So it started and finished in California. This was a strategic move on our part, considering Australia is in the midst of summer and America is...not, we thought the mild Californian climate might transition us a little better than just throwing ourselves in the deep end. There isn't much to say about our first day in LA because we literally slept through most of it, we got our first taste of greasy fast food American style though. Carl's Jr, you were...food. Sort of. We caught a bus from LA to San Francisco the next morning, and I highly recommend driving/bussing/training because the scenery between the two cities is gorgeous. We arrived in San Fran at around 4pm to the most wonderful view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was swamped in fog and just looked like it was floating in the clouds. We were staying right near Union Square, so we spent our first evening watching the Black Friday crowds in horror, and exploring Chinatown.
Because we were only in SF for two days we went pretty touristy with our choices. We went down to Pier 39 (super tourist-y but also a lot of fun) and walked around that area. Tom convinced me to go into Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, which actually wasn't that bad, and then we went to the Musee Mechanique which is a hall full of coin-operated video games and music boxes and super old dance hall things. There were at least three which depicted puppets being executed - which was a little bit unsettling. We had hotdogs and soft pretzels for lunch since it felt like basically the most American thing we could do. The thing I'm going to miss most about America is the soft pretzels. I need them in my life. We walked and walked and walked, stopping to see Lombard st, the Beat Museum and getting a general idea of San Francisco in between. Hilly, that's what SF is. Super-dooper, incredibly hilly. I was breaking out a sweat!
Our second day in SF was also pretty touristy. We headed over to Alcatraz which was AMAZING. I think I would have skipped it if my sister had been earlier in the year and basically pressed the purchase button on the website for me. It actually reminded me a lot of Port Arthur which is an old prison in Tasmania which is surrounded by gorgeous green hills and forests and is actually really pleasant to visit. Alcatraz is still really imposing but it's surrounded by all of this natural greenery and gorgeous views of the city and it's almost hard to imagine it being a prison. Until you enter the main building and see all the cells and listen to the audio tour - that really brings the reality of the place crashing home. After Alcatraz we took a walk out to the Golden Gate Bridge. We were short on time though so we didn't get to walk across, but the parks on the way to the bridge are really gorgeous. No wonder San Franciscans seems to like spending so much time outdoors.
LA was our final stop and even though it started on shaky ground (Delta lost our luggage. Fuck Delta by the way, worst airline) it quickly got awesome when Tom and I went and had dinner with Meg and Angel. Which I didn't get a photo of, because I am a GENIUS like that. So I'll be adding Meg to the photoshop meeting of Alley, JLaw and myself. Anyway, we went to an outdoor restaurant called Home which was really tasty, although America I do not understand you one bit. The entire time we struggled with the fries/chips thing, finding potato chips on the side of our sandwiches (which is a really weird side you guys) when we expected HOT chips and yet you call fish and (hot) chips...fish and chips! Madness.
Day 1 we took a walk along Hollywood Blvd which is basically mandatory for tourists, even though it's kind of depressing (and even more so at night). We went down Sunset Blvd to check out Amoeba Music and Meltdown Comics. Amoeba is amazing, it's like Empire Records meets High Fidelity meets I don't know, but something awesome. Kittens. Yes, all of that plus kittens. We then kept walking until we got to the La Brea Tar Pits. But first we stopped into Whimsic Alley, which is this amazing little shop that sells a lot (like A LOT A LOT) of Harry Potter gear and some Doctor Who stuff to diversify a touch. I didn't buy anything (I know - I was shocked too) but it was so much fun to look through the robes and replica wands and all of the HP sweets. If anyone is planning on going there apparently they're closing down. As soon as the stock is gone, so are they. So make you plans quick. And then we were at the tar pits. They were kind of disappointing, I thought they'd be super black and bubbly, but they basically looked like a smallish pond which had a bit of a film over the surface. The museum was much cooler though. It's bonkers how many skeletons they've pulled out of the pits and how diverse the animals that lived in that area were. I mean, there were freaking direwolves and mammoths! We finished the day (after I got us nice and lost for awhile) with a movie at the TCL Chinese Theatre. We saw the new Paranormal Activity flick since we'd literally seen everything else, and it was pretty ordinary as a film, but hey! We saw it at the TCL Chinese Theatre!
Day 2 was really only a half day because we had to head to the airport, so we decided to spend what time we had up at the Griffith Observatory. I don't care if you hate space with the passion of 1000 suns, this place is a must visit. First of all, it's got the most amazing location. It's a brilliant view over LA and of the Hollywood sign, and there are a ton of walks you can take around the hills if you're into that kind of thing. Then there's the observatory, it's free to visit (and the shuttle up only costs 50 cents) and so full of fascinating space stuff and the friendliest employees who give spontaneous lessons about this and that whenever you ask a question. There's a lot of love in that place.
And that folks was the start and end of our magical holiday and (I think) just about the only photos you'll be seeing that aren't covered in snow. I think I'll keep the rest of the posts coming chronologically, so expect New York City in your faces SOON.