Stuart writes: Back home, folks! - even if our bags aren't (lost in transit somewhere between LA and Newcastle, but apparently now located and being delivered by courier today...?). I suppose if it had to happen, it was much better for it to happen on the last journey rather than any of the others! You may remember we were close to it in Delhi when we got on the plane to Nepal uncertain whether we would have any clothes to wear for the next five weeks if our bags hadn't got on the plane with us). It would have been a disaster then, but it happening now was much less troublesome, even though it's a pain.
Our last day in LA was another good one - very hot (about 90 degrees). At the hotel we managed to arrange our transport to the airport for late afternoon with the same shuttle minibus service which brought us out to the hotel, we paid our bill, left our bags and set off for the Hollywood Museum, just across from the Kodak Theatre. It houses artefacts and memorabilia from many major films, and has costumes from them with photos of the stars wearing them. Not just old films either - but modern stuff like the Flintstones film and Romeo and Juliet (di Capprio version) too. The Planet of the Apes costumes were there, and Hannibal Lecter's cell, as well as a whole floor of the museum dedicated to Marilyn Monroe - with many of her personal effects and clothes as well as stuff from her films, and a whole section full of speculation and material about her death - suicide or murder or even Kennedy conspiracy... The museum was in the old Max Factor building and also included stuff about film make-up which was interesting even for a bloke!
We then walked to the Hollywood Plaza again and enjoyed another crepe in the shade of the umbrellas, whilst watching another episode of Ten Years Younger being filmed below in the square. Don't think I'll be watching that, but Naomi knew all about it. Then we set off for the El Capitan Disney film theatre to watch a re-modelled version of Sleeping Beauty which had just opened. The theatre was a hoot, with a Wurlitzer organ being played by a fellow with a bright red jacket and shiny red brogues. Actually he was very good and wa then introduced as the Theatre Organ Musician of the Year before sinking into the basement as the show began with Sleeping Beauty coming on in person to welcome us to "my movie". It was dreadfully corny but the kids loved it. Then the film began with an explosion of tickertape from the roof. The film was much as I remembered it but was much sharper, and the whole thing was a very relaxed and pleasant way of spending the afternoon. It also served the purpose of keeping us out of the sun for two hours. Afterwards in the lobby we discovered a whole lot of costumes and props relating to High School Musical 3 which hasn't been released yet. We have the photos, Lydia, for you to drool over...
Then it was a bit of shopping for presents before going back to the hotel, picking up the shuttle (which picked up several other people and had taken part in every traffic jam in LA by the time it eventually dropped us at the airport), and taking our leave of USA with a blueberry muffin and a Starbucks double chocolate chip frappucino. As you do.
The airport staff at LA were a bit surly and didn't tell us they were transiting our bags on straight to Newcastle, so when we got to the UK after a good but long flight (on which we had dinner at night, then breakfast when we woke up at lunchtime the next day because of the time differences involved - most odd!) we waited like gonzos by the carousel at Heathrow Terminal Five (yes, we knew the history of lost baggage too!) thinking the worst when there were only us and hundreds of Japanese tourists waiting for the Tokyo flight to be unloaded. We then looked more closely at the luggage receipt we had fortunately kept and realised it mentioned Newcastle so our bags may have been transited on, which was confirmed by the customer services desk - only to find at Newcastle, after waiting at the carousel, once more in vain, that it hadn't got transited on at all. So we filled in the forms, the desk lady told us one of the bags had definitely been seen at Heathrow (and the other...?) according to her computer, and that they would deliver them to our home when they arrived. Last night, the BA computer seemed to have found them both and was delivering them to us today from Newcastle Airport, so hopefully all will end well!
We were greeted at the airport by Claire and Ami, who had been waiting for ever as all the passengers except us left with their suitcases, and arrived home with no clothes or anything but lots of amazing experiences which will probably prove impossible to describe properly to anyone. We shall still try!
We eventually got to bed but I woke up at 3am with thousands of experiences/memories churning around in my brain. Eventually I gave up trying to go back to sleep and have dealt with the 1200 emails waiting for me, read five weeks worth of the Methodist Recorder (didn't take long), and written this. Naomi's still asleep...
Hope you have enjoyed our attempts at helping you share our fun. It's been amazing.
Over and out.