Reception (at Ingham Health Research Institute)
We departed LAX about 40 minutes late after a passenger - post boarding - decided they were too ill to travel and their bags had to be found. This means we spend nearly 90 minutes in the boarding process. I was almost over this trip before it even got started.
Onboard the J and PE cabins were full and next to me in 10B was the tallest basketball player you have seen in a long time. He was a total grot too basically just dropping everything he was finished with on the floor. Totally not classy.
I am trying to decide if ‘You travel with us quite a bit don’t you? I’ve seen you before’ is just something that VA tell crew to say to Platinum elites or if I truly am that memorable. It has happened on both legs of this particular trip.
I settled in to watch Red 2, then The Heat before trying to get a little bit of sleep. I have to say that Lee Byung-hun as Han in Red 2 was quite the distraction (especially when he had to strip for security screening in the first part of the film - although that has to be loads of plastic surgery). Not a lot of sleep was achieved but I was help in good stead by the completely lazy day I had at LAX before leaving.
We arrived in SYD on time despite the late departure and of course walked into the maelstrom of multiple flights hitting the border but thanks to the Express Path pass delivered by the Cabin Manager late in the flight it wasn’t too tortuous and yet again I was able to skip the queues and head straight to the car. This is the one tangible benefit of Platinum. Soon enough I was grabbing some breakfast, having a shower and now heading off to get a haircut.
The flight and long awake hours gave me plenty of time to think (some would say this is dangerous) and I’ve decided to cut the social media umbilical cord for a while to concentrate on a few more important things. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp are no longer on my phone. If you want to get in touch please feel free to email or SMS/iMessage.
Best wishes to all.
Very little to report today with most of the day spent sleeping in at the Crowne Plaza LAX (what limited sleep was allowed by the damn aircraft noise). Today was all about getting some rest ahead of what is likely to be a restless night on the return trip home to Sydney in Premium Economy.
I had arranged a late checkout because the flight back to Sydney doesn’t leave until after 10pm Pacific Time and when I did check-out it was a pretty easy trip up to Terminal 3 at LAX to check-in for the Virgin Australia flight back to SYD. No hiccups there with me allocated into the preordained front seat of 10A (the footrest seats) and we we will soon be on her way. Lets hope I get a little bit of sleep overnight.
Spent the wait watching White House Down. See you on the other side as boarding soon.
A really slow day today as my last night before heading back to LA on my way back to Sydney. I had negotiated a late checkout from the Miami Intercontinental so I spent most of the morning just veging and watching TV. I do need to get a little bit of rest on this trip and basically it will be in transit on the way home.
So I eventually went and checked out and the same guy who bought me in from Fort Lauderdale from Go Airport Shuttle came and picked me up and took me back to FLL to meet my Virgin America flight. I dropped my bag (after an inordinate wait because they only had two people working the counters) and headed to the gate - as I had cut my time a little fine (even though the flight had actually been retimed back a few minutes).
Onboard the service was good. I ended up swapping seats so a couple could sit together and ended up sitting next to the same guy who I flew to FLL next to. He proceeded to fall asleep almost immediately and snored his head off. I turned on noise cancellation on the Harman Kardon headphones and watched Jobs and World War Z and then tried to get a bit of kip (which was largely unsuccessful because of the chainsaw going off next door). We arrived as LAX about 20 minutes late and in the terminal there was no visible evidence of the events of the shooting the other day. I had soon collected my bag and was out on the street and looking for the free shuttle to the Crowne Plaza LAX. There was a bit of a wait but I was soon checking in for my stay which will be less than 24 hours.
Time to sleep.
A good sleep in this morning before getting up and heading out to check out a few more of Miami’s limited sights. I started with a trip on the Metromover and the Metrorail out to the ornate Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in the inner south of the city.
Villa Vizcaya is the former home of James Deering - a big industrialist in the days when we had big industrialists of wealth. The villa is set in some pretty cool Italian Renaissance gardens and you could imagine that you were nowhere near the city if you really try. It is a reminder that some people just had it too good. I wandered around enjoying the breeze before deciding to grab a cab ride back to the north of the city.
There I went to see the rather oddly positioned Museum of Contemporary Art which is in the middle of nowhere from what I can tell. The highlight of the collection for me was the exhibition that is actually closing tomorrow - Love of Technology (no surprises why I enjoyed that).
From there I did a quick run over to St Bernard de Clairvaux Church - which has a pretty amazing history. It was originally built in Spain in the 12th century, but after being dismantled and shipped to New York in 1925. But due to some issue with quarantine (there had been a hoof and mouth disease outbreak in Segovia) the instructions for reassembling it were lost and it took until the 1950s for it to be put back together again - and in Miami not New York. It is really quite a small place (I must admit I was expecting something much more grand) but that is probably a good thing when you are putting it back together from a puzzle.
I ducked back to the Miami Intercontinental to grab a shower before heading out to South Beach again to eat. Tonight we went to Yardbird Southern Table & Bar which has the run slogan Run Chicken Run. Highlight for me was the southern fried chicken I had as a main - and the frogs legs as a starter. Yummo.
Headed back to the hotel. Will sleep good tonight.
The plan for the day was to head to the Art Deco Welcome Center to participate in the Miami Design Preservation League Art Deco Walking Tour. I joined the tour at 10.30am which takes a 90 minute wander around South Beach to explore the fantastic Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival and Miami Modern styles. What was great was they took us into a number of places to check out interiors that you just wouldn’t normally find as a tourist wandering like I did last year. If you are in Miami - this is definitely one activity worth checking out if you get a chance.
I grabbed a hot dog for lunch and then headed back across the causeway to the city and jumped on the Metromover to have a look around the CBD and down to the Financial District. While I am ultimately a city kind of guy - there is something about Miami that does seem a little bit soulless. There are a few moments of great design though and I really enjoyed checking out a number of churches including the Gesu Church, the courts precinct and a number of the big entertainment venues. One thing that really struck me is the fact that there really are not a lot of people walking around the city even during the week. On the Metromover I actually found myself as the only person in the carriage a number of times. Felt very surreal.
I headed back to the Miami Intercontinental via Walgreens for a shower and to get ready for dinner. I met up with four colleagues at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in North Miami. I ordered some tapas style small plates for the table including this absolutely brilliant wood roasted double yolk farm egg before having a main of a very large lump of NY strip.
Back to the hotel for the night. Well fed and very well watered with Michael’s home brew. Will sleep well.
Not a lot to report today because it was the height of the working week for me. I was up (after a little sleep in) and shortly out to the Eden Roc where I had to work until the early afternoon. From there I headed south towards South Beach where I went to check out the Bass Museum of Art which is in the pretty Collins Park.
Their main exhibition at the moment is one by video artist Eve Sussman which was suitably confronting - but I also checked out part of the permanent collection which is made up of works from the last few centuries. As always, I was much more interested in the more modern works which really seem to speak more to me.
The city also has a temporary citywide exhibition on at the moment called tc: temporary contemporary which is pretty cool. Works pop up where you least expect them.
I headed back to the Intercontinental in the late afternoon and was amazed to see that that my room hadn’t had a visit from housekeeping. I headed down to the pool for a quick swim (it was a bit cold having now been shadowed by the condos next door) but they still didn’t visit so I decided to give up for the day and put out the do not disturb sign (luckily I have plenty of towels).
For dinner I went out looking for food trucks again only to find out that all the trucks head out of town on Thursday night for some suburban thing at Palm Beach. The streets were however full of people who are enjoying the silliness of Halloween. Back to the hotel late and have just ordered a room service turkey burger and a Stella.
Will sleep well tonight I think.
Slept in a little this morning after having worked right through until about 3am doing videoconference meetings back to Sydney. It is a weird experience playing the old ‘newsreader’ type role of business shirts visible on screen with short on under the table. The meetings went pretty well so that was all good.
When I did get up I had to head out to the Eden Roc for work (this trip I will get much less time to myself it would appear). Nothing eventful there - but it did end with a lot of time spent in a bar and many Stella Artois consumed. From there I caught a cab back to downtown and headed over to Walgreens to stock up on those US-only medications as per usual before walking back to the Miami Intercontinental for the night.
For dinner I wandered down to Bicentennial Park where there was a whole collection of food trucks to choose from. I ordered from a burger truck. When in America - eat as an American does.
A good night - but more work again tomorrow - so not entirely fun. Lets hope I can get some sleep.
Had a completely restless nights. One of those nights where you spend the entire time awake and checking the clock to make sure you don’t miss your early flight. Then my boss decided to ring me 40 minutes prior to the time I had set my alarm to make sure I was awake. Did not bode for a very happy day.
Got picked up from the Thompson Beverly Hills at about 6.15am and headed out to drop the Mercedes back to Hertz and the caught the shuttle to LAX Terminal 3 to do back drop for my Virgin America flight down to Fort Lauderdale.
I headed down to the gate at the preordained time only to be selected for additional screening which was a treat. It meant I was the last one onboard in the First cabin - but meant I couldn’t get a pic of those ridiculous ( but pretty comfortable) white leather seats. The service was good although lunch was a bit bland. I whiled away the time with Gogo inflight internet and by watching Kick-Ass 2 and The Kings of Summer on the IFE.
After some work emails we were already on descent into FLL. One thing I did notice about VX is despite their young and hip reputation - the majority (ie 90%) of this flight was old people (indeed I’ve never seen so many people in chairs). The reason apparently is the Princess Cruises port in Fort Lauderdale where all these old folk are off to join their cruise.
The flight arrived at the gate closest to the baggage claim area in FLL and this meant that I (and the driver from Go Airport Shuttle) were left standing by the carousel forever. Add to this the fact that there was a Miami Heat game on downtown and it seemed like it took an eternity to get to the Miami Intercontinental. When there I had to be content with the fact they didn’t have a ‘Bay View’ room available and I also didn’t get a King but rather a Twin and the IHG experience is not exactly living up to expectations.
I had a shower and grabbed some food and shortly I will commence my videoconference back to Sydney for the night. Hopefully it won’t keep me up too late.
Since I was fully packed last night I was able to have a little bit of a sleep in this morning but the barrage of work calls didn’t hold off for very long. This is a fairly bad omen for this particular trip because I can already predict that I am not going to get more than a few hours off to myself.
I have decided that the ‘salary supplementation’ that I have received to support these meetings is in effect taking me back to good old WorkChoices type conditions where I have basically sold away my holidays. Not a good thing and something that I am going to have to discuss with my boss when we get back from this trip. I’m likely to get more time off on the couple of days back in Sydney than I will in Miami.
I put out the rubbish and then headed to work to pick up some last minute printing for the Go Airport Shuttle transfers in Fort Lauderdale and a tour for the Art Deco Welcome Center in South Beach and dropping off my parking pass so one of the other staff can use it for the couple of weeks. I then hit the M5 to drive to Sydney Airport.
I arrived and parked in the main station (prepaid discount applied) and then headed into Terminal 1 to check in for my Virgin Australia flight to Los Angeles. The process was pretty brisk and with Express Path pass in hand I was pretty soon in the Air New Zealand Koru Lounge to kill some time. My boss arrived and we talked work before we I headed off to Gate 53 to board VA1.
On board in 1A my flight attendant for the day was a familiar face and she remembered me. Next to me was a Jewish scholar who proceeded to use my USB port (which was fine I didn’t have a cable anyway) and read Hebrew documents all the way. I settled in for the soup and lamb and watched Man of Steel, followed by The Way Way Back and Satellite Boy - the latter two of which are fantastic coming of age/self discovery stories. Satellite Boy should definitely be compulsory watching for Australian kids so they get much better understanding of the relationship that Aboriginal people have with their country.
I hit the bathroom before trying to get some sleep. It is amazing what a difference a fully flat seat makes on a long flight (actually it’s not that amazing).
Woke for a simple breakfast and watched gritty South African drama Vehicle 19 and then settled into land. One thing I find about LAX is that no matter how well I rest on the flight - the total ordeal of Customs and Border Protection is enough to make you feel shit by the end of it. It took my nearly two hours to progress through the border and then to Customs. By the time I made it to Hertz to pick up the car I was buggered.
Since I actually had to work tonight I elected to defer my planned trip out to the Richard Nixon Library until my next visit to LA next May. Then I will have a bit more flexibility in time - especially since I am off to Miami first thing in the morning.
I did my videoconference for work and afterwards wandered the streets of Beverly Hills to grab some food before heading back and getting myself organised for a speedy departure in the morning.
Been a good day.
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