Letter from America

Trip Start May 18, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, December 4, 2003

As we flew into Los Angeles International the views of the city were imposing, the shear size of it was simply overwhelming. Having seen greater London a few times from the air I am used to viewing vast metropolises but L.A. (with block after block of near identical buildings) seemed slightly unreal.

Arrival and immigration in L.A. was swift and efficient, and once I had checked where to go for my onward flight to Chicago later on, I could relax and start to get used to being back on the northern hemisphere. Surprisingly, while standing in the sun it actually felt warmer to be in L.A. than Auckland (despite the fact that it is the start of winter here). Unfortunately I knew that this was not going to be the case when I arrive in Chicago.

Not long after I arrived I met up with Tabea in terminal four (there are at least six terminals in L.A. International), who was also flying from Auckland but on a different flight. It was quite surreal meeting here, especially as the last time we met was on Tuesday evening on the other side of the world back in Auckland. Tabea (or should I say Tammy) was going to stay a few days at a place on the coast called Hermosa Beach, so I came along for the ride (free airport pick up if you are staying at the Surf City hostel there).

Once in Hermosa Beach my previous thoughts about L.A. were put into perspective. This was a much nicer place to hang out than the downtown areas I had visited the last time I was here in 1996. While eating a very filling pita bread alternative to Subway on the beach, I noticed that there were a variety of birds milling around along with the die-hard surfers. Among them was a variety of Oystercatcher not too dissimilar from the Variable Oystercatchers of Opoutere Beach, but they were not as comical as the New Zealand variety.

We got chatting to a local called Thomas who was fishing on the pier. He gave us advice about were to go and what there was to see and do in Hermosa. All the people we met here were very friendly and made me want to stay longer. The guys working at Pita Stop; the surfer dude; John who owned the retro scooter and skateboard shop (where you can also buy things made out of Duct Tape) and the playwright who invited us into the art gallery to watch his new weird and wonderful play.

From the pier I had a perfect uninterrupted view of sun going down and sinking into the Pacific Ocean. I have seen so many sunsets in the last few months but they never cease to be awe inspiring and unique. When the sun did finally disappear I was soon reminded that although we were in California it was still winter, as the temperature dropped.

By 10:40pm I was in a taxi heading off to the airport for my domestic flight to Chicago. It was not leaving until 11:50pm and domestic check-in can be as late as 30 minutes before take off. The electronic ticket self service kiosk was pretty swish, allowing you to visually select your seat. I wanted to stay awake for take off so that I could see L.A. by night, but I unintentionally dozed off for the first thirty minutes of the flight. Seeing the myriad of lights from anonymous cities along the way was quite stunning though.

I really enjoyed my one day in Los Angeles, it just goes to show that every city has its nice parts worth visiting. You just have to know where to go.
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