Well, after two years of saving and planning we finally boarded the plane for our very long flight to the USA. The flight itself (QANTAS) was fine, there was a short delay in boarding because they had to fix the loo, which made us laugh. The meals were good, and flight attendants were surprisingly ‘real’ and by that I mean not unrealistically ‘plastic’ looking. In fact quite a few of them were older gentlemen, who seemed close to retirement age. They were fab: they always managed to put a smile on my face.
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However, from when the plane landed things just seemed to fall apart a bit. Firstly we were told that our luggage would be at carousel five: it wasn’t. We waited and waited and eventually realised the luggage was on carousel six. Chris was starting to panic, thinking our luggage had been lost. Anyway, with our luggage in tow, we made our way to the Hertz shuttle bus, we had just missed one bus and had to wait about 10-15 minutes until the next. At Hertz I waited AGES while Chris sorted everything out at the counter. There were so many extra things to organise; insurances, personal liability, GPS, etc. Then we got in the car. This was the beginning of a whole new nightmare. Well, it probably wasn’t, but it felt like it after 12.5 hours on a plane, and facing the fact that crossing the international date line meant we had to relive Sunday all over again. Perhaps I should have tried to sleep instead of watching episodes of  “An Idiot Abroad” and “The Internship” on the plane.

Firstly we had to figure out how to use the GPS, it was something called a Neverlost. Haha, we managed to get lost quite easily. After we programmed the GPS, and after taking a couple of wrong turns due to turning before we were supposed to, (we soon learned to wait for the ‘ding-dong’ sound before doing the next manoeuvre,) we finally got to Santa Barbara.

We turned a corner in Santa Barbara, and we saw the name of our hotel, on the building on the corner. At last! The stressful drive was over! Chris parked across the street in front of the building, and we both went to find the entrance and where to park. We soon realised that the hotel was sprawled all along this section of the road and we were nowhere near the entrance, but in the couple of minutes it took to realise that and walk back to the car, we got a parking ticket from a lady in a little three-wheeled vehicle. We were parked on a red kerb, we didn’t know that was for emergency vehicles only, we only saw a sign that said “No RVs”. The lady explained that we needed to go to the police station within 30 days, and we could apply for a review form if we wanted, they often let off tourists for this kind of thing. She was really nice about it. We moved the car to the back of the hotel and went to reception, it would cost $18 a day to park the car. Blimey. By this stage we were so tired we didn’t care. It was cheaper than the $58 parking fine.

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It was hot and sunny, the beach was right across the road from the hotel, I knew I should be out exploring and happy to start my holiday, but it was also way past my bed time in Australia, we’d had a very stressful drive on the wrong side of the road from LA to Santa Barbara, got lost, and got a parking fine. All I wanted to do was have a sleep and start the day again. So we took a glass of water from the hotel lobby and went into one of the beautiful gardens in the hotel grounds and waited for our room to become available.

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After a while, the sofa in the lobby looked more inviting than the garden, so we trundled our belongings into the lobby, slumped onto one of the sofas and with our eyes barely staying open, we waited for the room to be cleaned. Check in time was 4.00 pm, but they took pity on the poor British sounding Aussies who had been awake for over 24 hours, and they let us in around 1.00 pm or 2.00 pm I think. The king size bed was high and wide and very inviting, and I collapsed onto it and slept until about 7.00 pm.

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That evening we watched a marathon of “Big Bang Theory” on TBS, something familiar at last! We had been well fed on the plane, but now it was time to eat again, I knew I couldn’t sleep again tonight if I was hungry, and the mini-bar and basket of goodies in the room was way too expensive. $6 for a muesli bar, $10 for water! The coffee machine was a pod type machine, $2 per pod, there was only one tea pod. We shared a cup: we were desperate.

Anyway, a quick look on Google told us that there was a pizza place down the road, open until midnight. So we went for a walk, and shared a very nice thin crust BBQ chicken pizza at Rusty’s Pizza Parlour. After that, we went for a walk up Stern’s Wharf and then back to the hotel. Chris managed to sleep from about 12.30  am, and I nodded off around 2.00 am.  This was literally the longest day of my life. Tomorrow’s mission, is to find the concert venue and the police station, and most important of all, buy teabags.

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