Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Best. Layover. Ever.

When planning our flights from Auckland, NZ to Bermuda via Los Angeles, one may have thought we were insane to schedule two consecutive red-eye flights. But in the effort to get to the island as soon as possible while leaving significant time in LA to actually leave the airport and do something, this is how it worked. And the flights were pretty cheap. (C$338 each to fly from LAX-BDA-MIA on Delta. C$604 each MIA-UIO-LAX on AA.)

9 June 2009

In our final few hours in New Zealand we hurriedly packed up our room in Dylan’s flat. It took us a while to muster the courage to tackle that room – it had become filled with clothes, books, tourist pamphlets, CD’s, receipts, bags, notes, etc.  We filled a big blue box and found that we had a pile of stuff that would need to be shipped home (that wasn’t surprising).  After considering the costs of click to see larger imageshipping a large, heavy box home, we elected to buy another cheap piece of luggage and ferry it home ourselves. Why pay for shipping when our flights already included two pieces of luggage (@23kg) each?  Then came the fun part of trying to spend every last Kiwi cent at the airport.  (Jenn: you’re requested chocolate bar is in my bag. You may get it sometime, unless it gets smushed or confiscated by customs somewhere.)  The Air New Zealand trans-Pacific flight was pretty good. Food was fine (Moroccan lamb was tasty) but I gotta remember that eggs are never good on an airplane!  We were both surprised at how little we slept on the 12hr flight – me especially since I think I slept more than Julie (!) listening to Kiwi reggae-dub music while she watched a couple of movies.

9 June 2009 - PST

Andrew had researched various activities for us to do during the layover: myriad beaches are within a short drive of LAX – Manhattan, Hermosa, famous Venice beach; television show taping – Tonight Show was sold out due to transition between Leno & Conan, and Jimmy Kimmel promptly sold-out when he booked Paris Hilton before I claimed tickets.  It wasn’t until I had received an email saying that the Tragically Hip (one of Canada’s premier rock bands, affectionately referred to as “God’s Band” by a former Winnipeg DJ Brian Cook) were adding a fourth show in Winnipeg. I went to their website to check the dates, and while scrolling down to find Winnipeg I noticed that they had some gigs in LA – and on the day we’d be there!  A quick scan on Ticketmaster told me that for the price of one good ticket in Winnipeg I could get us both into the show in LA – that and I couldn’t even find 2 tickets for any of the Winnipeg shows.  So we booked ourselves in.  Making it even more of a tantalizing option was that the LA show would be in a landmark rock’n’roll venue in West Hollywood – an intimate venue where many famous rock legends of yore made their debuts. Check it out on

Arriving in LA we were greeted with the same overcast skies that we left in Auckland, which didn’t lend itself to going to the beach.  That didn’t matter anyway because after finally getting ourselves sorted out in the airport (changing terminals & checking in for next flight) we used up a third of our layover time.  We learned a few things here: hawkers set themselves up outside of the international doors trying to sell you stuff; there are no longer any storage lockers in the airport after 9/11; air travel within/to/from the USA is not as enjoyable as elsewhere in the world (holy security-paranoia batman!).

We had rented a car to get around and we had a laugh as we got in the car and the steering wheel was on the “wrong” side. And then we had another laugh as Andrew turned on the wipers instead of signalling. And Julie screamed a couple of times as the car turned into the right lane instead of the left. But we managed. And the GPS helped a bit too.

We had lunch at a “Westfield’s” mall in Beverly Hills. It caught our eye because Westfield’s operates all the big malls in Auckland. We took advantage of the Fuddruckers to fill our stomachs with a big burger and Julie got randomly complimented on her purse - “oh! I like your purse – who’s it by?” – by a bloke, which was the weird part. But I guess this is Beverly Hills…

We desperately needed coffee before heading back to the Troubadour. And luckily Andrew studied the map a bit more and realized that there’s a much faster way of getting back to West Hollywood – take the freeway!  With that, we made it to the show just in time.

A long line-up greeted us at the venue, along with a hand-scribbled note saying “show sold out!” so we were pretty happy we already had tickets. Passersby would see the line and ask who was playing, only to respond with a blank look and a shrug.

The interior of the place was so small! Smaller than the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg for sure.  I’m not sure what capacity was.  Doors opened at 8, and the band got on just after 9 to loud cheers and chants of “Hip, Hip, Hip”.

While ordering a drink at the bar, I noticed one fellow ask for “CC” and the bartender went off in search of the bottle. She found it, came back, poured the drink and place the bottle back on the shelf. The next customer asked for the same, sending her back across the bar to retrieve the bottle. By the time she got to me, and i also ordered a “CC & dry”, I suggested to her that she keep the bottle handy. She exclaimed “yeah, if only we’d known that we’d be getting a bunch of Canadians in here tonight!”

Gord Downie rocks out at The TroubadourThe concert was awesome. It was such a treat to see these guys up close, and perhaps the band also felt it was a treat to be so close to their fans again. Gord had guys in the front strum his guitar and he rubbed some bald dude’s head. The place was packed solid, and it got super hot in there. I can’t say much more about the show other than it was great! They mostly played songs from the new album “we are the same” during the first set, interspersed with some oldies like “new Orleans is sinking”.  They took a break after an hour, and I started to fret that we’d have to leave as soon as they got back on stage. Fortunately they come back and started the second set with an acoustic set, which was pretty neat.  After the third song I tugged Julie to the door, until they started into one of my favourites “Nautical disaster” at which point Julie had to tug me out the door.  dammit.

So off we go! 80mph down the freeway to the airport, return the car (we drove so little we didn’t even have to add gas!), jump on the shuttle bus, run in through security, and then wait… We got there with loads of free time, teasing us with the possibility that we could’ve seen more of the concert. Ah well.  Time to settle in for our second iteration of our “groundhog day” red-eye flights.

Link to Pictures

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