Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Big Brother, Central Perk, and LaLaLand…

Recognize this? The set of "Friends"
We arrived in LA early and Luca Baudoino, the Customer Services Director, fulfilled his promise to me to help us (the six who were going with us in a minivan to tour Warner Bros.) get off the ship in a timely manner. We got six “you’re a really special person so you can go to the head of the line” tickets. We didn’t have to go to the lounges and wait to have our group called; we didn’t have to stand in an interminable line waiting to get our passports stamped; we just went straight to the Vista Lounge where all the CBP agents were waiting. We were FIRST in line at 0645! (Well, first except for the Captain’s wife.) How cool is that?

Still couldn’t get off the ship, however. For some unfathomable reason, we had to wait until 0745 to get off. But no worries, off we got and called Enterprise at 0800 to get picked up at Berth 92, our home for the day. We waited. And we waited. We called. And we called. Each time, “He’ll be there any second now.” Finally, at 0825 the Enterprise van showed up. We only had until 1630, so every minute counted.

A few words on our vaunted Homeland Security. As I said, we had to go and meet with CBP and have our passports looked at before we could get off the ship. In fact, every single passenger had to meet with CBP whether they were getting off or not. But when it was time to get off, nobody checked whether or not you had actually gone there. We just walked off the ship. We could, as far as I could tell, have just come down from our cabin, gotten in line to disembark, and left. Oh well.

Finally we were off on our adventure, driving the LA freeways at semi-rush hour. We got our suitcases off to Kathy’s at UPS for only $125. Worth every penny! Then, finally, we got to Warner Bros.

We thought we were really early, arriving at just after 1000 for a 1045 tour. We had a few extra minutes which Steve, Donna, Chris, and Phil utilized by getting some very good looking sweet rolls from the, what else?, Starbucks that was in the gift shop.

I really had no idea how many TV and movies that I like are made by Warner Bros! The Big Bang Theory, The Mentalist, Casablanca, ER, Singing in the Rain, Harry’s Law (sadly, cancelled), and too many more to mention. So that made the tour even better. I am especially going to watch the Mentalist more closely since we got to see the set where it is being made. But we couldn’t take any photos there. Nor at the Museum. The Guards there were everywhere and we overheard a few messages between them about the visitors and how one or another was getting too close to the exhibits. In the Museum we got to see how Elizabeth Taylor got fatter as she got older—her dresses got bigger. Nevertheless, I haven’t worn anything that small since I was eight!

Believe it or not, this is Central Park for the cast of Friends

Props for rent at Warner Bros

The medical examiner's van in the Mentalist

This prop (no longer for rent!) is one of four Baccarat crystal lamps, worth an extimated $4 million

L-R, Steve, Chris, Donna, Phil, Pam, Randy in front of a bronze guess who?

A set at Warner Bros back lot.

Another set

Where Friends was shot for eight of its nine years.

Yet another set.

Randy and Batman
Since we had gone at least two hours since eating we decided to go to that famous SoCal eatery, Bob’s Big Boy. Here is where the Aussies really learned what it’s like to eat in an American fast food restaurant. They were staggered by the size of the portions! A hamburger too big to fit in your mouth. Coke in a glass that is ten inches tall. A “dinner salad” that the waitress said was small was in a very large bowl that I think Steve thought would feed four people. Nevertheless, they did a good job of polishing off most of the meal. Except for Chris and Phil who, having travelled in the US extensively, only ordered one vegetarian sandwich to share. Everyone else (including Randy and me) ordered hamburgers (medium-rare, of course!) which were double burgers with a mound of fries. Yum!
Pam, Phil, Chris, Steve, and Donna

Flat Stanley at Bob's Big Boy

No visit is complete without seeing and photographing the Hollywood sign. We had to do that from the middle of the street, much to the consternation of Donna, especially, who doesn’t believe that the California drivers will stop just because she is in the middle of the road!

A wonderful if quick visit to LA only marred by the traffic on the way back to the ship and our, to quote Randy, “stupid” GPS which sent us on surface streets to Steve and Donna’s hotel. Steve and Donna are abandoning us for the four days we’ll be at sea by flying to Hawaii with some of our other friends, Wendy and Bob. We were dropping them at their hotel at LAX which was more or less on our way back to San Pedro and the ship. Driving about 15 miles at 1500 on streets with traffic lights sort of stressed out Randy (we HAD to be on the ship by 1630 or it would sail without us) and therefore by osmosis, moi.

But we made it with 20 minutes to spare! And then spent the balance of the day on our deck with Chris and Phil doing our best to put a large dent in our gin and their Scotch and wine. We did a pretty good job of it, too!
Looking at the books that Chris has prepared of their various trips with their boat

Oh, yes, I almost forgot: Big Brother. Apparently while most of the passengers were gone, several cabins were searched by LAPD and left in a rather disorganized state. Needless to say, the passengers involved were a bit unhappy to come back to find their rooms a mess. Someone did point out that we DO have laws and the police can't search without a warrant. Don’t have the whole story yet. Stay tuned.

Good night!


  1. Great day, Great company, great blog :)

  2. So good to see you made it to Warner Brothers!!! LA is Hollywood.

  3. So excellent to see you made it to Warner Brothers!!! LA is Hollywood!!!