Episode 164 – Another Day In LA LA Land

January 12, 2022 77°F/24°C

#myvikingstory

Viking surprised passengers with an extra included tour today. I suspect the crew want one more really quiet day to clean, unpack provisions, and generally get the ship “ship-shape” for the next leg of our cruise.

The tour was called “Santa Monica, Malibu, & Beverly Hills” and took us by bus to not only those places, but also Marina del Rey and Venice Beach.

Being on a bus tour, with only a couple of photo stops, meant not very many pictures, although there was certainly plenty to see: stunning hilltop homes in Malibu, lots of surfers catching waves, funky dwellings and community gardens in Venice Beach, hundreds of yachts and sailboats in the marina (our guide said Marina del Rey can house 11,000 boats!), and posh hotels and stores in Beverly Hills. We also passed 4 different filming locations, complete with stars’ trailers/dressing rooms and lots of catering trucks and camera crews.

Top: a glimpse through the bus window of the solar-powered ferris wheel, and the roller coaster on Santa Monica Pier.
Bottom L: Surfers in Malibu waiting for the next wave.
Bottom R: Just one of the oceanfront homes in Malibu Lagoon.
Just a few of the hillside homes in Malibu.
It’s easy to see why landslides are a problem.
The Beverly Hills City Hall, with its gold decoration made of real California Gold Rush gold.

Sadly, there’s a much less glamorous side to L.A. As well, with as many as 70,000 homeless people living on the streets and highway verges, where there can be fairly large homeless “towns” of cardboard, plastic bags, and garbage. In Beverly Hills, where we made a rest stop at one of the VERY clean public washrooms, there was a homeless woman washing her hair in the ladies’ room sink. In that same park area we witnessed the compassionate treatment of several homeless people by the bright blue-uniformed “Beverly Hills Welcome Ambassadors”, who seem to be empowered to help not only tourists but also the homeless to find directions and overnight shelter. L.A. has set aside a large pot of money for homeless shelters and addiction programs, but as is the case almost everywhere their efforts are hampered by a “not in my backyard” mentality. Apparently one of the most successful shelter programs operates on a former military base, and initiatives to help homeless veterans have been some of the most successful.

The silver peace sign sculpture was donated to the city by Ringo Starr.

I have to add our bus ride to this blog so that I won’t forget it.

Two years ago in Costa Rica, I had a harrowing but entertaining experience with our tour bus, some hydro wires, and toll booths. Today, we had a couple of memorable experiences too. En route to a photo op near Malibu Lagoon, our guide Allan directed our bus driver Denise into a very narrow curving park access road (so narrow that the trees on both sides were brushing the bus) only to discover that not only was it too narrow, but also closed – not the right access point at all! With no possibility of going forward or turning around, Denise BACKED OUR FULL SIZE TOUR BUS THROUGH THE CURVED ROADWAY AND BACK ONTO PACIFIC HIGHWAY 1 !! Anyone who has driven the Pacific Highway knows what a feat of skill that was. Suffice it to say it involved honking. Allan commented that he now owed Denise lunch.

In attempting to reach the correct park entrance, Allan’s iffy directions caused us to overshoot our goal. There are not a lot of intersections on Highway 1 where a bus can turn around, and it is so close to the shore in Malibu that there are also no bus parking lots. SO Denise PULLED A U-TURN WITH A 56 PASSENGER TOUR BUS ON THE PACIFIC SHORE HIGHWAY! More honking (mostly by Denise warning other vehicles that we were about to do something insane). We passengers suggested that Allan now owed her a full dinner.

After our tour, and lunch, I headed to the theater to watch RESPECT, starting Jennifer Hudson, on the big screen – a real treat after more than 2 years without being in a movie theatre. There was even popcorn! Ted, on the other hand, power-walked 9 km (5.6 miles) on the outer deck.

We enjoyed another delectable dinner in the main Restaurant, where the table service continues to so impress us.

Left: Ted’s dinner. Watermelon Sparkler, a refreshing appetizer of watermelon, raspberry, lemon juice, rosewater, agave syrup and Prosecco (for the sparkle); classic Osso Buco over saffron risotto, and a truly delectable walnut cake with nougatine and a mocha sauce. :
Right: Rose’s dinner. Shrimp and corvino ceviche mixto flavoured with chili, garlic and cilantro and finished with fresh lime, beautifully served with endive and corn chips on which to eat the ceviche; Dover sole meunière with steamed buttery potato, lemon butter sauce, and sautéed spinach with a touch of garlic; tangy lemon tarte with French meringue.

Tonight was the Welcome Reception for the world cruise, which introduced us to our new captain, Captain Olav Soevdsnes (below) as well as most of the officers and our new (German!) executive Chef Thomas Noack. Captain Olaf is really quite droll – it will be fun to see him around the ship as the cruise progresses.

The evening included champagne, Aquavit, and lots of entertainment. Top to bottom: the amazing Annalyn, who can sing absolutely anything, and all of it with style; Jeremy, who supplements a great voice with some pretty fancy footwork; Henji, our band leader with the mad guitar skills; Aaron Syfert, our Cruise Director; our classical duo; and the Viking Vocalists, Poppy, Jack, Beth, and Daniel.

It was a great start to what we all hope will be a wonderful Covid-free cruise.

12 comments

  1. Due to the heavy PM traffic, our afternoon tour only made it to Malibu. We were on the same bus you were on in the AM and heard all about the amazing driving skills. We always tip the driver separately and in some cases, the driver gets more than the guide. They do an amazing job.

    It was great meeting you and Ted last night at dinner. We look forward to seeing you around the ship. We love your writing and Ted’s pictures.

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  2. Enjoyed your description of my old home town. Love LA. You will come to love Capt. Olav, as we do. Fun facts: he’s a triplet – all three are sea captains, one also on Viking (whom we met; he brings his bicycle onboard and rides in every port; and he ran up and down the sand dunes in Namibia!

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  3. I am enjoying your blog tremendously…and Ted is a fabulous photographer! We took the 2019 World Cruise with Chef Thomas. You are in for a real treat.

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  4. That’s the reason DH and I always tip the bus driver separately! They do an amazing job. We took a tour of LA off a cruise ship a few years ago, the bus driver was great, the guide was awful. DH insisted we had to give the guide something so I left that to him, I was happy to tip the driver!

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  5. WoW!! Did Allan provide drinks on the bus? What an amazing driver !! Just reread January 13, 2019 . It’s your world weather blog. You might – for yourself – pop a line in the bottom with temperature/ forecast

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