The American Dream pt 1: The Adventure Begins

Back in January of this year London metroblogger Vikki’s father was in LA for two weeks on holiday. His name is Dennis and he kept a diary of the entire trip. Each day for the next 14 days or so I’ll be posting an entry from that diary as it’s always interesting to hear an outsiders perspective of our city. Unless you hate this kind of thing, in which case I’d advise skipping any entries with “The American Dream” in the title for the next few days. These entries were written by him, not me. Here goes…

Woke up very early 4.00am, maybe its excitement who knows, this time tomorrow I will be in Los Angeles. Anyway it gives me more time to finish off my packing etc. Woke up my chauffeur (Richard, my oldest son) at 7.15am and we started out for Heathrow. The traffic was unbelievably light and I was at the check in so early that they checked me in and gave me my boarding card but I had to wait a further 30 minutes before I could check in my baggage.

Spent the next three hours hanging around the airport, the worst thing about flying now is waiting. To pass the time I wandered around the Duty Free, bought a litre of scotch and some film for the camcorder. Eventually headed for the departure lounge and people watched the queue for the plane. I do not see the sense in standing in a queue when nobody in it can leave before I get on the plane as well. Just as I joined the queue, a late party tagged on behind me and thwarted my plan to be the last person on the plane. Of course it made no difference, as I still had to wait for people to stow their hand luggage before I could get access to my seat. Got an aisle seat this flight, which means I cannot cam cord out the window, but then I donít have to disturb people every time I want to use the loo, which sort of takes the pressure off if you know what I mean. Amazingly small world the guy in the seat next to me is from Fulham and apparently has a load of mates who attended Acton College where I am currently working. Next to him, in the window seat, is a 20 something from Barcelona, a very nice young lady she loaned me a book all about Los Angeles but she seemed to sleep the whole way, well 90 % of it anyway.

I donít know why but it came as a bit of a shock to discover that the it was a ten and a half hour flight. We took off around noon, bit late, and B.A.. distributed drinks, I got one of those nice little bottles of wine, but the stewardess asked me if I would like another one to go with my dinner. I greedily said yes, well the guy next to me had two scotches. The underlying plan was to get slightly pissed so that after dinner I would fall asleep, anyway I drank them both and had another one with dinner as a different steward handed out the dinners. Even with all the wine and a rather excellent dinner I thought I had not slept a wink, I watched films instead however while I was waiting for another film to come on I was watching the previews when I realised it was showing a portion of film that I had missed while watching, so I must have dozed off at some point which is disgraceful when you realise that Natalie Portman was the female lead. At about 4.00pm the Pilot came out with a load of gobbledegook about the time and re-setting of watches, this was when I realised that we would be getting off the plane at 10.30pm G.M.T but it would actually be 3.30pm in Los Angeles the same day.

Decided to try a sort of yoga come power nap exercise, but it did not work so me and the guy from Fulham decided to fuel up on scotches had about 4 of the little bottles each but it did not seem to have any effect, we agreed that alcohol does not have as much of an effect when you are on holiday. He was flying on to New Zealand with a 5-hour stopover in L.A. I was having visions of him asleep in the departure lounge, as his plane takes off without him.

The plane touched down at 3.00pm L.A. time but what with sniffer dogs and the U.S. Customs it was 4.15pm before I exited the airport (LAX). After waiting an hour for the shuttle I discovered that while every other hotel in LA sends a regular shuttle to the airport, the hotel I was staying at only sent the shuttle if you phoned for it. Fortunately for me a rather kind fundraiser used his cell phone to call the hotel and the shuttle appeared a few minutes later. Apparently, a rather attractive Canadian lady had called them out as well so we were both deposited at the hotel at about 5.30pm or about half past midnight GMT.

Its great ennit only I can pick the only hotel in LA that is having major construction work, while still being open for guests. We had to use a side entrance and gain access to the temporary reception via a series of plywood corridors reminiscent of The Hammersmith Hospital Tunnel; you would have to live in West London to understand the paradox. I noticed later that several potential customers took one look turned around and went elsewhere. Whether it was the alcohol or just plain tiredness I just accepted my key and went to my room, 1124 on the 11th floor, revelation the room is terrific, what they call a Queen Anne bed, brand spanking new furniture, en suite bath shower & toilet and an excellent view east. To the Hollywood Hills I think.

I am now in a bit of a quandary, as I do not know whether to try and nap for an hour, then go out and try to go to bed at a reasonable time, or just blast on through and hope for the best. The urge for a beer overcomes all obstacles so I head for Reception. The receptionist a truly lovely young lady name of Candace gently broke the news that the hotel bar is being refurbished. Candace suggests that I head out to the shuttle bus and tell the driver to drop me off at a bar and when I am ready to call the hotel and he will pick me up and bring me back again. Unfortunately the driver must have overheard the conversation as when I get outside the Hotel the bus is sedately pulling out of the parking lot. Being English I take this in my stride and walk slowly in the same direction. I later discover that I crossed under the 405 freeway, quite a busy road, wandered around the back of a rather classy hotel. Obviously the CCTV was working fine because I soon had a security guard directing me away from the hotel to a rather nice bar. It is called On The Border and it is a Grill Bar which means that not only can you get a cool glass of beer but also it has an excellent menu. Unfortunately this old man was starting to weaken (it had been one hell of a day) and after four or five 12 ounce glasses of Miller Lite I tottered back under the 405 to the hotel. Being a bit thick I decided to look into the hotel restaurant. Did not really want anything partially because the place was empty. So for the sake of it I had a bowl of soup and persuaded the waiter to bring me a glass of ice. It is now about 8.00pm LA time and about 2.30am GMT. So I wandered off to my room and had a couple of scotch on the rocks in the rather comfortable armchair, woke up again an hour later and went to bed approximately 23 hours after getting up.

Next Day

3 thoughts on “The American Dream pt 1: The Adventure Begins”

  1. Hey dont knock the Border or Miller Lite us oldies take what little pleasure we are allowed wherever we can.

  2. must admit i got into this story late and it’s a good read, so i’m just now backtracking the beginning.

    by no means would i knock miller lite or OTB – it’s great to hear different perspectives on our culture (and occasional lack of).

    apparently though you could have gone here that first night…that may well have changed the tone of the entire trip…


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