Saturday, December 16th
This is actually a kind of anniversary trip. About 30 years ago, I made my first US trip, and among the cities passed were Los Angeles and New Orleans. This trip will take med back to the 2 cities.
The trip starts with trains to Vejle and bus to Billund. So the usual check in and wait for his flight to London. But then the problems starts. The fly is dotted. First exposure - so cancellation. No Los Angeles today, but instead an involuntary stay at Hotel Propellen in Billund. Quite cozy, excellent restaurant but not exactly what you had in mind. .
Sunday, December 17th
Finally we get going. Departure from Billund at 11 o'clock. Just 2 hours to London Heathrow. So 4 hours wait before 11 hours flight to Los Angeles. Get a seat at an emergency exit, so nice legroom. Listen to music and watch a single movie along the way - Atomic Blonde - crapmovie. The food is miserable and the service absent. In LA into a taxi and into Los Angeles Athletic Club Hotel. Quite different friendlyness here and check into super nice room 1009. So just kill a couple of hours before I go to bed - very tired.
Monday, December 18th
Thus one day late it's finally out and make Los Angeles. After a nice hotel breakfast,I walk to the Metro Station, grab a local travel card and then with Expo line next to Santa Monica. Here I go down to Santa Monica Pier to hang out. The Santa Monica Pier is entertaining. There is a small tivoli with a big ferris wheel. Then there are also a lot of street musicians and players. Most are quite skilled. One of them plays "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas". I'm considering telling him that the chances are not big when it's 20 degrees and no clouds.
From here I go along Santa Monica Beach to Venice. Although the weather is nice, it is not bathing weather for the locals, but some are out walking and biking along the beach. Here at Venice Beach, threr are quite a lot of "crooked existences". They are also here on a Monday morning. The preferred means of transport is apparently the skateboard. A special course has been made where the highly skilled can demonstrate their ability. They are pretty good.
Then I continue to Venice Canals, which is a cozy little residential area along some almost Venice-like canals. Nice and very non-American. Eventually I find Venice downtown again. I do not want to go to the station so I take a Big Blue Bus - which is quite normal in size - to the station in Santa Monica, and from there Expo line returns to 7th Street in Downtown, right next to the hotel.
By the way, the hotel is a story by itself. Up on the roof there is a great view of downtown, and it is actually only the top 3 floors that is a hotel. The rest is a private sports club. There is a basketball court, swimming pool and an indoor racecourse among much else. As a decent club, there is of course also a library, bar and restaurant. Nice place.
Fine is also the evening's dinner place. Big pizzeria with half a million waiters who are twisting around. The pizza was also excellent.
Tuesday, December 19th
Then it has become time for a few LA classics. First by Metro up to Hollywood / Vine. From here you can walk along the famous Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. I'll do that. Hollywood Boulevard is mostly filled with homeless and toursitst, and really a rubbish experience.
When I reach the Chinese Theater, I do something I do not usually do. I'm jumping on a hop-on / hop-off bus. It's a necessary evil because it's not easy to get around LA by public transport. The tour goes through Hollywood and via Sunset Boulevard to Beverly Hills. Here I jump off and walk around in the area. It is for the rich and the famous - and me. At Rodeo Drive, all the expensive branded products are represented. The cars at the curb are of prime caliber and there are no homeless people. The Christmas trees are made of plastic and the speakers play bad Christmas music. I have a good time before I jump on the bus again.
Then it goes on, including Via Melrose Avenue before the end at Hollywood Boulevard. An ok trip, where you could see a lot and hear some stories you wouldn't have heard if you were using public transport.
It's late afternoon when I'm home in Downtown. I'm tired and spend the rest of the day hanging out at the hotel, only interrupted by a sandwich from Fresh and Fast and coffee at 7-eleven.
Wednesday, December 20th
Today's activity is a LA classic. A visit to the amusement park Universal Studios. By Metro there, and then you pay blood to get in. I'm not the only one who has got that idea on a semi-cool Wednesday, but actually it is the low season. I was here also 30 years ago, but can not remember so much from here, and it certainly has also changed a lot.
A part that was also the last time was a super-cool studio tour where you drive around in some wagons among the studios and scenes, adding some highlights using modern 3D technology. But good old Jaws are still here. In the park try a spooky "ghost house", most of which consists of some actors coming out and saying "buh". A little ridiculous. Afterwards I look at an animal show and a show with special effects. Otherwise, I'm hanging out in this Plastic Fantastic, where the biggest attraction is the new Harry Potter world. I choose to avoid the rides where you have to queue for an hour to try a rollercoaster. Even though everything is fvery american, it's also a little fun.
At 4 o'clock, however, I say stop and return to Downtown and relaxation at the hotel. There is Hockey and Basketball on the TV.
Thursday, December 21st
After a grand breakfast table, it's time for today's first walk. It is found in Lonely Planet and goes through 2 exciting neighborhoods of Downtown. In many big cities, some businesses have gathered in special parts of town. This is also the case in LA and today's trip goes through the jewellers area and then an area filled with fashion stores and tailors. Especially the latter is pretty nice to go through, even though tailoring is not just my highest competence. With bold buildings, lots of colors and nice photo opportunities. The walk takes 2-3 hours before I finish in a nearby foodhall in a shopping mall. Then there is a break at the hotel..
Tour 2 goes to Griffith Observatory. It is by subway and then after a small local bus. Griffith Observatory is a really nice building on a hilltop over Los Angeles. It offers magnificent views of LA Downtown and the famous Hollywood sign, and it gives a wildly beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean. It is the shortest day of the year, which has brought quite a few spectators. If you are interested in astrology, there is also a lot of wisdom to pick up in the observatory.
Back in Downtown again at 6 o'clock. Evening pizza in my foodhall and then relaxing in magnificent room 1009.
Friday, December 22nd
Last day in LA. It's a good time to sleep long and hang in at the hotel for a little until 1 pm where I'm being thrown out. Then I have to use the day before the train journey tonight. I do thati in Downtown LA, which is really nothing special, but nice enough for a good afternoon trip. The first stop is the Grand Central Market, with a small cable car to Bunker Hill. Here is lunch in a small area decorated with plastic Christmas trees. Then I find you fun little Wells Fargo Museum. Here are so few guests that you get a little goodie bag when you visit them. So on to the fine culture. Walt Disney's upscale concert hall and an art museum with a queue outside. Then I go back across downtown to a rather exciting Grammy Museum. Here are among other things a nice exhibition about a local punk band X, who has gained a certain reputation with 40 years on the bag - and, in addition, has had an Iphone named after them. Then sightseeing is done. Evening burger and coffee before returning to the hotel.
Here I pick up my luggage. Enter a taxi and head to Union Station. It's a good time before my train trip, but it does not matter because there is access to a lounge with coffee, soft drinks and snacks. At 9 o'clock go down to platform 13. Shortly after, the Sunset Limited train arrives. I find carriage 230 and my own little roomette 10. Here the next 48 hours will be spent. On the way to New Orleans and overlooking the southernmost of the United States.
Saturday, December 23rd
Life is immensely simple on board a train like this. Wake up at 7 o'clock and lookout to impressive sunrise over the desert. Then there is breakfast in the restaurant. Back to the room with more desert views and an episode of El Chapo, downloaded from Netflix. Then it's lunch time. Back to the restaurant. Afterwards more views, a little nap, an epsisode of El Chapo and a beautiful sunset over the desert. Then we have reached dinner. Return to the restaurant. Eventually another episode of El Chapo. The sun has gone down, so the view has gone. Finally, you go to bed again.
Sunday, December 24th
Then it became Christmas Eve. It takes place under extremely comfortable circumstances in the Amtrak train. Late in the night, we get past San Antonio and in the morning it's Houston. The trip through Texas takes about 24 hours. It's the most agricultural country and so the backside of America you get to see. It is normal, that areas along tracks are filled with ugly things, such as poorly built and maintained homes, trailer parks and a lot of ugly industries. But I also find that exciting. The day is used to looking out, daydreaming and trying to take pictures, which is not quite easy in a train in motion. These activities are only interrupted by breakfast, lunch and dinner. The typical Danish Christmas dinner is not available, so I choose a good steak with mashed potato and crushed vegetables.
At 8.30 we reach Union Station in New Orleans. It's an hour ahead of schedule. Then a taxi to Hotel Lafayette. Not as nice as in LA, but absolutely useful and after 46 hours in a train, a hot shower is nice.
Monday, December 25th
Hotel Lafayette has a single fail. There is no breakfast. But fortunately, they have even suggested the solution to the small problem. On Daisy Dukes Cafe's website you can order it and then they will arrive ½ hour later. Then you can even go to the bathroom meanwhile And of course. 30 minutes later, a friendly guy knocks at the door at Room 212 delivering scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and a small juice. That's class.
Thus, it's out into New Orleans. The sun shines, but in fact it is damn cold. We are under 10 degrees. Nevertheless, it's time for a nice long walk. First through the French Quarter and then down to Mississippi. So up to Treme, as I have been looking forward to see after I have watched the great TV series of the same name twice on HBO. It is an exciting and pleasant neighborhood. Not so many tourists and many of the local greet you and wish you a merry Christmas. From here on to Louis Armstrong park with fine sculptures of jazz celebrities and beautiful fountains. Now I am tired and returns to the hotel. Many restaurants and shops are closed due to Christmas Day, so those that are not are packed with people. I do not want to queue to have something to eat, so what's more natural than going home to the hotel and calling Daisy Duke for assistance again.
In the evening, there is time for another walk to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. It's the party street with Margaritas and Daiquiries. Frankly, nothing I'm looking for, so I'll finish with a pizza slice and head home to room 212 to relax with Monday Night Football.
Tuesday, December 26th
The combination of breakfast and the Premier League football is only available in the United States. So this mornings eggs and hashbrowns are eaten while watching Manchester United-Burnley before the day's activity starts.
Today's activity is a Swamp tour with Cajun Encounters. Hotel pickup at. 10.30, and then there is a good hour drive to the swamp. The tour starts at. 12 and takes a couple of hours. Normally the highlight is the local alligators, but they do not bother to show in the winter, because it's too cold. You can really understand that, because it's both windy and freezing. Instead, it becomes a sailing trip round the swamp, while Captain Joe tells us stories. Along the way, we meet some raccoons who gladly accept Joe's brought-in sausages.
We are back in New Orleans at 4 o'clock and I have given myself the rest of the day off. I get a big Po-boy at Daisy Dukes. A Po-boy is a delicious sandwich. Mine is with 2 big fish fillets. Otherwise, it's time for a nap and then, football - european style - on an NBC sports channel and one more episode of El Chapo from Netflix.
Wednesday, December 27th
I must admit that the weather here in the southernmost USA surprises. I did not expect it to be cold and windy. This morning, supplemented with a little rain. It is a suitable time for one of my more morbid interests, namely visiting old cemeteries. I am taking a local streetcar to Lafayette Cemetery. It is a beautiful one of the kind with large, ancient and historical tombs. Here I hang out, and do not worry - it is a recognized tourist attraction. Then I walk around in the local district of Garden District. Here people live in seriously big bungalows. Then I take streetcar back to the hotel again.
Tour 2 is a long walk. From the hotel through the French Quarter to a neighborhood called Faubourg Marigny. And yes - New Orleans has French roots. It's a tremendous neighborhood to walk around. There are no Daiquiri tourists, but on the other hand there are some scary lloking guys on some of the street corners that I suppose selling other types of euphoric substances. You feel pretty safe, but I do not want to go there by night. There are plenty of exciting houses, bars, people and streets to look at. Nice place to discover. When it's over, I return via French Quarter to the hotel.
The evening meal is picked up at Daisy Dukes. Here I am becoming a familiar face. There is hockey at NBCsport.
Thursday, December 28th
Today's trip is a pre-arranged trip called "Creole Christmas". The tour is organized by a local historical organization. Buy a ticket, get a map, access 5 old restored houses / museums in the French Quarter and look around. Everywhere is exciting and vast American. Most places have volunteers who are dressed out and tells about who has lived here, what to see and more. The favorites are named Beauregard-Keyes House because it has the most exciting story and Spring Fiesta House because you get punch and chocolate at the end. The trip around takes 4 hours, including a lunch break at a China restaurant, which provides an excellent food, but obviously has not been able to qualify for a historic house.
Energy is getting low, so when I'm back at the hotel at 4 o'clock, there will be no more that day. Gumbo is ordered from Daisy Dukes and I am watching hockey at NBCsport. By the way, it is still very cold..
Friday, December 29th
It's the last day in New Orleans, Louisiana. Close to the hotel there is the WW2 museum, which the city is very proud of, so I check it out in the morning. It's big and confusing, so I choose to watch a huge patriotic movie, and then go for the more hardware-like parts with airplanes and other stuff. The more instructive sections with displays must therefore be skipped. I can only handle a museum for 2 hours, so then I have to go back to the Lafayette Hotel.
Later in the day, a walk around Mississippi and Daiquiri land in the French Quarter. One last meal from Daisy Dukes, and on TV you can see classics like Jeopardy and Wheels of Fortune.
Saturday December 30th/Monday December 31st
Thanks to the idiots of Expedia Travel, I have to get up at. 3.30 to reach the airplane at. 6.20. The idiots have changed the itinerary so there is a departure at this absurd time, and there is more than 8 hours of waiting in Philadelphia. But the flight from New Orleans to Philadelphia is quite comfortable.
The 8 hours in Philadelphia airport are killed by reading a little and then looking out over the big airport. A plan to go to the center is dropped as it is 6 degrees freezing and snow. The journey from Philadelphia to London is unbearable. The plane is infinitely cramped, so good it only takes 6 hours. I watch a single movie. Logan Lucky. In fact - pretty good. The food is lousy. Wondering when an airline gets the brilliant idea to serve a sandwich instead of the ever-existing choice between pasta and chicken.
In Heathrow Terminal 5 I have to hurry. It's only an hour to change and you have to go through security again. It's pretty stupid. I'm using the possibility of scolding a security guy. It confuses clearly. They are not used to it.
In Billund a little before 10. So you should easily reach the bus to Aarhus at. 10:30. But the Danish People's Party has reinstated passport control and it takes a hell of time so I do not reach my bus. I use the opportunity to scodl the passportofficer. He is not used to that either. Instead, I take a bus to Vejle and then train the last part. At home at 1 o'clock. It's raining and cold. Just to be in a good mood.