10 Days of California Love
by Shaggyoungblood on January 5, 2012
LA reminds me of the bad parts of Johannesburg, South Africa. A concrete jungle built like a grid, with neverending boulevards and traffic. It's completely unwalkable. However, with some wheels, you're looking at a whole different ball game. LA is built for cars. The boulevards make it very easy to find your bearings and get around town without having to actually know it. GPS totally optional.
I stayed in a hostel called Duo Housing on Crenshew, very close to Wilshire. Prices are competetive. No private rooms. However, the place feels like home and the guys who work there: Dan, Perdo and AZ are the coolest cats around. They will tell you where and when to go, what to do and how. Barbecue every Sunday. Two thumbs up. Check it out on Hostelworld.com.
If you're not here for shopping or celebrity stalking, Venice Beach is the place to go. Probably one of the cleanest and safest beaches I have ever visited. The sand stretches out for miles and you can (and should) find a nice cafe (or a bar if you're like me) and just people watch for hours. The water is nice and you can even surf. Downside: no smiking and drinking on the sand. BOOOOO!!! Also check out the Santa Monica Pier at one end and the skate park at the other end of Venice.
Nightlife in LA is tricky. California law states that no bussiness can sell alcohol after 2 AM, anyday of the week, no exceptions. Drinks are expensive if you're going clubbing, and cover charges are unavoidable. A few Germans who stayed at Duo went out on a Friday to an upmarket place and payed 60 Dollars to get in and 20 dollars a drink. They did, however, say it was the best club they've been to, and they were from Berlin....
I did get to go to this really cool place Called: "W" on Hollywood Blvd. I never would have got in if it wasn't for two (very) hot, (natural) platinum blonde German girls I was hanging out with, so come prepared. Drinks were 12 Dollars each and they even had a little shop that sells very expensive bags. Not for the budget savvy, but if you want to rub sholders with the cream of the crop for a night - definitely a good spot.
After a week of lazing on the beach during the day and going out almost every night, I headed south to San Diego. Not before visiting Six Flags on my last day in LA. It's a roller coaster park that has about 20 rides!
We did almost all of them, the best of which was the "Superman". This ride goes from 0 to 160 kmh in 6 seconds - blasting backwards out of a tunnel in a straight line. At full speed it hits a vertical climb of about 100 meters. It runs out of steam at the very top and then just free falls nose first down and back into the tunnel in a flurry of adrenaline and screams. EPIC!!! Buy your ticket in advance online or come with a coke can to the booths to get a discount.
In a nutshell: LA is a tough town but the people are super nice and will help you with what ever you need. Just ask. Bring loads of cash. You'll want to spend it.
San Diego is a port town two hour drive south of LA, but worlds apart. Gone are the hostile streets and boulevards, and replaced with a beautiful clean skyscraper skyline. They have an amazing waterfront and a very big bridge that crosses the bay. My backpacker's, however, wasn't great. I will not say the name because I don't want to kill their bussiness, but let's just say, don't stay in Little Italy, which is the name of the neighborhood. I arrived at 15:00 to find a note saying the manager had some urgent business and will not be back until 20:00.
This place was, as I said, in a neighborhood called Little Italy, which lived up to its name. Charming little houses, coffee shops and galleries. So I found a local bar and went on to watch Nadal tear some poor bastard to pieces in the US Open. I came back at 20:00 to find Juliet, a crazy African woman who ran the place and Jasper, a German and the only other guest apart from me. Juliet wouldn't tell me where in Africa she came from. She talked to herself all the time and was delusional about almost everything. Like the location of her hostel, which she reckons is the best in SD, because of its proximity to the airport. So perfect was its positioning, that every time a big ass plane landed, I could feel the jet engines vibrate my insides.
The next day Jasper left and I went exploring. In the harbour, the jet carrier USS Midway lays to rest her final days as a museum in memory of the floating city it once was. Guys, this was AMAZING!!! I walked the hallways and cabins, stairways and hatches for hours! The flight deck is the size of some football fields and the hull is a neverending maze of hallways and staircases leading nowhere and everywhere. Finished that off with a good meal at a local Greek Taverna, right on the water. Had stuffed vine leafs and a Greek salad. Washed it all down with a Pilsner Urquell. Recommended!
I went back to my hostel only to find Juliet still in traditional African attire: T shirt, sarong, no bra.... She was using the only computer she had in the house and arguing with herself fiercely. I had to get away. So I decided to try and find a group of 4 (once again) German girls whom I met whilst in LA. What are all these Germans doing here? I asked myself. And who indeed is left to guard the Fatherland while they all holiday in Southern California??? I pondered these difficult questions as I made my way to the 7-11 to get my daily dose of nicotine and alcohol. The girls were staying across the bay in a camping spot right on the water. They weren't answering their phone (very un-German), so I was on a mission. A train and bus ride later, I arrived at "Campland on the Bay". A respectable establishment of 600 camping spots where broke backpackers and retired American old-timers come to enjoy the cheap accommodation and tranquil (private) bay. I found the girls camped in two tents. My spirits lifted.
Travelling alone for long isn't much fun. We bought some more beer and headed for the beach. The last bus back into San Diego was leaving at 12:20 AM. But as you might have already guessed, I was quite sure I would miss that. After a few beers and some cheap wine, the girls decided to brave the mild waters of the Pacific Ocean. The water was nice but the wind made it cold. We had some more wine to warm up. After some drunken crying (chicks...), we decided to go to sleep. Two of the girls are sisters and I had the pleasure of sleeping in their tent, in between the two. And although this sounds like every man's dream (and the beginning of a very rude movie), the rest of the night went by uneventful, much to my dismay. I guess they just weren't the type....
I woke up, or rather, got up (didn't really fall asleep. very uncomfortable) with a sore back and an even sorer sack, and made my way back to my shitty hostel. Packed up, took a shower and headed for the border.