Sweat pools on my brow and trickles down my face. I grasp the handles of my too-heavy bags. The remnants of a late night out overwhelm me and I dump the bags then slump against them. The San Diego heat bears down on us as we join the already bulging queue. The loudspeaker fires up “attention all passengers travelling from San Diego to Los Angeles, your train has broken down and there will be delays. A replacement train will be here shortly to take you to Los Angeles and tow the defective train behind it.” Are you kidding? I wonder.
“We’d like an upgrade please” my partner asks the ticketing office. With that sentence, he instantly transforms me from forlorn to fabulous. We got a golden ticket. I survey the bulging queue behind me and whisper “so long, suckers.”
The Amtrak California train from San Diego to Los Angeles has a business class section and I’m in it. I feel a little like an imposter but the paperwork says otherwise. I have paid for the privilege to travel for the next two hours and forty five minutes in style while meandering along the coastal tracks to the city of dreams.
It’s often fun to imagine yourself in a movie, where you’re the star and music plays in the background of your fabulous life. We’ve all done that, right? If I were in a film right now, then the appropriate piece of music would be Beyonce and Katie McGrath’s ‘Glamorous’. This is a new way to live.
The reclining Business Class coach seat allows travel comfort. Postcard views weave together to create a moving backdrop of my tinsel town film. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the movie-star ambience as we approach Los Angeles. We’re experiencing the high life and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back.
Los Angeles greets us with indifference as we enter its bustling border. Tonight we sleep in the heart of LA and continue with the extravagance, the only way to travel in these parts. The Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites is a 35 storey statement in the sky, made famous by the movie Hancock and Mission Impossible III, among others. Designed by John Portman Junior, The Westin Bonaventure website states that it is one of the most photographed buildings in the world. I feel vicariously famous. That’s what you get when you stay in a renowned LA hotel with a cool $200M worth of real-estate.
A porter greets us at the grand entrance where everything is big and overstated from the parking bay to the front doors. Shallow pools of water with illuminated fountains encircle the lobby and bar. A glass elevator takes us to our sky-high room and lets us know that Hollywood is near. Not to mention the revolving restaurant or the heated outdoor swimming pool that sits comfortably in the city skyline. All that is missing is the paparazzi.
I fall onto the king bed on the twenty-fourth floor and reflect on the last few days of business class travel and our swanky hotel sojourn. I could get used to this glamour. I think I already am. What a shame I have to return home on an economy flight in a few days.
The Facts: I travelled on the Amtrak California train from San Diego to Los Angeles and it took just under two hours. I stayed at The Westin Bonaventure Hotel. For more information, please refer to the links above.
“I wrote a letter to my love and on the way I dropped it, someone must have picked it up and put it in their pocket, it wasn’t you, it wasn’t me, it wasn’t Father Christmas, look behind your back!”
That chant was repeated over and over in my primary school days, it was even endorsed by the teacher as a legitimate form of exercise and a way to distract unruly children for an hour. Love and romance are hardly a novelty, but it is quite fascinating how we come up with funny little ways to symbolise it. The little song from my childhood is a perfect example. Another fond memory is where you pick each petal off a daisy and chant “he loves me” then “he loves me not” and the number of flowers supposedly seals your romantic fate.
When eating an apple with the stalk still attached, you can also superstitiously conjure romance. Simply twist the stalk in time with reciting the alphabet, when it breaks, that is what your future love’s name begins with. Gosh, I didn’t realise how love-obsessed I was as a child.
A new phenomenon sweeping Melbourne and around the world is what I overheard a young child describe as ‘Love Locks.’ On the Southbank Bridge, lovers gaze out over the Yarra River and toss the keys to their lock overboard after securing it on the wire railing. The ritual symbolises unbreakable love. The scene has been captured many a time in tourist and wedding albums alike. Maybe it’s time to add it to the itinerary, fellow travellers.
Like many trends, the concept dates back to over 100 years ago in Serbia during World War I with a ‘Most Ljubaci’ or Bridge of Love. It is rumoured to have started in France but that is likely to be the revival. Either way, locksmiths are rubbing their hands together. They probably haven’t seen an opportunity like this since we started engraving our Pet’s details on their collars.
Yesterday a woman passing the love locks told her friend of a bridge collapsing in France under additional strain from the volume of padlocks. Google confirmed her tale to be true. If you visit the Southbank Bridge and look closely then you’ll see my name amongst them. After a childhood filled with romantic daydreams, I’m hardly about to stop participating in romantic traditions now, am I?