Friday, December 5, 2008

In America (Thursday, 4 December, 4:30 am)

I must still be on London time. It's 4:30am in LA, but just after midday in London, and I can't sleep :-/

Flight was long, and there wasn't much to see once we left UK airspace. The flight went over Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Canada before coming over the Midwest into LAX. Since the plane started pushing back from the gate around 4pm, it was already getting dark as we lifted off, and we couldn't see anything out the window by the time we got over the Midlands. The only real highlight in terms of views out the window was when we flew directly over Las Vegas -- even from 30,000 feet, you could clearly see the main drag and its casinos all lit up.

Landed at LAX about 6:50pm local time, and I started tensing up again because of all the stories people had told me about how horrible customs and immigration at LA were. Nothing could be further from the truth -- all the staff were helpful, courteous, and got us through with the minimum of fuss. Fast, too -- we were waiting for the courtesy bus by 7:30.

The bus came about 10 minutes later, and the driver was really helpful: insisting we go and sit on the bus while he loaded our luggage. The trip to the airport was slow, because he had to stop every so often to see if someone else needed picking up, but we were at the Hilton LAX hotel by 8.

We got all checked in, and called the bus company for the bus to San Diego later this morning (pick-up about 7:30). They brought our bags to our room, and we had our first encounter with the tipping culture in America. We then picked up the menu for room service, and got a bit of a shock: not only were the prices steep (US$21.00 for a burger and beer), but they add a $3 room service charge, and advise that a 17% service fee is due to the person who brings your food up! In the end, we went down to the foyer and had dinner in one of the eating places there.

We managed to get a power adapter from the hotel's gift shop (and I got a Hollywood pen with a movie camera on top!), then went back to our room to collapse into bed. Juliette didn't seem to have any problems sleeping, but I've been awake since 2am. I'll probably adjust to the time difference just in time to come home. :-(

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