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!
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.