Travel Log: Finding Culture in Las Vegas [Day 7]

Our trip so far was pretty great, but the one thing it had lacked was any sort of educational or cultural experience, so we spent our last day in Vegas enjoying an exhibition on the Titanic, a dinner inspired by an audio book Micah had chosen for our morning commutes to work, and finally Cirque de Soleil’s show, The Beatles Love. The exhibition of Titanic artifacts was located in the Luxor where we were staying so after a not so great breakfast we went to our first cultural experience of the trip.

I found the exhibition fascinating. There were several artifacts, both personal passenger’s effects and ship parts. The path led us through rooms dressed to resemble those within the ship. We started in the 3rd class cabin hallway where one cabin wall was removed to reveal the inner room. Sadly I noted that although there were actual floor tiles on display that showed the design of the cabin floor, the exhibition had not replicated this in anyway on the floor beneath the room’s bunk beds.

As we continued through, each room had wall descriptive boards with the stories of certain passengers. To pull at our heartstrings, the museum had chosen to feature many people that had never meant to be on board. Due to a coal strike, many other steamers had cancelled their voyages and passengers had transferred to the Titanic. Sadly, most of these went down with the ship.
We continued through a room with a Grand Staircase replica, and then a first class cabin where I learned that men have been shaving with Gillette Safety razors since 1901!

Moving on, I stepped through a door and found myself on the Titanic’s side deck, lit dimly by a ship’s lamp and nothing but a starry night sky for view. The temperature had dropped significantly, mimicking the night the Titanic went down. Each end of the room had a mirror that gave the illusion that the deck stretched the length of a ship. The area was quiet, but a few strains of classical music could be heard drifting from somewhere, perhaps as it would have from inside the ship. I imagined waltzing on the steamer’s deck under the stars. As I contemplated pulling Micah into a waltz as we stood alone on the ship’s deck, the door opened, and more tourists walked into the room. The illusion was broken. I moved to the next room.

The next few rooms were also dark and cold. One contained an iceberg in the shape of the one that the Titanic struck. One room imitated the underwater environment where divers have collected artifacts, such as a cabinet full of neatly lined up saucers that have settled like dominoes in the ocean floor sand. The last room contained what scientists have dubbed “The Big Piece.” This is the largest artifact retrieved, and it is just a small part of the side of the monstrously big ocean liner. It contains almost 3 circular state room windows. I felt dwarfed standing next to this 26ft 6in x 12ft 6in, 15 ton piece of riveted metal. It took several attempts to lift it from the ocean bottom. In 1996 a crew attempted to lift it and managed to drop it back to the ocean floor. It took 2 years to attempt another lift. Eventually it was lifted, cleaned, conserved, and ready for its 10 year display at the Luxor. I assume there are about 3 years left in its stay.

Micah and I had agreed we would do one fancy date-night dinner before a show while in Vegas. So that evening we dressed up and headed to Mario Batali’s restaurant Carnevino in the Venetian. This choice was inspired by the book Heat, by Bill Buford, which we have listened to during our morning commutes to work. The book is a biography of an amateur chef and his experiences working in Mario Batali’s restaurants between stints in Italy learning how to properly prepare various foods. I was excited to be able to go to one of Batali’s restaurants. The food was excellent! So many flavors! I had scaloppini, thin veal, flavored with lemon. We shared fries, potatoes flavored with garlic and seasonings, and we had an appetizer of octopus! We enjoyed dinner so much we lost track of time and had to run across the street to the Mirage for our show.

The Beatles Circe de Soleil show Love was spectacular. The music, acrobatics, the costumes, and the sets! I’m not sure if there was a story, but it may have been the evolution of the Beatles’ music. With a Beatles medley stuck in my head we strolled slowly back to the Luxor, stopping to watch the Bellagio fountains dance to Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring along the way.
Finally we slipped into a hot bubble bath before collapsing exhausted into bed. It had been a really good trip.

Bellagio Fountains
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