Queen Mary Hotel, Long Beach, CA
The first Queen
She is a queen of a long gone era. The RMS Queen Mary sailed from 1936 to 1967, and at times during her career she was the largest ship afloat and the fastest ship. Together with her sister ship the Queen Elizabeth, and the Aquitania; Winston Churchill said they had probably shortened the war by 2 years. In July of 1943 she carried 15, 740 passengers, and 943 crew, a standing record for the most passengers ever transported on one vessel.
Staying on her seemed like a fitting way to acknowledge Cunard’s proud heritage, and experience the magnificence of a past era.
But before I could dream of the decaying splendor of the magnificent ship, I had to get organized for the trip. Packing for 3 months of being away really shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, especially with access to the launderettes on board Queen Mary 2. I had planned what I wanted to take with me way back in November, and had made sure it all fitted nicely into 2 suitcases, and was well under weight. That way when the definitive packing day arrived it would be very easy, and there should be minimal anxiety.
So while watching the Keeping up Appearances QE2 episode I embarked on my task. It took longer than expected, so I also watched the Murder She Wrote Grand Old Lady episode. Despite having started with strict rules about what I could take, all of a sudden extra items were getting packed – you know, just in case.
Finally I was done. The suitcases weighed in at 48 lbs each, and I was ready to go. I was unable to fit in the box for my fascinators, and not wishing for them to be crushed in the suitcase, I placed them in a brown paper bag which I could carry on the plane with me, together with my large carry on bag and large handbag.
I was ready to head to Los Angeles. Yay!
Kissing Brian a fond farewell (he will be joining me in Hong Kong) and having a final margarita, I boarded my plane in Mexico and headed north of the border.
Arrival in Los Angeles was painless enough and all was going well until I was ready to exit through customs. The agent looked suspiciously and my brown paper bag and asked if I had any food with me. I replied no, and he went on to quiz me about the potential for half eaten apples, tuna sandwiches, and cold meat that I may have concealed in the bag, I reassured him that this was not the case, and told him about the gala nights on Queen Mary 2 and my need for fascinators. He looked suspiciously at me, so despite the fact I was now holding up the long line behind me, I modeled the fascinators for him. He was intrigued, and we got in to a whole long discussion of the golden age of ocean travel. Finally he let me go, and still wearing by favorite blue fascinator (to match my blue jeans), I struggled with my over laden luggage cart in search of a taxi to take me to Long Beach.
I had removed my fascinator by the time I checked into the Queen Mary, not wishing to appear to be too eccentric. I was in my room in no time (A108), which is a lovely room, with a very functional bathroom. My previous room on Queen Mary had been very substandard, but this one was almost perfect. It did not have an ocean view, but the view of the car park was better than nothing.
At great expense ($52) I had booked the 8:00 PM paranormal tour. I was very excited about the possibility of a ghost sighting. The young tour guide, Tom, was very engaging and did an excellent tour. No, we didn’t see any paranormal activity, but I learned a lot of interesting facts about the ship, including all the different types of wood involved in its design.
I know she looks tattered and tired, but the fact that she looks as good as she does is amazing to me. I was so enchanted by the tour that I think I failed to notice a lot of the deficits that have annoyed me on previous visits. I was just so taken with the experience.
The tour didn’t finish until 10:30, but the Observation Bar is open until 11:00 so I had time to go there for a Pimms (no milky way martinis), and sit back and absorb the atmosphere of the beautiful room. My only complaint is that they were playing loud pop music, which was detracting from my art deco mind set.
At 4:00 AM I was awoken by footsteps in my room. At first I thought they were in the corridor, but that didn’t make sense as there had been people back and forth in the corridor earlier that night, and all I heard were voices, no footsteps. I looked carefully, but couldn’t see anyone. It was as if they had come in through one wall and disappeared through another, the door never opened.
I was not sure whether to be excited or scared by the presumed paranormal phenomenon, and the fact that I could hear footsteps and saw nothing went against my assumptions about the super natural. Weren’t ghosts meant to glow in the dark and glide by silently after all?
I fell back into a deep Pimms induced sleep, pondering the nocturnal habits of ghosts………………………..