Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 987 - Santa Monica

Heading home

It was with a mixture of sadness and gladness that I checked out of the Disneyland Hotel.  Gladness that I am going home to see the family, and sadness that I am leaving the magic of Disney. 

Cars Land Grand Opening - suitcase tetris
After a morning spent individually rolling every piece of clothing for a game of suitcase tetris (to ensure I had space to fit in my newly acquired merch), combined with a stint of people watching at Downtown Disney (refer yesterday's post) a group of us then headed to LAX for an early check in before then heading to Santa Monica for the afternoon. It turns out that little exercise was an extremely clever move, not just because of the Santa Monica component, but because our early airport arrival meant we were there when they announced that our flights had been delayed by around 10 hours.

We'd been given the go ahead by Air New Zealand to check in as early as 1.30pm for our 10.30pm flight so that we could offload our bags for an afternoon of sightseeing.  When we arrived at LAX it was to the announcement that our flight would be delayed substantially meaning a 7.00am departure the following day which would also mean further delays and a possible overnight stay once we reached Auckland.  But due to some very friendly chatting with the lovely William at the Air New Zealand counter we managed to sweet talk our way onto an earlier flight. This meant we would still be getting home on time AND we could still head over to Santa Monica.

So it was with a great deal of sadness and guilt for the bulk of our colleagues who would not be so lucky* that we caught a cab to Santa Monica Pier.

The traffic to Santa Monica was HORRENDOUS with all 6 lanes of the freeway chocker block with Saturday drivers. I have no idea what all the fuss was about but every man and his dog was on their way to the beach.  Not sure if that is typical Saturday behaviour, or if it is because summer officially commences next week, or if it's because it's the Fathers Day weekend, or if my idea of heading to Santa Monica was extremely clever and sparked a mass exodus, but I was starting to wish we'd decided to do something else instead.  That thought continued as we hit the shopping precinct and joined THOUSANDS of bodies as they meandered around the promenade. 

Despite the crowds we managed to get a feed and hit a few high end stores at Santa Monica Place which is an open air mall featuring a mix of stores and contemporary restaurants.  We wandered past Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Burberry, Hugo Boss, Kitson, Nordstrom and Nike. I went into Bloomingdales and bought my Estee Lauder make up which even at Bloomingdales prices is half the cost that it is at home.  My favourite spot was the H&M store on 3rd Street Promenade.  I could have gone crazy wild in there but didn't due to the aforementioned game of suitcase tetris. The entire street is a mix of high, medium and low end shopping. H&M is affordable and funky which suited me just fine.

I've done Santa Monica Pier a couple of times before so I didn't feel the need to venture down there with the masses, however it's always nice to look at it from a distance.  I had always known the homeless population was large in this area of town**, but I had forgotten just how in your face it could be.  Louis Vuitton on one corner, homeless on the other. And the stench and flies in the public toilet on this trip was a little too vomitous for my liking. 

Having said all that I think Santa Monica is a must see destination if ever you are in LA.  The times I have done it before were during transit awaiting other flights.  If you've got a spare four hours or so at the airport it is very easy to wander out to Carpark C and for a dollar you can jump on the Rapid 3 bus which will take you all the way to Santa Monica.  And yes, there is a return bus that will deposit you right back at the airport.  If you would prefer to take a cab it will cost somewhere between $35 and $50 depending on traffic. 

Here are some pictures of the 3rd Street Promenade shopping crowds.  I've never seen it this busy before, but then again, I've never been there on a Saturday.
Santa Monica - 3rd Street Promenade - H&M
Santa Monica Place - view from 3rd Street Promenade

Santa Monica - 3rd Street Promenade

I write this from the comfort of the Air New Zealand premium lounge.  I am nursing my extremely large feet with matching cankles.  I don't know why mother nature made me this way but I am wishing she could change her formula.  It might be because I am one of the few in thongs, but as I look around the place no one else seems to have the same swelling problem. It's an ugly ugly sight.  Looks like jelly in a g-string. Unfortunately it's only going to get worse with another flight into Sydney and then a bus trip to Canberra to go.

But all whinging aside it's not long to go now and I will be home sweet home.

Disney is wonderful and magical and I am very honoured to have been on this trip. But home is pretty darn magical too and I can't wait for the cuddles that await me.

*Seriously ... we did feel bad.  Having said that, I wasn't giving up my seat for anyone.  I miss my husband and kids too much for that random act of kindness ....

** Many years ago Derek and the kids took an afternoon nanna nap under the Santa Monica Pier with a few of the homeless crowd as we filled in time between flights.  But that's a story for another day.


  1. Sounds like an incredible amazing magical trip. You are very lucky to be looked after on the flights, have a safe trip home x

  2. I stayed in Santa Monica about 12 years ago. It was nice to say I'd been there, but in truth I found it a bit grubby. We're so spoiled with our beautiful beaches here in Australia!

    Travel safely, I'm sure your hubby and kiddies will be just as pleased to have you home.


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