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The RMS Queen Mary

Visiting an elegant Queen and warships at Long Beach

semi-overcast 22 °C
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Although I have been to Los Angeles three times previously visiting family I have never been to Long Beach and was keen to see the retired 1936 art deco ocean liner RMS Queen Mary that is permanently docked there. Alongside her is the Soviet Foxtrot Class b-427 Scorpion Submarine purchased from the Russians in the 1990s and also the large dome that was once used to display the Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" before it was sold in 1998 to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon. The Spruce Goose only flew once in 1947 (for a distance of about a mile about 70 feet above the water) and is the largest flying boat ever built with the longest wingspan of any aircraft in history.

The RMS Queen Mary berthed up at Long Beach

The RMS Queen Mary berthed up at Long Beach


The RMS Queen Mary and Soviet b-427 'Scorpion' Submarine at Long Beach

The RMS Queen Mary and Soviet b-427 'Scorpion' Submarine at Long Beach


The now empty display dome for the 'Spruce Goose' Flying Boat alongside the RMS Queen Mary

The now empty display dome for the 'Spruce Goose' Flying Boat alongside the RMS Queen Mary

We began our tour however with a visit aboard the Cold War vintage Soviet Foxtrot Class b-427 Scorpion Submarine that floats alongside the RMS Queen Mary. Launched in Leningrad in 1972 she was part of the Soviet Pacific Submarine Fleet based out of Vladivostok and was one of 79 Foxtrot Class submarines that served with the Soviet Navy before being decommissioned in 1994. She is a contemporary of the Australian Submarine HMAS Ovens I looked around in Freemantle and it was strange to think of them on opposing sides and hunting each other.

The Soviet b-427 Scorpion Submarine alongside the RMS Queen Mary at Long Beach

The Soviet b-427 Scorpion Submarine alongside the RMS Queen Mary at Long Beach


The Forward Torpedo Room aboard the Soviet b-427 Scorpion

The Forward Torpedo Room aboard the Soviet b-427 Scorpion


Close up of the forward torpedo tubes aboard the b-427 Scorpion

Close up of the forward torpedo tubes aboard the b-427 Scorpion


Sonar Room aboard the b-427 Scorpion

Sonar Room aboard the b-427 Scorpion

Although the Soviet submarine in the film is a nuclear attack submarine and a lot bigger, walking past the officer's ward room and then climbing through the Control Room to look through the Attack Periscope with all the Russian writing everywhere I couldn't help thinking of Sean Connery in the 1990 film "The Hunt for Red October"!

Officer's Ward Room aboard the b-427 Scorpion

Officer's Ward Room aboard the b-427 Scorpion


Hatch into the Control Room aboard the b-427 Scorpion

Hatch into the Control Room aboard the b-427 Scorpion


Me looking through the attack periscope aboard the b-427 Scorpion

Me looking through the attack periscope aboard the b-427 Scorpion


Assorted knobs at the rear of the Control Room aboard the b-427 Scorpion

Assorted knobs at the rear of the Control Room aboard the b-427 Scorpion

The b-427 Scorpion had a crew of 56 sailors, 10 midshipman and 12 officers and felt a lot more cramped than the HMAS Ovens. Since arriving in Long Beach with Hollywood not too far away she has appeared as a Russian, American, German and even a Japanese submarine in many films, TV shows, commercials and documentaries.

The Galley aboard the b-427 Scorpion

The Galley aboard the b-427 Scorpion


The Engine Room aboard the b-427 Scorpion

The Engine Room aboard the b-427 Scorpion


Crew bunks in the Rear Torpedo Room of the b-427 Scorpion

Crew bunks in the Rear Torpedo Room of the b-427 Scorpion

We then moved on to the main event, the RMS Queen Mary. Legend has it that she was originally going to be called the Queen Victoria but when as per protocol Cunard approached King George V for his blessing for the ship's proposed name saying, "We have decided to name our new ship after England's greatest Queen," (meaning Queen Victoria, the King's Grandmother) the King reportedly replied "My wife (Queen Mary) will be delighted that you are naming the ship after her" and so she was called the Queen Mary instead.

The view boarding the Queen Mary at Long Beach

The view boarding the Queen Mary at Long Beach


The outside Promenade Deck on the Queen Mary

The outside Promenade Deck on the Queen Mary


The Ship's Bell on the Queen Mary

The Ship's Bell on the Queen Mary


Marble Plaque and portrait of Queen Mary over the Main Staircase on the Promenade Deck

Marble Plaque and portrait of Queen Mary over the Main Staircase on the Promenade Deck

Our guide for the main "Glory Days" tour of the ship was a retired Captain who was extremely knowledgeable about the ship. The Queen Mary was built in Clydebank (Scotland) and when launched in 1936 set a new benchmark in transatlantic travel and was considered by the rich and famous as the only way to travel. On our tour (with exception of the First Class Lounge or "Queens Salon" which was closed for a private function) we were shown around all the main rooms of the ship with their luxurious art-deco furnishings.

The First Class Restaurant aboard the Queen Mary (also known as the Grand Salon)

The First Class Restaurant aboard the Queen Mary (also known as the Grand Salon)


Ornate map on the back wall of the First Class Restaurant used to show the location of the Queen Mary while crossing the Atlantic

Ornate map on the back wall of the First Class Restaurant used to show the location of the Queen Mary while crossing the Atlantic


The Observation Bar on the forward Promenade Deck

The Observation Bar on the forward Promenade Deck

Queen Mary herself appears to have only briefly visited the ship once but she proved popular with Hollywood stars such as Bob Hope and was frequently used by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to cross the Atlantic during WWII. The Queen Mary Hotel currently features 314 of the original guest rooms including 305 staterooms and 9 full suites. Interestingly the bathroom of the suite used by Queen Mary we looked around had 4 taps - separate sets of hot and cold taps for fresh and salt water.

The Royal Suite's Bedroom aboard the Queen Mary

The Royal Suite's Bedroom aboard the Queen Mary


The Royal Suite's Day Room aboard the Queen Mary

The Royal Suite's Day Room aboard the Queen Mary


Bathroom in the Queen Mary's Royal Suite - note the 2 sets of hot and cold taps for fresh and salt water

Bathroom in the Queen Mary's Royal Suite - note the 2 sets of hot and cold taps for fresh and salt water


First class corridor stretching the length of the ship

First class corridor stretching the length of the ship

The Queen Mary also had a Travel Bureau (recently restored) for first class passengers to make hotel reservations before their arrival at their final destinations. There was also an indoor swimming pool with an art deco entrance; when we were taken inside it was very dark as these days it is used mainly on the Queen Mary's Ghost & Legends Tour which can only be described as "corny" as they try to scare people in true ghost train fashion with stories of calamities aboard the ship such as the stoker who was tragically chopped in half by a bulkhead door. The biggest disaster to befell the Queen Mary was her collision with and sinking of the British cruiser HMS Curacao off the coast of Ireland in 1942 when 331 lives were lost. This is remembered on the Ghost & Legends Tour with a recreation of flooding in the side of ship down in one of the engine rooms.

The Travel Bureau on Main Deck

The Travel Bureau on Main Deck


The art-deco entrance to the First Class Swimming Pool

The art-deco entrance to the First Class Swimming Pool


The darkened First Class Swimming Pool aboard the Queen Mary

The darkened First Class Swimming Pool aboard the Queen Mary


Simulated water flooding in the side of ship down in one of the Engine Rooms during the 'Ghost and Legends Tour'

Simulated water flooding in the side of ship down in one of the Engine Rooms during the 'Ghost and Legends Tour'

The Bridge of the ship was spacious with polished wheels and levers and had a view forward up the Los Angeles River with the b-427 Scorpion Submarine alongside. Included on the deck is a Bofors Gun as used to defend the ship during WWII.

The Bridge aboard the Queen Mary

The Bridge aboard the Queen Mary


The view forward from the Bridge with the b-427 Scorpion Submarine alongside

The view forward from the Bridge with the b-427 Scorpion Submarine alongside


Me on the Forward Deck of the Queen Mary

Me on the Forward Deck of the Queen Mary


WWII Bofors Gun on the deck of the Queen Mary

WWII Bofors Gun on the deck of the Queen Mary

Towards the back of the ship with a separate walkway is the "Queen Mary Story" Museum which included various models and memorabilia from the ship as well as mock ups of different types of cabins used during her history. There is also access through the museum to one of the Queen Mary's engine rooms and a propeller submerged in a tank of water to preserve it.

View back along the Queen Mary portside from outside the Bridge

View back along the Queen Mary portside from outside the Bridge


Inside an Engine Room aboard the Queen Mary

Inside an Engine Room aboard the Queen Mary


One of the Queen Mary's Propellers

One of the Queen Mary's Propellers

One of the most interesting periods in the Queen Mary's history is her involvement in WWII. The ship was called up as a troopship and affectionately known as the "Grey Ghost" for the drab shade of grey she was painted and ability to evade U-boats because of her speed. Eventually during the course of the war the Queen Mary carried more than 800,000 troops (including 16,683 on a single voyage - a record that remains to this day) and travelled more than 600,000 miles playing a significant role in virtually every major Allied campaign. Winston Churchill credited the Queen Mary with shortening the War by a year and amongst the exhibits were GI bunk beds, a gym and weaponry used during this period. After the war the Queen Mary spent the following year repatriating American troops and GI brides before finally being demobbed and returned to Cunard her owners in September 1946.

Ship Plan and Bunks as used during WWII

Ship Plan and Bunks as used during WWII


Example of the extra weaponry mounted aboard to protect the Queen Mary during WWII

Example of the extra weaponry mounted aboard to protect the Queen Mary during WWII


Gym as used by American Soldiers aboard the Queen Mary during WWII

Gym as used by American Soldiers aboard the Queen Mary during WWII


Example of a cabin used by GI Brides after WWII

Example of a cabin used by GI Brides after WWII

When the Queen Mary was put up for sale in 1967 she was purchased by the City of Long Beach to become a signature tourist attraction and high class hotel which she continues to be today. In addition to the Queen Mary Glory Days and Ghosts & Legends Tours that we signed up for there was also a Her Finest Hour: A WWII Tour and Diana: Legacy of a Princess Exhibition containing a collection of her evening gowns, dresses and other memorabilia but that was more than we could take!

Hotel Reception on 'A' Deck of the Queen Mary

Hotel Reception on 'A' Deck of the Queen Mary


Queen Elisabeth and Prince Phillip's portraits on the wall of the lobby on 'A' Deck

Queen Elisabeth and Prince Phillip's portraits on the wall of the lobby on 'A' Deck


Shops on the Promenade Deck aboard the Queen Mary

Shops on the Promenade Deck aboard the Queen Mary


Entrance to the 'Diana: Legacy of a Princess' Exhibition aboard the Queen Mary

Entrance to the 'Diana: Legacy of a Princess' Exhibition aboard the Queen Mary

As you can probably judge by the number of photographs in this entry, by the time we finished at the Queen Mary there was little time left to explore the rest of Long Beach! We did however manage to walk along the waterfront at San Pedro watching the container ships entering and leaving Los Angeles Harbor, the busiest container port in the USA and also took some photographs of the WWII Battleship USS Iowa that was berthed there. The USS Iowa closed as we got there, I guess I'll have to see if I can do a tour of one of her sister ships on the East Coast instead!

Container Ships entering and leaving Los Angeles Harbor under the Vincent Thomas Bridge (the USS Iowa can be seen on the left)

Container Ships entering and leaving Los Angeles Harbor under the Vincent Thomas Bridge (the USS Iowa can be seen on the left)


USS Iowa at San Pedro

USS Iowa at San Pedro


USS Iowa (BB-61) at San Pedro

USS Iowa (BB-61) at San Pedro

On the dock side by the bow of the USS Iowa was a 6 foot copy of Seward Johnson's iconic "Sailor kissing a Nurse" (aka "Unconditional Surrender") sculpture that seems popular alongside US Museum Ships (the original statute was 25 foot high and was based on photograph taken in Times Square New York on V-J Day 1945).

A copy of the iconic 'Sailor kissing a Nurse' statue beside the USS Iowa

A copy of the iconic 'Sailor kissing a Nurse' statue beside the USS Iowa

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged museums hotels boat california cruise_ships harbours submarines warships film_locations Comments (0)

Historic Downtown Los Angeles

Chinatown and Olvera Street but first (being a Brit) a visit to the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex

sunny 24 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

Los Angeles has a cricket complex! I stumbled upon this little known fact while investigating what I might want to see while I was visiting the city and of course been a cricket fan I was quite keen to go and see it. Trying to explain cricket to my American relatives as like baseball but with two 'bases' (i.e. wickets) moved to the centre of the field with the 'pitcher' (i.e. bowler) bouncing the ball before it reach reaches the batsman was always fun! So we spent the morning of my final full day in Los Angeles making our way down to the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex in Woodley Park in the Van Nuys District of LA to have a look.

Me by the entrance to the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex in Los Angeles

Me by the entrance to the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex in Los Angeles

The first cricket ground in LA opened at Griffiths Park in 1933 but was moved to Woodley Park in 1978. The pitches themselves are quite good and are judged by the former Jamaican test cricketers instrumental in setting them up as amongst the best in the USA. Although there are only small pavilions beside each of the pitches it has had 5,000 spectators in temporary stands for bigger games and the ground has been visited by the New Zealand National Team, the India and Australian A Teams as well as several England counties.

A wicket chalked up ready for a cricket match at the weekend

A wicket chalked up ready for a cricket match at the weekend


A small pavilion beside one of the cricket pitches at Leo Magnus

A small pavilion beside one of the cricket pitches at Leo Magnus


Changing rooms and scoreboard beside one of the cricket pitches at Leo Magnus

Changing rooms and scoreboard beside one of the cricket pitches at Leo Magnus

As we walked around the four pitches and limited facilities at the Leo Magnus Complex we stumbled upon a couple of Pakistani ex-pats practising in the nets. It was great to see the cricket facilities being actively used during a quiet spell in the working week, there's hope for the USA yet!

Bowling and batting practise underway in the nets

Bowling and batting practise underway in the nets


Close up of the batting in the practise nets

Close up of the batting in the practise nets

Next stop was Chinatown in Downtown Los Angeles; or more correctly New Chinatown as the original Chinatown founded in 1852 was moved in 1938 to make way for LA's new main ground transportation hub at Union Station. The 25 feet (7.6 metre) high Twin Dragon Towers Gateway entrance to Chinatown at Cesar Chavez Ave and North Broadway was erected in July 2001 and was designed to symbolize luck, prosperity and longevity.

The Twin Dragon Towers Gateway into Chinatown

The Twin Dragon Towers Gateway into Chinatown


A typical shop in Chinatown

A typical shop in Chinatown

The hub of New Chinatown however is the Central Plaza between North Broadway and North Spring Street with decorative gateways at each end. In the square by the Gate of Filial Piety at the North Spring Street end is a statue erected in the 1960s of Sun Yat-sen, the Chinese revolutionary leader who is considered the "founder of modern (Nationalist) China".

New Chinatown's Gate of Filial Piety and Central Plaza Square

New Chinatown's Gate of Filial Piety and Central Plaza Square


Gateway to New Chinatown Main Plaza from North Broadway

Gateway to New Chinatown Main Plaza from North Broadway


Statute of Sun Yat-sen in the square of Chinatown's Central Plaza

Statute of Sun Yat-sen in the square of Chinatown's Central Plaza

Between the two gateways Chinatown's Main Plaza is a Hollywoodized version of Shanghai designed by Hollywood set designers in the 1930s with Chinese lanterns strung overhead. There is a Wishing Well with saucers labelled with such things as "wealth", "serenity" and "romance" into which passers by are encouraged to toss coins and make a wish. The last major landmark constructed in the Central Plaza was the Hop Louie Restaurant Pagoda (formerly the Golden Pagoda Restaurant) in early 1941.

New Chinatown Main Plaza

New Chinatown Main Plaza


Wishing Well in New Chinatown Central Plaza

Wishing Well in New Chinatown Central Plaza


Hop Louie Restaurant Pagoda in New Chinatown Central Plaza

Hop Louie Restaurant Pagoda in New Chinatown Central Plaza

My final stop in Los Angeles (and one I was particularly looking forward to because of happy memories I have from there in the past) was Olvera Street. This is where El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was founded in 1782 on land close to the River Porciuncula (aka 'Los Angeles River'). The site was chosen by Felipe de Neve, the Spanish Governor of California, on the orders of King Carlos III of Spain to setup a new pueblo in Alta California. The original Spanish "pobladores" (settlers) consisted of 11 families - 44 men, women, and children, accompanied by a contingent of soldiers - and their names are listed on plaque in the Plaza at the southern end of the street alongside statues of the Governor and the King.

Statue of Felipe de Neve, Spanish Governor of California 1775-1782 and founder of Los Angeles

Statue of Felipe de Neve, Spanish Governor of California 1775-1782 and founder of Los Angeles


The top end of Olvera Street as seen from the Plaza

The top end of Olvera Street as seen from the Plaza


Plaque in the Plaza listing the names of the original 44 Spanish pobladores (settlers) of Los Angeles

Plaque in the Plaza listing the names of the original 44 Spanish pobladores (settlers) of Los Angeles

Just across the road from the Plaza is La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles ("The Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels" also known as the "Old Plaza Church") which was founded a couple of years later as an "asistencia" (or "sub-mission") of the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcángel with the current church constructed 1814-1822. A large cross has been erected at the southern end of Olvera Street where it opens out onto the Plaza, it looks old but is actually a replica of a cross erected in 1929 to commemorate the city's 148th birthday.

La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles (The Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels)

La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles (The Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels)


Me stood by the large cross erected at the southern end of Olvera Street

Me stood by the large cross erected at the southern end of Olvera Street

Olvera Street itself is only about 500 feet (152.5 metres) long and was originally called Wine Street until it was renamed in 1877 in honour of a senior court judge who was a long time resident there. About half way along its length is the Avila Adobe, the oldest existing house in Los Angeles. It was originally constructed from bricks made primarily of clay and straw about 1818 and then damaged by an earthquake is 1971. It has now been restored to look as it did in the late 1840s, about the time when Commodore Robert F. Stockton of the US Navy used the house as his headquarters during the Mexican-American War of 1847.

Me stood on the steps of the Avila Adobe, the oldest remaining building in LA (circa 1818)

Me stood on the steps of the Avila Adobe, the oldest remaining building in LA (circa 1818)


The courtyard fo the Avila Adobe

The courtyard fo the Avila Adobe


Reconstruction in the courtyard of the Avila Adobe of a wooden 'carretta' as used in the early days of Los Angeles

Reconstruction in the courtyard of the Avila Adobe of a wooden 'carretta' as used in the early days of Los Angeles

Inside we were able to walk around the various rooms in the Avila Adobe; the parlour was only used on special occasions and the kitchen was only used for cooking when the weather was bad preventing cooking outside in the courtyard. The descendants of the Avila family lived in the house until 1868 after which it deteriorated as a rented property until it was condemned by the city in 1928. Mrs Sterling with the help of influential friends then restored the house and created a Mexican style market place on Olvera Street itself which when opened to the public in 1930 quickly became a major tourist attraction in which to experience Los Angeles' Mexican culture and heritage.

The family room in the Avila Adobe where regular meals were eaten

The family room in the Avila Adobe where regular meals were eaten


The Indoor Kitchen in the Avila Adobe

The Indoor Kitchen in the Avila Adobe


The Parlour or Sitting Room in the Avila Adobe

The Parlour or Sitting Room in the Avila Adobe


The parents bedroom in the Avila Adobe

The parents bedroom in the Avila Adobe


The Office in the Avila Adobe were the business affairs of the vineyard and ranch were transacted

The Office in the Avila Adobe were the business affairs of the vineyard and ranch were transacted

As a tourist attraction, Olvera Street has become a living museum paying homage to a romantic vision of old Mexico including a fountain and a water trough. Its sides and centre are lined with small shops and stalls selling colourful dresses, oversized sombreros, serapes, piñatas, pottery, leather goods and a host of other Mexican trinkets to the nearly 2 million tourists that come to visit the street every year.

View south along Olvera Street towards the United Methodist Church

View south along Olvera Street towards the United Methodist Church


The fountain on Olvera Street

The fountain on Olvera Street


Colourful Mexican clothes on display outside a shop in Olvera Street

Colourful Mexican clothes on display outside a shop in Olvera Street


Colourful trinkets on sale in a shop on Olvera Street

Colourful trinkets on sale in a shop on Olvera Street

Olvera Street is also dotted with many Mexican Restaurants which have musicians strolling amongst their guests playing serenades. While Mexican restaurants are as a common in California as Indian Restaurants are in the UK somehow the ones on Olvera Street with all the Mexican culture around them feel like they have the most authentic setting than Mexican restaurants elsewhere.

Musicians serenading outside their restaurant in Olvera Street

Musicians serenading outside their restaurant in Olvera Street


Market stalls on Olvera Street

Market stalls on Olvera Street


More market stalls on Olvera Street

More market stalls on Olvera Street

The following morning I flew to Denver from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and managed to get a picture of its futuristic icon the googie style "Theme Building" built in 1961 before I took off. The building (which has been heritage listed since 1992) was never intended or used as a control tower and is actually a restaurant suspended beneath two arches that form the legs.

The googie style 'Theme Building' at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

The googie style 'Theme Building' at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged churches museums food markets california sport city chinese missions mexican earthquakes film_locations Comments (0)

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