7am is way, way too early to get up in Vegas.
The Conceirge at THEhotel is unnecessarily cheery. His mannerisms, actions and behaviour towards me indicates either a) a different sexual preference from my own; b) an inappropriately overenthusiastic love of his job or; c) heavy illicit drug use. I check-out relatively painlessly and try and train myself not to choose one of those options on his behalf.
We head outside to wait for our airport transportation, avoid being hit by Manny Pacquaio’s bus (honestly, at this point is he just following me?) and hop on board the bus. We have been gone 5 minutes by the time I realise I’ve left all my sports tickets for LA and San Fran in a folder in the hotel room, but it’s too late to turn around. We continue on to McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, check-in (thankfully early and quickly) and I immediately leave again, leaving Jen at McCarran. The cab driver is in no rush to get back to my hotel, drops me off at the wrong area and makes it clear he wants a big tip. I didn’t say anything to him, but rest assured that if I did it would have been one of the most cutting, innovative, witty remarks ever uttered!
I touch base with my Concierge friend again, this time needing a favour – to get back into my room. He is slightly cooler this time. It seems like it was option b) after all. I manage to get back up to my room, grab the folder, confirm the contents and drop the card off before heading back down to catch another taxi back to McCarran. I attempt to split the fare to the airport with an older American couple. They make it clear they are not thrilled with this idea.
The driver this time is a Lakers fan. Ugh. Using phrases like, ‘Kobe didn’t quit in the playoffs’ is not how to earn my friendship. $30 later, I get dropped off at the airport and finally, FINALLY make it to Starbucks, then through security.
Spirit Airlines is our carrier back to San Diego. They are low-budget, and it shows. The flight attendant giving instructions reminds us that there is to be no conjugating in the plane aisles for safety reasons. Jen and I glance at each other. We’re almost positive she meant, ‘congregating’, but I guess we’ll never know.
Despite being low-budget, Spirit lands quickly and safely and we get out of the very ordinary San Diego airport as quickly as possible and back to the Hyatt, where we stored our excess luggage for free (Spirit charge upwards of $30 per bag for EVERY bag – carry-on and checked) and rush to the tram station to catch the Pacific Surfliner up to San Juan Capistrano. Somehow we make it and get on safely into economy class (which appears to be better than the business class on the same train we took on the way down the coast). The hour-and-a-half passes swiftly and (after I ‘lose’ my passport in a moment of terror) we arrive in SJC. The wonderful Andrea Popke, our driver/hostess/tour guide throughout LA, picks us up and takes us up the coast towards Orange County. We swiftly learn that we are NOT to call it The O.C.
The O.C. is a beautiful area, sunny beaches, beautiful scenery and hipsters aplenty. After a bit of driving and walking around beautiful coastlines, we headed to a nearby pizza joint for some delicious deep-dish pizza. I had the local specialty (basically a supreme) and a taster set of 4 local microbrews…including pumpkin beer! It’s truly bizarre how many pumpkin-flavoured things there are in the States. Pie, cake, beer, coffee…anyway. Our waiter seemed disinterested in everything, except ID’ing me. A cultural quirk in the US is because the drinking age is 21, they ID EVERYONE. It was flattering and amusing two weeks ago. Now it’s just annoying. Mostly because I keep forgetting to bring it out. The highlight of this sumptuous meal was the Pazookie, a deep-dish baked cookie with Ghirardelli ice-cream (famous San Fran ice-cream) on top. It was amazing; fresh-baked and hot and ice-cold and creamy all at the same time.
We did a few more light touristy things – shopping at Old Navy (I bought a baby UCLA tee for Charlie), walking up to a popular marriage proposal point etc – but the highlight for me was definitely the ferry from Balboa Beach, famous from Arrested Development as being the area that the Bluth family lived in. I even took some photos of banana stands that purportedly inspired the ‘Big Yellow Joint’. Then it was back to Andrea’s house and off to bed.
I know, I know, this ends tamely.
But tomorrow is LA.