We left the Luxor Hotel on a 7 am airport shuttle bus. Our flight wasn’t until 11.15 am, but we were planning on having breakfast at the airport and an early start ensured a leisurely meal and check-in.
We had already checked in online the previous night, but today we had to complete the procedure by printing out baggage tags on a machine and using the bag drop facility. Thankfully there was a staff member available to talk us through the process and it wasn’t long before we stood watching two brightly coloured cases disappear down the conveyor belt with anxious thoughts of; had we filled in the details correctly and would we ever see them again?
Before tackling security we had a disappointing breakfast at a Wendy’s outlet before navigating our way through security. Our departure gate was a train ride away to a departure lounge with plenty of seating and a few food and souvenir shops. The flight left a little late, but it was just a 40-minute hop to Los Angeles, barely time to have a snooze!
Amusingly, as we were disembarking the aircraft we met a staff member wheeling an invalid chair down the connecting ramp, holding a sign displayed on a tablet with Sue’s name on it. It seems that our travel agent’s ruse to secure chosen seats on our flights by declaring that Sue had hearing difficulties had been passed on to LAX as Sue being disabled. Embarrassingly, Sue told him that she didn’t require the chair and hurried on up the ramp. I briefly thought about volunteering to occupy the seat in place of Sue, but considering it wouldn’t go down well with Sue, so opted not to and hurried on up the ramp after her.
Much to our relief, our cases were among the first to appear on the carousel, luckily, as we wheeled them to the hotel shuttle bus stop, one arrived. It was less than a five-minute journey to the Sonesta Hotel and just a few more minutes later we were enjoying a much-needed coffee in our room.
Half an hour later we returned to reception and booked a sightseeing trip around LA for the following morning. Deciding to stretch our legs, we left the Sonesta behind as we strolled south alongside the very busy airport perimeter road, keen to see what we could discover in this predominantly hotel and car parking district. After around a mile or so we came across a restaurant called Denny’s and decided to have a very late lunch. The meal was substantial and very tasty and came with metal cutlery for the first time since landing in the USA. Plastic just doesn’t cut it anymore and is certainly not environmentally friendly.
Tolerating the frequent and endless adverts which plague American TV we spent the rest of the evening watching TV.
Along with others, we caught our Los Angeles and Hollywood Tour bus from outside the hotel reception at 9.30 am the following morning. The weather forecast was for a cloudy day and a chilling breeze, so we dressed appropriately. The first stop was at the tour operator’s office to pay for our tickets. Here we were joined by a few other tourists, bringing the party size up to 14.
The driver was also our tour guide and proved to be quite a character with a battery of funny anecdotes to back up his in-depth knowledge of the city. The drive into the city was through heavy commuter traffic, thankfully we were regaled with countless stories on the way, most ending with an amusing punchline and making the journey seem short.
The first stop was where the city first began as a Spanish settlement and was later heavily influenced by Mexican migrants. We spent some time wandering around the well-preserved streets, today filled with tourist stalls selling all kinds of essential trinkets for those wishing to take something tangible home as a memory, we took photos. We found Avila Adobe most interesting, it is the oldest existing house in Los Angeles, built in 1818 and restored after an earthquake in 1971. Not old by European standards but then neither is the USA.
A brief stop in China Town to photograph a statue of Bruce Lee was next. Chinese influence and settlement were not as great as in many other North American cities, so there was little to see. We moved on up into the hills to the viewpoint alongside the LA observatory to take photos of the city below and of course the iconic Hollywood sign on the hillside opposite.
Back in the city, we were given 45 minutes to discover the Hollywood walk of fame, read the famous names within their star and take a picture of those we had an interest in. The first stars appeared in 1960, today, it costs the rich and famous in various categories $50 000 to have their name set on the sidewalk. While we were waiting to cross a road to collect yet more star names for our memory, we were joined by a pizza robot. It had weaved its way along the sidewalk, efficiently avoiding human contact to wait patiently among us at the side of the road. When the green man appeared, it sped off across the tarmac and then on into the distance again dodging wayward two-legged creatures. Amazing. The next stop was the Farmworker’s Market and The Grove, each of us chose a place to have lunch, and Sue and I selected an establishment that provided barbequed food. Stomachs filled we then spent around twenty minutes exploring the market before returning to our coach and a drive to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive.
The influential residents of the exclusive district of LA are not happy about having you there driving slowly through the area and there are strict rules governing how tour buses navigate their way past these expensive and exclusive homes. Our route took us by familiar locations, its occupants, and history excellently described by our driver. Nearly 70 years of influence by the Hollywood film machine gave a familiarity with the views through the window. I nearly felt at home!
The afternoon was marching on as we hit the freeway to Santa Monica and Venice Beach. I had been here before in the 70s, spending much of that time on the beach, today it seemed to have changed little. It is known for its roller surfers, roller skaters, muscle men and women pumping iron, but today it was cold and late in the afternoon, many of the regulars had probably left for home, no doubt to enjoy products bought from one of the many legal Marijuana outlets that now stretch along the beach road.
Afterward, it was back to our various hotels through heavily congested traffic, our driver is experienced in these conditions and he avoided all the snarl-ups that other roads and lanes seemed engaged in, we were back at the Sonesta at 5.45 pm.
The evening was spent repacking for our cruise tomorrow and watching more adverts interspersed by some programming.
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