Best of the West

As an employee of Facebook, Mohit’s job takes him to some fun and interesting places. When he and his colleagues had to travel to San Francisco on work, they decided to sneak in some leisure time. Mohit tells us about their sojourn to California, Las Vegas and more.

I work with Facebook and had to fly to San Francisco for a three-day meeting. Since I was travelling with colleagues and friends, we decided to make the most of our time in the US. We wanted to visit the Grand Canyon, and since Las Vegas was en route, we decided to spend a couple of days there. I don’t mind travelling alone, but I prefer having a small group of people whose company I enjoy. Plus, I can get away without doing any planning!

Our first stop was San Francisco, where we stayed at the Marriot Marquis on Mission Street, famous for its rooftop restaurant on the 39th floor. The restaurant overlooks the city – a spectacular view, especially at dusk and dawn! Most of us just preferred walking around and exploring the city ourselves, so we didn’t bother with a tour bus. Pier 39 is a must-see, as is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I didn’t get to see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, though; maybe next time. The highlight of our stay in San Francisco was Six Flags at Vallejo, a popular amusement park. The rollercoasters were unbelievably… terrifying yet exciting! It’s a 45-minute drive from the city, and you’ll need an entire day to experience all the crazy rides.

We flew out of San Francisco and on to Las Vegas, where even the walk out of the airport was exciting. You’ll see slot machines as you exit the gates, so you know you’re in Vegas! We checked into Excalibur, one of the oldest hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. Las Vegas is dead until 6 pm, so after some rest, we set out to see the famous Strip. The MGM Grand and Bellagio weren’t too far from the hotel, and Cirque du Soleil was on our list of shows to see; we were booked for that evening. The lighting, stage, stunts, and fight and dance choreography were something I’d never seen before! Though I’m not much of a gambler myself, you have to try your luck. I inserted a dollar into a slot machine, and before I knew it, I’d won $27! I cashed out, and dinner was on me.

On our Vegas bucket list was the Stratosphere, which at the far end of the strip is the tallest building in the city. Standing tall at 855 feet, it’s known for its sky-jumps. A cable is attached to your back, and you’re pushed off the highest point. At the beginning, I felt confident. But when I looked down from the edge of the roof, my knees began to tremble. Before I could think, the guy in charge did a countdown and pushed me off. It was incredibly exhilarating; a true adrenaline rush! You freefall for a few seconds before the cable tightens, slowing you down for the last few feet. What an unforgettable feeling!
After that, we went to catch a glimpse of the famous Bellagio fountains and experience some of the city’s colourful bars and restaurants. The number of eateries is virtually endless, as are the types of food available. You’ll find anything your palate desires. That ended our short rendezvous with Vegas, and we left for the Grand Canyon. En route, we caught a glimpse of the beautiful Hoover Dam. The Grand Canyon itself was gorgeous; the gigantic, mile-deep hole in the earth is nothing short of majestic.

This wasn’t a very long and leisurely holiday, so I did miss out on a few things that I’d love to go back for. For a mere $200, you can drive a Lamborghini Aventador around a race track for six laps. I’d also love to get trained and fire semi-automatic weapons at a shooting range, take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, and dine at the famous Gordon Ramsay restaurant BurGR.     – as told to Saloni