Arriving in LA wasn’t nearly as stressful as I was expecting. I’d printed off the map of the airport and it looked terribly confusing, but apparently it’s only really bad if you’re transferring there, so because we weren’t, it wasn’t too bad! Then again it’s lucky it wasn’t too confusing, we were both extremely tired (or at least I was!), and I’d already stuffed up once by putting the wrong hand on the scanner.
After going through security we made our way out of the airport, and found someone who told us to take a taxi to our hostel, but I’ve never been anywhere where a taxi’s been cheaper than a shuttle, so we declined their offer and went to where there were a whole lot of shuttles, all going to different parts of the city. Finding the Santa Monica one was easy, I think it was the first or second one in the line. A few more people got in, and we circled the airport (and I realised just how confusing it could have been!) before heading to Santa Monica. We let at least one couple out before us, an Australian couple who had won a trip, but for some reason couldn’t fly direct from Oz to LA.
It didn’t take too long to get to the hostel, and we checked in and found our room. I was absolutely exhausted and wanted to nap but Megan forced me to get off the bed and we decided to go for a walk down to the beach. We grabbed a map from the hostel office, but we probably didn’t need it, the hostel was only one block away from the hostel.
Had a fantastic time getting across the road, the pedestrian crossings spoke, and to my ears it sounded ridiculous – ‘wait, wait, wait…’ and then it would tell you which road you could cross. Brilliant technology!
We had a wander along the beach, I know I paddled a little so I could say I had paddled in both sides of the Pacific Ocean, and then ambled up to the pier to have a look at all the things on it. Very exciting! Eventually we decided on Bubba Gumps Shrimp Co for dinner, and I think we both ordered hamburgers. Had a moment of hilarity when Megan ordered wine and it came in a water glass! And they somehow missed one of our orders, so we also got free desert (chocolate chip cookie sundae, which was a-mazing :D) Had a good time chatting with two woman at the next table to us who also helped us with tipping, which is still a foreign concept to me…
After dinner it was definitely time for bed, so we headed back to the hostel and fell (well climbed) into bed.
The next morning we woke up just in time for breakfast, and made our way down to the kitchen, where free breakfast is served. Unfortunately there weren’t any spoons left, so we ended up eating cereal with forks, which was entertaining at least! We ate breakfast with a group of other travellers, mostly from Europe, but a few from the USA as well.
After showering and making ourselves presentable, we decided to hit a farmers market, so walked down to that, had a look around, bought some seriously overpriced fruit, and sat down in the sun to eat lunch 🙂
After lunch we decided to walk back along the waterfront. It was a really nice day, so we stopped and sat on the beach for a bit. Megan wanted to go and say hello to the life guards on the beach, because she’s a lifeguard here in New Zealand, so eventually she worked up the courage to do it. They were really nice, and one of them asked us if we’d like to hang out one evening.
The lifeguards had to get back to work so we continued walking along the beach, stopping at Muscle Beach to admire the acrobatics going on, and we also had a go on the swings on the beach. Lots of fun! Megan wanted to go for a run, so we went back to the hostel to change into more appropriate clothing, and then went back down to the beach where I hired some skates, so I could at least attempt to keep up with her!
At the skate place we actually ran in to the Australian couple from the shuttle, so spent a bit of time chatting with them, and I practiced skating, since it’d been so long since I’d skated before. Still wasn’t terribly fast, even though the path was flat as, I’m still a bit scared of falling! We managed to go for just under an hour, and on our way back we ran in to Shota (the lifeguard) who said he was having pizza with some of his friends that night if we wanted to come, so we raced back to the hostel, showered, and got dressed.
Shota picked us up in his camper van (yes, this sounds dodgy to me too now!) and drove us to the pizza place, where we met his friends, who’d already ordered a pizza. Megan and I were amazed at how enormous the pizza was there! After dinner, Shota drove us back to the hostel, and as we came in we met the breakfast crew who were planning to go for a drink and invited us to go along. Obviously we said yes :p
Sadly, we couldn’t find anything that really appealed and/or wasn’t charging to go in because they had bands playing, so we ended up at the supermarket and bought something to drink, and walked back down to the beach. We settled on one of the empty lifeguard stands, and had our own little mini party with their drinks and my chocolate 😀 Made it back to the hostel about 3am, and then played pool for another hour or so, and finally went to bed.
The next morning we got up barely in time for breakfast, had dry cornflakes with yogurt (ick), and then went back to bed to sleep for a bit.
In the afternoon, after getting up, we went back down to the beach and hired some bikes, and cycled round to Venice Beach, which was cool. Kind of reminded me of Cuba St in Wellington, lots of really eclectic kinds of shops. Definitely wouldn’t want to hang around after dark though. I felt like a complete dork for being the only one in sight for wearing a helmet, but not enough of a dork to take it off 😉 Head injuries are much more dorky after all.
After returning our bikes we walked back to the hostel to participate in the $3 dinner. We were a little bit late and everyone had kind of started cooking, so we got put in charge of setting the tables, not a very good message, but good for us! Dinner was delicious, and it was cool getting to meet some more people. After dinner we found the breakfast crew again, who were going out again, so we joined them again.
After wandering around a little, we found a bar that was doing 2 for 1 drinks and settled there. 2 rum and cokes was apparently too much for me, so I just drank my body weight in water, and about 2am we all walked back to the hostel, and I went to bed. I think Megan and the others went out again after that, because she wasn’t there for a while (advantages of drinking your body weight in water include having to get up every half hour to pee!).
We were late for breakfast again the next day (starting to see a theme here!) but luckily the rest of the gang had saved us some food, gotta love having friends! Some of them had decided to go to Hollywood that day, so we figured we’d join them (you can’t really go to LA and NOT go to Hollywood I suppose!), so we found the correct bus stop and caught the bus to Hollywood.
I don’t think it was until that bus trip that it really dawned on me just how big LA is. I think it took us an HOUR to get in to the city. An hour! I don’t think you can go anywhere an hour in Wellington on a bus and still be even remotely in the city. You wouldn’t even be in the suburbs anymore! We managed to find the main street, the stars, and the theatres. All very exciting, although of all the places, this one was the one that freaked me out the most. Something about it just seemed dangerous, I guess because there were so many tourists, and so many hecklers. I was mega glad I had a lock for my backpack, even if it was a pain to get in and out of my bag all the time. We almost lost Megan once, but found her again.
We were getting quite hungry by that stage, so decided to find somewhere to eat where it wasn’t so crowded. After lunch we decided we’d had enough, so caught the bus back to Santa Monica. Did some laundry so we’d have clean underwear at least on the train. I think the hostel was doing $3 pasta that night, so we went and partook of that, and then I really wanted to go on the ferris wheel on the end of the pier, so a bunch of us walked down. Unfortunately we were about 10 minutes too late, but we had another wander down the pier, there were some musicians playing, so we stopped and listened to them, and then ended up at Bubba Gumps again where we had key lime pie with fries (verdict: yummy!)
The next morning we had to pack up all our stuff, went to the supermarket to get supplies for the train trip, and then had a hell of a time getting to the train station. Got a bit lost finding the right bus to get there, but we eventually got on it, thanks to a couple of helpful bus drivers, checked in our luggage, and got on the train. Which is another blog entry in itself!