Up at 3 am for an 06:20 flight, then 4 hours to Brisbane. We had 4 hours in Brisbane so we used the same lounge that we used on the way to Aukland 5 weeks before. We were away from the crowds, and had as much food and drink as we could handle.
Then the long flight to LA, I saw 2 films (Deadpool and Suicide Squad) and a couple of TV shows, but I did manage to get some sleep.
As we had crossed the international dateline we landed at 07:00 hours in LA on Tuesday Morning (though on our body clock it was 04:00 on Wednesday morning.
We slogged through customs and picked up our bags, then went off on the courtesy bus to pick up our hire car from Dollar. We had hired this via an agency and paid for all the insurances up front, if you buy them from the desk you pay a fortune. The girl on the desk could not have been nicer, but we noticed that she added $170 to our bill for recovery and breakdown (for 10 days!). I told her that I was already covered and so began an argument where she clearly didn’t want to take the breakdown off. We still got ripped off on a tank of petrol at $50 when it only takes $30 to fill a tank, needless to say the Dollar lady was a lot less pleasant when we left her. Car rental in the states seems to be geared at ripping off the tourist renter, so be prepared to stand your ground!
We headed off into the LA traffic (an adventure in itself) and went to our hotel. I had been trying to contact them to arrange an early check in, but they had not responded to any of my e-mails. Sure enough, when we got there we were told they dont do any early check in and we would have to come back at 3pm. So we drove to the beach (we were staying at Manhattan beach) and had a look round. it was very beautiful, we took a walk up the Pier in the sunshine and wandered along the beach for about a mile. California is just coming out of winter and is having unseasonably good weather with temperatures in the mid 20s, we were expecting much cooler so we needn’t have worn our jackets.
We decided to drive to Venice Beach and grab some lunch, a 40 minute drive in the traffic, an amazing place full of the wierd and wonderful, we grabbed a great sndwich at a little deli and wandered round to soak up the vibe, its a bit like a cross between Southend, Cambden lock and Brighton, in the sun and on steroids!
Then, barely able to keep my eyes open, we headed back to our hotel in the growing traffic, stopping on the way at a supermarket to pick up our dinner. When we got back and checked our cards though we had a shock, the exchange rate is terrible, and so though everything looks cheap, mostly it is more expensive than at home (except for petrol, that’s still cheap despite the exchange), America was not going to be the cheap stop on the way home we thought it was!