Trip Start May 01, 2009
48Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
with Mum's cousin Trevor and Sandra
After saying goodbye to my friends Glynis, Brodie, Glen and Sarah who came to see me off at the airport, the first leg was a flight from Auckland to Tahiti. Boarding the plane, it was a bit of a surprise to see all of the flight attendants wearing face masks (because of the swine flu thing which everyone has their knickers in a twist about). The flight was OK, very smooth with pretty much no turbulence, and we landed in Papeete,Tahiti after about 5 hours. It was very hot and humid when getting off the plane there (after being in the intensely air conditioned cabin), and after receiving a complimentary flower, we had a wait of about 45 minutes before boarding for the second flight bound for LA.
The next flight was eight and a bit hours long, and it was another good flight, though I only managed to get about 2-2 1/2 hours of frequently interrupted and uncomfortable sleep
As we approached LA, the first thing I noticed as we were circling around before landing, was that the air was quite hazy/smoggy compared to what I had ever seen in the past. The mountains surrounding LA, which are inland a bit, were only partly visible at the top, and the lower sky was quite brown. Despite this, it was really nice to get out of the plane/airport into some fresh air.
I then had 5 1/2 hours to wait until Mum and Dad landed. They were flying with Air NZ, as they got a good deal on return flights with them, but it was going to be $2300 one way to the UK via the US with them, which is really expensive - a return flight to the UK (via asia) was about $1800! I ended up saving $700 by flying with Air Tahiti Nui/Virgin Atlantic, and the flights were only a few hours out, so it was well worth it. I passed some time by going and finding the big LAX sign, walking around a few random streets etc, and just killing some time by reading in the terminal.
I couldn't believe how much different everything seemed...obviously they drive on the right hand side of the road, but all the cars looked much different (there was lots of huge 4WDs, I saw 5 or 6 limosines within the first hour or so out of the airport, and there was a lot of generic american looking cars too)
Once my parents landed, we had a quick drink at starbucks then caught a taxi to Hermosa Beach, which is a suburb in LA. I found it a really fascinating drive, as the places all looked a lot different to what I'm used to in New Zealand. While in LA, we have been staying with my Mums cousin Trevor and his wife Sandra. They have a really nice house, which is about a 10-15 minute walk to the beach. While waiting for them to get home from work, we were really surprised that a lady from across the road came and asked us if we would like to sit down and have a coffee! That was another thing that was different from what I had expected...the people who we encountered were all so friendly and polite! I guess I had a bit of a preconception that Americans were typically loud and arrogant, but all of the people we met were so nice! It has made me think that perhaps it's not that American people are loud or 'out there', but that New Zealanders are just more reserved and introverted.
That evening, we went out for dinner to the Manhattan Beach Brewing Company, which is actually just a pub, but they have big vats all down one side which they use to brew their own beer. The meal was really nice, and they have a really cool way to serve beer which I had never seen before - they bring you some empty glasses, and you can order a 3 or 5 litre tower of beer which you can dispense yourself. The Indian Pale Ale we had was really good!
We didn't go to bed until about 10pm that night, which meant that in the last 34 hours I had only got about 2 1/2 hours of sleep...needless to say I was knackered!