The Grey Ghost – “The Queen Mary” – Long Beach CA
I’m back on an Air Canada 787 Aircraft, this time flying to Los Angeles. I really like the new 787 Aircraft – it has some neat features like oversize windows that darken by pushing a button and the washrooms have a window in them!
I drove into Toronto yesterday. Most of my group stayed at the Sandman Hotel and Suites as we needed to be at the airport early this morning.
I’ve got to know Jordan, one of the waiters at Moxies Restaurant which is adjacent to the hotel. He looked after serving me and a number of my passengers last night. This is the busiest restaurant in the Moxie’s chain. Their menu is varied enough to please everyone and the quality of their food is very good.
It was a quick sleep as I was up at 4am and on the shuttle for the airport at 4:30am.
If I can give you some Toronto airport advise I’d highly recommend that if you are flying to the US that you arrive in ample time prior to your flight. The lines to clear security and customs were extremely long this morning and this is pretty much the norm. If you are one of the lucky ones and get through the formalities quickly you’ll have time to relax before the flight. If you have an early morning flight I suggest that you are at the airport at least 3 hours prior to departure. By 6am , the lineswere extremely long and some of my passengers were close to missing the flight.
We were delayed with our departure because some luggage made it to the plane but the passengers didn’t so their luggage needed to be pulled off the aircraft.
It was an enjoyable flight to Los Angeles – I though the time “flew by”. The Captain was very personable – we heard from him throughout the flight.
Getting our luggage in Los Angeles took time and even though our coach driver was waiting in a holding area just a short distance from the airport, when she was given the go ahead to pick us up, traffic delayed her 15 minutes.
We then fought Los Angeles traffic on the way to the historic Los Angeles Farmers Market – so with our many delays our arrival was 90 minutes later than scheduled. We enjoyed an hour to grab a bite to eat. I gave everyone $25. for their lunch and that was more than ample.
There are 600 Canadian students from the Vancouver Area that are performing at Disneyland tomorrow. Most of their flights arrived just prior to ours and then they headed to the Farmers Market for lunch too. These students are SO excited.
The Farmers Market is adjacent to the Grove a beautiful outdoor shopping complex – I encouraged everyone to stroll in this area and take some pictures.
We met Mary, a step on guide who has looked after groups of mine in the past. She showed us the major sites – focusing on Hollywood and Beverly Hills. It was a great tour. I’m impressed as every time I return to Los Angeles it keeps improving. Hollywood is no longer a dingy looking area – its now a revitalized area that they can be proud of.
We faced more traffic on our way to Long Beach. I kept the Yard House Restaurant management up-to-date with our progress. We arrived a hour later than planned (6pm) and we were warmly welcomed. This welcome dinner was a true feast – 4 courses – lots of choice – the food was delicious and the portions HUGE. We overlooked a Marina and the sunset was beautiful.
Our home for 2 nights is the historic, Queen Mary Hotel. Even our coach driver is excited for us. What a unique spot to stay. Its atmosphere brings us back to another era.
After a long day everyone was anxious to get into their stateroom where the beds are so comfortable. I chuckled at some of the quirky things in my room – push buttons are used to turn the lights on – you control the heat or air conditioning by turning plastic pipes – of course there are taps for hot/cold water and two of the taps are marked Salt Water? Of course when this ship was sailing there were no televisions in the staterooms but nowadays travelers expect the latest conveniences – so there is a large flat screen television connected to a satellite tv service. The walls are covered in wood paneling. Its obvious that this was a very elegant vessel in its day. Its a pleasure to have this opportunity to stay on her.
The Queen Mary has played many rolls throughout its illustrious career. On her Maiden Voyage in 1936, she was considered the grandest ocean liner ever build. During her heyday, sailing the Queen Mary was the only civilized way to travel. With the outbreak of WWII she was transformed into a troopship nicknamed “The Grey Ghost”. By the end of the war she had transported more than 800,000 troops, travelled more than 600,000 miles and played a significant role in major Allied campaigns. Retired in 1967, she was purchased by the City of Long Beach and has been an icon of the city for over 40 years.
She certainly is a Grande Lady and rumor has it she is HAUNTED!