Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

Travelling the World—A Lot Done, More to Do

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

How many countries have you been to? And how many cities? What is your favourite place in the world?

It’s very seldom these days that you meet somebody who doesn’t like travelling. We are remarkably blessed to live in an era where we can travel to the other side of the world in less than 24 hours. Once you have money and time at your disposal, the world really is your oyster.

Anybody who read my comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams, will know that I was already 22 before I went on my first foreign trip. However, I’ve made up for a bit of lost time in the 11 years since then. Although I’ve never taken a year out to go travelling (as seems almost obligatory these days) I do try to get away as much as possible.

I’m also a sucker for statistics and, in researching my travel habits for the work-in-progress Lord of the Rams travel memoir, I’ve realised that I’ve:

  • Been on 44 foreign trips (an average of 4 per year) since 2000
  • Visited 23 countries
  • Visited 57 cities (plus many towns, villages, etc.)
  • Spent more time in London than any other city (43 nights over 17 visits)
  • Spent more time in England than any other country (50 nights over 19 visits)
  • Spent 219 nights outside Ireland, of which I have spent:
    • 127 nights in Europe
    • 36 nights in Asia
    • 33 nights in North America
    • 19 nights in South America
    • 4 nights in the air between continents

But of course travelling isn’t about statistics. It’s about new experiences, people and places.

Over the years, I’ve walked the Great Wall of China, peered into the Grand Canyon, trekked to Macchu Picchu, and rambled around the excavated city of Pompeii.

I’ve bob-sleighed in Sigulda (Latvia), hang-glided over Rio De Janeiro, segwayed around the streets of Copenhagen, gone horse and camel riding in Terelj (Mongolia), sea-fished in Mar Del Plata (Argentina) and Helsingborg (Sweden), rode the Bullet Train in Japan, travelled across great swathes of Siberia by train and retraced the steps of Vlad the Impaler in Transylvania.

I’ve stood atop the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower, walked under the city of Edinburgh, explored caves in Postojna (Slovenia), gambled in Las Vegas, stormed around Graceland in Nashville and treaded silently around Anne Frank’s house (Amsterdam). Museums, palaces, an unhealthy amount of European castles, and an almost endless list of tourist attractions have all been conquered in London, Saarlouis, Saarbrücken, Metz, New York, Manchester, Boston, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Ljubljana, Postojna, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Austin, Nashville, Memphis, Chicago, Riga, Cesis, Sigulda, Kaunas, Vilnius, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Eindhoven, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Ulan Bator, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Basle, Budapest, Brasov, Sighisoara, Rome, Assisi, Hamburg, Sorrento, Positano, Rio De Janeiro, Lima, Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Buenos Aires, Mar Del Plata, Swansea, Cardiff, Bath, Liverpool, Copenhagen, Helsingor, Helsingborg and Malmo.

But travelling isn’t always plain sailing. I’ve been defrauded of thousands of euros by Nigerians in Tokyo, witnessed sickening bouncer violence and police corruption in Cologne, slept outside in sub-zero temperatures in Basle, cracked several of my ribs in Copenhagen and—worst of all—been accused of being American or English on more than a few occasions J But you have to accept the rough with the smooth, or you might as well stay at home.

Right now I’m planning a trip to the east side of Canada this summer. And there’s still a tonne of other places I want to experience: Chile, Bolivia, Columbia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam all come to mind; not to mention the unvisited continents of Africa and Australia! And there’s many places I would love to go back to: Rio, Cusco, New York, Texas, Mongolia, Beijing … the list goes on and on.

London, New York and Boston all featured in colourful detail in Lord of the Rams, and I’ve also posted stories from my time in Las Vegas and Latvia ( i.e. extracts from the work-in-progress follow-up) on this blog. I look forward to sharing more misadventures in the future.

In the meantime, it’s time to get back to planning Trip 45!

Ronan Smith is the author of Munterconnaught’s best selling comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams. Described as “a real treat to read that you will devour” (The Irish Post), “a diverting and entertaining read” (Evening Herald) and “genuinely funny” (Books Ireland), the book can be purchased for €10 (including worldwide P&P) directly from the author via http://www.lordoftherams.com/buythebooksigned.htm. Read FREE extracts of the book at www.lordoftherams.com.

Feel free to share your travel stories in the comments section below.

First Exclusive Extract (Draft) from Lord of the Rams 2

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

I’m off to Vegas tomorrow for a five-day trip, so I thought this might be a good time to share a short story from my first time in Sin City back in 2005. This is a draft excerpt from Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents (so it may undergo significant editing before publication). Coincidentally, all of the main characters in this extract will be joining me in Vegas this weekend. Who knows, maybe a new chapter will be written. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this wee story, which I think provides a small glimpse into some of the excesses associated with Vegas. Feel free to post your comments below.

…………………Draft excerpt from Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents…………………

Situated on the Las Vegas Strip, The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino was the largest AAA Five-Diamond resort in America. It boasted over 4,000 suites at an average size of 700 square feet; a 120,000 square feet casino; several large nightclubs and restaurants; a Madame Tussaud’s museum; and the 1,760-seat Blue Man Theatre, which played host to the world-famous Blue Man Group. Add in one gigantic shopping mall and canals on which one could avail of gondola rides, and it’s easy to see why The Venetian stood out in a city brimming with stand-out resorts.

The hotels in Vegas were designed so that one must pass through the wallet-emptying casinos en route to one’s room. And The Venetian was no exception. After successfully navigating the gauntlet with their wallets intact, the lads reached their twin suites, which impressed mainly due to their sheer size and the abundance of couches and chairs that helped make up the decor.

One hour later they were seated in one of the resort’s many restaurants. Rams had set a personal target of eating as many steaks as possible on the trip, so he was particularly looking forward to a good fillet of beef following the so-so meal in LA the previous evening. A well-dressed gentleman showed the lads to their table before introducing them to their waiter. This certainly wasn’t one of those restaurants where the man who greets you at the door also waits the tables, slaughters the cows out the back, cooks the food and washes the dishes. After ordering a beer each, the lads skipped straight to the mains.

A ravenous Rams ordered his usual—fillet steak, French fries and a side-order of fried onions. The waiter, just like his international counterpart in Ljubljana earlier that year, didn’t seem too sure about the onions part of the order, but he eventually nodded, gathered the menus and scuttled off in the direction of the kitchen.

Within half an hour the waiter returned to the table. Courteous almost to a fault, he circled the lads, presenting Goosey, Dowd and Hartley with their meals before placing a large plate in front of the Rams.

‘Where are my chips?’ thought the Rams, and then he realised there was a bigger problem at hand. The chips arrived a moment later as a side-dish but there, nestled on the dinner plate beside a succulent eight-ounce fillet, was a huge mother fucker of a lobster.

Rams stared aghast at the arthropod, silently wondering if ‘onions’ meant something else in Vegas. Goosey, sitting across from the Rams, was quick to quiz the waiter.

‘He didn’t order the lobster. What’s the story with that?’

Rams nodded in agreement, but the waiter simply shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘It’s all included,’ before disappearing almost in a puff of smoke.

‘Ah sure lobsters must be ten a penny over here,’ remarked Hartley as the lads began tucking into their first shared meal of the holiday.

Rams, ever the pervicacious diner, shovelled the sea creature onto Dowd’s waiting plate. The shameless one was beaming and licking his lips at the prospect of eating two meals for the price of one. And the gastronome was still polishing off the lobster when Hartley called for the bill.

‘Ah for fuck sake,’ bellowed the Rams upon picking up the bill. ‘Just over 360 dollars. Are these guys for real? Sure we only had two beers each and a main course.’

Unsurprisingly, Rams’s ‘all included’ steak-lobster combo had come in at over 80 dollars.

‘And I didn’t even eat the lobster,’ complained the Rams, but the tiny claw remnants protruding at that moment from Dowd’s cave-like mouth suggested that the lads would have little grounds on which to make a complaint. Dowd had done an admirable job of devouring the evidence, but at least he wouldn’t have to eat again for a few hours.

—END—

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