Long distance air travel is arduous and it has taken us twenty six hours from leaving Melbourne to reach our hotel in Las Vegas.
Our trip began with a pleasant journey to the airport, driven by our friend Stuart who keeps this hire car immaculate and is always a pleasure to travel with. Check in at the airport was easy, though I noticed that this time, a security officer asked all the baggage security questions that the airline staff normally ask. It seemed a little odd to me – especially when the check in agent looked on with a bemused look on her face. Perhaps there is some deep bureaucratic reason for this that I don’t understand.
Fortunately, with my frequent flier status, we have access to the Qantas First Class Lounge, so anticipating that it would take while before we had a meal during the flight, we were able to eat in the lounge and then be personally escorted to the gate. Nice!
Our flight was in one of Qantas’ new 787 Dreamliners. Qantas have been banging on about these new planes for months, yet other airlines have been flying them for eight or nine years. It is, however, a very nice plane in which to fly. It’s a bit more intimate than the giant Airbus A380. Its technical features are designed to reduce jet lag and I did actually feel a lot less fatigued at the end of the flight than I think i would have felt on other aircraft. It’s a pity that Qantas’ service was not quite up to scratch. Jill didn’t ever receive her meal, the drinks service was slow and the breakfast unappetising. Not at all up to Qantas’ normal standard.
We landed in Los Angeles a little ahead if time and then went through the circus of the US immigration process. We found ourselves in a long snaking line of hundreds of people waiting to go through immigration. I don’t know whether Disneyland learnt how to manage crowds from this airport, or whether it was the other way around but the lines did keep slowly moving. After three 100-metre loops, we were finally at one of the relatively new electronic passport machines where our documents were validated, fingerprints taken and customs declaration made. I thought this new technology would simplify the process but then we found ourselves in another similar line to present our documents to a real-life immigration official. Finally, after an hour, we were in the baggage hall , had picked up our bags and then we stood in another line to be cleared through customs. My advice is to avoid entering the USA through Los Angeles if at all possible.
We reached Las Vegas by late afternoon. Somehow it had taken all day to do a 45 minute flight from Los Angeles. We had a terrific view outside our hotel window and I hope that this sunset gets replicated as we travel on the rest of or journey.
We are staying at the Palazzo Hotel, which together with its adjoining sister hotel. The Venetian, makes for the largest hotel in the world – over 7,700 rooms. It is enormous and feAtures a replica of St Marks Square and a canal that offers gondola rides. Of course, every facility including guest lifts, cafe and shops are accessed through the casino. I’m bemused that Jill keeps turning off the lights in our room to save electricity. As iff one morel light globe would have any impact on the electricity bill in this city!
Somehow, the hotel’s computer system had gone haywire and when we arrived, we found the hotel was holding seven rooms for us. We really didn’t really need that many, unless we were going to change to a new one every few hours. We soon had that sorted out but I’ll need to see that haven’t incurred any extra charges when we check out.
The highlight of our visit here was catching up with my old friend Alan Schoonmaker. Alan and I worked together for over a decade conducting training courses Negotiation Skills. He and I are now a lot older than when we last met which must have been around twenty years ago. He has let a lot of weight and is looking in very good health. Alan’s big love in life is poker sand he is the very successful author of a number of best selling books on the psychology of the game. We spent about three hours over long lunch reminiscing and enjoying some really good catching up time together.
Late on the afternoon, Jill and I picked up our car (a brand new Jeep Cherokee)and went shopping for some things we would like t have on our road trio that starts tomorrow.