport - nice!), a 10-hour flight journey to Las Vegas. I was keen to try to get an upgrade, as my mother knew the Booking Manager at Gatwick. Unfortunately, the request wasn't registered, might I did manage to get a seat towards the front of Economy, so I could be a bit unsocial to my work colleagues and simply sleep and relax, without having to Chit-Chat! We were able to disembark and check-in to our rooms at the Mandalay Bay, on the southern tip of the Las Vegas Boulevard (more commonly known as "the Strip") .

We then enjoyed a 2-hour break to relax, pamper ourselves, and get set for the 'Welcome Drinks and Evening Meal' in the complex...the indirect flights arrived a few minutes before the start of the Drinks - so wasn't really a good start for those folks!

Finally managed to meet a lot of folks, and started to savour the moment in the Sin City! I took a relatively early-night - we ended around midnight local-time (that's 8 hours behind the UK!). Definitely needed this sleep, as would probably be the most sleep I get during the conference event!


Day 2 - Tuesday:

The second day started with a rather annoying 5am call - due to experiencing some "challenges" with one of my projects. That was definitely a painful start of the day!

I couldn't get back to sleep so made my way down at around 6am to have some caffeine (aka Starbucks!), followed by the an adequate breakfast (when the room opened at 7am!).

We then started the conference with the morning session, followed by lunch. We the settled back into an afternoon session.

The session ended around 2.30pm, and we then had free-time to either visit a Shopping Mall towards the North of the Strip, take a Tour of the Strip, or at leisure - meaning spend time soaking up the Desert sunshine. I was keen to do some shopping, but was absolutely shattered, and decided to just lie by the "Pool". I say "Pool" because, it was actually a 'Replicate-Beach' - no kidding - yes a beach in the desert. With a second wave-pool, and a lazy-pool. Unfortunately, I lost my ruddy specs during that 'relaxation' period - very annoying; the rest of the conference was going to be quite interesting, if I couldn't actual 'view' the presentations!! Or possibly better? Ha!

During the evening, I made my way to the Club that we were scheduled to attend around 5.30pm - it was called "Club LAX", and was a fantastic venue - located inside a neighbouring hotel complex, "The Luxor".

The ladies certainly dressed to impress!! It was another socialising and networking opportunity, though after a few, I wasn't really in the mood for talking. I lasted to just past midnight, and then made my way back to the Mandalay Bay hotel. I spent some time at the Casino, and played a couple of games of roulette - losing $20 in the process. Ho-well! Called it a night around 1.30am.


Day 3 - Wednesday:

I was starting to struggle getting up now, especially, since I had to have my second 5am conference call for the same project that experienced the "opportunities"!

We had the morning session again, followed by a nice lunch. The afternoon session was actually a GNS Trade Show, where the different regions presented their "latest and greatest" happenings t othe wider Global Team. Definitely a lot of fun, China's stall won the 'Greatest Stall' prize, having had some Chinese Lion Dancing, and some great effects. There was the Brazilian dancing stand as well, followed by the Centurion stall where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt lookalikes were present to allow us to take some photos. There was some Samba dancing tool. All fantastically receiving indeed.

The evening was a Former Gala dinner, "black and white" style. It was okay, nothing special. Food was okay, a bit bland in my opinion, but I was pretty hungry so couldn't grumble!

This lasted to about midnight again, and this time I really need to relax a bit, cos I was struggling to stay awake during the afternoon - losing my glasses didn't help, as I had to concentrate and focus more during the sessions!!


Day 4 - Thursday:

Another 5am call - getting to become far too regular in my opinion - and more painfal as time went on.

We had another set of presentations in the morning, but the late-morning session involved break-out function groups, where I was part of the Implementations, Operations and Technologies group. It was okay, a bit boring as it wasn't really as interactive as I had anticipated. We were simply presented from the VP-leads from the different function groups. Bit of a missed opportunity in my opinion!!

The there was some further "fun and entertainment" - where we played Samba with a selection of instruments - and plenty of practise. Again, was okay - but would have rather spent the last moments socialising, as I had some 'tasks' I set myself in terms of meeting up with contacts to discuss project-matters. Again, another missed opportunity in my opinion!!

We then re-grouped as a Global-Team and then combined all of our practise to play the Samba tune together. A bit of a racket - but was quite fun actually. An interesting way of finishing the event!

We then disembarked, picked up our suitcases and went our separate ways. People leaving for the return flight, boarded the coaches to the airport, whilst me and a few others made our way to our new hotel, in my case the "Monty Carlo", just a few blocks away!

We ate lunch at the hotel, and sorted ourselves out for the rest of the stay. I was staying with a work colleague, a good opportunity to know each other a bit better too!

In the evening, I wanted to venture to the shops, having no had an opportunity earlier on in the week. We visited the Town Square Mall, located on the Southern side of the Strip. Had a few nice places, and I noticed an iPod Touch (aka iTouch) which I was keen to purchase - as well as some other bits and bobs (clothes). After viewing various placs, I made a decision to purchase the iTouch - was $499 + 7.5% Sales Tax - so the total was approx $536

. Wasn't as cheap as I had expected, but was keen to try to claim the Sales Tax back at the airport!!

We decided to grab a bite to eat at the Shopping village at an Italian place, some nice "ladies" were present, so we enjoyed the atmosphere. We then returned to the hotel, and spent the last elements of the evening at the casino. We then went for a walk along the strip to take in the Strip at night, meeting up with a couple of other colleagues, we took some photos, had a nice drink at a couple of nice bars, enjoyed the views, and then called it a night.


Day 5 - Friday:

I had a good relaxing start of Friday, grabbing a Starbucks brekkie. Another work colleague then phone stating that he had managed to reserve some half-price tickets to see David Copperfield at the MGM Grand for Friday night. Was definitely up for this, so grabbed at the chance to be part of this.

We then visited the Town Square shopping mall again, and this time I decided to make some significant clothes purchases - considering the space I had available in my suitcase that is!

At around lunchtime, we returned back to the hotel, I grabbed something quick to eat, and decided to venture to the pool on my own to relax and spend some quality time soaking up the sun. Was extremely nice, and the folks pool-side definitely were the best noted thus far!! After a couple of hours, I wanted to go back to the Southern side of the strip, take some photos in the day-time of the casinos and outside of the places. Certainly a different view during the day-time though!

I then made my way to the MGM Grand to meet-up with my colleagues for the evening entertainment. It was a great show - though a bit blurry. David was absolutely amazing, he managed to flow through metal, he made a car appear on stage from no-where, he made some embarrassing reverlations about some of the audience members (selected at random!), and made a rose appear out of paper!! Amazing stuff and a great show - sure worth the money.

We then made our way back to the Strip, took some further shots of the Strip at night - was really relaxing actually, and we could see a lot more people starting to appear. The atmosphere seemed so much better than I had experienced earlier on in the week!!

We then made our way to a nice bar, meeting up a couple of other colleagues again, for another set of drinks. We relaxed, chatted and simply enjoyed the moment. I preferred this type of thing as I knew other colleagues were out clubbing, and get hammered - what a waste of time in my opinion!

After a couple more hours, it would have been around 1am, we decided to take a taxi back to our hotel for some well deserved sleep! Luckily no one more early-hour calls for me!! Haha!


Day 6 - Saturday:

Today was my Grand Canyon trip. I couldn't wait and was really looking forward to the Helicopter view of one of the Greatest Wonders of the World!

I made my way to the New York, New York hotel, and joined up with a couple of other folks who had decided to join me with this trip. 6 of us in total.

We took the pick-up bus to Boulder City, approx 20miles (40mins away) to the East of Las vegas. From here, we listened to the safety briefing and browsed the shop.

We then took the Helicopter ride to the Hoover Dam, viewed Lake Mead, and then entered the Grand Canyon West Rim. This journed lasted about 30mins, we then landed on the banks of the Colorado River, and eat our meal and sipped champagne. We only had 30mins so we took some photographs to savour and remember the moment. We then returned back to Boulder City, another 30min journey back to the Airport. I decided to buy a few sourveniors and we then took the bus back to the hotel.

We arrived back around 2.30-3pm, and I refreshed myself and made my way back to the Pool for some afternoon sun and relaxation! Was really nice indeed.

I decided to go for another walk on my own and take some further photos of the Casinos in the other Casino establishments, during this session, I noticed a huge slot machine - and put in a $1 note - for a nice photo-moment...only to win $20 in the process. Not bad at all! Made my break even at least! Haha!

I did some more photographs of the Strip at Dusk, and managed to finally see the Bellagio Musical Fountain - outstanding spectacle indeed! The water danced to the Shirly Basey, Hey Big Spender - really was that good!!

A few of us then met-up again, and made our way back out onto the Strip, more photographs, and more drinks at a couple of places. We actually stayed in a nice place at the MGM Grand - where the bar staff at certain times (maybe every 30mins or so), danced on the bar itself - like Coyoto Ugly - but mixture of chaps and chappettes - certainly fun to watch, though we did only have a barman on our section - grrrr!!! :)

We met up with some of our Technologies colleagues who coincidently saw us at the same bar - of all of the bars, they met us in this one - spooky indeed!

We had another couple of drinks, before we hit the Casino and I watched as one of my colleagues lost $100 playing BlackJack at a $10 table. Grrr....easy game to play and understand, but the dealer kept getting 21!

It was then almost Sunday already, and I knew we should get some rest!!


Day 7 - Sunday:

I had a nice brekkie, and took my time to relax and savour the last day in Las Vegas. I don't feel I would be coming back, as felt that I actually saw everything I wanted to see. I had a checklist of things to do, as follows:

  • Shopping - DONE
  • Gambling - DONE
  • Strip at Night - DONE
  • Bellagio Fountain at Night - DONE
  • Strip during the Day - DONE
  • Different Casinos - DONE
  • Clubbing - DONE
  • Grand Canyon Trip - DONE

...and felt that I had achieved everything I had set-out to do over the last few days.

I really enjoyed the session here! And prepared to leave for the airport around midday. I managed to grab another hour or so at the pool, before I checked out and made my way to the airport with a colleague of mine. We relaxed at the airport, before catching the returned flight back to the UK. Just whilst I was waiting, I chatted to a nice German lady who was Waiting for her Frankfurt flight, very charming indeed. We exchanged business cards, and hoped that we would stay in touch!

Return flight was okay, again managed to get a seat further in front of the plane - just so I could sleep and be a bit "unsocial" to my other work colleagues!

Before I realised it, it was 10am on Monday morning, and we had arrived back to Gatwick. This flight actully went very quickly - but I knew I was going to suffer later on in the day, as I only managed to get a couple of hours kip on the flight. Ho-well! Bring on the jet-lag, and more importantly, the challenges of work for the rest of the week. Things are going to go back to normal very quickly - methinks! Luckily the weekend was only a few days away! Oh boy, couldn't come soon enough!

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