Posts Tagged ‘California’
We spent the morning at Universal Studios, and it has to be said… I wasn’t all that impressed.
The Terminator 3D show was awesome, as was the Jurassic Park and The Mummy ride, but other than that…. I got bored very quickly. It could have been that I was sick, or maybe it was that we’d made the mistake of spending time at Disneyland first – and let’s face it – nothing can measure up to that! Needless to say, after a couple of hours at the “Park”, we’d seen everything, and were more than ready to go.
But not before Nick had experienced a “Churros Sundae” from Ben & Jerry!
We spent about two hours looking at all the stars, and then some time in a Disney store that sold “floats” (ie spiders).. I’d been craving one for weeks, so it seemed like a good spot to stop!
He drove us past the Hollywood sign & Paramount Pictures, to the Farmers Market, through Beverley Hills, up and down Rodeo Drive, before finally dropping us back at the DoubleTree Guest Suites at Santa Monica two hours later… It was fun!
I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t of been so sick though… and Nick probably would have enjoyed it more too! We’re both wishing we had’ve had more time in LA, so we’ll definitely be back again!
Saturday signified the end of Disneyland, and the start of Santa Monica. We had our last character buffet breakfast at the Disneyland Hotel, and it was the best buffet we’ve had yet! There was pizza and icecream involved *gasp* Of course there was also plenty of fruit and a little cereal, but I couldn’t help myself when it came to the chocolate soft serve. The pizza was Nick *giggle*
We then made our way to Santa Monica! … For the first time we were able to wear short sleeved shirts, shorts, and thongs! It had been so cold in Anaheim… although there was a quick stop made back to the hotel (DoubleTree Guest Suites) in the evening, as it got pretty cold pretty fast!
We had lunch in the Third Street Promenade at the Cafe Crepe.. and yum! They were much better than any crepe I’ve had before, and they actually got my order right! The cafe was filled to the brim, and it seemed more of a local hangout, rather than a tourist trap, and it was filled with booth seats and huge paintings on the wall…
After the aforementioned pitstop to change into warmer clothes, we went to the Santa Monica Pier! If anybody watches Sunrise on Ch7 in the morning – Nelson is always situated in front of the Pier (when he’s talking about Hollywood), and you can see the ferris wheel etc in the background.. That’s where we were!
The sunset was pretty amazing also, but once it started to set, it disappeared fairly fast.. And it wasn’t even 5pm!
We had dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. on the Pier, and it was… okay. Very heavy more than anything, and I’m at the stage where I just want a home cooked meal! I’m craving broccoli and beans carrot and tomato… and fruit. Lots of fruit! .. But back to Bubba Gump! I had something that involved shrimp (duh!), rice, and jack cheese (?!)! ….. The restaurant is based on the movie “Forrest Gump”, and I have to say – it has been done really well!
Right now, I just want to go to bed. I left Australia with a slight cough, and while the husky voice was kind of cute to begin with, now the constant hacking is downright annoying, and I’ve had to blow my tap, I mean nose, so often that it’s red raw! I thought I’d brave the cold, and that if I powered on I’d be okay…. but now I’m wishing I had of taken it a little easier…
So that’s all from me for tonight!
… Ever since I saw Free Willy when I was 8, killer whales have been my favourite animal. I used to dream that they were swimming around in the pool in my backyard. And that was long before we even had a pool!
Friday was… … Words cannot explain how great Friday was. We caught an early morning bus out to SeaWorld at San Diego, and were just in time for the dolphin show. It was really good – but Nick and I were both waiting for it to be midday – our time to “Dine with Shamu”…
While Shamu (who played “Willy” has since passed *bawls*), SeaWorld has pretty heavily marketed any experience with the killer whales as an experience with “Shamu”.. They mostly referred to the whales as “Shamu’s”, instead of killer whales/orca’s, which I guess I thought was a bit odd… However I suppose it’s been pretty cleverly marketed towards young children! “Shamu” is a lot easier to remember and chant, that’s for sure!
I cannot believe just how close we were seated next the whales at our “lunch with Shamu”! I could have leaned right over the rope and touched them! There was 4 different killer whales that had access to the tank that we were seated next to, and it really was the highlight of my trip. While I know that there will be plenty more experiences to come – nothing will ever touch me the way being that close to a killer whale did. I actually cried when I first saw “Corky” up close (but then I also cried when we left Disneyland the night before also, so…. … and then again at the following two “Shamu” shows! … I’m a tad emotional at the moment!)! … And “Shamu” put on quite a nice spread! I was too excited to eat a whole lot (and it was buffet..), but there was a lot of different foods, and Nick was quite impressed!
After our lunch, we went next door to “Shamu Stadium” to watch “Believe” – which aims to really connect to the audience, and make you think of ‘that one moment, when something happens that changes your life completely…’ I cried. It was beautiful.
Hmm what else… I held a star fish! A live one! .. And I pet a bat ray – which is like a sting ray, but they like shallow waters.. and I’m assuming they don’t sting, as they didn’t have barbs on them. The one that I was patting stopped in front of me, and when I stopped patting it to convince Nick to touch it, it got all stroppy and started splashing around on the surface of the water (when they usually hung around the bottom)! It was so bizarre! I’m used to my little puppers making me pat her when I stop, and I’m getting used to my Mum’s lizard wanting attention – but it was so bizarre to see the bat ray acting the way it was!
And… I got to feed *and* touch a dolphin! It was amazing! You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face after that!
We also hung out with some polar bears and a walrus (on the other side of the glass, of course!), and played around in a couple of exhibits!
.. We were mostly killing time for the second “Shamu” show – a Christmas special! .. and yes, I cried.
There isn’t a whole lot from Nick in this entry, I guess because the day was mostly *my* thing. He loved dining right next to the killer whales, and he loved all the exhibits, and walking around, and the “wet” rollercoaster that we went on.. but really, I think I probably got the most out of the day. And I can’t wait to come back again.
Without getting too ahead of myself (because we’ve only been in the States for 3 days now), today was my favourite day! We had “early entry” to Disneyland, which meant that we could enter an hour before all the regular “common people” (hehehe), and could run around the Park without worrying about all the crowds!
Unfortunately, “Brian” told us the wrong time to enter the Park – and we wound up only getting there 15 minutes before everybody else anyhow! But it did allow us to jump in the “Finding Nemo” line (which involved an underwater submarine adventure) ahead of a lot of other people! Every time we’ve wanted to go on this ride over the past three days, the wait has been at least an hour! It’s outrageous! All the other rides seem to have a 30 minute absolute maximum wait time, but the “Finding Nemo” ride seems to attract everybody… and it has to be said – it is *so* not worth waiting an hour in line for! I want the 30 minutes that I had to wait in line, plus the 10 minutes of the ride, of my life back! If we weren’t at Disneyland, which is of course the “Happiest Place on Earth”, I would have considered borrowing a megaphone and sandwich board to announce that “it’s not worth it!”, and “get out while you still can!” … I can’t believe the hype about the ride! *grimace*
After wasting 40 minutes of my life (which we’ll call the ‘Finding Nemo “attraction”‘, as it is so fondly referred to by others), Nick and I legged it back to the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel (across the road from our Hotel) to have another ‘Character Dining Experience’, complete with breakfast buffet!
We had our photo’s taken with Chip (or was it Dale? *scratches head*), and a bear.. whose name escapes me right now! *smacks forehead* But the service was fantastic! In fact, all the service that we’ve had in and around Disneyland has been absolutely wonderful! And we snuck out with a couple of apples in our pockets *giggle*
We spent a little over an hour at Disney’s California Adventure Park – and rode the rollercoaster ‘California Screamin”.. I wanted to get the photo that is taken of you on the ride, but the person in front of me had her hair down, so all you can see is her hair in my face! We did however ride the Hollywood Tower of Terror – which was *awesome* – and we got the photo from that ride! I’ll have to wait until I’m back on home soil and near a scanner to show you all that one though!
We’d also wanted to go on the Monster Inc. ride, but it was closed for maintenance! We did however go on the ‘California Soarin” flight simulator which was just.. Wow! You’re strapped into seats, and then suspended in the air in front of a giant screen, which takes you through California scenes (ie forests, beaches, golf courses, housing estates etc), and it’s so realistic! You feel like you can just reach out and touch the trees/beach/golf balls! And wind is blown in your face, and you can smell the trees! It’s amazing! … I also dragged Nick on the ‘King Triton’s Carousel’, but I’ll spare him the embarrassment of posting photo’s, because he really did enjoy himself (although we both agreed that the Carousel at Disneyland was better *wink*)!
And today’s highlight for me? Meeting Pooh and Tigger, of course! I got a big cuddle from both of them, and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face after that!
We finished off the rest of the rides – yes, we went on EVERY SINGLE ride at Disneyland! – and got ready for the fireworks…
And Kahlee’s waterworks. I couldn’t help but cry. The emotions that it stirred up, watching the fireworks over the Disney castle was like something that I can’t explain. It was so magical. And something I’ve waited more than two decades to experience. It is *so* worth every cent that we’ve paid *nods* I’m hoping that we can make it back again tomorrow night (after SeaWorld) to see the fireworks again. My camera battery died right at the end (we’d been at Disneyland 15 hours by this point, and had taken over 400 photos!!) – and I’d like to get a few more photo’s in – especially of the finale..
And now I think it’s time for bed – it’s after midnight and we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow! We’re off to SeaWorld out at San Diego *grin*
Nick and I were both in heaven – him for the buffet breakfast (complete with a chef who made you an omelette on the spot in front of you), and me for the interaction with Stitch – one of my favourite Disney characters! The Mickey Mouse mini waffles, and the Minnie Mouse pancakes with hot maple syrup, and the platters of strawberries and watermelon weren’t so bad either! After stuffing ourselves to the point of overspilling, we were ready to hit the park for the second time!
It was every bit as amazing as it had been the day before – and every bit as overwhelming. We managed to finish off the rest of the rides that were on our “must hit” list, including the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘Star Tours’ (by Disney and George Lucas), ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and the King Arthur Carousel. Nick kicked up a bit of a fuss about riding on the Carousel, and tried to insist that he would watch while I rode on it, but I eventually dragged him on. To the left you will see him pouting about riding the horses (because a grown man doesn’t do such a thing), but if you look right, you’ll see just how much fun he really had! I should probably mention that I also dragged him on the Teacups for a second time (and I’m still plotting for a third!!), and also on ‘Dumbo the Flying Elephant’ *giggles* He really is a trooper – coming along on all the rides with me, posing for endless photographs, and pointing out characters for me to pose with!
I’ve absolutely loved “Fantasyland”, and I think I could go on the rides over and over again…
Walking in, I felt all the emotion that I had felt flying in to LA, and actually shed a few tears. This was the one place that I had always dreamed of visiting, and I had finally arrived. The Park was spectacular, and certainly lived up to it’s name as the “Happiest Place on Earth”. Nick actually told me on the 2nd day (the Wednesday), that he had never seen me smile as much as I had been – and I think he probably had a point. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face… And I haven’t seen Nick looking too miserable either! *wink*
In the three short hours that we spent at Disneyland on Tuesday, I think we covered more than 8 rides! Including the Mad Tea Party (otherwise known as the Teacups – just for you, Nettie!)! *grin* Spinning round and round and round isn’t exactly Nick’s cup of tea (‘scuse the pun), but I loved them… I don’t know if it was the spinning so fast that you felt like you’d lost all control, or if it was that I was riding something that was so iconic to Disneyland, or perhaps it was a little of both! The Matterhorn Bobsleds was our *first ever* ride at Disneyland, and I plan to go on them again at some stage before we leave! They were fantastic!
By about 5pm we were absolutely beat – it had been a long day, and we’d not had much sleep – so we headed back to the Hotel.. The plan was to have a nice long bath (while Nick surfed to his heart’s content), order Room Service and watch a movie – but we barely made it through dinner before falling asleep around 7pm (which actually isn’t at all unusual for me!).. I slept straight through (no jetlag for me!!), but Nick was up at around midnight, and didn’t fall asleep until 4am! Silly boy should have taken my tips for avoiding jetlag *nods* One day he’ll learn that I don’t just say things for the sake of saying things *wink* Although we both seem to be on LA time now!
…. After I finished my last post, and as we were exiting the hotel room in Sydney (Vibe Hotel on Goulburn St – excellent!), Nick admitted that with all our luggage he felt like a Rock Star going on tour.. I think somebody has been playing a little too much guitar hero!!
Our drive to the airport was long. Too long. The cabbie took us away from the airport before he took us to the airport, and I knew what he was doing, but I wasn’t confident enough to speak up and say something *kicks self* Needless to say, we paid far more than we should have for the cab, but what can you do? We seem to alternate between drivers who go out of their way to get us to our destination for as little money as possible, and those who just rip us off, so I guess it all balances out in the end!
Sydney International Airport was.. Wow. Just wow. I’ve very briefly “passed through” there before – and I do mean *very* briefly (on my return flight from Auckland a few years back, after catching a P&O Cruise over there), so I’d never really experienced it.. The line moved super quickly – something United Airlines got right – and after a brief scare when I couldn’t find our passports (I’d moved them to a different pocket so that I’d remember where they were *eye roll*), and it wasn’t long before we were at the front of the queue!
We were pleasantly surprised to find out that if we were to “volunteer” to go on “stand by” for the flight that left to the USA 1 hour later, we would be upgraded to fly Business Class all the way to San Francisco (for our “trouble”), and then they would transfer us to Los Angeles, which was our original destination. We volunteered in a second! It meant 4 hours less at Disneyland, but I hate flying enough as it is – let alone a 14 hour flight cramped back in Economy – and you can bet that if I hate flying, I’m a bit of a creature to those around me – and it wouldn’t have been a particularly pleasant experience for Nick either! *wink*
We waited around for two hours (as instructed), only to find that they didn’t need our seats afterall! We both could have cried! But placated ourselves with the idea that we would have more time at Disneyland, and we had booked Economy seats anyway, so it wasn’t so bad. What wasn’t fun was that we pretty much had to run to Customs in order to get through and board our plane on time. What also wasn’t fun was that once we were through Customs, and going through the boarding gate, the officers sent Nick one way, and me the other – to search my carry-on belongings while wearing a white glove! I was so confused, and stressed – as the loudspeaker kept blaring “This is the final boarding announcement for UA840 Sydney – Los Angeles. If you haven’t yet boarded the plane, please make yourself known to the gate immediately.” But after answering a few questions (“No I’m not carrying lighters or matches… No I’m not carrying flammable liquids… No I’m not carrying illegal drugs, planning to knife the person next to me, or plotting to blow up the plane” – and no I’m not joking!), Nick and I were on board.
Walking past those in Business Class was shattering. As was walking past those in “Economy Plus“. We thought *their* seats were cramped – wait til we got to plain old “Economy” and realised just how small *our* seats were! I was unfortunate enough to have somebody who put their seat all the way back, which was bad enough, but his body weight was enough that it pushed the seat back even more. It’s lucky I don’t have particularly long legs (actually, lose the “particularly”, we all know I’m short), but it was pretty cramped! Nick didn’t have anybody in the seat in front of him (as that passenger managed to sweet-talk the flight attendant and get himself upgraded (jealous, much?)) – but even with the seat in the upright position, he still didn’t have a lot of room. In fact he had even less than I did!
Dinner was okay, the service from the staff was sh’tty at best (but I’m sure if we were in First Class it would have been a whole different story *eye roll*), and when breakfast came around, I’m glad I chose the fruit plate. The middle of Nick’s “omelette”… was grey *vomit* He turned pretty green after that! But other than the grey omelette and the poor service, the flight was okay. I watched 9 episodes of “Gossip Girl” (Thanks Susan!!) on my iPod, and I think I’ve found my new show, now that Gilmore Girls has finished taping, and before One Tree Hill starts Season 5 (I’ll show you when I get home, Mum…). And I made myself go to sleep at 11pm LA time (which was like 5pm Darwin time!). Although I got maybe 3 hours sleep out of the whole 14 hour flight – we were right next to the “kitchen”, so somebody was always throwing something around, the passenger next to us kept his light on the whole time, and the passengers behind us kept laughing hysterically every few minutes for hours, before finally being asked by the flight attendants to please keep it down because people were trying to sleep! Hmph!
And then we arrived.
Flying into Los Angeles was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I was so overcome with emotion (and a total lack of sleep) that I found myself a little teary. We were in the United States of America, more than 12,500km from home, on our own! And we were gearing up to go to Disneyland!
We cleared Customs surprisingly quickly, and had no troubles, despite everyone telling us that we would because of Nick’s appearance, and the Officer was actually really friendly and chatty! There was a minor lost-bag-scare, but after we managed to find it, and then the Disneyland Shuttle Bus out the front of LAX (which was just WOW!), we were on our way!
Checking in to the Disney Paradise Pier Hotel, right next to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park, we were quickly upgraded to a superior room over looking the park, and were made to feel so comfortable by a really top guy behind the front desk who we’ll call Brian. The room is heated, has cable TV, 2 Queen size beds, a bath as well as a shower, and FREE Broadband! The Hotel has a heated spa, as well as a pool AND a waterslide! They put us on the 13th floor, which I must admit is a little freaky, but we’ve had nothing but good luck so far! Brian also gave us “1st Visit to Disneyland badges” and assured us that if we wore them into the Park “magical things would happen”! We’ll see how that goes..