Sun, Santa Monica, & Time Travel – Gearing Up for Gallifrey One

Some important things to understand about my current physical state:

  • I’m in California for a Doctor Who convention.
  • The weather is FABULOUS.
  • I got to spend the better part of TWO days outside the hotel doing fun things in the sunny weather before the convention started!

Regular readers will know that I come to Los Angeles every year (since 2002, in fact, making this my 19th trip) to visit my very favorite Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One. It’s definitely a tradition in my life and one that I look forward to each year, mostly because of all the time I get to spend hanging out with friends, but also because of all the fun I have geeking out about my favorite TV show for a full weekend. What could be better?!

No trip to the convention (or really, to any location) is complete without the actual travel to get there, right? Unusually for me, I was originally going to fly here on American as I had more than enough miles with them. Right off the bat, it wasn’t as ideal because the flight would have had a connection, but I decided to just accept that initially as I found a good flight with a short connection through Phoenix, which would then have been just a short flight to LA. However, American changed the itinerary not once, but twice, leaving me with several hours in Phoenix, plus getting to LA later than I wanted to. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a new itinerary that worked as well as the one I had originally booked, so I cancelled (thankfully with no fees/loss of miles, since it was the airline who made the itinerary untenable) and booked on Delta instead. And because I feel like I’ve gotten a taste for it, I decided to book myself a first-class seat. Why not, right?? πŸ™‚

The plane was pretty identical to the one we were on to Mexico last month and the first-class experience was basically the same. Meaning, it was very good! I got myself a nice aisle seat, enjoyed a tasty breakfast, and managed to just barely squeeze in two movies, Harriet and Jojo Rabbit, both of which I had been wanting to see. We had pretty much no turbulence and landed about a half-hour early – result!

As always, I had to take just a few travel photos.

My flight left at 7a, so it was still dark outside.

Up, up, and away!

They served the same breakfast on this flight as they did on our Mexico flight and it was just as tasty this time around.

Before the fun of the convention (and being largely confined to a hotel for three solid days), several of us come early (and/or stay late) to do fun things around the LA area before the hotel lock-down commences. This year, I’m really excited that I got the better part of two days to do that! I arrived on Wednesday morning (it’s now Sunday morning as I write this – booooo!) and wasn’t 100% certain what I was going to do. Although some of my friends arrived that day as well, they didn’t come until the afternoon, so I knew I’d have some time to explore on my own. And having arrived at the hotel so early (by about 930a), my room wasn’t ready yet, so I stashed my luggage with the hotel and hatched a plan for the day.

Having been here so many times, I feel like I’ve done a fair bit of exploring, but because the weather was SO NICE (and has been ever since), I decided to catch a Lyft to Santa Monica so I could walk around in the sun and warmth. I’ve been there before (a few times, actually), but it was the first place I though of, particularly the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade. Both places offer exactly what you’d expect based on the names – a pier with games, street (pier?) performers, food, and great ocean views and a promenade with lots of shops and eateries (there was even a farmers market happening, too). I wasn’t necessarily interested in playing games, going on rides, or shopping, but with lots of sun and the temperature in the low 70s, I couldn’t think of a better (nearby) place!

As expected, Santa Monica was the perfect destination – not too hot, not too crowded, and plenty of opportunities to walk around in the sun. Of course, the excellent weather gave me plenty of opportunities to take pictures, so that’s mostly what I did. Check out the results below!

Walking onto the pier.

I debated walking on the beach, but wasn’t really dressed for it, so settled for a photo of it from the pier.

The western terminus for Route 66 is here!

And a selfie at the end of the pier. It would be rude not to take one, wouldn’t it? πŸ™‚

This is painted on the pier, just before the end of it.

A look at the amusement rides on the pier. I did go on a few of them one year!

This guy is one of the Dinosaurs of Santa Monica on the Third Street Promenade.

This is The Misfit, a restaurant on the promenade housed in a building that dates back to 1929.

I decided to have lunch at The Britannia, a British pub on the promenade. While my pulled pork sandwich wasn’t exactly a quintessential British meal, it was still tasty.

Inside the pub.

It was while I was eating lunch that I decided where my next stop would be. As I enjoyed my meal, I was thinking through the places I had visited on previous LA trips and The Hollywood Museum came to mind. A group of us went there two years ago to see their Batman ’66 exhibit, so I looked at their website to see if they had any new exhibits I would like (we all really enjoyed our Bat-tastic experience there). Imagine my surprise and utter delight when I discovered a Back to the Future exhibit! I love all three of the BTTF films, so I was only too happy to make a return visit to the museum to see the exhibit.

The museum took a little while to get to from Santa Monica (the better part of an hour), but the ride was smooth and I had my headphones to occupy my time in the car. Arriving at the museum, it looked the same as it did two years ago and the same woman from two years ago was there to sell me a ticket once again. The museum is a neat little place, inside what used to be the Max Factor Building and I think it’s fun to visit regardless of the exhibits that are on, so I recommend it on its own merits. But if you can catch a good exhibit, all the better! And this exhibit was a really solid one, done in a similar vein to the Batman one. Basically, it’s a large room (well, about half of the room) done up with information about the films and lots of great artifacts, props, merchandise, etc. They’ve even got Marty’s truck (from the end of the first film/beginning of the second) and not one, but TWO DeLoreans (though one of them is a replica)! As with my previous visit, there weren’t many people there, so I had plenty of time to walk around and read about all of the goodies. Although I’ve never gone to a BTTF convention, I’ve always been a fan of the films (I have lots of memories of watching the VHS of the first one many, many times as a kid), so I really enjoyed seeing so much cool stuff and learning some fun facts along the way. For example, that rehydrated Pizza Hut pizza Lorraine made in the second film (“Hydrate Level 4, please.”) was an actual Pizza Hut pizza made by Pizza Hut chefs who were on set for the day. Also, kids LOVED the hover board (also from the second film) so much that they sent in loads of fan-mail specific to it. I never wrote a letter, but I wanted a hover board of my own SO BADLY. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Anyway, this exhibit made my heart happy, so if you get the chance to visit, it’s running through December 2020, so go if you can!

Great Scott – it’s time for photos!

Walking into the museum.

Information about the exhibit.

Toys inspired by the films.

It is Wild Gunman!

Doc Brown’s time train.

Fan mail for hover boards.

Original time circuit from the DeLorean in the second film.

The original Mr. Fusion prop from the second film, which was turned into a lamp for Bob Gale.

A very well-made replica of the DeLorean.

Unlike the photo above, this was the screen-used “hero car” from the third film.

Zooming in on the details of the time machine.

Prop newspapers seen in the films.

Check out that Pizza Hut wrapper!

The original fax sent to old Marty from his boss in the second film.

This Pepsi Perfect bottle was used in the second film and still has a little Pepsi in it!

Plutonium tube.

Original letter written by Marty in the first film.

Another letter written by Marty, this time from the third film.

Although I had been through the rest of the museum on my previous trip, I decided to walk through it again to see if anything else had changed. I was happy to see there were still some elements of the Batman exhibit there, including a Batmobile and Batcycle, as well as some new things (or new-to-me at least, as I didn’t remember them from last time). There was also an exhibit about the Pointer Sisters, which didn’t particularly interest me, but I still walked through it quickly. Before I left, I also strolled through the main level, which looked identical, and then through the horror movie-themed basement. That was also in place last time, but it looked like at least a few updates had been made to it. Since I love horror movies anyway, I probably would have walked through it regardless. πŸ™‚

I did take some photos from the rest of the museum as well!

I don’t think the Superman or Wonder Woman costumes were out last time I was here.

I also didn’t remember seeing this Catwoman costume collection.

I’m pretty sure the Batcyle was new as well.

This corner of the museum seemed to have a distillation of the much larger exhibit from two years ago.

I’m pretty sure this signed poster was there last time, but I don’t think I was able to get as good of a photo of it.

This is one of the pieces of random makeup-related ephemera (from the building’s time as the home of Max Factor) that makes this museum interesting.

This big King Kong was at the very back of the main level. His arms are so long!

Going into the basement horror exhibit.


I don’t think this Pennywise was in the museum last time.

Sing us a song, you’re the organ man!

I definitely took a photo of Hannibal Lecter’s cell on my last visit, but there’s ALWAYS time for The Silence of the Lambs.

Likewise, who doesn’t love Frankenstein’s monster and his bride?

Oh, what a fun, spur-of-the-moment visit that was! I’m really glad I randomly decided to look up The Hollywood Museum again and even more glad they had such a great exhibit for me to see. And considering I didn’t plan this or the Santa Monica stuff earlier than the day of, it just does to show that you can have tons of fun no (or very little) advance planning. πŸ™‚

After a fun day out, I was ready to get back to the hotel, which I did, though it took about 45ish minutes to get there from the museum. My friends were starting to arrive and I was able to get into my room and get settled – hooray!

As always, see below for my typical hotel photos.

Good ol’ 3094, ready for another several days of Doctor Who fun.

Yep, still has a bathroom. With really good lighting, too!

The view I look forward to every year! With this year’s excellent weather, the balcony was extra appreciated this time around.

I also had to include a photo of the newly-remodeled convention level. The rest of the hotel had already been updated when we were here last year, but not this level. Nice to see the new look and also to see it completely empty before the craziness of the convention descended upon it.

Believe it or not, it’s now Monday morning as I finish this post – I’ve basically been writing it since Thursday! As such, I’m going to (finally) wrap it up, but look for a couple more posts soon as I cover the rest of the trip, including another studio tour and the convention itself. First up is my post about the fun I had on Thursday at the Sony Studio Tour, which you can read here.

It’s gonna be…fantastic!

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!