Part One - London
Part Two - London to LA
Part Three - LA
Part Four (a) - New Zealand (which took readers up to the train to Picton for a visit up to Wellington)
And then you kinda had Part Four (b) - New Zealand (which started to take you through the Wellington trip...)
And then things kinda faded... hmm. Sorry 'bout that.
So here to make up for that fading holiday review, is a shorter than hoped but finally completed review of the rest of the holiday.
Wellington, back to Christchurch, back to LA, back to old Blighty...
Alongside the joys of Cuba Street we also took great pleasure in visiting Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand and of the harbour in which it is situated. But it was definitely to Cuba Street we kept returning: with its grafitti murals and excellent restaurants, it was too much fun to miss. Especially when walking from it at night, we were able to see most of the progression of the lunar eclipse (sadly, at precisely the moment when the moon went dusky red with the eclipse, a thundering amount of cloud emerged and completely obliterated any further viewing of the hidden moon... shame).
Next day I once more braved the rip-tide between Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds and was grateful to reach sight of Picton (even if we were delayed by having to let the sister ferry depart harbour).
Back on dry land, we dozed our way back home to Oxford and the waiting pick-up of Neil's parents. We subsequently enjoyed several more days: eating at Cust's Cafe 72 (after which we saw a brief Nor'wester blow in); a trip up on the Christchurch Gondola (from which were these spectacular views [oops, not sure what that last one is doing there!]); a walk around Ferrymead Heritage Park where we enjoyed viewing historical properties and strange views; followed by beautiful sunsets; views of Art Deco Christchurch and some stunning clouds; more astonishing sunsets; saw a public artwork about dyslexia; saw lambs; and finally saw the first spot of really bad weather all holiday in New Zealand on the day we left.
After that it was a flight to Auckland and another 12 hour haul to LA (this was our plane as seen just after we had landed in LA: heat and sun!), where thanks to datelines we landed before we had took off from NZ... very confusing!
We trotted off to El Segundo (where thankfully Neil did not leave his wallet) and the tram network and back on to Hollywood, catching some filming whilst there. Neil stood by the feet of hero Walter Matthau outside Grauman's at night, and we then took in a brief visit to the bar at the top of the LAX Radisson hotel, offering great views of the airport and surrounding area lights and light sculptures.
What we really only discovered on waking the next day was that just prior to arrival, LA had had a rather tricky period of hot weather: well over 100 degree heat, and up to 110/120 in the hills... So with glee we felt quite pleased it was 'only' going to be about 75-80 degrees as we left LAX and took ourselves on our promised trip to the Getty Centre. However, minus a car this trip was easier said than done (and no, frankly I would not have made Neil drive that city even if he had wanted to!). For the first part of the journey we were fine: we took the Line 2 bus out along Sunset Boulevard and enjoyed passing sights such as the Viper Room (RIP River), bits of Bel Air, Beverley Hills and UCLA. But then we got to the point where we had to change buses. Trouble brewed as the road system routes (which way are we facing!?) completely defeated us for over an hour...
We were tantilisingly within sight, but couldn't get to it!
Finally, by luck rather than judgement we saw the bus coming and got on it and a few short mins later were at the entrance to the Getty.
The mono-rail ride up alone was amazing: the sights once there were breathtaking. With the Getty munificence, it's all free - the art, the architecture, the gardens and of course the views.
So although it had been pretty tough to get to, it was sure worth it. Especially on such a beautiful day. I'd definitely like to go back to spend more time there - even if Cloudy Neil does tease it should be on a Getty Fellowship!
Post-Getty, it was just perfect for a trip down to Santa Monica and the promenade where we piled more books into our bags, strolled about, ate at a Greek Taverna and had a fabulously entertaining taxi ride back with an Armenian driver berating the state of the US economic system and the horrors of corruption in eastern Europe.
After that and some sleep it was packing all the way: we had left the UK with one large holdall (which didn't) and a moderate sized hardcase (which had leaked). We'd already bought ANOTHER hard case (to compensate for any problems we amy have with the old hard case. But all our books and t-shirts and other joys had left us cramped already without the 2nd LA trip purchases. So off we trotted to TJ Maxx (TK Maxx to UK readers) and bought ANOTHER suitcase.
En route we had to pass under the flight paths of the incoming flights (sadly I couldn't quite capture the sign complaining 'No LAX expansion' on the Airport Office Center building just as a plane passed overhead): this was a weird experience especially when you consider this shot of a passing plane was taken with NO ZOOM WHATSOEVER!!! Yes, it WAS that low...
Homeward bound, we lost sight of the LA coast and of the outskirts of Las Vegas (howdy Joe!), and of the wilds of the rocky inland areas of the USA and finally hit sight of the UK shores where we enjoyed a calm descent over the Lakes and Blackpool and the fluffy cotton ball clouds of the UK.
It had been a grand holiday.