La La Land

Trip Start Sep 07, 2009
1
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Trip End Nov 17, 2009


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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, November 15, 2009

13/11/2009 - We started the day by reluctantly packing up our things and leaving our magical yurt. Staying there had been just what the doctor ordered after so many of the hotels and motels we had stayed in during the trip. Again, we headed down the Hwy 1, along the Californian coastline, this time to our final destination of the trip, Santa Monica.

We stopped off along the way to check out Zuma Beach in Malibu where Baywatch was filmed.  Maybe it was because the beach was empty, but it just seemed like your average Californian beach to us! A few miles further up the road, we had lunch at Duke's (a bit of a celeb hangout) overlooking the Pacific ocean. We had visions in our minds of Malibu being a glamorous place, but it actually seemed a bit rundown and it didn't seem like much was happening there - a big anticlimax!

After initially missing our turn off and navigating our way through the notorious LA traffic, we finally arrived at our destination. We had booked an apartment for the last three nights in a pretty, period building, a rarity in LA. The room had lovely high ceilings and plenty of character. We had a quick sit down and a cuppa before walking down to 3rd St and the shopping promenade to have a look around. We were really surprised by Santa Monica. Unlike most of LA, it's really pedestrian friendly and we instantly got a great feeling about it, with its bustling, trendy vibe. After wandering around for a while, we got in some supplies and headed back to our apartment for dinner and a lazy night in...again. Travelling for 10 long weeks was really starting to take its toll...!

14/11/2009 - We woke up full of energy after our early night and headed straight for Venice Beach - LA's bohemian playground. Wow - it was like New York by the sea - dirty, but beautiful all at the same time! As we walked down the boulevard, we were greeted by artists, street performers, hippies, hells-angels, nutters, bikini-clad skaters and tattooed body-builders. The distinct smell of stale urine, trash and incense from the Venice Beach boulevard will stick with us forever!

We headed over to a crowd standing by a skating park on the beach, just in time to see this young kid skateboarding like a dream around the bowl (see video). He was brilliant.

We walked the whole length of the boulevard, and by the end we had both fallen head over heals for Venice's unique, eccentric atmosphere. I'm sure it's not to everyone taste, but there aren't many other places in the world like it, and it made you feel really alive in a weird way.

After stopping for lunch at one of the cafes, we caught the bus back to Santa Monica and had a look around some of the shops. We headed back to the apartment for dinner and to begin the long awaited final rearranging and repacking of our much despised suitcases.

15/11/2009 - We woke up the next morning to another beautiful sunny day and couldn't resist heading back down to Venice Beach for the last time. We stopped off at the infamous Muscle Beach, where I was hoping Jim would lift weights with some of the bodybuilders, but no joy - he chickened out after seeing the size of them.

We walked up to Main Street to catch the bus home, and wished that we could have more time to explore the shops, cafes and street-markets there, as it seemed like a really cool place.

We grabbed some lunch at Whole foods, which we ate back at the apartment, before heading out to visit Santa Monica Pier. We walked down to the pier through Palisades Park by the seafront. The pier was packed and a bit tacky, think Blackpool, LA style. There is a roller-coaster and Ferris wheel as well as lots of arcades, food stalls and yet more street performers! At the end of the pier, Jim hired another rod and fished for a while, but nothing was biting and being so busy, it wasn't as relaxing as fishing at Santa Barbara. We returned home, absolutely beat.

So what did we do for our final night in LA? Clubbing? Posh meal? Catch a show?...No. We got a takeout pizza and a bottle of champagne and looked through all of our pictures of the trip, from beginning to end. We laughed so much and it was great to be reminded of some of the things we had forgotten.

We've watched a Broadway show in NYC, seen the Whitehouse in Washington, explored the squares of Savannah, sunbathed (a lot) in Miami, fished (and swam with dolphins) in the Florida Keys, ascended the skyscrapers of Chicago, felt depressed in Denver, driven through the Rockies, shopped in Santa Fe, visited hogans in Monument Valley, hiked through Zion Park, eaten lunch overlooking the Grand Canyon, won money in Las Vegas, ridden the trams in San Fran, driven down the Big Sur Coast, lunched in Malibu and, finally, witnessed the madness of LA. 

We'd be lying if we said we had loved every minute, and we have most definitely seen the best and the worst of America. But it has been one hell of a journey that has changed our outlook on life for the better, and that, ultimately, was what we wanted.

Thanks for reading our blog. Over and out.

Laura and Jim.
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