Tag Archives: things to do

Edward Mullen Goes to Las Vegas!

In June 2014, Sarah and I embarked on another journey – this time to Las Vegas! We flew in from Vancouver and stayed for three nights at Mandalay Bay Hotel. It was my first trip to Las Vegas, so I was excited to see what the city of sin had to offer.

We arrived around 10:00 pm and took a cab to our hotel. The first thing I noticed when we queued for a taxi was the heat. It was around 38 degrees, but it was that dry desert heat that reminded me of when I lived in Kamloops.

Along the way, I was mesmerized at all the bright lights and famous landmarks. Our hotel was fairly close to the airport so we only got a small taste of the renowned Las Vegas strip.

Once we were checked into our hotel, we set our bags down and immediately went out. We didn’t necessarily want to walk the strip since we would be there for three nights and would have plenty of time for that. We decided to walk across a parking lot and over to the Luxor hotel (the giant black pyramid). We were just in time to catch a late-night happy hour. We ordered a couple of beers, some pulled-pork sliders, and an order of spinach and artichoke dip.


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The following morning we made a point to start our day off at the pool. Mandalay Bay has a spectacular pool area and even at 9:00 am, the sun was plenty hot for us to go for a dip. We spent most of our time in the wave pool, which was fun, but it got boring after a while.


After about an hour or so at the pool, we decided to get a start on our day. We didn’t have much planned during the days, mostly just shopping and checking out the sights. When we arrived on the strip, the sun was in full bore and blasting down on us. It was well in the 40s and getting hotter by the minute. I felt sorry for all the homeless people, but even sorrier for the street performers wearing hot suits such as the minions from Despicable Me, various Transformers, and even Chewbacca.

The sights were truly spectacular. If you’ve never been, Las Vegas is a place where anything seems possible. You cannot just have a hotel, you must have a giant pyramid or a roller coaster or a massive fountain or recreate the New York skyline or build an Eiffel tower replica… Everything is grand and over the top, but that’s part of what makes Las Vegas special.

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Another thing that makes Las Vegas special is the night life. It’s just as busy at night as in the day (perhaps even more so). At night, the strip truly comes alive with bright lights. The streets are filled with interesting people, and the entertainment seems to never stop.

I haven’t mentioned the food yet, so I should include a quick note about the buffets. We went to the one at Mandalay Bay, which was not ranked as one of the best in the city, but it definitely did not disappoint. For roughly $25.00 per person, you had access to an all-you-can-eat Smörgåsbord of decadent food choices. There were fresh fruits, smoked salmon, Pad Thai, pasta made the way you like it, steak, pizza… you name it. Then if you had room, there was an equally impressive selection of desserts. We ate so much food at the lunch buffet that we skipped dinner (we had a late-night beer and nachos at the Luxor again – happy hour!) and we were still not that hungry the next morning.

On our second night, we watched Penn & Teller at the Rio. Now, the Rio is a bit far from the strip – about an hour walk from our hotel. However, it is deceptively close. We found this to be the case with most things on the strip. Everything is so big that it seems like a stone’s throw away, but after thirty minutes of walking, you’re still nowhere near your destination. Then of course add more time for the foot traffic, photo ops, and shops along the way. The Penn & Teller show was amazing, and as a fan of magic and illusions, I try to pick apart the tricks and learn their secrets. However, with many of their tricks, I have no idea how they are done. It was magic!

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On our third night, we went to the Treasure Island hotel/ casino to watch Cirque du Soleil – Mystere. The seats we paid for were not great, but when we arrived, the usher offered us front-row seating, which we happily accepted. The problem with front row, we discovered, was our view was too narrow. It was hard to take in the whole show since much of it was taking place above our heads, and our eyes kept darting around as not to miss the action taking places on other areas of the stage. I think a mid-range seating is optimal. As an added benefit of sitting further back, you can avoid the risk of being selected to be a part of the show and embarrassed in front of everyone, which was a concern of mine. The whole time I was like, “please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me…”

I’ve been all over the world, but for me, Las Vegas was the best place I’ve been so far. I definitely cannot wait to go back!

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Discovering Mystery in the Ancient City of Riga, Latvia


In March 2014, Sarah and I set off on another adventure – this time to Riga and Jurmala, Latvia. Riga is renowned for many things, but it can now boast the prestigious honour of being labelled one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2014. Needless to say, we were excited to travel to the beautiful and historic city.

We arrived by bus in the evening just as the sun was descending over the horizon. The warm colours of the sky made us forget that it was freezing cold. As we came properly prepared for the weather, we stopped to take a few photos of the red and orange sky before proceeding.


With our heavy backpacks in tow, we were eager to find our hotel. Sarah had printed a map from the Internet, which proved very quickly to be useless. We remained on the main street, walking along the sidewalk with the water and sunset to our left. Eventually we found a Wellton Hotel (not the one we had booked), and figured we’d ask them for directions to our hotel. As it turned out, we were not very far from our hotel at all. The receptionist assured us we just needed to follow the road for another two blocks and then turn left and we couldn’t miss it. Sure enough, we found our hotel.


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After checking in, we set our bags down and immediately went back out to explore the city. By this time, the sun had completely receded and it was now night time. The starry sky provided the perfect backdrop to the ancient architecture and cobblestone streets. Despite it being below zero, we happily snapped more photos of the rustic buildings.


The following days and nights were filled with awe-inspiring discovery. At one particular church, we found an odd-looking boulder with a face carved into it. Upon reading the blurb, it turned out to have quite a fascinating story.

It was called The Stone Head of Salaspils. The origin and time of this idol are unknown. The earliest information about it can be traced back to mid-nineteenth century. As the story goes, a farmer from Salaspils discovered the stone idol on his property in 1851. The head went on display at a museum until 1875, where it then disappeared for the next 125 years. It finally resurfaced in the year 2000, when it was found buried in the yard of the church where it now resides. The origins and disappearance still remain a mystery to this day.

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