Monday, April 29, 2002

San Francisco to Sydney - Day 14

Day 14 : Long Beach

This morning we walked from our hotel down towards the ocean, stopping at an area known as Shoreline Village to grab a late breakfast alongside the Long Beach marina. Yesterday's rain, the second we'd had during our trip, had disappeared and the morning was warm and a little overcast.

Our hotel is a little further from the downtown area than would be ideal, but the long walk into the city was a good antidote for the hours we'd spent sitting on buses and in bus transit stations yesterday.

Queen Mary
We spent almost all our sightseeing time today roaming the decks and the galleys of the Queen Mary. The liner, a popular tourist attraction here since May of 1971, makes an impressive sight. Over 1,000 feet (300 metres) long and 12 decks high, it changes your perception of scale and makes everything nearby seem tiny. There's a Russian submarine (another tourist attraction) lying next to it in the water which would, in any other environment, seem impressively large and imposing. Alongside the Queen Mary, it looks like a bath toy that someone accidentally dropped overboard.

Rigging and Flags on Bow of Queen Mary The journey to Long Beach in December of 1967 was the Queen Mary's 1001st journey. During her time as a passenger liner and as a troop carrier during WWII, the Queen Mary transported over three-quarters of a million people in just over 30 years of service. On regular voyages, she could carry almost 2,000 passengers and 1,200 crew.

Our ticket included a Ghosts & Legends guided tour, which took us through parts of the ship that are allegedly haunted and used special effects to create faux apparitions in the appropriate places. The scariest part was the admission price.


What was scary though - to me anyway - was the thought of travelling on the Queen Mary and having cause to use her lifeboats. You can see a row of them in the photo at left, each of them 36 feet (about 11 metres) long and, at their widest, no more than 5 feet (about 1½ metres) across. In use, these boats were expected to hold 145 people. Generously, that's about 1 square foot each. Breathing, presumably, would have been conducted on a strictly rostered basis.

We ate dinner at a place called Tequilla Joe's, where the waiter was sure that he'd seen me the day before. Had I been quick enough to think of it, I'd have confirmed this and then reminded him that I'd tipped him so well the previous day, that no tip should be required today. Too bad, I guess, if the previous me had been rude and obnoxious or had left without paying. Anyway, the tacos were good, the margaritas were excellent and the tip was ... modest. Obviously the waiter's not too good with faces.

Originally posted by TC

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