Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Three Hundred Miles from San Diego to our last stop in Paloma. From here to the coast of LA was not a long distance but took forever... yes, we'd hit LA traffic! we arrived at Venice Beach as afternoon sun became eveloped by dusk and to us at least it seemed a bit menacing. Lucky then that there was no room at the Inn. All hostels around VB were completely booked or really expensive... or both.
We eventually found a place called The Orbit via our Lonely Planet 'bible' and Jeremy felt his way along hot, sticky streets (lights not being one of his strongest points). We were on the edge of Hollywood which might sound quite fancy but anyone who's been there knows different. So we were more than relieved to find the hostel came with a free - and secure - car park.
I (Katy) got up early with directions to the Runyon Canyon...i know it sounds ridiculous but that's what its called and it is a BIG Canyon. It's where 'anyone who's anyone' goes for thier morning run. So I joined all the wanna be actors and singers along and up the very dusty road. It was brillaint, with such an amazing view from the top of the HOLLYWOOD sign and LA below me. It was also really hot but luckily they have taps for the dogs.....and Katy's! Just to put a picture in your mind of how it was, I passed loads of SYTDs (small, yappy-type dogs) all in jogging outfits, with quite a few owners in matching ensemble! But my favourite bit was at the base of the Canyon, where a lady was actually spraying her BIG dog with doggy deodrant... he looked mortified. I heard her tell him she didn't want him smelling "all doggy". I chuckled my way back over Sunset Strip and Hollywood Boulevard, to our new home in Melrose Place.
[Free] Breakfasted-up we headed for a what would be a long walk up to the Walk of Fame and Manns Chinesse theatre, on the way passing legendary bars and clubs such as The Roxy and The Whisky A Go Go on Sunset Boulevard, where people like Guns n Roses got their big break.
We stopped off for lunch along the way at a small cafe that was full of people on thier phones doing deals and talking about the "film". All very exciting for us and a little funny too. A few doors down was a pet hotel which looked very swanky indeed, lucky LA pooches! So we did the Walk of Fame,it's hard not to bump into people along the way as everyone is looking down, but with good humour you apologize and move on. We went to Manns and put our feet and hands in the prints of famous singers and movies stars. All in all we did the tourist thing, which was a fun day out if a little hot.
We'd given ourselves 10 days to sell Jeremy in LA so the following day we put posters up for Jeremy in various hostels then headed to Venice Beach where we had a wander round, checked out Muscle beach and stalls. An amazing place for people watching, we were in our element.I decided I wanted to roller-skate and Tim decided he didn't (last attempt resulted in several pulled stomach muscles falling over around Ruislip Lido)... so with my 1980's skates on foot I headed out along the very long pathway along the beach while Tim watched the skate boarders doing their thing. It was great fun for both of us, and I'd forgotten how much fun it is to be on wheels, mind you i'm not sure how getting to work on skates would've ended up as my braking is not that great.
After finding a site called airbnb.com we answered an ad for a room from a guy called Michael. He had a spare room for cheaper than the hostel so we thought 'why not?' and stayed for a couple of days. Michael , if you read this, you are quite a character! Eccentric Ex-pat Brit is a good way to describe him. Part photographer, part DJ but mainly eccentric! But loved his cats. Thank you Michael and I hope you get your slot back on local radio!
Another day at Venice and this time we took in a Body Building contest at Muscle Beach. First contestant was non too impressive and we feared the worst for the remainder of the show. Then the compere informed the crowd that the lady in question was 76 years old and had competed in every year of the competition... on that basis she was amazing and looked at least twenty years younger than she was! The rest of the show was more typical but was followed by the bikini contest which was just bizarre (but highly enjoyable)
The following day we decided to head back to the coast in Jezza to finish our West Coast experience and travel north toward Malibu - we'd had heard the beaches there are lovely('tis true). We found a nice State park campsite and set-up camp. Fired-up the BBQ, then wandered along a really cold beach to watch the sunset. Back to Jeremy with our head torches on, wrapped up in lots of layers, and in bed with a good book all by 8pm... GnR would be so impressed.
Onwards and upwards: the following morning we headed to Santa Barbara. A pretty place (as in 'pretty boring') nothing actually wrong with it and the tourist info lady was very sweet, but there did not seem much worth staying for. So we had a quick look around then started to hunt for somewhere to stay. we found another state park site which was great and right by the beach but expensive; we managed to offset that cost by spending the next night on the side of the road right next to the campsite (a) using their facilities (b) free parking (c) finding free wifi sat on a pavement outside an art gallery and best of all (d) sitting in on a lecture about sting-rays and sharks!! OK, it was intended for children under 10 but still very informative and genuinely useful later in our travels!
With our remaining time in LA rapidly running out we headed backdown to LA city and managed to get two people interested in Jezza. The first, a singer in a band called Pic Vicious (YouTube them... they're actually pretty good if you like that sort of thing). She was really sweet and very nearly bought him but in the end he went to a Mexican couple (also very nice but to my knowledge, not in an Electronica band). It was very strange saying goodbye to a van that we weren't sure would survive Canada let alone 12,500miles across America too (requiring just one new tyre and an oil change). But needs must and we were down to ourlast couple of days in LA. Goodbye Jezza, you are sorely missed. We loved that little red van.
Back in the hostel for the remaining days, we walked many miles in LA and saw most of the sites, notably Rodeo Drive (for the shopaholics and Pretty Women fans) and had a great time at muscle beach. Luckily we also found the Farmers Market not far from our hostel which was one of the few redeeming features of the neighbourhood (actually our street had some VERY swanky shops but we couldn't afford to even walk in the door so they don't count). Not a traditional farmers market (well, it is in LA), but had loads of small food stalls serving great food and most nights had live bands playing... really relaxed place. It is also next to some more mainstreet stores and a cinema where we wached ourfirst movie in months; a shame then that we chose 'The American' which apart from some beautiful Italian scenery and cinematography was quite boring and predicatble... must try harder Mr Clooney, alhtough saying that he was still very pleasing on the eye :)
We also invested in the Lonely Planet's South America on a Shoestring which we will be using as our guide on our next big stop.
As our final LA day approached we decided to streamline our very heavy bags, ditching excess clothes and shipping things across the globe (thank you to all the recipients)! As a final gesture we left a couple of big blacks bags of free 'stuff' in the bedroom... hope it found a good home! Right then time to get on a plane again........ I'd like to thank, LA you we're very much fun!
So Goodbye LA... Hello Miami!