Currently on the brink of hitting mexicoone ...

Trip Start Sep 16, 2002
1
5
19
Trip End May 31, 2004


Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
shadow

Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Currently on the brink of hitting Mexico......one night in San Diego and tomorrow i cross the border. And then the real journey begins. Four years ago I visited Mexico and I knew I had to go back for a longer visit. But before all that let me bring you up to date with my tour of the Pacific Rim.......

After being let into the US reluctantly by the customs officer because I did not have a flight out of the country - I took a bumpy night train to Seattle.......home of Nirvana, Microsoft, Starbucks and Jimi Hendrix. Seattle has an interesting history. Originally built on mud flats near the sea it was built around the logging industry. All the lumber would be floated down to places like San Francisco. In fact the original city used to be around 8 feet lower than it currently is. Due to problems with their sewage system and the sinking mud where horses and carts would suddenly disappear into, they decided to raise the level of the city. However they did this in stages. Because it would take 7-10 years to raise the city level, the saloons, shops and other money making establishments would lose business. So they decided to raise the roads first and leave the buildings till later. Creating a sort of subterranean world. So to get to the street from a shop you would have to climb a ladder! Only in America. This was not a good idea especially if you were trying to get home from the saloon after a good night out. In fact 18 people died by accidently stepping off the road and plummetting to their death. Apparantly the death certificates read ..INVOLUNTARY SUICIDE. So after raising the levels of the shops the city was elevated to what it is today. Seattle is quite a dark city. It is usually overcast and it rains a fair bit. But the downtown area has a kind of forbidden atmosphere to it. Although mainly conservative city it has a liberal, bohemian side to it which probably derives from another city further south......which would be my next stop. But before that I would have to train it through the states of Washington and Oregon....

......and then I arrived in the land of people who spend all day on the beach.....and surf ....and make silver screen legends .....and teach us about free love......yes welcome to the golden state.....California. My first stop here was San Francisco. First impression - slightly European. And very hilly. Never seen such steep gradients on city streets. Decided to see the city's famous landmark by cycling over it. The Golden Gate bridge is huge. Reason it is called this is it was built as a result of the gold rush. Also noticed people are jogging fanatics in this city. So cycling along the bay was a bit like dodgems. After admiring the bay view from the other side of the bridge cycled back to the hostel and took a stroll down the famous Canary Wharf. The highlight of my visit to SF though was a tour of Alcatraz. Alcatraz is a Spanish name for a type of bird which used to live on the island. Originally built as a defence fortress, Alcatraz was then converted into a prison in the 60s. In fact the first prisoners helped build it. The reason they used Alcatraz as a prison was to incarcerate the most notorious criminals in America such as Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. A prison on an island......with shark infested waters. No one would ever escape. However there was little white lie which was spread to deter prisoners from even contemplating escape. There are no sharks. Well only sand sharks and they are pretty harmless. Someone decided to spread a little rumour which stated that the sharks in the bay had their left fins cut off so they swam around in circles .....around the island!
But escape would be difficult because of the strong currents. So the escaped prisoner would have to be a strong swimmer otherwise be swept away into the Pacific. And the water is cold all year round. During the tour you get to see the 300 cells and hear the incredible noise as they open and close the cell doors. At one point you get to step inside a solitary confinement cell or the hole as it was called. Close your eyes and imagine this is all you can see. For hours and even days prisoners who misbehaved could be thrown in the hole. Alone with nothing but their thoughts. One prisoner used to pass the time by taking a button of his shirt and throwing it up in the air. He would then drop to his knees and attempt to find it. Even today he cant bear to think about time spent in these dark recesses. Some prisoners would lose their minds in there. As far as prisoners escaping is concerned the official count is zero. However the unofficial count is 5. For those who remember "Escape from Alcatraz" starring Clint Eastwood, those 3 were never found. Although they believe they drowned in the bay.

After the sights and cool weather of San Francisco it was time for Los Angeles. Now for some reason most people I spoke too would tell me there isn't much worth seeing in LA. So you wouldn't miss much if you went straight through. But I decided to pay it a visit.
Despite the superficial, image based, plastic loving, money making image it may conjure up..... I loved Hollywood. Maybe that says alot about me but hey, at least when they do something, they dont hold back. Everything to excess. And I even got to see Harrison Ford act on the set of his latest movie "Hollywood Homicide". I arrived in Hollywood and walked along the Boulevard. What should have taken 15 minutes to get to the hostel took about 45 minutes as I read the stars names off the sidewalk. After checking into the Hostel I went and thought whats the best way to start off my Hollywood experience.....why go catch a movie. Went and saw Red Dragon (not as good as the original) and then walked down Hollywood Boulevard with all its neon lights whirling and flashing. Next day went to Universal Studios and again.....dispelled all the "not worth visiting" myths and enjoyed the studio tour (saw the sets for Psycho, The Grinch) and various Movie experiences. And to round it off went on the Beverly Hills tour and saw the houses (more like small castles) of the rich and famous.

So to wind it all down I made my way closer to the Mexican border to sunny San Diego. Here I had a good reason to visit because I would be staying with my friend Brett whom I met in Spain a year before. He unwittingly told me I was welcome to stay if I was ever passing through. And so I had to accept. San Diego started out when the Spanish missions which promoted catholocism decided to set up here. The architecture therefore has a colonial style as you would expect. San Diego is famous for its zoo and seaworld. Both are either one of the biggest or the biggest in the world. San Diego feels very Mexican, in fact it might as well be in Mexico. Eating Mexican food here is like curry back in England. And there are alot of Mexicans who live and work in the city. So it was a good prequel for the Mexican leg of the journey which was now just around the corner............
Slideshow Report as Spam

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: