Finally going there

M

Mikael Jonsson

Guest
After several years I will finally fulfill my dream and fly all the way to LA stay on night on Queen Mary in september 2008. The flight was booked yesterday.

I want to stay there for one night and in third class if possible? How much does the cheapest room cost for one night? Is it possible to get student discount or any other discount?

What else is there to see in LA? Is there any good diving?

best regards, Mikael
 

John Clifford

Member
Nov 12, 2000
1,686
0
166
56
Mikael, there is plenty to see around LA, but just allow yourself plenty of time to travel from the Queen Mary, as the traffic situation here is quite awful at times.

As far as what you wish to see: what is your preference?? Further, how many days will you be here?? A listing of points of interest will be available when you arrive at the Hotel.

The website for the Queen Mary is http://www.queenmary.com/.
Please note: all third-class cabins and crew quarters have been taken out of use, so only the first- and second-class cabins are available.

THe phone number for the Queen Mary is (562) 435-3511 (US Area Code).

Also, make sure you have an International Drivers Permit, issued by your country of residence; you can only get one in your own country: I, as a US Citizen, have to have one issued from the US before I can go to other countries and rent a car there.
 
Feb 4, 2007
1,646
2
108
40
Denver, Colorado, United States
Hi Mikael,

Congratulations! I'm sure you will enjoy your experience.

A bit of advice: When you book your room on the Queen Mary, you may want to ask for an original, wood paneled cabin. And again, when you actually arrive and are standing at the reception desk, ask again to make sure that you are NOT getting one of the ugly "refurbished" Disney cabins from the 1990's.

Just don't book an "Inside" or a "Tourist" stateroom (their terminology) and you should be ok.

And I will second what John said about the traffic, it's awful! Allow yourself lots of time to drive.
 
M

Mikael Jonsson

Guest
Hi

We will be there for 6 days. I have been adviced to see Hollywood, Catalina + going on a one day to trip a bordertown in Mexico. If I have time over I was adviced to go on a one day trip to Las Vegas, but it seems a little to far away?

Being from Europe I prefer going by bike, bus or trains. Is it very hard to drive a car in LA? I am not use to driving cars in big cities. Is it possible to rent a car with a manual stick or do you only have automatic as it use to be in the TV-shows?

It will really be an exciting experience
happy.gif


best regards, Mikael
 
Feb 4, 2007
1,646
2
108
40
Denver, Colorado, United States
Mikael, if you are not used to driving in large cities, DO NOT EVEN ATTEMPT TO DRIVE IN LA!! This is for your own safety! It feels like no one follows the driving rules in LA. It's everyone for themselves. If you do decide to risk it, say a little prayer first. Sorry to scare you here, but it's the truth.

And no, there is no such thing in the USA as a stick-shift rental car. Sadly, very few people drive stick here anymore. I wouldn't suggest biking around LA either. To far and too dangerous. This is just my opinion.

Do you have friends who live nearby? Asking them to help shuttle you around might be an option. Otherwise, I would suggest taking airport shuttles to get you to and from the airport and the Queen Mary, as well as utilizing tour shuttles to and from other destinations of interest.

I would also suggest to skip Las Vegas (unless you're really into that sort of thing) and go see Hearst Castle in San Simeon instead. It's a short day's drive North of LA on the coast of California. Likewise, go see San Francisco, a truly fun city with many good transportation options.

John, what would you say?
 

Joe Russo

Member
Apr 10, 2006
810
0
86
Vegas is probably a little too far at a 4 hour drive especially for the amount of time that you are staying here. You'll need to rent a car to head up the coast for San Francisco and San Simeon as well. San Francisco is a trip in itself and is 5 hours from Los Angeles on Interstate Freeway and 10 hours taking the scenic coastal route which is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. San Simeon is on this route halfway up to San Francisco. This wouldn't be like driving in LA and would mostly be rural or highway driving. Since you're only here for 6 days, then you're much better staying in southern California.
If you decide to stay in southern California, then you probably shouldn't drive. Take public transportation. You can either take a taxi, shuttle or the metro down to Long Beach. You will have to transfer a few times to get to the QM. Go to http://www.metro.net/ and find timetables and maps. You'll have to take a short bus to take you to the metro station from the airport terminal.
The metro stops in downtown Long Beach, so once in Long Beach you will be able to take it up to Hollywood if you want to see the sites there. There are bus lines that can take you to Santa Monica and Beverly Hills from Hollywood. If you are interested in Disneyland, then that is not too far from Long Beach and the concierge at the QM can probably point you in the way to transportation there.
Catalina is a great idea and you can get the ferries very close to the QM. There is diving in Catalina, but you will probably have to arrange this ahead of time. Try contacting http://www.catalina.com/scuba.html. Round trip ferry to Catalina is about $70. Catalina is perfect for a day trip as ferries run all day with the last returning around 8pm. There are also some great Inns if you want to spend the night.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,587
376
283
Easley South Carolina
>>Is it very hard to drive a car in LA? <<

It's not for the faint of heart. I'll go with what Jason said: If you're not used to it, don't attempt it. I-5, 405 and State 101 can be sheer murder, especially during rush hour.

If you go to Hollywood, watch your back. I've seen the area and some of what surrounds the studios is none too wholesome and best avoided unless your bestest bud is Sturm Ruger or Smith and Wesson.

Sorry to be a wet blanket but LA is a very large city with all the problems that come with the deal.
 

John Clifford

Member
Nov 12, 2000
1,686
0
166
56
From the parking area of the ship there is a free shuttle to get you in to Long Beach. That will take you to the Shoreline Village & Pikes area, for shopping and restaurant choices.

For driving, you have to know the areas around here, and you must leave a lot of time to get places. AVOID DRIVING DURING RUSH HOUR!!, as well.

The LA Metro Blue Line will take you to Downtown Los Angeles, and from the 7th Street Marketplace Station you can transition to the Red Line which will take you south-east to Union Station, and from there it is a short walk to Olivera Street; you can also see the Bunker Hill/Grand Central Market area, but be sure you have either a guide with you or a guide book.
The other direction on the Red Line can get you to Hollywood and Universal City, but I do not know which stops those are.
My experience on the Metro has been to take the Blue Line (Long Beach Willow Street Station) to LA, then the Red Line to Union Station, as it is near the LA Federal Building (if I have to attend any meetings there).
BTW, the Blue Line will also take you to the Staples Center, for sports venues (though the Kings and Lakers and Clippers will not be playing in September).

I don't think the Hotel has any shuttle services to the Metro Stations, but the local bus service (which is free) might drop you off at or near one of the Metro stops.

For Las Vegas it is about a five-hour drive from LA, and that is when there is no traffic.
If you do any day trips, I would recommend Hearst Castle or San Diego (about three hours drive).
In September, LA & Las Vegas are warm-to-hot areas, so bring plenty of appropriate clothing.

Also, if you do choose to rent a car, DO NOT TRY TO DRIVE IT TO MEXICO. That is prohibited by most, if not all, the Rental Car companies, due to thefts of vehicles (once a stolen car is taken in to Mexico, it is as good as gone).
I mention this as it is about a six-hour journey to Rosarito, where the Fox Studios (where Cameron's TITANIC was filmed) is located.

Michael, parts of LA are like any big city: Avoid if you can.

I'll agree: stick close to your companions when near certain parts of Hollywood, and be sure and have a local guide for other locations.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,587
376
283
Easley South Carolina
>>(once a stolen car is taken in to Mexico, it is as good as gone).<<

That's allright. You can usually find the parts at some of the local fencing operations swap meets/flea markets! Just don't ever bet on finding the whole car again.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,086
7
198
And, if you DO decide to drive in Los Angeles~second only to NYC in terms of stressful driving~ do a little advance research on local traffic laws: the discovery that the freeflowing lane in which you are driving is actually a carpool lane requiring a certain number of passengers to legally enter can be disheartening if made in conjunction with flashing lights and a siren. Likewise, learning too late that only the far right lane at the tollbooth is not an EZ Pass Lane and that there is a $50 fine for entering any of the others without EZ Pass can cast a pall over much of your day.

And, as everyone is saying, if you decide to drive ~ which DOES allow more flexibility than mass transit~ try to schedule yourself so that during peak traffic hours on the freeways you are otherwise occupied. That's not hard to do....just plan on being somewhere interesting between, say, 4 and 6:30 every evening, and dont even consider driving.

Another bit of friendly advise: Tijuana, the Mexican border town which I assume is the one you mention, is a fairly awful first impression of Mexico. You are best off deferring Mexico until a later date, and when you DO go to Mexico head to some of the beautiful places further south. Puerto Penasco (No Titanic tie in, alas) which is between Bahai Adair and Bahia San Jorge in the Gulf of California, is a favorite spot of mine IF I'm in a non-rental car. Tijuana is depressing, touristy, and unless your desired first impression of Mexico is of American college students vomiting after too much beer, don't bother. There are a HUGE number of things worth seeing in Mexico, but Tijuana, Juarez, Nogales and Matamoros (the principal border towns) are not among them.

San Diego is fun, and the drive up to San Francisco is quite beautiful. If you are on 'limited time' either of those options will be a better choice than Tijuana.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,587
376
283
Easley South Carolina
>>Tijuana, the Mexican border town which I assume is the one you mention, is a fairly awful first impression of Mexico.<<

You got that right! I've been there once.

Once!

If you're into maritime museums, San Diego has some good ones including the Star Of India and the USS Midway, both of which can be accessed right at the end of Broadway.
 

John Clifford

Member
Nov 12, 2000
1,686
0
166
56
Quick note: Pershing Square, on the LA Metro Red Line, is the station to disembark from if you wish to see the Angels Flight and Grand Central Market area of Downtown LA.
There is a Universal City station, if you wish to visit Univeral Studios.
Also the Hollywood Highland and Hollywood Vine stations may put you near the decent parts of Hollywood, near the Chinese Theater and the Kodak Theater (where the Academy Awards are held).

Again, be sure and get as much information as possible before venturing out anywhere.

Also, a reminder: if you pick up any information about "See The Homes of the Stars", be aware that the addresses given are private residences, so you can see them, only. Unless, say, James Cameron or Kate Winslett runs out to greet you, you cannot enter any of the premises.
(The late Jayne Mansfield loved to run out and greet the tour buses, but she was an exception)
Even the map retailers have been forced to note this, as some entertainers do not wish to have their addresses noted, and problems with stalkers and papparazi have made the situation more tense than it used to be.

Jim is also right: Tijuana is right on the border, so that you enter it from California, into Baja California Norte. From there it is, I believe, about an hour to Rosarito and the Fox Studios.

However, if anyone mentions going to Mexico, make sure that whoever is driving has what is called "Mexican Insurance". The American Automobile Association and other groups are good places to obtain it, as are places for purchasing such coverage before you cross the border.
I mention that because if you are in an accident in Mexico, you will be put in jail if you don't carry "Mexican Insurance". None of the American insurance groups cover you, and you cannot decide to post bail using whatever cash you have: most of the time that money is confiscated.
It's awful, but it is true.
Further, some of our church groups have gone to Tijuana and other border areas to help bail out those who cannot do so, and are held for minor offenses.
One Priest commented that "The animals at the San Diego Zoo have better living accomodations than the people in the Tijuana jails".

If you do decide to visit San Diego, two areas to see are the Belmont Park area (can enjoy the beach there if you choose not to go to any of the local amusement areas) and Old Towne San Diego; the latter is a lot of fun to see during Cinco De Mayo.

BTW, please let us know what days you will be on the ship.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,086
7
198
>You got that right! I've been there once.

Havingf been at all the major border crossings, here is my review:

Tijuana: Drunken college students. Drugs. Beer. Pornography. Pickpockets. Prostitution. Tacky souvenirs.

Nogales: All of the above, plus children near the border crossing who cry and tell you that their father will beat them severely if you don't give them $10.

Ciudad Juarez: A serial killer who has killed over 900 women in the last decade, PLUS all of the charms of Nogales Tijuana, to which is added the stench of the burning tires they use for fuel.

Matamoros: the most appealing of the crossing spots, EXCEPT for the 50,000 drunken college boys,and the specter of the satanic cult which made the "mistake" of abducting and sacrificing an Anglo college boy: the bad publicity forced tehhe authorities to act.

in short- skip the border towns and head for Baja California, Puerto Penasco, Mexico City, or any of the worthwhile spots.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,086
7
198
>One Priest commented that "The animals at the San Diego Zoo have better living accomodations than the people in the Tijuana jails".

Well...a favorite way of getting a prisoner to cooperate in Northern Mexican jails is duct taping the mouth shut, and then shooting water up your nostril via a hose. Triggers ALL the delightful sensations of drowning, although you can still breathe. A few minutes of that and you become VERY cooperative. Usually reserved for Mexican national prisoners and Americans picked up on drug charges who do NOT look like they have wealthy parents.

The San Diego Zoo, or San Simeon sounds like a better choice.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,587
376
283
Easley South Carolina
>>Tijuana: Drunken college students. Drugs. Beer. Pornography. Pickpockets. Prostitution. Tacky souvenirs.<<

Don't forget the ally cats who carry guns.

The rats don't.

They don't have to!
shock.gif


Okay, so maybe it's not quite that bad (Or perhaps it is!) but I was massively unimpressed with the place. San Diego has some wonderful sights and great shopping. Broadway used to be something of a Red Light district with tacky strip joints, tattoo parlours, run down movie theatres and head shops where drug periphenelia were sold right out there in the open. All of that was run out, and a lot of it torn down to give way to such as Horton Plaza and a number of first rate shops.

Don't overlook the Embarcadero either which has some nice restaurants, coffee shops and the like.
 

John Clifford

Member
Nov 12, 2000
1,686
0
166
56
Needless to say, neither Jim Kalafus, Michael Standart, nor myself, will ever be asked to do promo pieces for "Come to Mexico"!!
grin.gif


Needless to say, if you do any overnight trips from LA, go to San Diego, and take time to enjoy the areas around Mission Bay, first.
 
Feb 4, 2007
1,646
2
108
40
Denver, Colorado, United States
So sorry, Mikael, for our ranting and raving. Honestly, we are just pointing out these things so that you will be more (and better) informed when you come to visit that part of our country.

Los Angeles is NOT the land of happy Hollywood endings as films and television would like to make you believe. While there are definitely nice places to visit, as John and others have pointed out, they only exist in obscure pockets.

The really beautiful areas are actually NOT in Los Angeles at all, but rather the coastal areas either just North (San Simeon) or South (San Diego) if you are able to get to them and see them. The northern areas are much more driver-friendly if you still want to rent a car.

And of course, you can't go wrong staying on the Queen Mary.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,587
376
283
Easley South Carolina
>>Needless to say, neither Jim Kalafus, Michael Standart, nor myself, will ever be asked to do promo pieces for "Come to Mexico"!! <<

Depends on where you go. The border towns are definately cesspools but if you can get past that, you can find some interesting places where there really is a difference between the criminal element and the police. (You don't want to eat fish caught in the bay at Acapulco. I've seen what drains down there from the hills. Guess where the locals are fishing!) but you're usually on safe ground at the hotels.

One of the very best New York strip sirloin steaks I've ever has was at a place called The No Name Cafe in Mazetlan. Cancun...on the East coast...was one of the cleanest cities I've ever seen.

As to San Diego, Cruise Critic has information and supplemental links at http://www.cruisecritic.com/ports/homeport.cfm?ID=17 which anyone should find useful.
 
M

Mikael Jonsson

Guest
HI again.

Thank you for all the information. I think I skip renting a car after reading about the traffic.

Can I go to San Diego, San Fransisco or Las vegas with train? Do you have any idea how much it cost? Are there bustrips from San Diego to Tijuana?

best regards, Mikael
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,587
376
283
Easley South Carolina
>>Can I go to San Diego, San Fransisco or Las vegas with train?<<

Yes. I'm not sure how the scheduals work out but AMTRAK does have a service. Go to http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/Schedules_Page

Keep in mind that trains aren't quite the popular means of transport that they are in Europe so the passenger routes aren't that extensive. I didn't see anything there for Las Vegas.