Los Angeles, California


(Written by Steve - January 17)    Sites we hit today:

Sunset strip, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood and west Hollywood, North Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Laurel Canyon Drive, Ventura Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, Hwy 405, Torrance

 One of the things I remember about L.A. when I was a kid was how many cars they had, and how large the freeways were. Helen had mentioned to the kids that we may be able to see Universal Studios when we got here, so they had only one thing on there mind. Last night I got on the internet and rented a Mustang convertible to drive around Beverly Hills and the sunset strip. I was never keen on going to Universal because it would take up the whole day and I wanted to see some other things while we were here. This was the first real time on this trip Helen and I have butted heads, not bad for almost 3 weeks but we were cranky today. Anyways by the time we got off the ship and to Torrance where we had rented the car, it was in the afternoon. We still had to get the car and drive the hour plus trip to Universal and then leave early enough so we could drop the car off and get back to the ship before it left. So we left Torrance and headed down hwy 405 towards the city. We pulled off at Santa Monica Blvd and headed into Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. Our first detour on the way to Universal was Rodeo Drive, it was very cool and glitzy. Porsche’s, Rolls, Bentley’s and more BMW’s than you could shake a stick at. This is only half a block from where the street folks are panhandling down the middle of the streets. Every big city has its posh areas close to slums or its run down parts. But this place was over the top we were most definitely in the land of the have’s and have not’s. These people need to be seen and there was no better place than the Hollywood area for that kind of thing. We spun our car around and headed back through Beverly Hills and the Sunset strip. Now aside from Johnny Carson and Beverly Hills cop, I had never seen this place before and it just fascinated me how glitzy it was. The shops and restaurants were very high end and lots of window dressing to try and outdo the neighbors. From  Sunset we headed up Laurel Canyon Drive to the other side to North Hollywood and Burbank. The drive would normally be really nice but the map we had only showed a few streets so it was a tad stressful driving because we were worried we would miss the turn off.  I, by the way, was driving for the first time in a long while, and what a better place to get back behind the wheel than Los Angeles. Anyways we were now at Universal studios and parking the car was a bit of an amusement ride in itself. Did you know that you can have Frankenstein valet your car for you if you like, or you can just park it yourself like we did? The street that you first walk through before getting to the actual gates of Universal are filled with shops, stores, games, a 30 theatre cinema, many restaurants and of course loads of souvenirs. We spent 2 ˝ hours looking, eating and playing games, so we did not even make it into the park. We headed out at around 4:30pm so we could drop off the car back in Torrance by 6. We did not get very far on hwy 405 before we ran into some of that L.A rush hour that everyone needs to try. I was getting a wee bit stressed out, mostly because I have not driven in quite a while and even if I had this bumper to bumper thing was a killer. The whole day our family was off. Helen was not very happy with me, and I was a little short with her; Nikolas was incredible and had become quite the little smart mouth in the last 2 days. He has been quite ill, so I try and cut him some slack but he just keeps pushing till he gets me to explode, and I have blown a fuse a few times in the last two days, including on the ride home. You know what he said to me the other day? He was in a bad mood at lunch and we are sitting with the couple from New Mexico and we are talking about the drive to Universal.  Nikolas is testing me at the table, but I have no polite way to discipline him and he knows it, so he just kept arguing. So I said to Nikolas in front of this nice couple “listen buddy, me and your mom are the boss when we are on this ship” hoping that would be the end of it and he would just clam up. But no way! he quickly comes back and say’s “no you’re not”, well I had had enough and was ready to take him back to sit in the room and then he said “Ian Mcnaught is.” Who is Ian Mcnaught you ask?  He would be the Captain of the ship. I was so mad, but could not help and laugh at that come back, he was definitely going to take a few years off my life, but that was a good one. 

Anyways we did not spend enough time in L.A. to do anything really so I’ll keep it short. Plus I don’t know if it’s the Norwalk thing on the ship, or if we are all tired or if it’s because the kids are sick, but we did not get along real well today. It is only 9pm and we are still in port and everyone but me has gone to bed, so maybe we are over tired. When you board the ship, Cunard always hangs this big banner that say’s “QE II Welcome Home” and Helen said this is the first time it really feels like we are coming back to our home.

After a comment like that maybe we just might pull this trip off after all!

We did get to Budget car rental after an 1 ˝ of grueling driving, and I was grateful to give the car back. We then went to Albertsons to load up on supplies for the big voyage, and then a 20 minute taxi ride back to the ship. We set out tonight on our 4 night journey across the mighty Pacific Ocean and Helen is all but TERRIFIED, so we will try and drop you all a little note on the 19th via satellite to let you know how it’s going. 

That’s it, our first super boring one, but I am sure it will be the first of many boring stories. O.K. that’s it, I’m hitting the sack too.