California Dreaming

Trip Start Jan 22, 2006
Trip End Aug 17, 2006

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, January 26, 2006

We made it! Not only did our plane make it to the states but we also managed to drive out of the airport and make it to our hotel alive. What more do you want?

So it turned out our departure wasn't exactly the relaxed exciting moment we had hoped for. After my previous entry, Dan and I had to stay up all night trying to finish emptying the house ready to rent, moving all the boxes over to my rather flabberghasted parents' house (seriously - how did we get that much stuff?) and then finally packing our bags ready to leave. Dan's parents arrived to pick us up at 8am in the morning and we were still packing things up. Thank God for parents, that's all I can say. Both my and Dan's parents have saved our lives over these past few days doing the things we just ran out of time to do.

Anyway, enough of that. Eventually we left for Heathrow and shoved as much caffeine into our bodies as possible. True to form and despite arriving 3 hours before take-off, we still almost missed the plane. Had we actually not arrived at our gate in time I think Dan and I would still have camped out in Heathrow for 7 months, too embarassed to come home again to wait for another flight!

The flight was pretty uneventful apart from the massive amount of turbulence and lots of spilt coffee. LAX airport was pretty dull and ridiculously efficient and we were at the car hire place within an hour of landing. We got upgraded so now we only have the 2nd smallest car ever made, and Dan and I actually had a 10 minute discussion about what colour to go for. Travelling is hard you know!

Despite being terrified of driving the wrong way down the freeway, driving here (even in LA!) was as easy as everyone promised us it would be. We've only had one incident of driving down the hard shoulder by mistake and almost colliding a few times, and I consider that a success.

These first 4-5 days have been pretty easy going, particularly as 2 of them were taken up driving around lost in several cities without a map and fighting over whose fault it was (in case there's any confusion, it was Dan's). Sunday to Wednesday morning was spent in and around LA, trying to avoid too many of the obvious tourist spots. We visited Harbor Landing (a pier/beach we came across by mistake) and spent some time on the beach enjoying the gorgeous 73 degrees. We drove past and was enticed into the LA National Cemetary (and almost got arrested for not having a permit to take photos), got lost in Bel Air, looked enviously at the houses overlooking the beach at Malibu and pretty much drove around most of California trying to find a hotel/hostel. Pasadena apparently doesn't have very many (believe me, we know) but we eventually ended up in Motel 6 which daylight the next morning proved to be in a rather wonderful mountainous location. I guess despite the stresses of being lost and not knowing where the hell we were meant to be going, that kind of wandering around is the whole point of travelling and being on the road. Ok so we haven't spent our time in Hollywood (although we plan to visit it on our return) or had our photos taken with Mickey but I'm not entirely sure that's why we're here.

On Wednesday morning we decided to head to San Diego. Took a few hours to get there and we arrived in plenty of time to drive around (*cough*LOST*cough*) and have a look. Filled the car up with gas which proved to be quite amusing. Who'd have thought it would be so difficult? Took both of us pressing random buttons and pushing levers for the poor attendant to finally come and show us how stupid we were. Still, after a day in the car and feeling grumpy from being lost in LA the day before, I was ready to have a good giggle.

San Diego is so much nicer than LA. You can really feel how close we are to the Mexican border as all the buildings are bright colours and cheerful. Everyone seems to speak Spanish and the only thing that reminds you that you're in America are the massive sky scrapers and McDonalds everywhere you turn. The city proudly boasts itself as the oldest city in America (not sure if it's true) and it has a certain element of culture and history about it. You still can't escape buildings shooting up everywhere you look and the familiar shopping malls, but San Diego is still somewhere I'd consider coming back to.

Today we booked into the USA Hostel in the trendy gaslamp quarter and it has a nice feel to it if you ignore the seriously strong smell of cannibis. Remind me not to wake up hungover at any point because the bright orange walls will probably not be too kind. The beds are comfy though and we only have to share with 2 Swedish blokes we have yet to even see. Tomorrow we get to try out the free all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast which featured in the only negative review I've read about this hostel. The problem? You have to cook them yourself... It's a harsh world out there.

Tomorrow we're going to San Diego Zoo which is meant to be one of the best in the world. I'm quite looking forward to seeing a giant panda, I don't expect there are too many places (without heading to China) where you're likely to see any. We also plan to check out the Balbao Park which is meant to be pretty and generally explore the city a bit more by foot. Will be moving on on Saturday though to somewhere a little less expensive to park.

Hopefully we'll get the chance to update this again in another 4 or 5 days as long as our hearts don't give up after the food we've been eating. Granted, we've only really had time for one meal a day but I'm pretty sure we've still had enough fat and cholesterol to make us keel over. We haven't had access to a kitchen so far (although I did try to break into the staff room at the motel by mistake...) and have had to eat out a lot on a tight budget. Today we tried to be vaguely healthy by ordering a jacked potato for dinner and was slightly bemused by the mountain of sour cream and butter that came with it. Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to America.
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lynnetempleton on

Re: Wow!

Sorry for very late reply, for some reason previous internet cafes blocked access to the reply screen.

Of course you are brave enough to do something like this! It's never too late, just remember that. Even if you don't have the opportunity or nerve right now there'll always be chances in the future. The trip we're doing is well trodden by previous travellers so there really isn't much need to be brave thankfully! Not sure I'd still be here if there were ;)

We've been using the presents you bought us all the time and it does make me think of you when we do just like you wanted! Thanks again for those :D

Hope you're well, haven't been able to keep up to date with LJ and I miss all the gossip ;)


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