Monday, 18 April 2011

Day 1.

First leg, Melbourne to LA, was in an A380, a flying ocean liner. But everything was new and working. Staff very attentive. Had a pumpkin and gorgonzola pizza snack in the middle if the ‘night’ that was far too nice. Going to have to experiment when I get home.

I think I got about 5 hours sleep, broken into 20, 15min, blocks.

First flight in 35 years of airline safety presentations where something had changed – the seatbelts are like those in cars, with a button to push in rather than a flap to lift.

It took two and a half hours to negotiate Immigration & Customs at LA, not helped by having to claim and recheck-in my luggage. The Chicago flight was boarding when I got to it.

The American Airlines flight to Chicago was a cattle run. I think the plane was relatively new model (767) but, like the company pool car, it had seen better days and suffered from too many drivers.

Had to buy food on the AA flight - $10 for a lettuce and sliced beige stuff that may have been meat sandwich. Filled a gap, whatever it was.

Taxi driver was a lady, Gladys. Asked if she was a local – no, she replied, I come from Ghana. Ok, have you been here long? 20 years. Tough market to break into.

The town and suburbs have a distinct cream look to them – presumably the local sandstone but even the house seemed to be made of cream bricks. (Peter Bryenton: Beige!)

The hotel is nice. Swissotel, Chicago. Room on the 38th floor, so a good view. Must take a photo of the Navy Pier tomorrow – the lift lobby looks out over it. Looks a cross between Luna Park and Brighton Pier.

The lift lobbies have a keypad – you punch in the floor you want to go to and a lift arrives and takes you there. There are no buttons in the lift. Not sure what happens if you have a group with multiple floors. For future reference, if you select “G”, you will go to the garage, not ground.

A light dinner in the Palm Restaurant – don’t know why Palm. Saw lots of palms at LA but I suspect they are not native to the Great Lakes.

The meal, (Caesar salad, I wasn’t ready for anything else) came with a bread basket that had fruit bread in it. Went surprisingly well with a bottle of IPA (Goose Island) beer.

Coffee is awful. But it does occasionally get worse. The coffee on the plane (free, but with good reason) was a dark brown liquid with few redeeming or even identifying features. ‘Cream’ is invariably powdered stuff.

In the room is a contraption like the Nespresso that takes bigger (Gloria Jean) capsules and produces a weaker coffee. Some of the capsules are called “Breakfast Blend Decaf”; of all the times in my day when I don’t need decaf, breakfast is it. What are they thinking? Might give the “English Breakfast Tea” capsules a go in the morning.

Finally, in my coffee survey of middle America, I had a coffee after my meal. It came far too fast to have been made fresh. Sure enough when I was nearly finished the waiter turned up with a Thermos jug, asking if I wanted more. That’s where the breakfast coffee went.

All in all, I finished Day 1 in good but weary shape.


  1. Brilliant travelogue.

    You made it sound as if the last time you flew it was on Imperial Airways.

  2. Thank you for the update, pleased to hear that you made it ... I sure hope the coffee improves!

    xoxoxo ♡

  3. Sounds exhausting but seeing a new city is fun. Hope you have a little time to see Chicago. The coffee is the reason Starbucks has x-million outlets; Seattle's Best is another chain.


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