Hello California - Part 2

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
Trip End Apr 01, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, September 24, 2011

The next day is our big drive down the coast – unfortunately the weather isn't playing ball for us and there is a heavy fog for most of the day so we don’t see much of the coast. Although what we do see is pretty – I can see the potential – an excuse to go back maybe!?  What does make up for the lack of coastline is while we’re driving along the road we see that a few cars have stopped and are looking into a nearby field – Jonny asks 'What are they looking at?’ Julie screams ‘Zebra!’  Thinking that she might be going a little stir crazy in the backseat we pull over to have a look – indeed there are zebra in the field.  Apparently set free from a safari park that had to close down the zebra are thriving, we’re told that unfortunately the giraffes didn’t do so well.  We get lunch at a fish and chip kiosk on the boardwalk of a small town – I try seafood chowder in a bread roll bowl and the others try varieties of fried seafood – all very tasty.

We arrive into Santa Barbara, a nice town just north of LA.  Staying at the Hampton Inn courtesy of a few more Accenture points.  We head into town for some dinner in one of the pubs and then go for drinks.  We end up in a small bar on the main street where there is karaoke, however the singers sound pretty professional.  Julie and I decide we’ll wait until a bad singer goes on and then we’ll go, but that doesn’t happen and at 2am the bar closes up as nowhere in California can sell alcohol after 2am and we’re sent home. 

Final road trip day and we’re driving to LA, we drive to Malibu and gape at the beach houses overlooking the bay and even dip our toes in the water – still a bit cold for even a paddle.  We stop at Malibu Seafood – which is essentially a fish and chip takeaway but with nice outdoor seating overlooking the beach – pretty good fish and chips as well.  

Finally we get into LA, the boys drop us off at the hostel with the bags while they take the car back to the rental place and we head to the nearest bar to wait for them.  For our first night in LA we somehow end up in a British pub with a Beatles tribute band, playing pool and drinking house wine – not quite how I expected LA but a very fun night.

Next day we’re up to explore LA – we go to the Farmers Market in West Hollywood.  This is when you appreciate the size of LA, it takes forever despite us taking a fairly direct bus and not having any problems with traffic.  The Farmers Market doesn’t quite have the quality of Borough Market but has a bigger range and is worth a wander.  We then go to the Grove which in my mind is what a shopping centre would look like if Disney made them – let’s say very well finished and a bit surreal.  We do manage to catch an interview with Jason DeRulo being filmed (none of us quite knowing who he is.)  We then get another bus to Larchmount Ave as it’s meant to be a street of normality amongst some very expensive houses.  It’s nice with cafes and boutique shops although it does have a wine shop that won’t serve wine by the glass despite having seats outside – all a bit strange.  Finally we go to the long awaited Cheesecake Factory for dinner – is it bad if the main course was actually the highlight!?  A very good dinner and location – on Marina Del Rey. 

We take the LA Rasta tour the next day and so are picked up in a very brightly coloured bus and driven around LA.  Our stops included Malibu beach –to admire the beach and the expensive real estate, Beverley Hills – this time to stare at celebrity houses, or rather their very imposing walls including the Beckham’s, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s, Katie and Tom’s properties .  Here we learnt that Adam Sandler is so rich that he can afford to buy his neighbour’s property and knock it down so that his children have a garden to play in.  Never mind the fact that he already has a swimming pool, tennis courts and basketball courts in his own property.  At some point when we have free time (and free internet) I want to have a look at these properties on google earth just to see the scale of the houses as we only saw them from the road.  There was a moment of excitement when a range rover with tinted windows was pulling into Christina Aguliera’s house and we waited to get a glimpse of who was in the car before the gates closed.  Unfortunately it looked more like the cleaner than anyone remotely famous and so we continued on our tour.  We stop at the Beverley Hills sign, Grifford Mansion which overlooks the city and happens to be a film set to many TV shows and films, quick stop in Farmers Market for some lunch, Hollywood Boulevard, Kodak and Chinese Theatres and finally drive through an area of music venues/bars which have been the scene of many parties in the 70s and where many stars have been discovered.  It was pretty interesting tour for me and the others seem to enjoy it despite having visited LA before.

At night we head to a gig at El Rey theatre, and after 10 minutes on the bus we realise the major problem with living in LA – the traffic.  It takes us double the normal time to get to the venue, get dinner from a sandwich shop and head straight into the gig.  Despite it being an Irish singer’s gig – Lisa Hannigan – the US makes it mark by having some ridiculous rules.  You must not stand in the areas marked by a black line on the floor – you can walk through but cannot stop.  Given that this is a standing gig, the rule does seem to pose an obvious problem and security spend most their time moving people along from these passageways.  The support to the gig is John Smith (
who we find out later is part of her band), he is good with a pretty unusual voice and Lisa herself is also very good with quite a quirky style.  Not quite the conventional LA night out, but probably much more to our style.

Final day in LA is dedicated to a bit of wandering the shops, then sadly we have to say bye to Julie as she heads back to the UK and we wander down to Venice Beach to see the local crazy people released into the public.  That may not be fair but the ratio of crazy people in Venice Beach must be much higher than anywhere else in the States.  The amount of stores that appear to be licensed to sell medical marijuana may have something to do with it.... Apart from that aspect to Venice Beach, it is good for a wander, we get some lunch in a bar by the beach and then go and watch the skateboarders of all ages try out their skills. 

And that’s our time done in the States, a nice little break that felt quite holiday-like especially with our visit from Dave and Julie to catch up on all the news from London town. 

On to New Zealand and the Rugby World Cup!!
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