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Unread 10 Sep 19, 10:24 PM  
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smithlane
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The BIG Little Lies California Road Trip - 17th July 2019 - LHR-DUB-SFO, San Francisco & Bubba Gumps

Travel Day

Today is the day!
The alarm goes off at the ungodly hour of 4am. Even though I'm ridiculously excited I snoozed it twice as I cannot muster the energy to get up. I finally peel myself out of bed at 4.18 and jump in the shower. Jim is next, followed by the kids. By 5.15 we are all dressed, ready and waiting for the cab to arrive at half past. I have diligently checked every window is shut, every switch is turned off (apart from the fridge, always trust the fridge ) and for the 150th time checked we have our passports in my bag.
Taxi arrives dead on 5.30am and 5 mins later were loaded up and are on our way. By 5.50 we pull up outside Terminal 2, perks of living so close to the airport! 27.50 though, its a complete joke as we live 3 miles away
The Leans have miraculously made it before us, they stayed at the Premier Inn on the Bath Road last night and grabbed an Uber this morning to the airport. They are late for everything its hilarious. For example the plan was to get to ours for 6pm last night after driving up from Hampshire and all have a Chinese takeaway together but at 6.30 they hadnt even left home and eventually turned up at 10pm . I then took them to the Premier Inn as they were leaving their car at ours.
We meet them beside the Aer Lingus bag drop and as we have checked in online and printed boarding passes we go to the machines to get rid of the suitcases. Very swift and easy, we are then through a very quiet security.
Hope and Sam both get flagged, we think its the metal bar on their Nike Force trainers.









Thoughts turn immediately to food and as theres no trusty Wetherspoons in T2 we make do with the London Pride pub restaurant.
I do my usual of grabbing a couple of croissants from Eat for Hope, the breakfast dodging teenager! I also grab a ready to eat cereal pot from WHSmith for Sean as there doesnt look much on the menu for him. He is very much in the routine of having cereal every morning.
I dont fancy a full English so go for 2 poached eggs on an English muffin with beans and a sausage. Jim and Sam both opt for the big breakfast.
Service was very slow which was frustrating as there was hardly anyone sitting down . Anyway we werent in a great rush so all was good with the world.





My breakfast was very nice, just the right amount.



We split the bill in half, our share was 52 which was fairly pricy for 3 breakfasts!
Time for some shopping. Anyone who has read any of my previous reports will know Im partial to the odd spot of shopping on holiday and this one is certainly no exception. I had placed an order with Duty Free online so went over to Concierge to pick it up. This is so easy to do, you dont pay for it until you get there so can add more bits which of course I did. I had ordered a Dermalogica Age Smart Dynamic Skin Recovery, Age Smart Multivitamin Power Serum (I need all the help I can get!) and a Molton Brown body wash. I needed some Chanel foundation that I couldnt order online so grabbed that and 160 later I was done. Hope now wanted to find some sunglasses she had been saving up for.



Found some lovely Ray Bans but at 145 they were just too much. She finally settled for a pair of Ted Baker ones at a much more reasonable 60. She was a happy girly.
We had fun trying on some wacky pairs. Seriously who buys these!









Now onto WHSmith for the kids to get a drink, I got myself a book too. Typical holiday reading material by Sophie Kinsella, I Owe You One.
We had lost Jim along the way, he had ducked into Dixons to get himself an uber expensive pair of Bose headphones. He tells me they cost 29.50 but somehow I think hes lying...
Good job really as he doesnt know how much my little haul came to .
At 8am the gate is announced, A22 so we slowly make our way there.



The gate was still closed so we take a seat and I go for a quick wee. By the time I came out not only have they started boarding but it says the gate is closing
The cabin crew were rushing everyone through, I had to weigh my hand luggage to make sure it was under 10kg. 9.5, phew!
As usual there was then the queue in the tunnel so not sure why they were hurrying us all.
Soon on board, we settled down in row 14.
Took off 10 mins late at just after 9 but were told we would still land on time at 10.15am.
A quick hop over the Irish Sea!
Everyone around me promptly fell asleep so I started on my notes and before I knew it we were landing.











Landed at 10.10 but didnt make our way off the plane until 10.30 as there was no gate available.
When we did get off it was a different process to the last time we came through Dublin 2 years ago. In 2017 we walked straight into Departures whereas this time we had to board a bus to the terminal and show our boarding passes.





We had what we thought was a bit of time so popped upstairs into departures to get a Burger King. Yes eating again!
Ordered a Whopper Meal, Crispy Chicken meal, Bacon Cheeseburger meal and a Chicken Nugget meal. Not cheap at over 30 but was actually really nice!
After a quick loo break we walked down to Pre Clearance.



The queue just to have your passport and boarding pass seen was HUGE. Uh oh, this does not bode well
We finally got into the security queue and had 1hr 20 mins until departure.



The queue wound round and round, it took 40 mins just to go through security. The immigration hall was rammed and we were now starting to sweat! It seemed they were not using the machines like we had in 2017 and there were only about 5 Immigration Officers. Looking on the Departures Board it looked like there were far more trans Atlantic flights leaving Dublin than 2 years ago which must account for the huge queues as well. It had taken us 20 minutes from start to finish before!
We got about halfway in the queue when an officer called our flight so we got to skip to the front. It was now 12.20 so cutting it very fine for our 12.35 flight.
We were second in line to see the Immigration Officer but my god was she slow . We counted 12 people go through in the line next to us and she hadnt even processed 3! She was asking every question under the sun.
Eventually another IO came over and closed her line then moved us over to see him straight away. They must have realised she was holding up the hall.
He was lovely and got us processed in no time at all. The Leans had already gone through so we told them to hold the plane for us.
Once done we legged it to the gate 426, the furthest bloody one away! We heard an announcement over the tannoy to say it was the final call for boarding. Jesus, I have never run so fast in my life .
We got to the gate to see the Leans and one of the cabin crew in fits of laughter, Nick the git had got them to make the announcement .
They were still waiting for about 80 passengers so we were by far the last ones to board!
After I had got my breath back and my heart stopped feeling like it was going to pop out of my chest we made our way onboard.
We had the 4 middle seats of rows 27 and 28 so put the kids in front with us right behind. Jim wasnt happy that we were right next to the toilets, it wasnt ideal but I was just glad to be on that plane I didnt really care. I offered to swap seats with him as he was on the aisle but he refused. To be fair there was a lot of people going back and forward and as Jim is 63 and largely built it was an interference. The plane must have changed configuration as the toilet was definitely not by us when I booked our seats. Oh well
Got ourselves settled and I started to watch Vice, the story of Dick Cheney. Vice President of George Bush.



We eventually started taxiing at 1.30pm and took off at 1.45pm. The pilot announced a flight time of only 10 hrs 10 mins instead of 11 hrs so we should make most of it up in the air.
At 2.50pm the drinks service came round. Diet Coke and a water for me.
I watched Frozen next. My Sturgeron suddenly kicked in so had a little snooze until dinner was served at 4pm.
Choice of chicken in a pepper sauce, pasta bolognese or veg chilli, I went with the pasta. Didnt look too appealing but was actually alright. It came with a slice of soda bread, pasta salad and Dessert was strawberry shortcake.



I watched Mary Poppins Returns next, I hadnt seen it before and can still say I havent as I fell asleep again. These tablets are great
I had a nice long sleep and woke up just before it finished at 6.45pm
I missed the ice cream, so Jim ate mine too!
Looked on the map, we still had 4 1/2 hours to go! Oh well at least were over half way.
Next film was The Favourite. Had to turn it off halfway through as really wasnt enjoying it. This always happens when I watch Oscar winning films, I never like them!



Put on The Mule with Clint Eastwood instead. This was a very good film. We now had only 2 hours until landing, almost there!
Played a few rounds of trivia to pass the time. I managed to whoop Jims backside with 105000 to his 41000!
Put the map on for a bit then a couple of episodes of Modern Family, love this show.





About an hour and a half before landing we got brought round a Tomato Chicken pastry and a hot drink. Quite tasty.



Before we knew it they were announcing the descent at 11.15pm.
As we are now in the USA Ill get onto PST.
We landed at 4pm and were soon off the plane with the bonus of being domestic passengers we could go and get our baggage straight away.
Stopped off to get a drink for everyone and Sam a yoghurt parfait pot as he hadnt eaten a thing on the flight, he slept for most of the way.
Baggage carousels were ridiculously busy but our suitcases were some of the first off so were soon on our way to the Car Rental Garage. We needed to get the Airtrain as its off property. Got on the wrong train to begin with so after a quick change at the next station we were on our way. SFO is massive!
As Avis Preferred members we could go straight down to the garage desks and were seen right away. Our name was on the board and we had been assigned a VW Atlas which is the same as a Touareg in this country. It had 7 seats which we obviously didnt need so had a huge boot. We were very happy, Jim especially as it had a V6 engine . They had though locked the car with the keys in the central console and the window open but we couldnt quite reach them so had to set the alarm off by opening up the door from the inside.
The Leans had been given a Nissan Rogue. It couldnt quite fit all of their suitcases in so we took one of theirs as we had plenty of room.
Paid for a tank of petrol at the barrier then we were on our way at just after 5. Traffic was bedlam, it took over an hour to get to the Columbus Motor Inn. I was very excited to see the city as we got closer.











Excited to see our first palm trees




We had to park in the disability spot as there was no other room on the ground floor car park.
Check in was very friendly, we had to pay for the 3 nights plus a $75 security hold on the card. Once done we then moved the car to their upper floor garage.
Our room was on the top floor with the Leans on the 1st floor. We had both booked suites which have a king bed in a bedroom with a further 2 queens in a separate living area.
Decor is very dated even though its been recently refurbished but it is spotlessly clean and very well sized.
We all had a wash and freshen up then at 7 we met up and headed to get something to eat as believe it or not we were still hungry
We wandered down to Fishermans Wharf on the hunt for food. Saw our first cable car on the way with a huge queue of people waiting to go on it.





It only takes about 10 minutes to walk to the front, the hotel is in a great location.



We passed an Applebees but carried on walking up to Pier 39 instead.
Remembered there was a Bubba Gumps on Pier 39 which everyone was happy with.
Great vibe round here, loads of gift shops that well certainly come back to but food was a higher priority! Got to see the famous sealions too.

















There was a huge queue and everyone groaned but then I whipped out my Landry Card and suddenly I was treated like a VIP and we were seated straight away on a table for 8. I was congratulated on my planning skills. Jim very kindly redeemed me from the plane seats by the loo cock up that wasnt even my fault







God I was starving. There was only one thing for it, Mamas Southern Chicken, both kids had a burger and Jim the seafood feast. Sam and I got a strawberry lemonade, Hope a Diet Coke and Jim a bud light in a souvenir glass which we didnt realise at the time.

Whilst waiting for our food Helen, Jen and I went down to the front of the pier to see the sunset. Such a beautiful view and a real pinch me Im here moment!





At 8.15pm we got our food, a full 24 hours after we got up!
Food was excellent and seeing how tired we all were we ate quite a lot.





I quickly went back down to the front to take a few more photos as I could see the sky had changed to a beautiful colour now the sun had gone down. You can see the famous fog rolling in too.











The bill came to $260 and we just split it down the middle, we both left a $20 tip. Not cheap at all but we ended up with 4 souvenir glasses that we had to pick up from the shop opposite.
We had well and truly hit the deck now so we decided to get a cab back.





It was 9pm now so walked to the front of the pier and grabbed 2 taxis back to the hotel. $6.90 so well worth it!
We quickly got our clothes ready for the next day but by 9.30 we were all out like a light
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The BIG Little Lies California Road Trip - July/Aug 2019 Trip Report
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Unread 11 Sep 19, 10:16 AM  
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GandL
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Yess! I have been waiting for this trip report
Great travel day, albeit incredibly long day for you all, must have been exhausted.

Cannot wait for the next instalment.
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Unread 11 Sep 19, 10:56 AM  
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KayLouise
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Great start! Looking forward to reading more 😊
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A long wait for our SoCal Adventure
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Unread 11 Sep 19, 04:48 PM  
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danisleigh
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Yippee, I have been waiting for this! We have booked our first ever west coast trip next aug/sept and have also booked the Columbus motor inn. Was debating seeing if we could change to a suite but I couldnt see any photos to see if it was worth it but they sound great!
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Unread 12 Sep 19, 11:56 AM  
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moosha
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Yay, youve started Alicia . Cant wait to read all about your holiday, so glad you had an amazing time.

Wow you guys certainly have a lot of stamina...that was one long travel day .

Currently looking at BA flydrives and trying to decide whether to book a direct flight to SF or save 500 going via Dublin with Aer Lingus so reading about your experience is very helpful. Weve never gone indirect before as DH gets so stressed on travel day but 500 is a lot of money we could use elsewhere on the trip, and pre-clearance is a big bonus too. Hes saying itll be fine but with a 1.5 hour turnaround I dont know .

Thanks for sharing .
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Unread 13 Sep 19, 06:45 PM  
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smithlane
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Originally Posted by GandL View Post
Yess! I have been waiting for this trip report
Great travel day, albeit incredibly long day for you all, must have been exhausted.

Cannot wait for the next instalment.
Hey, thank you. It was one of our longest travel days, the 8 hours time difference is a killer! Totally worth it though
Day 1 coming soon!
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The BIG Florida Surprise - Aug 2015 Trip Report
The BIG Florida Return - Aug/Sept 2017 Trip Report
The BIG New York Surprise & Florida Comeback - Aug/Sept 2018 Trip Report
Christmas Markets and More! Berlin - Nov/Dec 2018 Trip Report
The BIG Las Vegas Surprise - Feb 2019 Trip Report
The BIG Little Lies California Road Trip - July/Aug 2019 Trip Report
smithlane is offline Girl Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
Birthday break in Krakow
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Unread 13 Sep 19, 06:47 PM  
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smithlane
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Originally Posted by KayLouise View Post
Great start! Looking forward to reading more 😊
Thank you for reading
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The BIG Florida Surprise - Aug 2015 Trip Report
The BIG Florida Return - Aug/Sept 2017 Trip Report
The BIG New York Surprise & Florida Comeback - Aug/Sept 2018 Trip Report
Christmas Markets and More! Berlin - Nov/Dec 2018 Trip Report
The BIG Las Vegas Surprise - Feb 2019 Trip Report
The BIG Little Lies California Road Trip - July/Aug 2019 Trip Report
smithlane is offline Girl Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
Birthday break in Krakow
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Unread 13 Sep 19, 06:52 PM  
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smithlane
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Originally Posted by danisleigh View Post
Yippee, I have been waiting for this! We have booked our first ever west coast trip next aug/sept and have also booked the Columbus motor inn. Was debating seeing if we could change to a suite but I couldnt see any photos to see if it was worth it but they sound great!
Thank you for reading! You won't regret choosing the Columbus, it was the ideal hotel. I stupidly didn't take any photos though! The one bed suite was huge. A decent size bedroom with a King bed and balcony then in the living area was 2 Queen beds with a small dining table and chairs. It was handy that the sink was outside of the bathroom so meant 2 people could get ready at once. We normally stay in villas so thought a holiday staying in various different apartments and hotel rooms would be a nightmare but it really wasn't, it was the main reason why we chose suite type rooms where we could.
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The BIG Florida Surprise - Aug 2015 Trip Report
The BIG Florida Return - Aug/Sept 2017 Trip Report
The BIG New York Surprise & Florida Comeback - Aug/Sept 2018 Trip Report
Christmas Markets and More! Berlin - Nov/Dec 2018 Trip Report
The BIG Las Vegas Surprise - Feb 2019 Trip Report
The BIG Little Lies California Road Trip - July/Aug 2019 Trip Report
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