Part 1 of our holiday had passed without a hitch – thanks to months of planning by Cliff. We left Flagstaff and hopped on a small plane to Phoenix and from there flew to Los Angeles; we had been rather overwhelmed with options of where to stay in such an urban sprawl, but in the end I had chosen The Farmer's Daughter in West Hollywood – here's a clue why, this is the bedroom wallpaper!
It was while checking in to the hotel that I discovered that my small handbag and it's very crucial contents were missing . . . probably still in the taxi that had brought us from the airport. This was not a good moment. Cliff had every right to be very cross and I felt like collapsing into a sobbing heap on the floor – but we both quickly realised that wouldn't achieve much!
A departure from the script
Our plans for the evening and foreseeable future were put aside and we concentrated on blocking bank cards and my iPhone; and finding out how and where to get the paperwork for me to get home. The hotel staff were really helpful, we could use the computer and printer in the lobby as much as we liked and there were unlimited supplies of pink lemonade and freshly baked cookies; but despite everyone's efforts by the next morning it looked as if my bag and it's contents would never be seen again.
Instead of seeing the highlights of tinsel town, we were scurrying around making phone calls and catching taxis; road signs caught my eye . . . Santa Monica Boulevard . . . Beverley Hills . . . but I had no time to take photos, we had to get things sorted out fast. I hadn't expected to see the interior of an LAPD station – thankfully it was a place of calm efficiency and Officer Taylor issued me with the necessary paperwork to take to the British Consulate.
In case you're ever in the same unfortunate situation, I recommend completely ignoring the British Consulate's answer-phone message which tells you to leave your name and contact number and wait to be called back and then make an appointment to come to see them. We decided to go straight over to Santa Monica, where we walked into the British Consulate office and asked for help. I was expecting to spend the rest of the day sitting on a plastic chair in a waiting room – but no! A lovely helpful woman immediately got on the case and advised us to pop out for lunch and then come back and see her colleague who would issue me with an emergency passport.
And that's what happened . . . we had a very tasty bento box at a delightful Japanese restaurant; returned to the British Consulate and hey presto . . . sorted!
As well as calmly getting my paperwork together, the Consulate staff recommended that we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon by hopping on a Blue Bus to the beach . . . what a very British idea!
After a stroll along Santa Monica Pier and eating an ice-cream we felt in a holiday mood and ready to enjoy the rest of our adventure.
Back on track
What do you do when you have a day to see a new city? A tour? We're not that keen on bus tours, so Cliff had hunted around and discovered a walking tour of Historic Downtown by the LA Conservancy. We met our guide, Stuart, and where taken on a fascinating tour of streets and buildings – stately beaux arts, moderne (art deco) and glass clad skyscrapers clustered around the small open space of Pershing Square. It was a very enjoyable wander through places we'd never have found by ourselves; afterwards we took Stuart's advice and went to Pete's Cafe & Bar for Mac'n'cheese – yum yum!
It was time to collect our hire car for the next stage of the Road Trip – I'm not sure how Cliff was feeling, but the traffic and roads we'd seen on our many taxi rides had scared me rigid!
But, with the help of the sat-nav we safely navigated our way along the Santa Monica Freeway and Highway 405 to The Getty Centre – this was high on my list of must-see places.
The art collection was all that can be expected with a limitless budget – everything is the very very best example of its genre – breathtaking! What's more, you can stand really close to the exhibits. The painting that blew me away wasn't Van Gogh's 'Irises' or Turner's 'Modern Rome' (of course they were stunning) but Mantegna's 'Adoration of the Magi' – it is indescribably beautiful.
There's another reason to visit the Getty Centre . . . the view!
And the gardens . . . I love the steel structures for the bougainvillea and the topiary maze over the pond.
Time to move on from L.A., we packed our bags for an early start and drove south down the Santa Ana; we were going have lunch with my godfather in San Clemente. He has lived in California since the early 1960s and I had only a vague memory of our last meeting when I was a teenager, so I was wondering how we'd get on. I needn't have worried at all, we had a lovely time together and lunch in the sunshine with a view of the ocean glittering in the distance.
After we'd said farewell, Cliff and I drove back north to Long Beach – our bed for the the night was in a cabin on the Queen Mary.
In the morning we explored the engine room and museum about the history of the ship from exclusive liner, serving as a troop ship in WWII and then as a cruise ship again. We probably nosed around rooms we weren't supposed to go into, but no-one told us off and we we had a great time promenading up and down the decks and endless corridors.
So, off we go on the road again – but first we had to make a detour back to the Farmer's Daughter Hotel . . . you see, we'd had a message that my bag had been found! And when it was handed to me, I found that all the contents were there intact – yes, even the cash in my wallet!
Next . . . Part 3 – Highway 1 (Probably the best ocean drive in the world)