29 September, 2014
The elegant Sunset Tower Hotel next door to our hotel
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Our plan was to travel to Sydney the evening prior to our flight. Although we did not need to be at the International Terminal until 10am, we decided not to trust the train system on that day but to arrive in Sydney the day before and be refreshed and stress-free the next morning for the long flight (14.5 hours) to Los Angeles. The train trip was uneventful, smooth and comfortable, although we decided to remind the transport department to design the next carriages with more room for luggage – so many people are travelling these days and there is simply too little space. We checked in to the Stamford Plaza in the late afternoon, and enjoyed a nice dinner with friends who kindly came to wish us a happy holiday.
Next morning there was time for a leisurely breakfast before driving in the shuttle bus to the International Terminal. Then the challenge of checking through customs etc and filling in some time with browsing around the terminal and enjoying another coffee, and before we realised the time finally came to board. Unfortunately there was some minor mechanical problem that held us up for almost an hour – but then we were on our way, speeding along the tarmac and taking off into the blue sky. I can only describe such a long flight as tedious, broken only by dinner not too long after we took off, and breakfast shortly before we landed. The cabin lights were dimmed quite early, obviously getting us ready for the time difference in Los Angeles.
We left Sydney airport at about 11.30am on Monday 28 September 2014 – and arrived in LA at about 10.30am on the same day – we felt a bit like Dr Who travelling back in time! Warning had been given to us that it would take ages to get out of the LA terminal, and after going through the long line for Immigration we were finally out of the terminal – and into the long queue for the shuttle to the hotel.
Some quirky eating places on Sunset Boulevarde in Los Angeles, the Saddle Ranch (left) and a converted tram (right)
Our reservation had been made for the Best Western Plaza on Sunset Boulevarde, Los Angeles – and we were very glad when we finally arrived there. After settling in we set off to explore that part of Sunset Boulevarde around our hotel. There was a beautiful Art Deco hotel next door to Best Western, the Sunset Tower Hotel (you know how I love photographing lovely old buildings), and the elegant Chateau Marmont further down the street. Starbucks was opposite the hotel, and we have since discovered that the best coffee is from Starbucks – difficult to find espresso coffee, a lot of it is dripolator coffee and not what we are used to. We have been told by locals that Americans have not been well served with good coffee – so they welcomed Starbucks with open arms!
The view over Los Angeles from the Mondrian Hotel
The Mondrian Hotel was also close by, and we went inside to inspect the Skyline Bar and Herringbone Restaurant with wonderful views over the city. We reserved a table for dinner and when we arrived at about 7pm the sun had begun to set, and we watched as Los Angeles turned on its twinkling lights for us as we ate a delicious dinner, and saw the planes coming in and taking off in the distance from the airport. Just to make your mouth water the three of us enjoyed Jidori Chicken/Herringbone Sundae, Rack of Lamb/Chocolate Torte and Cauliflower steak/Chocolate Torte. Marlene and I opted for an Achilles Peel cocktail to celebrate our first night in LA, while Pete chose a red wine.
Unusual street art on Sunset Boulevarde, Los Angeles (and reflection of the Sunset Tower hotel opposite)
And then off to bed – while our body clocks struggled to get into the right time frame – we are now 17 hours behind Eastern Standard Time. Tomorrow we plan jumping on the Red Hop On Hop Off Bus to see more of Los Angeles – hope you can join us.