The Traveling Steve's

Weekend in LA

It’s Sunday afternoon now, and I’m writing this from the Admiral’s Club at LAX.  I’ll write more about it later in this post, but we had a flight cancellation this morning for our flight home and had to scramble to find another flight back.  Looking back over the last couple days, however,  Steve (DOS) and I had a quick but fun weekend Way-Cation in Los Angeles, arriving here on Friday night.  IMG_6534 2

When I last wrote, I was flying back to Orlando after a work week in Kentucky.  My long day on Friday started out in Lexington, KY with a flight to Charlotte.  IMG_6320After a layover in Charlotte and lunch, I hung out in the Admiral’s Club for a bit before heading home to Orlando.

IMG_6386 IMG_6387Actually I didn’t even go home after arriving in Orlando, as DOS met me in the Orlando airport, where we would later fly out to LAX at 6:30pm.  As we had nearly 3 hours before the LA flight on Friday evening, I finished up my paperwork for the week, and we had a couple appetizers at Ruby Tuesday’s inside the B terminal near our departure gate.


We then flew nonstop to LAX on American Airlines Friday night on a brand new Airbus 321 jet, nicely equipped for the trans-con routes with individual TV screens, power supplies and comfortable leather seats.  We sat in the last row of First Class, row 4, and while the seats weren’t sleeper seats, they were quite comfortable.

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We had a nice meal of beef tenderloin and lobster mac-n-cheese, along with a salad, and pre-dinner warm nuts.  I watched the movie J. Edgar starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which was quite interesting.  It was strange seeing ‘young’ Leonardo starring in this role as a senior adult, but that gives good credit to his acting, and more importantly the make up artists.  I love movies about people and it was quite thought provoking with the similar crime problems decades ago, as today, only with more modern technology available now.

As we approached LAX I took a photo of the lights of the city.  It always amazes me flying in or out of LAX at night – the lights of the city seem to go on forever.

IMG_8088After our 5 1/2 hour flight to LAX, we took the shuttle bus to the Concourse Hotel, which is in the process of becoming a Hyatt hotel; it’s officially labeled as ‘A Hyatt affiliated Hotel’, until they finish the renovations.  You still get all of the Hyatt perks and points however, and we had a newly refurbished room that felt fresh.  We overlooked one of the runways at LAX, and although there are no balconies here we had a great view of the planes taking off and landing.We split a pizza in the hotel lounge before heading to bed, as it was late with the 3 hour time change.IMG_6524


On Saturday, we rented a car and toured around Beverly Hills.  Ok, so we didn’t actually rent the Rolls Royce shown below, dang!  We did see quite a few Rolls as we toured Beverly Hills though.  We picked up an SUV at National Car Rental by the airport for our self-guided afternoon explorations.IMG_6498After parking in a pay garage, we walked around Rodeo Drive, which was not overly busy, and filled mostly with tourists walking among the high-end stores. We also walked a couple blocks into one of the residential streets admiring the houses.

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IMG_6458After walking quite a bit, it was time for lunch, and were really surprised there weren’t more restaurants in this upscale shopping area. We ended up having lunch at 208 Rodeo, which was a quaint restaurant sitting up a couple floors overlooking Rodeo drive.  We sat outside and were shaded by an umbrella on this beautiful day, and unlike Florida, with no humidity.  DOS had a huge AHI Tuna salad, while I had a small steak and fries.  After we had been walking so much, it was nice to sit down and relax.


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After lunch, we continued our walk around Beverly Hills to the Beverly Hilton.  I had always wanted to visit this historic property and pictured it being ultra-upscale.  I was a bit disappointed, however, expensive it is, but ultra-upscale it appeared not.

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It actually looked rather old and plain from the exterior with it’s simple balconies, like motel balconies from the 70s.  While we didn’t go in any of the rooms, we did walk around the lobby a bit, and bought a couple caps from the gift shop, from a woman who should have been working at a 7-11; not the perky sales type person you would expect at such a fancy hotel – she literally said nothing but the price, and got us a second bag when we asked for it.  I don’t know; I guess I’m much more customer-service oriented; I would probably say ‘Are you having a nice stay’, or ‘Where are you visiting from’, or ‘Enjoying the weather’?  IMG_6497

We took a peak at the pool area which was really disappointing, at least to my preconceived expectations.  I knew there were pricey cabanas there, but the pool area was fairly simple and a bit cramped as it not that large of space. I guess I’m spoiled with some of the massive Florida and Hawaii resorts with their sprawling pools and acreage, and this is pricey Beverly Hills real estate.



Anyway, on our way out, we did see a fancy blue Rolls Royce convertible parked out front of the hotel, which was just asking for a photo!


As we walked the few blocks back to our rental car, we took a couple photos of the Waldorf Astoria they are building directly next door to the Beverly Hilton.  The Waldorf is part of the Hilton chain, and this large property will no doubt add even more prestige to this pricey parcel of real estate.

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We then drove around some of the Beverly Hills neighborhoods, were we saw sightseeing vans doing the same thing; i.e. pointing out the ‘stars’ homes.  Many of the stars have moved or passed on, but we drove by Lucille Ball’s former home, AD11C093-E21E-41B4-8B7F-4A651A8EB0E7

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and Jack Benny’s former homes.  North Roxbury Drive is like a ‘who’s who’ of movie stars.74291565-003D-41D8-9CF4-C3DDDC175C85

We then drove a short distance to the mammoth estate of the Playboy Mansion.  I knew we wouldn’t be able to see it with all the tall hedges blocking it so we didn’t take any photos, but I was surprised this and many of the other homes weren’t in a gated neighborhood.  Many of the homes had gated entrances for security and privacy, but you could drive by many of the homes and have an exterior peek of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  On our day journey thru Beverly Hills, we didn’t spot any ‘stars’ though, but did see lots of fancy cars.

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Heading back to the hotel around 4pm on a Saturday, we experienced the traffic of LA on the 405 freeway.  While I’ve driven in LA many times, just like the metro Washington D.C. area, there always seems to be stop-and-go traffic no matter what day it is.  2AF5F3DD-A1DF-4616-B424-708944B415BEFortunately we returned our rental car undamaged, and got back to the hotel with time for a quick nap and shower before heading to dinner.






At 7pm we had went to the J.W. Marriott Steakhouse, which was walking distance from the Hyatt Concourse.  IMG_6501We went there in January when we were out here, and enjoyed it so much we returned, asking for our same waiter Willie, and even got the same booth we were in last time.  We had a wonderful dining experience, sharing two appetizers: mega-jumbo shrimp cocktail and crab cakes, a Cesar salad, and bone-in ribeye deliciously cooked medium rare.  Paired with a Mt. Vieder Cabernet Sauvignon, it was  a great and leisurely evening of dining.

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Of course DOS may have had a sip or two too much as he thought the cloth napkin resembled the headdress of Mother Teresa, which he looked up on his phone for confirmation!


‘Twas a fun Saturday of touring and evening dining.  Thanks for the excellent service Willie!

On Sunday morning, we received a call (automated message) from American Airlines that our first flight from LAX to DFW was cancelled due to major thunderstorms in the Dallas area.  This led to a couple hours of havoc trying to find another way home as everything on American was booked solid, and they had automatically rebooked us for Monday meaning we wouldn’t have gotten home until Monday night – a full day later.   This was a problem as I had to fly out of Orlando on Monday morning for work, and my luggage for that trip was at the Orlando airport in DOS’s car.

We called American at the Executive Platinum desk, and the stated wait time was an hour and forty minutes!  For Executive Platinum – I can’t imagine what the wait was for ‘regular’ passengers without status!  We utilized the call back service they offer, and searched for flights on our own, before going down for a late breakfast.  I use the pay subscription service Expert Flyer, and it really paid off today (as always) as it shows you the inventory both paid and award seats for most of the major airlines.  We noticed there was a nonstop flight on Virgin America, (that was actually a code-share for Delta) at 3:15 which had 3 First Class seats left, but was sold out in Coach.  As I had to be back home Sunday night and there were no other options, we paid the full fare $1315 one way flight (a piece) back to Orlando.  This turned out to be the best move we could have done as we wouldn’t have made it back to Orlando if we hadn’t bought those tickets.  Delta oddly enough does not list its flights on Expert Flyer, but fortunately the code share Virgin flight showed up with available inventory.

As we were eating breakfast, we got a call back from American and they agreed to provide us travel vouchers in the amount of the Delta flights by sending them the receipts – quite a generous offer from American.  Normally they said they would rebook the flight for us, but as we had waited over an hour an a half to get thru, we couldn’t chance not getting a flight home due to the circumstances of the next day’s trip.

So with the flight settled, we got a late checkout at the hotel, and left for LAX around 1:30pm.  We went to the Admiral’s Club for a while, even though we were taking a Delta flight, as my membership is with American, not Delta.  We watched a few jumbo jets take off, and I had a club sandwich while we waited for our flight. IMG_6532IMG_6531  We then walked back over to Terminal Five, and caught our nonstop 3:15pm Delta flight from LAX to MCO, arriving Orlando around 11pm.  As we booked literally at the last minute, we didn’t get seats together, but surprisingly got two aisle seats 2C and 3C.  Normally the aisle seats book up first, so at least DOS was behind me for the flight, checking on me throughout the flight to see how my meal and movie was.


The Delta plane was a 757 with the newer lighting and luggage bin configuration as well as individual TV screens, but with only a 37 inch pitch.  The ‘mood lighting’ which changed throughout the flight as it got darker, was an interesting blue, and even the lavatory was lit up with the blue lighting.  I thought this was an interesting photo, and no I didn’t photoshop or color it; just taken from my iPad with the interior night lighting. The photo above was with normal lighting, and the later photo below was in the darkened ‘blue light’ cabin.


Unlike American on trans-cons, Delta serves the entire First Class meal on a tray as one course.  I prefer the meal service on American better, as it’s spread out with warm nuts and a drink service, followed by the meal, and later coffee/cordials and dessert.  The food on Delta was ok, but the service only so-so.  The flight attendants served the meal, and then pulled the curtain around the galley and even across the aisle to the jump seat which I thought was not only odd, but rude as First Class passengers had to go thru the curtained area to reach the lavatory.  It wasn’t a case of a Pilot being out of the cockpit to use the facilities; the Flight Attendants just wanted privacy from the passengers I guess.  I went up a couple times throughout the flight to ask for a refill on my vino as they rarely came thru the cabin after the meal service.


I never really cared for Delta for multiple reasons; they have made so many negative changes to their frequent flyer program, they were the first airline to stop paying travel agent commissions, they do not show their flight schedules on Expert Flyer (so you can’t find out award availability) and seem to have relaxed their standards, having some of the ‘heaviest’ and sometimes oldest (one travel thread I read noted ‘seasoned’) flight attendants of any airline. I also thought the safety announcement was a bit silly with the idea of passengers going to an award show with various funny stunts as they point out the seat belts, oxygen and emergency exits.

I watched the suspense movie ‘The Gift’ while en-route to Orlando, which was pretty good, and helped to pass the time on the cross-country flight home.  We left LAX at 3:30pm, and arrived into Orlando around 11pm.

Fortunately we had reserved the Hyatt Orlando Airport, so it was a short walk to the room.  I’m flying out again in the morning – this week to Kentucky.  But fortunately, even for a few hours, we made it ‘home’!




One thought on “Weekend in LA

  1. Krizia


    I do the social media for the LAX Marriott, and I came across your blog and really enjoyed the wonderful photos you put up about our Jw’s Steakhouse. I would love to get in contact with you guys via email.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

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