14 October 1990 | Anaheim, California
USA trip 1990
Rena and I flew into Los Angeles from Heathrow on 11th October 1990. We travelled in luxury – in first class on a United Airlines flight. This was by far the best flight of my life and the only one in first class, which came about when two completely unrelated factors collided: my predilection to have a few beers before a flight and United’s predilection to overbooking flights on the assumption that some people don’t turn up. It was our lucky day. I was in the bar, leaving it until the last minute to race to the gate. When we got there we were told there were no seats left. We remonstrated, very politely you understand, and I made up some story or other that clearly convinced the flight staff, who told us that regrettably there were seats available only in first class. Well, we said, that’s unfortunate, I suppose we will have to take those!
We were greeted on to the Boeing 747 by crew asking if we wanted orange juice or Bucks Fizz. I think you might be able to guess my answer. Drinks were served in real glasses and food was served on real porcelain plates with real steel cutlery – I still have the knife, fork and spoon with ‘United’ emblazoned on them today! This really was the way to travel.
This was our first trip to the USA so we were not entirely sure what to expect. We were certainly not disappointed – more like impressed. When we got to LAX we did not have to wait long for a hotel bus to turn up to take us to the Airport Marina Hotel which, as the name suggests, was very close to the airport anyway, in a part of LA we learned was called Marina del Rey. We were in room 184. I wonder if that hotel is still there? It was pretty simple but spacious and comfortable – just right for us.
Our holiday was booked with the Co-operative and organised by Kuoni. This experience and others have convinced me that I would quite happily take a holiday with Kuoni again – they really are very good and very helpful.
We were met at the hotel by the Kuoni rep in LA who, we learned, had guests staying at various hotels across the city. She new all the best tours and tour guides and, although we wanted to do our own thing most of the time, we were very happy to learn about some of the trips available. We even went on one, which involved a tour of Hollywood taking in famous homes, famous tombs and the real Elm Street; about eight of us were driven around by a very knowledgeable chap and wannabe VoiceOver artist waiting for his lucky break on the fringes of Hollywood. We learned from him an important difference between American and British culture: in Britain its a bum bag but in America, where that would be rude, it’s a fanny bag!
Anyway, the day after we arrived in LA I arranged for a bus to pick us up to take us to Alamo to pick up a car. I certainly did not want the ‘foreign compact’ they seemed to be offering most people and saw the car I wanted in the lot. It was a big white Buick, and served us well for the next few days, including our drive south to Anaheim on the outskirts of LA for, what else but Disneyland. This had been a dream of mine since I was about 4, and I was not about to be let down. I find being a big kid real easy! Yes, I know the original Disneyland is a bit jaded and everyone wants to go to Disneyworld in Florida, but this was the original, the real thing in the land where the movies were actually made.
Needless to say it was a great day out but I have to say the highlight for me was Star Wars. I had no idea that in 1990 Disney had anything to do with Star Wars, but there you go. Like most rides there was quite a long queue for the flight to Tatooine but you didn’t really notice it because there was so much going on to keep the queue entertained, including C3PO and R2D2 prodding you and telling jokes. The real joke came when we got in the spaceship and learned that the pilot was sick so C3PO had to step in at the last minute. I was filled with dread. C3PO hates space travel and certainly can’t fly! I looked ahead at the exit from the space port, which was essentially an enormous cave – it didn’t seem to be much bigger than the spacecraft. This was going to be tight! And indeed we did get off to a bumpy start, and nearly lost the starboard nacelle as we shot out of the cave/spaceport. The ride through light speed was amazing…
I could go on but I won’t. What still amazes me to this day is that I found time to take any photographs at all!