If you are about to make a bucket list, here’s my suggestion: if you only have time to visit two places in the world, make them Venice and Vegas. Both are so unique, awesome, improbable and visually spectacular that they leave visitors slack-jawed. Venice is a city built entirely on water, so there are no vehicles, just miles of waterways and precariously-placed Venetian Gothic buildings resting on wooden pilings. Las Vegas is an artificial city built in the middle of the Nevada desert in an arid basin, surrounded by dry mountains. Much of the landscape is rocky and dusty, and the environment is dominated by desert vegetation. From that base has sprung a fantasy land, centred around massive, artfully-themed casinos, where no natural light is allowed, so it’s like being in a bubble 24x7 without knowing if it’s night or day, but what a bubble! There’s nothing like it anywhere in the world. It is simply the world’s biggest party place.
Over the years, Vegas has acquired myriad labels: the Entertainment Capital of the World, the Gambling Capital of the World and, because of the city’s tolerance for adult entertainment, Sin City. In fact, no other city in the world provides such a heady combination of glitz, glamour, girls and gambling. It’s where all bachelors and adult males could fulfill their fantasies, as witnessed in movies like Hangover. In recent times, however, the city fathers have tried to expand its attractions to include families, so the male adult fantasy part has been toned down and replaced by spectacle and entertainment and, in Vegas, that means on a truly epic scale. On normal days, the shows at casinos like Caesars Palace, the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Wynn, Circus Circus, the Luxor, Treasure Island, Flamingo and the Venetian, to name the most visible on the city’s famous Strip, feature some of the world’s most spectacular acts—Cirque du Soleil is on permanently, this year, with a Beatles tribute and other famous acts, while comedians, celebrities and singers include headliners like Britney Spears who performs her award-winning show, A Piece of Me, at Planet Hollywood. Comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno are regulars here, as is Celine Dion.
Las Vegas has probably the most entertainment venues—casinos, nightclubs, bars, restaurants and lounges—than any other place on the planet, apart from other spectacles. The Fountains of the Bellagio perform a magnificent display (set to music) every 15