Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘Eiffel Tower

Catch a Free Ride in Las Vegas

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White tiger patrols its Mirage enclosure


Story & Photo

By Cecil Scaglione

LAS VEGAS —- You don’t have to mortgage your mansion to enjoy this glittering Gotham in the Nevada sand. There are more than enough free diversions to keep you enthralled and entertained during a visit here.

Since the only things permanent are the blinking neon lights, some of the freebies listed may no longer exist so look around and you’ll probably find others.

This hub of around-the-clock flashing lights is without a doubt one of the best and brightest spots for just plain people-watching. They come in more shapes and sizes than you thought possible —  in attire that ranges from down-home to out-of-this-world. And much of their behavior should, as the television ads say, be left here.

Do this while making vicarious visits to New York’s Statue of Liberty, Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, and Venice’s St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge. Downtown, at the northern end of world-renowned Las Vegas Avenue better known as The Strip, is the Fremont Street Experience. Featured is a four-times-a-night computerized sight-and-sound show overhead on “The Biggest Screen on the Planet,” the $70 million canopy enclosing a half dozen downtown blocks.

You can also experience climatic changes as you saunter through the hot desert air of the street that’s sprayed with gusts of cool pumped out by the never-closed casinos. And catch a handful of “gambling” beads, the same kind Mardi Gras celebrants corral and collar in New Orleans that cost you a couple of bucks or more in the drugstores and novelty shops along The Strip.

All the while, you can watch femmes in frilly white skirts get their ears pierced at a sidewalk boutique or a butt-crack-jeaned macho guy gripping a yard-long neon-colored daiquiri while getting his other hand tattooed.

A $1.50 bus-ride will get you to another free show at the Stratosphere rooted at the north end of this renowned street of sex and excess. While it takes a $10 elevator ride to get to the outdoor observation deck, the view from 90 stories up is free but worth a lot more. And you don’t have to spend any money to shake and shock yourself on the carnival rides atop this 1,149-foot building. Some spectators get wobbly knees just watching screaming passengers swing dizzily in the desert air hundreds of feet above the shimmering streets below.

Back at ground level, it’s a short hike to the monorail that, for $5, takes you to the MGM Grand, where you can walk across the boulevard to New York New York and over the Tropicana Avenue bridge to Excalibur to catch a free tram connecting it with Luxor and Mandalay Bay, which anchors the south end of this megaplex.

Then decide whether to meander or monorail your way back, catching free sights and sounds in the art shows and exhibits in the lobbies of the various hotel casinos with such mind-massaging names as Bellagio, Casino Royale, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, Paris, and Treasure  Island.

Stop by Aureole in Mandalay Bay and you might catch a glimpse of the “wine fairies” in this upscale restaurant. You can peer through outsized portholes in the front wall to watch as servers are winched up and down a glassed-in four-story wine tower to fetch special orders from among the 9,500 bottles in its inventory.

There’s also the Memorabilia Museum in Mandalay Bay that has sports and Presidential mementos available for show and for sale. You might see the shot of Cassius Clay’s memorable heavyweight-boxing victory over Sonny Liston, along with Beatle stuff, and an Abe Lincoln-signed military appointment with its $30,000 price tag.

At Circus Circus a few minutes away, you can gaze at glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts rolling along their assembly line. Farther along the Strip are white tigers padding around their enclosure in the Mirage, singing gondoliers cruising canals through the Venetian, and the never-ending dancing-fountain show in front of the Bellagio.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

June 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

Adventures Afoot in the City of Light

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By Igor Lobanov

Mature Life Features

PARIS — The pigeon flitting about the domed ceiling seemed unimpressed by or, perhaps, deaf to the thunderous tones grumbling out of the more than 6,000 organ pipes. Rambling from crackling to caressing, the massive instrument in St. Sulpice almost made us believe the gates of heaven had opened in the French capital and we were to witness its glory.
A stroll from our Left Bank hotel by way of Marie de Medicis’ peaceful Luxembourg Gardens brought us to this parish church containing one of the world’s largest organs and we had wandered into a special performance.
Our euphoria ebbed a bit when we sought to order a pizza in a nearby restaurant specializing in that fare. The waiter’s disdain appeared designed to intimidate visitors in front of the locals, but succeeded only in denying him his tip.
Fortunately, such behavior was not evident in other places where we dined and was forgotten by the time we stumbled onto the second unexpected event of the day a few blocks farther along the Seine. At the Quai Voltaire, long lines of people inched across the Seine on the Pont des Arts on both sides of a bizarre battle scene stretched along the middle of the footbridge. It was comprised of life-size clay figures of cowboys, Indians, horses and other symbols of the American West by an African sculptor.
As sunset approached, we stopped in a café near Notre Dame for hot chocolate and crepes before heading back to our hotel.
The following day’s project was a meandering three-mile walk from the Boulevard du Montparnasse to the Arc de Triomphe by way of the Tuileries Gardens and Champs Elysees.
We passed through the Luxembourg Gardens, where lovers strolled, children sailed toy boats on a pond, and elderly folks played chess under the chestnut trees.
Then we passed the forbidding-looking 700-year-old Sorbonne, now called the University of Paris. The mood brightened a couple of blocks farther with the appearance of cafes along Boulevard St. Germain des Pres frequented in the 1920s by such literary legends as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.
Crossing the river at the Pont du Carrousel took us to the courtyard of the Louvre and its pyramid-by-Pei entrance. We headed the other way, past the Tuileries Gardens with its manicured hedges, lawns and terraces framed by Napoleon’s first monument to his military victories: the Roman-style Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
Next we came upon the Place de la Concorde where Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, Robespierre and others were separated from their heads. The guillotine has been replaced by a 3,300-year-old Egyptian obelisk from the Temple of Luxor.
This got us onto the broad boulevard renowned as the Champs Elysees decorated with such labels as St. Laurent, Parfum de France, Mercedes-Benz along with McDonald’s and Planet Hollywood.
Our walk ended at the Etoile, the hub of a dozen radiating streets known as Place Charles de Gaulle that contains the Arc de Triomphe.
A pedestrian tunnel beneath the traffic let us reach the monument just in time to seek shelter from a sudden shower.
But when it’s raining, and you’re in Paris, you can pretend always it’s April.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2000

Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 15, 2013 at 12:05 am