LOS ANGELES, California
Rent a car and take route 101 all the way either from north to south or the other way round which I did..
Fondest memory: My first visit in L.A. more than 10 years ago... I was visiting a pen pal of mine whom I never had seen personally before... that was a great experience.. unfortunately we lost contact along the way since then.. picture is taken in his garden having a relaxing conversation on a sunny late afternoon... seems like yesterday... P.S. ... thanks to Internet we finally found each other again ... and it's WONDERFUL .... so i'm looking forward to the next garden pic ... might be different, but that's what time is about, right? ... i loooooooooooooooooooove INTERNET .......
Very good article from the New Zealand Herald (25 Nov 2008) about Immigration into the US. Title:
Easing Pain of US Travel
A lot of travellers still try to avoid going to - or through - the United States in order to avoid being caught up in the tougher security controls introduced in the wake of 9/11.
Partly that's to do with the ramshackle facilities at Los Angeles International Airport, still the main gateway to the US for New Zealanders, which make the immigration process a tedious business whatever happens.
But it's also related to the arbitrary way the new rules seem to be applied, with travellers singled out for special attention and sometimes even refused entry, without any prior warning.
The situation is, however, improving. The last few times I've been through LA the process was slightly more welcoming. And work is well under way on a much needed new international terminal.
In addition the US Government has now introduced an online system which will allow travellers to find out before they leave New Zealand whether there could be a problem about gaining entry (so it can be sorted out in advance) and to complain if they feel they have been given a hard time (hopefully preventing any repetition).
If you haven't heard about these changes then it's a good idea to pay attention because early next year the online authorisation system - known as Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or ESTA - will become compulsory and turning up at the airport without having clearance in advance would not be a good idea.
As part of the effort to see this change goes smoothly, US Ambassador Bill McCormick last week answered questions on how the new system will work.
What is ESTA all about?
In addition to remembering their toothbrush and passport, Kiwis travelling to the United States without visas from January 12 next year will need to complete a quick and simple online form before boarding their plane or cruise ship. ESTA is an automated and secure online system which determines whether visitors are eligible to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). It requires the same information as the green paper I-94w form which VWP travellers currently fill out en route to the US.
And the Visa Waiver Programme?
The Visa Waiver Programme allows qualifying nationals or citizens from New Zealand and 33 other countries to travel to the US for business or pleasure for up to 90 days without first having to obtain a visa. Further details on who can use the VWP are on the US Embassy website at: http://newzealand.usembassy.gov/ and click on "Visas to the US".
Why is ESTA being introduced?
US legislation enacted in the wake of 9/11 required the Department of Homeland Security to implement an electronic travel authorisation system to enhance the security of the VWP. ESTA adds this new layer of security. It allows DHS to determine, in advance of travel, whether an individual is eligible to travel under the VWP, and whether they pose a security risk either on board the plane or once they reach the US.
ESTA brings the admission process for VWP travellers into the 21st Century. So much of how we travel is now automated and online - buying plane tickets, booking hotels, researching our destination. We are now automating our admission process the same way.
Who will be affected by this change?
All nationals or citizens of Visa Waiver Programme countries who plan to travel to the US for temporary business or pleasure without a visa will need this authorisation. The important change is that they'll now need to get it prior to boarding a US-bound plane or cruise ship, rather than filling out a form en route.
How do travellers apply for this authorisation to travel to the US?
It's an easy online process. To apply for travel authorisation, just go to https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/. Answer the required questions and click the submit button.
What information will a traveller need in order to complete the ESTA process?
The same information travellers currently write on the green I-94W card: their name, date of birth, passport and travel information. They'll also need to answer questions regarding their eligibility to travel using the VWP.
When will ESTA come into force?
Voluntary ESTA applications have been possible since August this year. All travellers will be required to obtain a travel authorisation via ESTA for VWP travel as of January 12, 2009.
When should Kiwi travellers start using ESTA?
The sooner the better. The ESTA website has been up and running for a couple of months, and as of the end of October, more than 3000 Kiwis had successfully used the ESTA system. I suggest that all those eligible to travel to the US under the VWP begin using it as soon as possible. The deadline for advance travel authorisation becoming mandatory is January 12, 2009.
How long is an ESTA travel authorisation valid?
ESTA travel authorisations are valid for two years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. A visitor may travel to the US repeatedly within the validity period without having to apply for another ESTA.
How far in advance of a trip do travellers need to apply?
Again, the sooner the better! While applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, we recommend that you apply as early as possible. Not all travel can be planned in advance, and applications for last-minute or emergency travel will be accommodated.
Do travellers ever need to reapply for travel authorisation through ESTA?
Yes, there are instances when a new travel authorisation via ESTA would be required: for example, if you've acquired a new passport or have changed your name or citizenship, or if the answers to any of the "yes or no" ESTA questions have changed, a new application must be submitted. When the ESTA travel authorisation expires after two years, a new authorisation is required.
Can someone else apply for a traveller if they don't have access to the internet?
Yes, a friend, relative, travel agent, or other third party may apply on a traveller's behalf. Alternatively, those without access to the internet can use the US Visa Information toll number on 0900 87847 and staff there can help with travellers' ESTA applications over the phone (though there is a charge).
How long does it take for the system to process an application?
Once a traveller's application has been successfully submitted online, most cases get an immediate determination of eligibility for travel. Worldwide, 200,000 travellers have sought electronic travel authorisation since the site went live, and more than 99.5 per cent of these ESTA applications were approved, most in less than a minute.
How will travellers know whether their ESTA has been approved?
They will get one of three responses: Authorisation Approved; Travel Not Authorised (the traveller will be advised how to apply for a visa to travel to the US); and Authorisation Pending. If it's pending, the traveller will need to check the ESTA website for updates within 72 hours to receive a final response.
What should someone do if they are denied a travel authorisation?
If an application for travel authorisation is denied and the traveller wishes to continue with the trip, they will be required to apply for a visa at the US Consulate General in Auckland. For more about visa application procedures, they can go to http://newzealand.us embassy.gov and click on "Visas to the US". This is why travellers shouldn't leave their ESTA applications to the last minute: they may receive a Not Authorised or Pending response, and it takes time to arrange a visa.
If someone has a current and valid visa, do they need to submit a travel authorisation via ESTA as well?
No, anyone who possesses a valid visa will be able to travel to the United States with that visa for the duration of its validity and for the purpose it was issued, and won't have to apply through ESTA.
Is there a fee to obtain travel authorisation?
No, the US Government will not initially collect a fee for ESTA applications. However, there may be an application fee in the future.
What about travellers just transiting the US, say, on their way to London?
Transit passengers will require either an ESTA or a visa. Transit travellers should simply write "In transit" in the US destination field in their ESTA application.
What do you say to the complaint that another security requirement will simply deter travellers to the US?
The US is an open society which welcomes travellers from around the world who genuinely want to visit, study, and do business there. We're dedicated to protecting their safety and keeping our doors open to them. Changes like ESTA reflect our concern for ensuring the safety of US residents and visitors alike.
Beyond ESTA, are there any other recent visa or travel changes readers should know about?
For those who do need visas, we're doing our best to make the visa application process as smooth and hassle-free as possible.
Delays for travellers during screening on airport arrival can occur when they are identified incorrectly as someone who represents a safety or security risk. Last year DHS launched the Traveller Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) website to act as the one-stop for travellers who are denied or delayed airline boarding or entry into the United States, or feel they are being continuously referred to secondary screening. The TRIP website is: www.dhs.gov/trip.
After the brunch we went to the hotel and arranged with Hans, Lori and Sharon a little tour around LA, including visiting Olvera street, where we had lunch, go to the griffin Observatory for the Hollywood sign and drive along Sunset street, Beverly Hills till Santa Monica Pier to see the sunset.
On Saturday we went to the Volley Beach party at Manhattan Beach, it took a while to find the tent, but luckily when we were giving up, we saw the sign! It was fun to watch all playing, and laugh with Mr Elephant
At the arrival to the hotel we saw Kristara (janet) after a quick lunch we decided to visit the Getty Musseum (we did not count with the horrible traffic in Los Angeles!) we nearly miss the Vt meeting :-)
ok, you must be wondering what happend to day five, we were driving to San Diego when my ears infection got really bad, we had to come back, call a doctor tothe hotel and relax all day.ç
On Friday morning on Day 6 we left the hotel in direction to the Vt meeting and hotel at El Segundo and on the way we decided to visit the Crystal athedral. I was really impressed and ingeniering master!
I knew I was not going to be a great experience, but it was even worst! I guess as I am not much a cinema fan, that did not help too, but It is a must do activity while visiting Los Angeles, so here we are....
Hollywood is more an idea than a real place, an idea of dreams come through and many others lost on their way ... I wish I could have seen in early 20 century but I was not born LOL
While driving through Sunset boulevard I was remembering scenes of films and maybe is where I founded the LA pre-idea that I had in my mind before coming.
We went to Long Beach on our first day in California, I knew it was going to be a beautiful place after watching the photos, but I did not know it was the 5th biggest city of California!
Lets have breakfast at the Queen Mary buffet :-)
Shoreline Village is so different to our marinas, with the wooden houses and pier, I loved it. I know it is for tourists, but I was a tourist! I know is all shops and restaurants, but hey, we bought some fun hats there too…
Favorite thing: Los Angeles is home to glamorous celebrities, movie producers and millions of ordinary people who are surprisingly down to earth. LA has a little bit of everything and is a great destination for diverse interests ranging from celebrity spotting to outdoor recreation. Here you can visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame and hike in the mountains on the same day. It is a coastal city with a great deal of sunshine and year round good weather, if you discount the "June gloom" mornings and the smog.
Fondest memory: Going to Disneyland the last year of the Main Street Electrical Parade (1996) was probably one of my fondest memories of California. That was my second trip to Disneyland and I shared this excellent adventure with my friends Clint and Natasha.
I lived in LA from Christmas of 1991 through Halloween of 1993 just long enough to burn through everything I owned and the only two relationships that ever mattered to me.
A few days before Christmas and the day I stopped smoking, I arrived in Venice Beach from New York City. That night I heard helicopters hovering just above the house on walk-street where we lived, searchlights stuttering through darkness ... A riot, an earthquake and a breakdown followed.
When I first moved to LA I lived in a small bungalow on a walk street within spitting distance of the Pacific Ocean on Venice Beach ... the wierdest, wildest, wonderfulest beach in California.
Fondest memory: Just go there ... spend an afternoon walking from the Pier in Venice to the Pier in Santa Monica ... Don't carry a lot of things with you - you can pick up whatever you might need ... just shorts and shoes and sun glasses and go ...
You will see a side of humanity that is part classic california beach bum skateboarder, part gang-color outlaw consciousness and part sex cat or kitten (your choice). But Venice is not representative of America or California or any other place. Venice Beach is itself and itself alone.
Favorite thing: Los Angeles is the largest city in California and the second largest city in the USA. The original name of the city was 'El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles' , but the name was shortened for obvious reasons.
Favorite thing: I remember being in Newport Beach as a kid. It was a nice beach town. Just like the shore towns you find back east. I remember taking a dip into the Pacific Ocean. I also remember being baked and being red like a lobster.
In Los Angeles, the only real business is the movies. Try to visit an active movie set-- not on one of the tours. I remember being taken to the set of a movie called The Home Stretch where I watched filming with Maureen O'Hara and Cornell Wilde.
This is the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.