Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Los Angeles Metropolis!

My mum and sister had told me not to expect much from LA, they visited a few years a go and hated it. I can’t say I’ve had the same experience! The first night I stayed with a Thai, Mexican and Peruvian host in Pasadena, I didn’t see much of that area really as I was just crashing there late at night and moving on early the next day.

But, Santa Monica? That’s a different story. I loved it so much. Maybe it was just because I haven’t been to the beach properly all this holiday, but it just put me in such a good mood. My host and I initially had so much in common – he loved burgers, hates vegetables, collects alcohol, loves vodka, has a corporate job etc. As the time progressed I realized I had far less in common with him than I initially thought but regardless, his house was in a perfect location! It was literally two blocks from the beach, and about 6 blocks from the pier.

The weather in Santa Monica is perfect too. The sun is strong enough to tan well, but they have a really nice breeze that makes it perfect to walk around in. It also doesn’t stay hot at night so it’s nice to go out in jeans and be comfortable in them. There’s a beautiful sunset and its entertaining to watch everyone on muscle beach slack-lining or showing off doing gymnastics for example. There’s a very chilled out vibe all over the area. There are great shops, so many young people, and a bike/ roller-skating path that goes all on the coast of LA that is shared with those folks that have their life together enough to run.

One day I ended up venturing out to the outlet malls, it took three hours to get there. I’d say that is by FAR the thing I hate the most about LA, public transport! I mean, it’s great that you can get to every location you want, but the fact it takes so long is a huge turn off. Also, it was only recently that a line to Santa Monica had opened – it takes 40 minutes from union station and it’s the only way in and out of the area so it takes ages to get to any other part of LA. The best app I’d recommend for getting around is CityMapper, it’s pretty dang accurate and can be used offline once you’ve already loaded the route.

The outlet mall wasn’t great, I only ended up getting some hiking trainers – they were supposed to be $120 but I got them for $50. I was really upset the Nike store had no decent trainers in as I destroyed mine in Yosemite! Afterwards I went to Hollywood (again, that was a difficult thing to navigate to…. Thank god for Lyft credit). It was just as expected really, filled with touristy things and shops. It was entertaining to look around though – outside the Trump walk of fame star a guy was holding a sign that said ‘fuck trump’ that he offered you to pose with.  I also went to see the Hollywood sign from the Observatory, but it was a crap view and you actually couldn’t really see it all that well! I didn’t bother doing the hike as I didn’t have time.

I went out in the evening and it wasn’t really that entertaining in Santa Monica – no real story to tell there. The Bungalow is a cool spot to hang out in but it’s very pricey so you need to have a lot of cash… or perfect those flirting skills. I just wandered back via the pier eventually and headed to bed. I turned down the offer of ‘skiing’ in all the ‘fallen snow’ in Hollywood… That took me a while to work out what the hell they were talking about!!

Sunday I went out to Malibu – again, so far out, the only way to access it is a bus from Santa Monica, there’s no trains there. I just went and watched everyone surfing for a while, got envious over how cool and effortless they made it look, and eventually headed back so I could take the 4 hour journey to Riverside.

Everyone had told me Riverside was, pardon my French, a shithole, but honestly I thought downtown was really pretty! It had a really Spanish feel, the mountains in the surrounding areas were gorgeous too. My host took me to a mediation class on Monday evening – I hate meditating and find it really hard, but it was interesting to go along and experience it anyway. I learnt about the diamond sutra and karma in general. The weather in Riverside has apparently been over 40 degrees lately, it is the desert after all, but thankfully while I was there it was in the low thirties.

My research in the archives was proving futile, so I decided to try one last place before I gave up, so today I ventured Anaheim (where Disney is), to go to the Nixon Presidential Library. I didn’t see any of the town really; I just headed straight to the archives. Again, though they were highly interesting, they were of no real use to my research.

It does make me laugh; literally anything the president is sent is kept. There was a letter from a person telling the President their washing machine was broken, and asking if he could tell the company they had to come and fix it! Others had requested to sleep on his property in Sacramento as they figured he wouldn’t be using it and so asked if they’d mind if they pitched their tent there… The archivist and I were then laughing about the things I could write to Obama. I’m going to write him a letter to explain the concept of Couchsurfing and recommend he becomes a host when he finishes his presidency. Then, in the future, other students and archivists can laugh over my request and wonder what the hell I’m talking about! I can make history ;).

Anyway, I’m now headed back to Santa Monica for my final day before I fly out to Calgary on Thursday. I’m definitely ready to come back home, but my god this had been a great adventure. I’ll write a summary post soon!

I’m nearly at the bus stop to board the train so, over and out amigos,
I’m going to enjoy the beach and weather one final time!
Scarlett xxxx

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