Saturday, 21 July 2012

In the desert you can remember your name

Three days in Dana Point and we're properly chilled. I've realised why I don't usually write a holiday blog (unless of course it's Kenya or Morocco or up the Nile, and those tend to be Granny holidays). Writing about going to the beach, lying by the pool and eating in lovely harbour restaurants looking at very nice boats probably doesn't make interesting reading. 
There has, however, been mother and son tennis - number 3 now beats me every time but I put up a tolerably good fight in the heat. And we did have plenty of Baywatch moments when the lifeguards rush into the sea like David Hasselhof in his prime which is probably why I burnt my back - clearly too much baywatching and not enough sun cream. Oh, and all the waiters sound like Freddie Prince Junior and say "awesome" when we tell them we come from England. 
On our last night in Dana Point we head up onto the cliffs above the resort to a restaurant called Cannons (absolutely nothing similar to the like-named gym) for dinner with a magnificent view of the harbour and yacht club - and a wedding which is taking place on the patio, one level below the dining room. Beautiful bride and a set of seven big bridesmaids dressed in red - and I mean big! Couldn't decide whether this was the bride's way of making sure the spotlight was on her but they were a buxom team of women squeezed into tight red dresses. Anyway this kept us entertained whilst my beloved took number 3 back to the hotel because he had a touch of sunstroke and couldn't eat - a cheap dinner for once but he needed to eat a lot the next day to catch up.
Then in the morning we leave lovely Dana Point and drive down the coast to La Jolla which is home to one of my beloved's favourite restaurants, George's, where we sit on the roof terrace and look across the bay. La Jolla is also home to a seal colony and loads of pelicans and we watch the seals play and relax on the rocks. Then back in the car for our last drive of the holiday - this time, along the coast to San Diego where we do a quick detour to Coronado Island so I can pay my respects to the Del Rey Hotel - scene of much of the action in probably my all-time favourite film "Some like it Hot" starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. I jump about on the sand in front of the hotel in roughly the spot where Tony Curtis does his shell routine with Marilyn Monroe, probably looking more like Jack Lemmon in drag than the other two.  With a bit more time, we'd have gone to the Top Gun bar as well but that might have to wait for another trip.
So it's goodbye to Gloria, the sat nav, and now we're airborne on our penultimate flight - to Las Vegas for our last three days on our big American adventure. 
Whoa! We come out of the airport in Las Vegas and it's like someone's switched a thousand hair dryers on full in our faces. It's over 100 degrees and it's eight o'clock at night. As we snake round the taxi line which is mercifully fast-moving, we are virtually dripping. 
The ride up The Strip is literally an assault on our senses or at least our optical one. After three Oceans films, you'd think the landscape would be familiar but nothing prepares you for the Pyramid, Eiffel Tower, Disney, Arc de Triomphe, Trump, Cosmopolitan, Cesar's Palace  and, of course, the Bellagio. All this in a desert. We pull up at the Vdara and my beloved goes to check in along with a queue of others. And the fun begins ...
Swipe key in hand we head up to our room on the 14th floor. The card works and we open the door. It stinks of cigarette smoke - like proper old pubs used to smell. The room has half-eaten food, rubbish, unmade bed, clothes - it looks like students are living there. Back down to the lobby and my beloved is having words. Apparently they are "dealing with it". A moment later and we are crossing the walkway to the Bellagio to another of my beloved's favourite restaurants, Sensi. 
Sometimes I feel that my beloved leads a double life - the one at home with me and 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the little house on the prairie, and this one. The restaurant is fabulous and the kitchen is inside the dining room but divided by glass walls so we can watch the chefs work. And our waiter is, well, a hilarious tall, thin version of Stamford from SATC who comes from England but has been here so long he sounds mid-Atlantic. He can't do enough for us and the food is fantastic. And then (and this is another reason for thinking the whole double life thing is going on), the restaurant manager comes over - not the maitre d' but someone way loftier and greets my other half like he's a regular and promises us a special dessert. 
It arrives - fifteen desserts in a tower that makes other diners stop and stare on their way past. We manage 12 - not bad after five starters and three main courses! Stamford loves it and appears genuinely proud of us for our efforts although obviously number 3 has done more than his share of the damage. 
Then we have to go to the Bellagio fountain. Through the unbelievable visual cacophony of the lobby - a million flowers of every colour, thousands of people of every nationality and age, beautiful, ugly, dressed to the nines or looking like hookers and street kids  - it's all here  - and out into the hair dryer night to watch the extraordinary musical drama of the fountain. And for the few minutes the drama takes to unfold, the rest of The Strip stops and watches. And it does this four times an hour. 
It's late when we get back to the Vdara and yes, we are promoted to a top floor suite. Job done and it's been a long old day since we got up this morning in Dana Point. Long but definitely unforgettable. Living the Vegas life! 

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