We set off on our round the world journey on a bright September morning from the Penzance Bus Station, full of excitement and anticipation. Our trip would take us from our home in Penzance, Cornwall, to Heathrow airport then on to LA where we’d stop over four days then on to the Cook Islands for three days, followed by a brief stop in New Zealand and finally Brisbane where we’d be staying with our daughter Charlotte and her boyfriend Brian (the whole point of this big old trip). Our homeward journey would take us to Thailand and Malaysia. My companion for the trip is Ray, my long suffering hubby.
We’d decided that a stop over in London would be wise even though our flight wasn’t until late afternoon the following day. Can’t remember the last time I travelled by coach. Three hours into the journey my memory was jogged. Not particularly comfortable seats, all the stopping and starting, not to mention noisy passengers. I read my kindle and Ray kept busy doing his sudoku and snoozing. We had an unexpected delay when a passenger became ill and we had to pull over and call for an ambulance. It was only when they’d carted this guy off that a woman found an empty vodka bottle on his seat, which he’d been swigging from apparently since Plymouth and it was still only 11.00 am.
The Premier Inn at Heathrow was perfect. We’d organised the trip through a company called Travel Nation, based in Brighton and they’d booked all of our flights and hotels. I know there are lots of companies out there doing this type of travel arranging but I felt that although we’d be doing everything on line at least there was an office within driving distance where I could go and thump the table if things went horribly wrong. But we’d had a personal agent assigned to us and we’d been in constant contact via phone and email throughout the arranging period.
The Premier Inn was comfortable with our meals included in the price. So far so good. Ray finds it difficult to get his head around all this paperless air travel and insisted on a print out of everything, not just once but twice so that I had a copy as well, just to be absolutely certain. The fact that he’d brought his little portable weighing device to ensure that no bag exceeded the weight allowance was just a little ironic, ‘what with all that extra paper.’ We’d had more than a few words about luggage.. mine to be exact. How can a woman be expected to leave home for two months and not take a few extra clothes? Unreasonable or what! My hubby gets a little anxious prior to flying. Not because he’s frightened of flying or worried that we might be involved in a terrorist attack or any of the other things that most people might worry about. It’s punctuality. If he had his way we’d be sitting in the airport twelve hours before the flight. In his words ‘once you’ve missed that flight you’re stuffed.’ We hadn’t flown in ten years and things have moved on. You can check yourself in these days but we did it the old fashioned way – of course we did! I’ve come to the conclusion that Ray is just an analogue guy living in a digital world. We travelled with Air New Zealand and everything went fine, as fine as it can be in economy. I pulled on my pressure socks, plugged in my mini itune thingy and donned my newly purchased eye mask. Didn’t get much sleep but arrived safe and sound in LA at around 7.00 pm LA time.
Arriving in LA
This first leg of our journey was all the more exciting because we met up with our oldest friends in the whole world, Charlotte and Tom from Florida. When I’d emailed them to say we’d be in LA for a few days and they agreed to meet up with us we were tickled pink.
The next few days sped by. Our friends had a hire car, which was an asset in such a sprawling city. Also, they had a snazzy phone with lots of features, including an app providing accurate directions to unknown destinations. Brilliant! Must get one of those. After breakfast on the first morning and a good deal of catching up we headed for Santa Monica and got on the hopper bus to take us for a whistle stop tour around LA. When time is limited the bus tour is absolutely the best way to go. We got to see all the tourist stuff and spend time with our favourite people. An unexpected trip to Fisherman’s Village in Marina Del Rey was a delightful surprise. The harbour was buzzing with locals and tourists and a band playing the best of soul and old sixties standards proved a big draw. It was Sunday and that’s the day they give a free concert each week. We took a trip around the harbour on the hop on hop off ferry boat – it cost $1.00. We were so happy to get a relatively cheap day out. LA can be expensive. Had a wonderful evening meal with Charlotte and Tom on the pier at Santa Monica. My first surf and turf. They gave me so much I couldn’t finish it (that’s unheard of). I’d forgotten about the unspoken, rigid rules of tipping in the US. That particular meal cost somewhere in the region of $125.00 for two, not including alcohol and the tip expected was $40.00.
Our time in LA was all too short and before we knew it we were all heading for the airport, us on to the Cook Islands and they back home to Fernandina in Florida. While hugging our goodbyes we promised one another that we’d be meeting up again soon and not leaving it so long; time marches on and none of us is getting any younger.