Posts Tagged With: LAX

USA Tour: My final day….4th July

It was sad to say goodbye to a few people on the night before and on 4th I had to goodbye to my little gang…Heather, Melissa and Steph all left late afternoon. I had originally decided to go back to Santa Monica to hang out and see the fireworks but after seeing how long it took yesterday to get from there to the Hacienda, I gave up on the idea.

Achim was staying until the 9th but moving hotels. He was going to a hostel in Santa Monica. As I was due to leave early on the 5th, he kindly agreed to go watch the fireworks from El Segundo (we asked the hotel if there was going to be some around) and then make his way back to his hostel instead of me trekking the 2 hours back.

We spent part of the day by the hotel pool but the fog hadn’t lifted and we were literally shivering after we enjoyed the really hot jacuzzi. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel patio, chatting away and reminiscing some of the funniest moments. You could tell that everyone was slowly losing his sparkle from having to say goodbye. Finally the time came and it was just me and Achim left. We decided to go explore where the fireworks was going to be to see what wee needed to plan for.

People were already getting ready and marking their spot in the street with deck chairs and blankets. The whole area had been cordoned off so there was no traffic.

The fog had finally lifted by late afternoon so it was warming up.

The fireworks were going to be launched from a baseball stadium which had been all closed off and you could buy a ticket for $3 and get a seat in the arena and enjoy the pre-fireworks concert. We decided not to.

We walked back towards the hotel to go get some supplies for an impromptu picnic. Originally we had thought of going to dinner in one of the restaurant and then wander back for the fireworks but seeing that a lot of people were already claiming space all around, we decided it would be safer to buy some food and drinks and lay our towels out and wait for the big bang… It took a while for the sun to set and we were so close to the airport that we think we saw Steph’s plane take off…

I am sure that the fireworks would have been nicer on Santa Monica but as it stand it wasn’t too bad…

I tried to take a few pics with my Nikon Coolpix but not easy without a tripod…

We left just before it ended as Achim wanted to be the mass exodus so he could catch the shuttle bus back to the airport, where he could catch another shuttle bus to get to Santa Monica…it took him about 2hours even at that time of the night… I am glad I didn’t have to do.

I had been lucky to have been alone in my room the night before so I was a little surprise to find that I had a room mate on my way back. She was also returning from a trek. We chatted briefly and then I turned off as I wanted to be at the airport in plenty of time…you know me, I am a nervous traveller 🙂

My flight was at 11am and I got there for 8.30am so I had plenty of time to kill. Did a little last minute shopping. I had started to develop the cold that had gone around the bus in the last week of our tour so I bought some medicine to help. I also had my first McDonald…somehow, throughout the journey I had managed to avoid it…not really out of choice as I like to try out McD in the countries I visit as they always have a “local” speciality. In India I had a McMaharaja which is a chicken curry burger, in Thailand I had a McThai…which is also chicken curry type but did taste different…and in LAX I had a breakfast burrito…which is not something you get in Europe for sure!

My flight back was dreadful. My cold developed full tilt and I think I got myself a fever at some point. I couldn’t sleep despite my earplugs and eye mask because I felt hot and cold all night and I couldn’t breathe with my mouth closed and I can’t really sleep with my mouth open. I watch a couple movies but I didn’t want to spend the night doing that…I was really happy to land on Friday morning and my commute back home was long…I wasn’t supposed to go to bed on arrival so I could control the jet lag but between the sleepless flight and the fact that I felt absolutely dreadful, I didn’t last very long….long enough to take a well deserved shower and to call my Nan to reassure her that I was a live if not well…

I had 3 days to recover from the jetlag before I was due to start at my new job…unfortunately for me, jetlag decided to kick the night before my first day and stayed with me for a few more nights…of course it did.

Taking stock…

My big highlights were:

San Diego

The Grand Canyon – of course

Yosemite – for the accomplishment of the hike

Baseball game and Alcatraz in San Francisco

Santa Barbara – the whole town actually, it felt like a place I could live in.

The people… I was worried about the American people…they can have a bad reputation for being obnoxious, loud and little too much overly Christian….throughout the trip I discovered how nice and friendly they can be, I was impressed by the customer service everywhere we went (regardless of tipping convention) and I didn’t get too much Christianity shoved back at me.

My fellow travellers…we had an amazing group and I am hoping to stay in touch with a few. We are already talking about when we see each other next and I believe the first reunion is going to be in Zurich (Steph’s haunt) to go skiing. Then, it should be Aberdeen…

And here’s for the memories

More Burt Reynolds action

The girls

 

With the top boys…

 

LAX in Vegas

 

Limo action in Vegas with Lisa and El

 

With the lovely Heather…

 

I can’t wait to go back out there…The country lived up to my expectations and the people surpassed them…Now I want to see it all…I want to go to New York, I want to see Miami, New Orleans, go to Boston and see Washington and I also want to see Canada…. Until next time…

Chymeera

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USA Tour: Taking off to The City of Angels (19/06/12)

The day has finally arrived!

I said goodbye to my colleagues on the Friday as the timing of my holiday couldn’t have been better. My contract was ending where I was working for the past year and a few weeks before my holiday I was offered a great job, to start on my return! Now the stars don’t align like that all the time do they?!

So after a well drowned leaving party (with my new favourite drink : vodka slimlight soda) and two intense days of last minute shopping and packing, I was ready to take off!

I am a nervous traveller generally. By nervous, I mean I stress that I will be late, have forgotten my passport or be stuck at security check for some random thing I have forgotten to take out of my bag. I check, double check and trebble check every thing…I fret nervously in the train going to airport and I panic if I don’t see my gate straight away… Nothing ever happened but I can’t help it…unless I travel in a group and then I let others stress themselves.

This trip was no exception, particularly because it was my first time going to the US and I had heard so many stories about going through customs over there which didn’t make me all too relaxed.

Getting to the airport and through security was without incident…maybe all that stressing was for nothing or allowed me to have everything ready…

At my gate, I was waiting excitedly to embark when I noticed a guy sitting casually on the floor with his guitar (and about half a dozen bags!)…He looked familiar but I couldn’t place him for a while. I kept looking back at him (hopefully discreetly enough) and then I had my “smack my forehead” moment…I was in the presence of a minor celebrity! I say minor as I don’t think that many people know him (I commented about it on my Facebook status and only one of my friends knew who I was referring to); he actually might like it to be referred to being minor…anyway, this was the TV actor Ben Bass whom I knew from the TV show “Rookie Blues” (Canadian series) and I suddenly got even more excited. I am not big on celebrity spotting and I didn’t actually go to him with the “OMG! You are Ben Bass, aren’t you? I love your show, can I have your picture?”…I was quite happy to share the moment with my friends on Facebook (and now here) without making a fool of myself to the man, who probably wanted to travel quietly. Still I couldn’t help but wonder what he had been doing in London and kept sneaking looks at him, grinning stupidly to myself!

Ben Bass

Imagine how delighted I was when after boarding I discovered he was sitting in my aisle, one sit away from me!! Because of his million bags, he literally filled the bin above our seats so I got to speak to him and he helped me put my own bag in another locker. I was chuffed and feeling like a teenager. My delight was short lived when he got upgrade to premium eco seat to make room for a family so they could sit together. Still, as I said to the only friend who knows who he is “he touched my bag!!”…I know, I know he is hardly Brad Pitt but that made my day nonetheless!

Rest of the journey was quite uneventful. I watched a few movies, deciding that it wouldn’t be a good thing to sleep. I landed at around 1pm in LAX and started getting nervous again…It was time to go through Customs and all the awful stories I had heard were coming back to me.

There was quite a queue for the non US passport holders so I bid my time. Apparently I was lucky it went quite quick as I only had to wait for 45 mins for my turn (a lot of the other members of what would be my Trek group had to wait over an hour). Still I was quite happy when my turn came, I was bored and starting to feel the lack of sleep. I had had time to see what was requested of people so I felt a little more confident stepping in front the custom officer….and then my day was made all over again! The officer was a short guy in his 50s at least with a good 70s moustache and he is first words to me as I stepped in front of him after having travelled about 10 hrs in an eco seat were “Hello, wow you are gorgeous. Are you a model?”. Now there is no way you stay tired or grumpy after such a welcome! Of course, he probably says that to all the women under 50 he gets but that is not the point. Throughout our little chat, he kept staring at me and repeating how beautiful he thought I was and how I should definitely be a model…which obviously gave my ego a massive boost and gave a spring to my step when I left (about 10 mins later). This was the quickest “interview” I ever had and I couldn’t understand why so many people had bad experience with the process. I obviously got lucky.

Getting to my hotel (the one used by TrekAmerica for their tour departure) was quite easy as it was located about 10 min drive from LAX and they had a regular shuttle bus picking up passengers. In less than 30 mins after I picked my suitcase I was checked in my room, had met my room mate Aisleen (who was going on another Trek) and in the shower!

Trek has a very well organise system in which you can get in touch with the people who are registered in the same tour as you before you set off so I had already been in contact with a few of my future travel buddies to check when people were getting in and we had all agreed to meet up in the lobby that evening to go for a drink and dinner.

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