Friday, 11 April 2014

Austin, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon March/April 2014

Austin riverside
Nico, Manjeet and Marisol in Austin

A natural pool and rock formation near Austin

The star of Texas in Austin

Manjeet, Almu and the grandkids Manjeet and Nico were going to be in Madrid for a short period and decided to invite us to join them on their way back home to Texas. How could we say no, even though we had been with them only a few months before. So it was that one very early morning in March we set off for the Madrid airport, and as we waited for the connection to London and on to Austin, The gang of four showed up as prearranged at the departure gate! Nico and Manjeet ran to us to give us heart warming hugs and we really enjoyed their company on the long flight between London and Austin.

Nico with Manjeet Sr and Manjeet Jr

Celebrating Almu's birthday!

Once in Austin we proceeded to do what any tourist in the US would do. We ate a lot, did a lot of shopping and generally got around thanks to our TomTom GPS which was invaluable, reliable and made us look like we knew where we were going on each outing. An early outing was to revisit the lovely city of San Antonio where we caught up with a lot of Mexican culture and food. This was followed by the celebration of Almu's birthday and then there was the Grandparents day at Manjeet's school, where Manjeet told us all about the good work he has been doing at school and treated us to a lunch as well.

In San Antonio
The following week we flew to Las Vegas to sample the hedonistic environment and to enjoy the amazing interiors of the theme hotels such as the Luxor's pyramid type structure and the Venetian's fabulous canals and gondolas. Our favourite was the Bellagio with its lake and the music synchronised fountain and the most beautiful lobby with the Chihuly glass and butterfly garden. There was also the opportunity to see a show or two and we opted for the Magic show by David Copperfield and it was excellent. The highlight nevertheless was our prearranged helicopter ride to the GrandCanyon. On a windy day when it was doubtful if the helicopters would fly at all, the conditions improved just in time for our flight and with a little luck we were given the best seats at the front of the helicopter. The experience was unforgettable and words cannot describe the sights and the feelings evoked by the ride. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I managed to win seventy dollars from the Luxor blackjack tables.
The Hoover
Front row of Helicopter
Colorado in the Canyon

Which way to Las Vegas?
Chihuly at the Bellagio

The Venetian
Bellagio Fountain
New York (in Las Vegas)
The pyramid of the Luxor from the inside.

Soon it was time to fly back to Austin for one last visit to the malls and the outlets and to celebrate the birthday of Manjeet's friend Christof, which took us to a Golf entertainment facility. Now there is an idea for Europe and Spain. You go as a group and you are assigned a table with sofas in a booth much like the driving range at a golf course only more luxurious and a lot more noise. Electronics allow you to register the players while the bar staff take care of drinks and food. You then play a game (think bowling alley) in which all players take shots and score points for hitting target areas on the range. This is done by electronics on the golf balls which associate each shot with the relevant player and is then picked up on the target areas and the scores displayed on your screen. Amazing.

Golf in Austin
I have to tell you that after Manjeet won the first game (even though he has never played golf!) I came back strongly in the second game to score one of the highest scores for the whole day at the facility. That was some round as there were in excess of a hundred booths with a waiting queue and un interrupted play all day. Christof was impressed and we had dinner afterwards!
Our time was up and we flew home - 24 hours of nonstop cars planes and taxis.
We had a smile on our face but the air hostesses on the American Airlines were something else. Marisol called them 'dragons'.