We are off on a 7 night Mexican Riviera cruise on the Crystal Symphony tomorrow (yay!!), and so flew in to LA today. Originally we were just going to stay at the Embassy Suites at LAX and then take a shuttle to the cruise port in San Pedro. Luckily, though, Lis’ college pal Vicki lives in the LA area, and proposed a plan – she would pick us up at the airport, we would all go stay somewhere fun, and then she would take us to the cruise port the next day.

Lis and Vicki did a lot of planning, and settled on Long Beach as the place to stay. I do not know the thinking behind this decision (I don’t think Long Beach is usually first on people’s itineraries), but I thought it sounded like fun – especially after Vicki suggested that we have brunch on the Queen Mary (permanently docked in Long Beach) on Sunday before going to the cruise port.

Our flight was on Alaska. While we were waiting at the gate, they announced that there were some first class seats available for a $50 upgrade – we pounced on them as quickly as possible, and found ourselves in first class, a very welcome little surprise. I had been a little cranky earlier (woke up with a headache), but this cheered me right up!

As everyone was boarding, a little boy and his mother started past us. The boy stopped in front of the still-empty first class seats across the aisle from us and said “I want to sit in front, momma.” She laughed and said “Me, too. But we need to keep going.” He had a very hard time accepting this – here were these perfectly nice seats, and they were just going to walk on by? She had to do quite a bit of cajoling to get him to move on back to coach. Poor boy – it’s hard when you run smack in to the world and its confusing ways…

Our flight was lovely, we arrived on time, and soon we were on the road to Long Beach with Vicki. It was a beautiful day – warm and clear and gorgeous. We checked in to our hotel – a boutique hotel in downtown called The Varden Hotel. It is a renovated 1920’s property, which means it is cool and tiny and neato and loud – the kind of place where you really couldn’t stay for more than one night.

After checking in, we headed out to look at the harbor. We drove down to the marina area, and sat on a bench for quite a while, looking out on the Queen Mary and watching the pelicans fish. I’ve seen pelicans many times before, but have never seen them hunt – they make these straight-down dives in to the water – very impressive.

After this we drove around the Naples Island area of Long Beach for a bit (it is one of Vicki’s favorite places) and then went to Parker’s Lighthouse restaurant for dinner. We sat outside and watched the sun go down, and then a crescent moon go down, and the Queen Mary was all lit up, and it was really great.

After dinner Lis and Vicki went to see The Muppets. I wanted to see it, too, but my energy, while greatly improved, is still pretty precarious, and I didn’t want to push things. They both enjoyed it very much – Lis says 2 thumbs up!

We decided against the Queen Mary for brunch after all (for a variety of reasons), and I was at first a little disappointed. But then I read on Wikipedia that she has been gutted and re-gutted since her retirement in 1967 – it doesn’t sound like there’s all that much of the original left (though I guess there are some restoration efforts underway), so I’m glad we’re not going. I think I’ll be happier with the images in my head from the Queen Mary book I read while on the Queen Mary II.

And so we’re off to bed, excited to spend some more time with Vicki tomorrow and then board our ship!

Link to photos