Day 22 – 13th September 2008 – Los Angeles – Final Day
Well all too soon we have arrived at our last day. Our flight back to the UK is not until 8:50pm and so it still gives us a large chunk of the day to see a little bit more of Los Angeles. Although, I have to admit that I have more than half a mind on making sure that we have everything sorted out for our return home.
We shower and get dressed – uhm need to dress for Los Angeles today, the flight home and probably a chilly UK tomorrow afternoon (we are scheduled to arrive in the UK at 3:30pm)
Today we pack properly for the flight – this is when you realise just how much you’ve bought – things are being forced into every available space – will they ever get home in one piece – and will the zips hold out on the luggage? Eventually, red faced and perspiring ever so slightly, the last zip is cajoled into place – hopefully we will not have to open any of the cases before we get back home but experience tells me that as soon as the last zip has been wrestled into place you hear those immortal words …..well you know the rest.
We decide that we will have breakfast in the pool area – this was a lovely way to spend our last morning in LA – pool staff were fabulous and again the food was perfect – just what you would expect. We notice that there are a lot of preparations taking place this morning in the Hotel, with staff running here there and everywhere. We make some discrete enquiries and find out that The Four Seasons are holding a press conference for the film "Nights in Rodanthe" and consequently we will soon be joined by a certain Mr Richard Gere and Ms Diane Lane.
I’m not sure if Richard and Diane knew we were stopping at the hotel but we thought it better not to make them aware of our presence as it would almost certainly distract them from their work and as this is an important period in both of their careers we thought that prudence on this occasion should prevail – anyway we are bound to catch up with them again shortly …… probably when we go and see the movie! Sorry I seem to have drifted of into some form of parallel fantasy universe!
Ok – back to reality – we savour our last few minutes in the beautiful surroundings of The Four Seasons Hotel before we check out. Our car is brought to the Hotel entrance and we try to fight our way passed the 20 or so black stretch limousines trying to deliver their celebrity guests – (note to self – must speak to Richard about his extravagant lifestyle) – oops sorry drifted off again.
We eventually manage to pack our rental vehicle and muscle our way out into the traffic heading for Venice Beach. Now we have heard a lot of stories about Venice Beach and if half of what we have been told is true, it promises to be a fun visit.
The GPS takes us to the general Venice Beach area and from there we try and find a car parking space – this is a Saturday morning and it would appear that the rest of LA has also decided to visit the Beach – we drive from car park to car park – nothing. We have to go back a block or two before we find an empty space on the road. I get out of the car to check the signs to make sure that we are not parking illegally – there are signs that say that we must not park there on a Tuesday as this is ‘street cleaning’ day – ok this is Saturday – we can park.
We walk the couple of blocks back to the beach and emerge on what I assume must be Venice Beach although I am not sure. We stroll along the promenade and soon are attracted to the long road that is lined with make shift stalls – well I think this must be the start of the famous boardwalk. The stalls are inhabited by a diverse range of individuals selling a rich mix of wares from chintzy handmade jewellery, artwork of every description, palm readering(all claiming to be the best and the real thing), incense and a lot, lot more. From some of the stalls a stronger smell emanates that, although smoke related, definitely is not your standard Lucky Strike. The opposite side of the road has traditional gift shops and endless cafes and restaurants.
It takes us an hour or so just to walk the road full of stalls – we decide to continue up the beach and come across an array of people perusing all kinds of activities – there are street performers, people fishing & surfing, playing racquet ball, handball and shuffleboard – everybody seems to be involved in doing something – no time on this beach for a quiet snooze.
We pass the open air area which must be the famous – Muscle Beach – there were only a couple of men in at the time but they were providing the crowd with a more than adequate display of strength activities. I consider fetching my floral swimmers and joining them but the thought of unzipping those cases ….. what!!
We amble up the Beach a bit further and see the Santa Monica Pier far off in the distance – we decide that this is probably too far to walk and so return to the car to try and find another spot to park that is a little closer.
Awaiting our return to our car is a little present on our windscreen – oh no we’ve parked illegally another $75 fine. What I hadn’t realised is that the red line painted on the curb means no parking – I didn’t even see the red line on the curb and if I had I wouldn’t have known what it meant – Lyn lifts an eyebrow and pushes the ticket into her bag – we’ll sort this one out when we get home – ok dear! Oops!
For information – Lyn’s idea after our parking fine incident was that all visitors to another country should be asked to sit a multiple question test on the ‘highway code’ before they are allowed to drive in the country that they are visiting – uhmm not a bad idea but may be expensive to administer.
We find a huge car park with loads of free spaces for just $6 – uhmm
We walk to the Santa Monica Pier (which is very reminiscent of the Weston super Mare pier – besides the fact that it has just been burnt down) and walk around the various rides etc – if my information is correct the Carousel has appeared in several films, including The Sting – oow maybe we should have a go?
We leave the pier and stop for a quick snack before we sadly have to return to our rental vehicle and drive to Los Angeles International Airport. By now we both have the end of holiday blues.
Our GPS takes us precisely to the Dollar rental drop off and we unpack the car for the last time. Earlier in the trip I bought a case of beers but I only drunk three or four and so I gave the remaining beers to the Dollar man who checked our car back in.
Within minutes our car was being driven into the car wash – I wouldn’t be at all surprised if tomorrow it wasn’t on its way back to the Grand Canyon – cars have no loyalty!
The Dollar man gives me a readout that tells us we have driven 2,348 miles – goodness that’s a long way.
We check in at Departures and pay £100 ($190) each for an emergency exit seat – its an 11 hour flight and the extra legroom makes the flight so much better. We have almost three hours to kill and so we look around duty free, buy some reading material for the flight and find a table and play cards – Lyn looses again – you’ve got to admire her resilience. Lol
Our Virgin Atlantic Flight is on time and by 8:50pm we are in the air – a few hours later we leave American airspace – our trip is officially over. (sad face)
For those that are interested the cost of this trip (including spending money)was around £5,500 and we travelled in our rental vehicle a total of 2,348 miles and enjoyed every inch.
When I started putting this itinerary together I called it “Our Trip of a Lifetime” – did it live up to this billing – oh yes it certainly did – it was absolutely amazing – in fact it was better than even we could imagine.
Before I finally close I would just like to run through a few ‘thank yous’
First of all I would like to thank my wonderful wife who treated us both to this ‘holiday of a lifetime’ – also for being a super travelling companion and for being so patient during the 1,800 pictures that I eventually took.
Next, I would like to thank my Trip Advisor friends who provided me with so much useful information when I was putting our original itinerary together – without your contributions this trip would not have been anywhere near as enjoyable as it was.
I would also like to thank those Trip Advisors that have stayed with me throughout this extremely lengthy report. Although I haven’t always had the time to reply to each and every reply, I have certainly read them all and I have enjoyed what you have had to say enormously. Some have made me laugh and some have even made me cry – all have been very kind – thank you so much.
I would very much like to thank each and every American (and on occasions other nationalities Joe) who have been unfortunate enough to be in the same place, at the same time as us and showed us such kindness and courtesy.
I would like to thank America for being so beautiful.
I would also like to thank Henry Winkler, Richard Gere and Diane Lane for respecting our privacy
And lastly I would like to thank Anna my step-daughter for putting our house back together so efficiently before we got back home so that you could hardly notice the 3 weeks of partying.
Its been great fun – I’ve enjoyed every minute – thank you all once more.
“Time it was and what a time it was it was,
A time of innocence a time of confidences.
Long ago it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you’ Paul Simon
That’s all Folks (hum the theme tune)
Oh PPS – Lyn is already talking about a similar trip to New England next year ……………
I thought I just heard a collective groan?