SDCC 2013 Day 5 – San Diego to Leicester

Although I didn’t need to check out until 10:00 or be at the airport until 13:00 I decided to get up relatively early to allow time to get the last few items packed ready for flying. I couldn’t pack entirely as I was still waiting for that friend’s drink he wanted me to take back to England with me and he’d got in late and wasn’t awake at the time. Can’t blame him  though, he’d been up late watching the reruns of the panels in Hall H.

USS Midway

Instead I showered and went for a light breakfast and by the time I got back I was able to finish packing. For a while I sat around trying to waste a bit of time and by 09:30 I’d checked out and was walking towards the USS Midway. It was about a 30 minute walk from the hostel, though I may not have taken the most direct route as I had to double back on myself to cross over the road to it. At first I queued at a kiosk and paid before realising that was for a boat tour and not the Midway, fortunately I got a refund for it and was pointed in the direction of the right kiosk.

The Bridge

The tour of the USS Midway cost $19 and they allowed me to leave my luggage and backpack at the visitor information point – this was a huge relief! To start with I headed straight up to the flight deck so I could get ahead in the queue for a tour of the bridge. Amazingly there were only two people in front of me so I was able to go more or less straight up. It was an interesting tour and very informative – the guide talked about what everything was for and even talked about some of the experiences of the Midway.

On the bridge

Once done I wandered around the flight deck taking photographs of the airplanes and helicopters on deck. There are a few which you’re allowed inside of which I thought was quite cool. Inside one of the helicopters though there was a dove nesting so they’d put up a sign asking people to avoid disturbing the mother and the chicks. I was pleased to see people paying attention to the sign too.

F-8 Crusader

This isn’t Top Gun…

Back below the flight deck there are various areas where you can go below deck to engineering, sick bay, the mess hall, crew quarters, and other parts of the carrier. On the main deck that is referred to as the city they have a place to get food and a souvenir shop. I had a brief break there to get a hot dog before continuing swiftly around the self-guided tour. I could have spent a lot more time there, but with needing to get to the airport the available time was limited so just after 12 noon I continued on towards the airport.

Pilots Briefing Room

Once I’d left the Midway I continued walking in the direction of the airport. It was a little further than I thought but I arrived with plenty of time to spare. The commuter terminal has basic facilities so its possible to have a snack whilst waiting for the flight. I decided to have some crisps and a drink whilst making use of the free Wi-Fi.

Once again it was a small aircraft for the San Diego to LA segment of the journey, and I was told my luggage should be transferred through all the way to Birmingham. Again, I’d believe it when I saw my luggage at the other end. The arrival in LAX was quick and relatively easy, though I didn’t understand what TBIT meant on the departures board. After speaking with the information desk for United it turned out it meant I needed to take a shuttle bus around to the international terminal.

As I didn’t have any luggage to check in I walked around to the security and onwards to the gate. At the airport I bought a California magnet for my parents for $7.09. If I’d thought about it sooner I would probably have been able to get them a better one whilst in San Diego. I was surprised the only souvenir shop in LAX was a kiosk though, at least as far as I could tell from my walk through the terminal.

The flight to Frankfurt wasn’t as good as the outbound journey; this one was on an older 747-400 that had no entertainment system. As I couldn’t pre-select seats for this flight I also ended up with a bulkhead seat so I didn’t have much leg room either as there was a dividing wall present. The first meal wasn’t too bad as it was pasta again. It was then a long, uncomfortable wait until breakfast – which I didn’t eat.

Once again it was quite a trek across Frankfurt International Airport but this time I had a little more time to get there and at a very brisk walk got there with 25 minutes to spare. I expected to pass through immigration at this point due to coming in from the US, but there was only a security check.

The flight from Frankfurt to Birmingham was far more comfortable and was on a newer Airbus. Surprisingly they also served sandwiches during this very short flight. By the time this was done it was almost time to land. Getting through Birmingham airport was as quick as ever and from landing to sitting down on a train I think only 20-30 minutes had passed.

One thing I found at baggage claims though was that the lock on my suitcase was gone. There was no sign of it having been opened or inspected so I can only assume I didn’t put it on right when I changed my t-shirt in San Diego airport.  It didn’t bother me though as this had been a fun trip and one I hoped to do again in the future.

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SDCC 2013 Day 4 – San Diego Comic-Con Part 2

This was a very late start as the first panel we wanted to go to was the Felicia Day panel that was before one for “How I Met Your Mother”. By this point I’d had enough of cooking pancakes every morning – they’re not particularly healthy, so decided to have a croissant, yoghurt and banana instead. I had been tempted to get up a lot earlier and to queue for Hasbro, though from what I’d heard the previous day the Boba Fett figure I wanted to get was selling out so quickly each day it would probably still be pointless queueing that early.

Our leaving out was then delayed slightly further by one of the others in the group spilling cough medicine everywhere. By the time this was cleaned up we’d lost about 20 minutes, but headed for the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton anyway.

Pop tarts and Carl’s Jr.

We queued outside the Hilton for quite some time, with the volunteers continuously rearranging the queue system. I assume this was mostly due to them trying to keep the walkway clear. Part of me wondered if they did that to try and keep people hopeful, though I realised this was not the case when they announced it was unlikely that the queue past a certain point would get in.

By the time of the panel we were told that the panel was full due to there having been a large number of people queue overnight for it, and so we’d wasted the morning (not the organisers fault, they did warn us it was a possibility but we stayed in hope we were lucky). I think this panel would have been better placed in Ballroom 20 or Hall H due to it’s popularity, it may have then made it easier to get in on the Felicia Day panel.

Due to this we headed over to Ballroom 20 to see if we could get in on the Family Guy and American Dad panel. It was a wait of just over an hour due to it being a very short queue for that hall (shockingly!) and we managed to get in.

Voice cast of Family Guy

For the Family Guy panel they brought out the cast and played a short clip of what we could expect over the upcoming season. Between Family Guy and American Dad some of the audience left so we moved forward a little, my plan being I wanted to get reasonable pictures of the Vampire Diaries cast later if I decided to stay. I’ve never seen American Dad before and even after watching the clip during the panel it didn’t really make me want to see it either.

At the end of the American Dad panel I decided to stay which meant first watching a panel for True Blood.

The cast of True Blood

At this point I’d only ever seen one episode so didn’t really know what to expect. During this panel they played a sizzle reel for the upcoming season – by the end of this panel I realised I needed to get back to watching this series.

Finally it was time for The Vampire Diaries and for this panel a number of the cast and writers took to the stage to talk about the next season and for a question and answer session. At the start of the panel they played a clip that looked back over the past 4 years for Elena, Damon and Steffan and then moved on to show clips from the upcoming season.

The cast of The Vampire Diaries

I quite enjoyed this panel and it was interesting to hear what they had planned and their thoughts about the characters. Once this was done I decided I may as well stick around for The Arrow panel. The trailer for the new season was brilliant and got a good reaction from the crowd – particularly when they introduced Summer Glau.

The cast of Arrow

During the discussion segment John Barrowman, the actor who played “The Dark Archer” in the series (and Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood), turned up to crash the panel. At this point he drew all the attention towards himself away from the rest of the cast and when he got left out on a question about the season 2 opening episode (which he isn’t in) he got annoyed about it and answered the question too. I couldn’t really decide whether or not the attitude he was giving them was just an act or not though.

John Barrowman

I’m sure he does respect and enjoy the company of the cast though as he bought “Oliver Queen” a gift on his way to the panel and was wearing an Arrow t-shirt. As the panel went on he did seem less self-centred and answered fans questions politely so I’m sure the attitude earlier was just him trying to have some fun (which after a couple of days signing stuff I can hardly blame him).

Red Power Ranger, Power Rangers Megaforce

Iron Man and Iron Woman

At the end of this panel I went back to the exhibitor hall for the last time. We’d gone to find the friend who’d left after the American Dad panel but we couldn’t find him. We did however get to photograph a lot of cosplayers and it gave me chance to buy a few graphic novels (Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, Death of Spider-man, and Death of Spider-man Fallout).

Harley Quinn, The Riddler, Poison Ivy, and Xena: Warrior Princess

It felt rushed as we knew the exhibition hall would be closing soon but we wanted to make the most of what remained of our last day to try and see as much as we could.

Talon

By 19:00 we’d left the hall for the last time and started heading back through the Gaslamp Quarter. This was quite slow progress as there were a lot of people leaving the convention centre as well. Along the way we came across people cosplaying as a dragon and rider from “How to Train Your Dragon” which was drawing quite a crowd.

Zombie Apocalypse

Not far from this though we came across a very large zombie horde, easily a couple of hundred people. It seemed to go on for ever and there wasn’t just your normal zombies either. There were people cosplaying as characters from comics who had been zombified as well, and a couple of headless ones too (which I presume to have been the headless horseman from Sleepy Hollow).

Also on the way back we came across a famous US model named Adrianne Curry who was cosplaying as Mileena, a character introduced in Mortal Kombat 2. I felt bad about interrupting her in a restaurant, but as I wasn’t the first person to have interrupted her there I thought maybe it’s not too bad. She’d done an amazing job with the costume, just as so many other cosplayers had – but was amazed by the contacts that she was using to get the effect on her eyes.

Adrianne Curry

Once back at the hostel it was time to pack ready for the flight home the next day. I couldn’t fully pack though as I was taking a friend’s bottle of Jack Daniels back with me that he’d gotten from Tennessee, but he wasn’t around at the time.

Afterwards we went out for one last American meal on Broadway, and once again it was a burger and fries. It was a good meal, though the service was understandably slow as this like every other restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter was bursting at the seams with Comic Con attendees and presumably the locals. They did get a friend’s order wrong but he wasn’t bothered by it and ate it anyway.

SDCC 2013 Day 3 – San Diego Comic-Con Part 1

I intended on an early start, but my alarm did not go off meaning the pancake breakfast was somewhat later than expected. By the time we got to the convention centre the line extended around the back, past the Marriott, and along the seafront. It was a fast queue though and before long we’d made it into the badge collection room. At this point they give you all your badges so you don’t have to queue on consecutive days and then give out a WB bag with one of a number of designs on it along with a Dexter lanyard and a souvenir guide.

San Diego Comic Con International 2013

As we wandered from there we realised we were near the Ballroom 20 queue so joined it as there was a The Big Bang Theory writers panel coming up. The wait was around 2 hours, but we got in to the panel and it was thoroughly enjoyable. They explained the writing process and gave away a few hints about what was coming up in the next season. To moderate the panel they had Melissa Rauch, the actress who plays Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz.

During the question and answer session, one person dressed as Boushh revealed themselves to be Johnny Galecki, the actor who plays Leonard Hofstadter. It was a funny moment and the Star Wars quote was definitely sufficiently nerdy enough for Leonard to have said in an episode.

“Who do you think you are?”

*Boushh removes mask*

“Someone who loves you”

It had started off with him asking a question that couldn’t be understood due to a voice changer, then him reasking it before saying the answer wasn’t acceptable – which was the trigger for that exchange.

Bernadette moderates The Big Bang Theory writers panel

From the panel we went downstairs to the exhibitor hall where a massive number of large companies and private sellers were set up. Our first stop was the far end of the hall where they’d set up a Microsoft Xbox One and Sony Playstation 4 demo area as part of a larger gaming area.

Jessica Rabbit

Galactus

Queen of the Dead

Iron Patriot

Along the way though we went via the LEGO stand where we were told if we went to the Sails Pavilion and queued there we’d be able to get a free LEGO figure (whilst stocks lasted); it seemed like too much effort though for no guarantee of getting one. We also passed a few cosplayers and the Sideshow Collectibles stand where they had large models of Boba Fett, Darth Vader, and Han Solo in carbonite.

Sony Playstation 4

To start with I had a go on the PS4 game, Drive Club; it wasn’t bad but it was no Forza or Need For Speed – games which I’ve never missed an entry in the series for. Apparently the version we played was an alpha that was only 35% complete, so I couldn’t really too judgemental of it.

My best lap time on this was 9 seconds off the fastest for the day despite crashing several times and never having played on a Playstation before so figured it’d be an idea to have another go at some point as the winner would get a PS Vita.

Once we’d each finished having a go on this game we were given a PS4 keyring with the Drive Club logo on the reverse.

The queue for the Xbox One moved at a similar speed and was to play Ryse, a Roman Empire game made by Crytek. Unfortunately the controls didn’t feel too good and there were too many “Quicktime” style events during the game play.

Xbox One

I have a lot of respect for Crytek and the entries they’ve made into the gaming world to date, but with the inclusion of so many quick time events so early in a game and pretty much the only form of gameplay in the demo that was available I felt they’d lost it.

At home I play videogames on an Xbox 360, but I’ve not yet seen anything to make me want to get an Xbox One, so may yet end up switching to Sony. The booth did however get you to use some headsets that were actually quite good and made me tempted to get a pair of the same for home.

The surrounding area was then for specific games such as a booth for Blizzard Entertainment, and a box for watching a trailer for Watch Dogs in. Some of the stands gave away free stuff such as badges, whereas the Blizzard stand had a signing for The Art of World of Warcraft. If it had been a Starcraft one I’d have been tempted!

Brent Spiner (Lt. Cmdr. Data)

Our path then took us through where booths were set up to advertise TV shows such as a new Stars show called “Black Sails” and a prison that was set up for AMC’s “The Walking Dead”.

There were a few famous faces we saw during the morning’s walk as well such as the voice actor behind one of the characters on Family Guy, Patrick Warburton (Joe Swanson and other characters). We saw him just wandering the show floor, not actually at a booth for signing.

Signing at a booth we saw Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek), which was pretty cool. There were places there for Marina Sirtis (Cllr. Deanna Troi) and Michael Dorn (Worf) but they weren’t about when we passed.

We also got to try out Google Glass for a show called Intelligence. They took our photos during this, possibly as a record of who had used them. I didn’t really get on with Google Glass that well as I couldn’t wear my glasses at the same time.

Kevin Sorbo

Whilst we were queuing though I did spot Kevin Sorbo, the actor who played Hercules in “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”, and Captain Dylan Hunt on the Gene Roddenberry series, Andromeda.

We then gradually worked our way out of the hall via the artists alley and sat around eating snacks for a while to let our feet recover from the morning. We didn’t have much, just a few bits we’d bought from a 7 Eleven the day before but it was just to tie us over until the end of the event.

When we went back in the wandering was just as aimless as before as we looked around stalls. Though after about 30 minutes one of our group went off to visit another panel about videogames.

Before this though, we came across the Enterprise D bridge restoration booth where they had 3 of the chairs from the bridge. These weren’t the actual chairs that Paramount Pictures used in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but the ones that were from the Star Trek Experience that recently closed in Las Vegas.

On the Enterprise D bridge

We then started to take a more methodical route through the hall and eventually saw Gillian Anderson (Special Agent Dana Scully), Chris Carter (writer) and Dean Haglund from X-Files, Marina Sirtis (Cllr Deanna Troi) and Michael Dorn (Lt. Cmdr Worf) from Star Trek: The Next Generation. We also saw John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood) but this was the one actor we weren’t allowed to photograph.

We also came across the BBC America booth where they were selling exclusive items, but more interestingly they had a display with a dress worn by Doctor Who companion Jenna Louise-Coleman (Clara), the suit worn by Matt Smith (11th Doctor), the copy of the suit worn by William Hartnell (1st Doctor) and the scarf worn by the 4th Doctor, Tom Baker.

Gillian Anderson

We’re all damned! Apparently.

Eventually we left and joined the queue for Hall H in the hope we’d get to see the Metallica panel. It was a long wait and for a good portion of it there was someone preaching about Christianity and that everyone in the queue was damned. It was particularly funny, especially when people passing by started copying him in jest and when the news crew turned up and attempted to interview him (something he totally ignored).

When we got into Hall H, I was shocked by how big the room was. Apparently quite a few people had been in there all day which explains why you can never normally get in there unless you start queuing the night before. This left me in two minds as to whether it would be better for them to empty it after each panel but this would mean a lot of wasted time and the inability to watch consecutive panels.

During the panel they brought out the members of Metallica and played the trailer to their new movie. The bass from the trailer was incredible, and the film actually looked quite good. There was then a short question and answer session that should have been followed with seeing who had won tickets to a secret gig. They made a bit of a mess with though as not everyone had been given lottery tickets for it. Somehow our row ended up with two as well.

James Hetfield of Metallica

It was slow work getting back to the hostel from there as the crowds of people made a mass exodus from the convention centre. When we got back it was a chance to relax and rest our feet for a while before heading back out to get some food – once again to Subway.

SDCC 2013 Day 2 – San Diego

This was my only full day in San Diego without Comic Con so it was my best chance to see some of the city. Surprisingly I woke up at 05:00 and just couldn’t get back to sleep so instead got ready for the day ahead. Breakfast at the hostel consisted of pancakes with maple syrup; so quite an American breakfast! It was the first time I’d made pancakes myself so I was lucky they came out edible and in one piece.

San Diego Convention Centre

We then headed out into the city to do some exploring. I tried to get a new US adapter so I could charge my phone, but the place we tried didn’t sell any. So instead we headed towards the convention centre and the Marriott.

This morning the queue to get into the fulfillment room in the Marriott was even longer than the night before and seemed ridiculously long. I was tempted to go off and do something else but the volunteers assured us that it would probably get even busier later in the day. As I’d already paid for the t-shirts I realised I had no choice but to queue. Whilst queuing the other two went off to get a drink and ended up in the Nintendo gaming lounge for a while.

Mario

By the time I got my order it had been just over an hour since I’d joined the queue. I bought an extra t-shirt whilst there as I thought it’d be good to get the Sandman one as well.

Once I’d picked up my t-shirts the other two had arrived as we’d agreed they’d check up on the queue progress after an hour in the hope that I’d have finished by then.

After explaining what they’d been doing and that they’d won a t-shirt we headed to the Nintendo gaming lounge to play some games and to see what else we could win.

Han and Leia dancing

In the lobby area of the Marriott there was someone playing as Mario and another as Luigi. In the entrance to the gaming room they also had someone playing as Pikachu (a character from Pokemon).

When playing some games the Nintendo employees would give you a token which you could redeem to get a t-shirt once you’d got enough. For some other games they gave away free items such as pin badges and a Mario hat.

Here I tried out a few Wii-U games such as a 3D Mario game and a Luigi specific one. There were also two places you could have your photograph taken either on a Mario landscape or with Donkey Kong.

I didn’t really get on that well with the Wii-U games and one of them felt a little laggy when there were 4 people playing on it at the same time. It could have been though that this was just a development version so may not have represented the final product.

Vikings lady

Over the road from the hotel we went to a place for the History Channel’s “Vikings” show. For this they had a boat race where the fastest time for the day would win a Viking shield signed by the cast. Before having a go you have to sign a waiver and then put on a life vest and helmet. We paddled hard and almost tipped the boat but our time was the fourth fastest of the day.

At this point they gave us a free copy of a Viking comic and we decided to have another go to see if we could do better. Once again we had to sign the waiver.

This time we paddled hard but our time was actually worse – possibly as we’d crossed into the next lane and the boat in that lane toppled over.

There was so much still to see but we decided it was about time to get some food. Along the way we came across some girls dressed as Tetris pieces, and some replica Jurassic Park cars to advertise a new musical. Our first attempt at finding somewhere to eat failed due to how busy it was, but on the way in two girls asked if we could have our photo taken with them (we were wearing Mario hats).

The food place was a sports bar where I went for a bacon cheeseburger with fries. It wasn’t bad and was a good choice I felt for my first proper American meal. I was pretty sure that one of the people sitting on the next table was one of them from the Ryan vs. Dorkman Star Wars fan videos.

Defiance Dodge

Having gotten a refill of my drink we walked with our drinks back to where Ender’s Game was located. We stopped briefly for a replica of Ecto 1 but soon joined the queue. Just before we entered we had to get rid of our drinks as they were not permitted inside. Once in the first thing we saw was a replica of a lounge which was an actual set from the show. This was then followed by walking through other sets and getting to see some props.

Ender’s Game – Storage Locker

Ender’s Game – Porthole

Having seen that we decided to continue along that road towards where we went the night before. The next thing we saw was the spice shop from Grimm, though I didn’t bother photographing it as it didn’t really look much like it. In the area I assume is normally a car park we headed over to where there was a van for Falling Skies. We queued for quite some time and whilst in the line I won a t-shirt by answering the question “Who does Noah Wyles play?” – which is of course Tom Mason. It turned out the queue was not really worthwhile as once in they let you watch some scenes from season 3, but ones that had already aired.

Smurf

From there we went to another trailer where they were showing a 3D trailer and IMAX exclusive scene from Gravity. It didn’t look too bad, but not one I’d see at the cinema – I’d be more likely to rent it from LoveFilm once released.

The next area was for the upcoming game, Mad Max. For this one you could have video taken of you in the car which would then be superimposed over a post-apocalyptic road scene. They also provided things like helmets, goggles, and weaponry so you could get into character for it. I made a bit of a mess of the weapon reloading though!

Once done in the car they then give you a free Mad Max t-shirt. As I’d quickly changed into the t-shirt they asked me if I wanted to have my photo taken in front of the car.

Mad Max

The Walking Dead “car crash” we’d seen the night before was now populated with zombies roaming as well. From what I could tell it seemed to be advertising a new game featuring Merl and his brother Daryl from the TV series (these weren’t characters in the original comics).

The Walking Dead

We had a quick wander past the other booths for DC Comics/Kia “We can be heroes”, Adult Swim (Robot Chicken) and a few others before deciding we’d pretty much seen everything. We headed in the direction of the Hilton hotel next to find out where the Indigo Ballroom was as we knew there’d be a “How I Met Your Mother” panel there on the Saturday.

Batgirl

Whilst sitting around there the actor who plays “Beast” in Beauty and the Beast walked past, followed by Kristin Kreuk (who plays Beauty). Sadly I didn’t get to take a photograph of her as by the time I’d spotted her she already had a crowd getting signatures. I waited patiently but someone came to lead her out of the hotel. She walked past a second time five minutes later but I still missed her – I think to some degree she wasn’t keen on people wanting to take her picture.

As my travel adapter wasn’t staying in the wall socket I went in the shop in the Hilton and bought a two-way USB adapter for just over $20. At first I was a bit confused about the price as I didn’t realise this shop, unlike the others I’d been in earlier, did not include sales tax in the price. It would have been nice to see some consistency.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag – The Jackdaw

Outside the hotel we had another look at the LEGO in daylight before wandering down the dockside to get a photograph of the Jackdaw, the pirate boat from Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. By this time the sun had started to get lower so we headed back to the hostel to relax for a whole before heading out to Subway for an evening meal. Only the two of us went out as the other had come down with a cold and wasn’t feeling too good.

SDCC 2013 Day 1 – Leicester to San Diego

It was a long journey to get from Leicester to San Diego. As I was travelling alone this time I decided I’d be going from Birmingham Airport due to it’s relative proximity compared to Heathrow. It did however mean that the flights would not be as good. On the the evening of the previous day I had to catch the train from the local train station to get to the airport – I always find this a little dubious as the train doesn’t always stop at this station even when scheduled.

Unfortunately there weren’t any decent times available for the trains – I had to be at the airport for 03:25; the last train that night was at 22:33 and would get me to the airport for 00:05. The next train wasn’t until after 06:00 though meaning I’d have to get the earlier train and hang around the airport for about 3-4 hours; it was a chance to try and get some sleep though. I’d also tried to get a quick nap before leaving out once I got home from work however due to the temperature this just didn’t work.

By the time of the flight I’d been up for 24 hours already and had another 18 hours before I’d be touching down in San Diego. This isn’t particularly ideal when you’ve got 3 days of intensive tourism ahead of you, but by this point I was more or less used to it due to previous trips.

When checking in my luggage I was a little unsure whether or not I needed to collect it in Frankfurt or not. According to the check-in desk it was checked in all the way through to San Diego but it’d need to pass it through customs in Los Angeles. It didn’t make much sense to me at this point as I couldn’t see how it could be checked all the way through if I’d need to put it through customs in LAX. This did of course make more sense once I got there.

Frankfurt airport was fun – the plane landed 10 minutes before the boarding time for the next flight yet I had to take a bus to the other end of the airport, then walk back to the opposite end of the terminal, take a shuttle to another terminal and then get to the other end of that one including time spent going through security again. By the time I reached the Boeing 747-8 I was already 15 minutes late. Fortunately due to the size of the aircraft they were still boarding. If I wasn’t quick at walking I certainly wouldn’t have made it whilst there was still a queue, I was probably quite lucky I arrived at the shuttle at the right time too.

Flying over Greenland

Although an 11 hour flight it was one of the better flights I’d been on – Lufthansa really know how to look after passengers. At the start of the flight they gave out pretzels, later there was spaghetti bolognaise (which for airplane food was good!), and even a snack in the form of a toblerone later. The later meal wasn’t as good but didn’t bother me as I’d got a cheese pasty saved from Birmingham. Whilst on this flight I watched Jack the Giant Slayer, some TV episodes, and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.

SkyWest Airlines flight to San Diego

Arriving in LAX feels like organised chaos, but it’s understandable – it’s a very busy airport with a large number of terminals and flights. I suspect it’s busier and larger than London Heathrow, but didn’t get to find out. This was treated as an international arrival rather than transit so had to go through the full immigration process. At first it seemed my luggage wasn’t going to arrive, then I realised I was at the wrong baggage carousel! As I’d got food in my bag I had to declare it, but it wasn’t a type that bothered them so they let me straight through. It was then a short ride to terminal 7 where I had to go through security yet again and waited for the onward flight to San Diego. This time it was a far smaller plane with propellers, and it would only be a one hour flight. By the time I flew out I’d been awake for 42 hours.

The airport in San Diego took minutes to get through due to it being a commuter terminal. However it took over an hour before I could meet up with friends and leave the airport, although they knew which flight I was coming in on. They had gotten a lift with a hotel driver (not a hotel they were even staying at!) that was going to the airport, but went to the wrong terminal so had to do a loop of the airport. It was then a short wait to get a cab to the hostel we’d be styling at.

Gaslamp Quarter

The hostel they booked was in the historic Gaslamp Quarter and was extremely close to the convention centre. It was also surrounded by restaurants and bars so it seemed likely we’d find somewhere to eat later. After checking in and dropping off my stuff we headed out to explore the nearby area. They’d already been in San Diego for sometime so had already seen a lot of the city but it had changed so much in the past day with off site events for Comic-con being set up.

Cafe Defiance

To start with we headed towards the convention centre and along the way we passed a bar that had been done up by Syfy channel to include a (smaller) replica of the arch in St. Louis as seen in the TV series Defiance. This included a large logo and even renamed the place to “Cafe Defiance”. The interior was basically the bar part of the “Need Want” and even had the sign.

Sonic the Hedgehog

On most of the lamp posts they had signs either side to advertise Comic Con and either Captain America or Thor. Other buildings had advertisements too, such as one had an advertisement for The Amazing Spider-man 2. Along the initial route we took we saw a few things being set up ready for the following few days which included a giant statue of Sonic the Hedgehog to advertise a SEGA gaming lounge.

On the way back we noticed that we weren’t far from the Marriott so headed inside as I’d got a receipt with me for picking up some Comic Con t-shirts I’d pre-ordered over the internet.

When we found the place to pick them up inside the hotel there was a bit of queue and was told that they may not let any more in so decided I’d go back the next day to try again.

LEGO Bag End (The Hobbit)

We then walked across the front of the convention centre and into a grassy area where they’d got large inflatable versions of characters from the Teen Titans cartoon series, LEGO versions of Batman, Robin and the Joker, and a LEGO version of Bag End from the Hobbit along with a number of dwarves and Bilbo Baggins himself.

These LEGO creations were all quite large and did look like the characters. Between these there was a replica of the Mystery Machine van from the Scooby Doo cartoon and live action movies.

The Mystery Machine

From there we went over a railway bridge into a carpark where they’d set up a few more “booths” advertising various games, TV series and movies. The first thing we saw here was a large inflatable Smurf and a car advertising a new Mad Max game. Parked here was also a Tatooine Sail Barge which was there for the Course of the Force marathon.

Falling Skies

Wandering around for a bit longer around the Gaslamp Quarter we eventually stopped at a place for food. We had to show our ID on the way in as it was a bar, but after the others had ordered drinks they decided to tell us they’d stopped serving food. Eventually we moved on to another place where we got a slice of pizza though they were running short on what was available as it was close to midnight. I ended up ordering a Margarita Pizza, which wasn’t too bad, but I’d had better.

Going for food

By the time we’d settled back into the hostel it was gone midnight and the other three occupants of the room had arrived as well – all of whom had been to the SDCC preview night. I’d not stayed in a hostel before, but I could see how it could add to the social experience of Comic Con; though for this night I got some ear plugs so I could shut it all out and finally after 57 hours could get some sleep.