All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun...

Trip Start Mar 13, 2010
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Trip End Feb 13, 2011


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Where I stayed
Duo Housing Los Angeles

Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The next day it was back in the minivan and off to Santa Monica!

Immediately upon reaching the beach we were greeted by the strong smell of dank seaweed. The beach was a huge, flat expanse, strangely void of anything or anyone on the sand itself. Instead a busy path ran along the edge which we followed down to the pier, dodging the many roller blading Californian stereotypes as we went.

The pier itself was just like any pier England, a few amusements and souvenir stalls. Whilst sitting and having a slightly dubious burger at one of said outlets a bicycle mounted policeman pulled up to a coffee shop and used his handcuffs to secure his bike to a railing. Then, more and more policemen turned up and eventually there was a whole group of them waiting outside the coffee shop - I couldn't resist chatting to some genuine members of the LAPD so in true embarrassing mum style, and much to the dismay of my companions, I walked up to them and asked for a photo. Once the ice was broken however, it didn’t take long for the rest of my merry band to decide I wasn’t so embarrassing after all and they crowded in for a photo as well.

After the pier we ventured on to the beach, the sea was absolutely freezing and the sea weed smell was still intense so we didn’t hang around too long and were soon back on the path and wondering up to Venice Beach. The parade of shops along the way sold true seaside tack, we could almost have been in Blackpool if it wasn’t for all of the bongs in between the novelty hats and t-shirts. There were even numerous people handing out leaflets offering medicinal cannabis the whole way along - which we politely declined!

After a short time we arrived at some skate ramps where we stopped to watch some very talented skateboarders perform some amazing tricks. Then we wondered past a basketball game, everything was so typically American it was strange - like being in a film. Next to the "B Ball" courts was muscle beach, an open air gym for insanely beefed up guys.  I got chatting to one (the one pictured flexing his biceps...no, the one next to Mark) who worked as a stuntman and fitness instructor. Apparently he works out there every day from midday until sundown, even after only stopping for a short chat he said he had to get back to it and was already doing crunches before we had time to switch off the camera.

Our day at the beach provided a welcome respite from the intensity of the city. Although just as stereotypically Californian, it seemed less a parody of itself than Los Angeles with a much more real and chilled out vibe. We got to witness an amazing sunset that evening beyond the million dollar apartments and lifeguard towers straight out of Baywatch, and in the orangey glow we were able to see past the Hollywood aspect and see a rare glimpse of the natural beauty of the west coast.

However, commercialism is never far away in the land of the free and the following day it was time to surrender to the corporate machine, regress back to our childhood, and head to Disneyland!

Esmeralda and Mark were particularly dubious about this as they’re both grumpy and cynical but they were out-voted so off to Disneyland we went. Although we were nearly stopped in our tracks before we started as Donnie was wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “Han Shot First” and was told he may not be allowed in as it was violent imagery - however after calmly explaining that it was actually a Star Wars t-shirt he was granted entry. It was an even more amusing anecdote when we discovered that there was a “Jedi Academy” within the park!

Our day in Disneyland was a blur of rides, sugar, mystery meat (an oversized animal joint the shape of a turkey leg which tasted like pork) and meeting oversized cartoon characters. It was enough to make us wonder how many fumes we’d inhaled at Venice beach the previous day.  As devoted Disney fans, Kate, Leila and myself lapped up every minute. However, I think even the old cynics had fun in the end - I even got photographic evidence of Mark smiling on the carousel! And being near LA it was only appropriate that we saw more celebrities, this time it was Heidi Klum and Seal with their kids on a Safari Boat ride. Strangely one of the highlights was a 3D film that was made in the 80’s called Captain EO starring Michael Jackson. I won’t ruin the plot for anyone who wants to witness this piece of film history for themselves, but let’s just say...if you like kitsch-cool it’s a life changing experience.

Unfortunately with three major cities to hit in California, and only 2 weeks in which to do it, our time in Lala land was drawing to a close. We just had time for a quick trip to Madame Tussaudes to get up close and personal with all the celebrities we’d somehow missed during our wondering round the city before we had to hit the road.  We also had to leave our Cook Island Souvenir Ross, in El Lay, so our group was down to six as we headed onward to San Francisco...
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