Most things we write come out of a moment of enthusiasm
Welcome to the first post in my North America trip!!
It is about 7am on the 20th June now. I wanted to post last night, but I went to bed at 4:30pm and my typing annoyed my bunkmate at 11:30pm. So I’m doing it now.
Adelaide to Sydney was uneventful, slept for most of it. Had to wait an hour for check-in to open so got breakfast and watched Big Bang Theory on my XOOM. Check-in was straight forward, cleared customs and then spent a little time browsing Duty Free shopping. Only got myself a big bottle of water for the flight though, as last time they weren’t so great at offering it regularly enough. Killed more time using SYD free wifi and more Big Bang Theory. About 12:45 they opened the gate for boarding. I was one of the first on and I was waaaaaaaaaay down the back of the plane, literally four rows from the rear. I got myself all organized in my window seat and started perusing the in flight entertainment options. Best thing about long haul flights is that you can watch four movies in a row and no-one will judge you. They would probably thing you were weird if you didn’t even.
The seat between me and another girl was free, so I made use of it and dumped some of my stuff there. About halfway through the flight some guy came and sat there for a few hours, I assume they knew each other as they were both part of a big group of choir teenagers wearing black and pink shirts. Plus she snuggled on his lap for most of the flight.
During the flight I watched ‘Any Questions for Ben?’ (don’t rate, even though it is australian), started watching ‘The Iron Lady’ but I think you would need to know more about Margaret Thatcher to keep up. I got bored and turned it off to sleep for a few hours. I did watch another movie but can’t even remember what it was. Lunch/dinner was served a little after take off. I wanted the butter chicken but sitting so far down the plane they had run out by the time they got to me :( So instead I got a beef stew type thing with mash potatoes and beans. Wasn’t too bad really. They even put in a little cheesecake for dessert, nom nom nom.
I arrived in LAX about 10am and it took a little while to clear immigration/customs because of the massive group of NZ teenagers participating in a choir competition that had to go through first. But still, no issues getting into the country, so that was nice. Glad all my visa stuff was fine. Collected my bag and all of a sudden I was outside the airport! Now the real adventures began.
It was an odd feeling, arriving in somewhere totally new and knowing absolutely no one there. No one to pick you up and make sure you got to the right place. It was also kind of thrilling.
I had my printed directions to my hostel. Had to catch a flyaway bus to Union Station and then the Metro red line to Hollywood/Highland. The bus eventually showed up after me waiting for about 30mins. There was a little girl in a pram waiting with her mum and brother for a shuttle too and she looked bored as hell. I gave her a bit of a smile, she stared at me, gave a huge sarcastic grin before lapsing back into boredom. I’m not sure whether it was cute or not.
I was really surprised about how many palm trees there are around here. I mean, we see them in movies down sunset dlvd but I really didn’t think there was that many of them. Also, they don’t lie about the smog. Driving on the freeway towards downtown LA you can only just see the huge building in the distance, and they kinda slowly get clearer the closer you get. The size of downtown is amazing. Coming from a city of maybe a bit more than a million people, seeing downtown that is bigger than Adelaide CBD puts things into perspective. The advertising here is huge too. As in, physically big. It gets posted on the sides of buildings so you can see them as you drive past. It is mostly film and tv related, with a bit of phone ads in for good measure.
It took about 20 minutes to get to Union Station. Found my way down to the Metro red line, $1.50 one way, one trip fare (unlike Adelaide where the ticket lasts two hours). You can also buy a day pass for $5, which I think is pretty decent compared to Adelaide! Found the right side of the platform to catch the train and settled in. It was a very short trip considering I went just about all the way to the end of the line. And suddenly I was in Hollywood.
There were so many people! My friend had made out like it was a dead, seedy place filled with crack heads, but I don’t think so at all. I mean sure, everyone is trying to sell you something, from tours to homemade CDs but it was as busy and bright as I expected. I was surprised at how many stars of fame there are on the foot path. I thought it was just a little stretch of sidewalk, but no, this thing runs all the way down the boulevard! I hardly recognized any names, but then, I am not a huge film, TV or music buff. One of the “things to do” in my 101 Things to Do Before You Die book is to write my name over a star and take a photo, hehe. Just need to find some chalk!
Almost straight out if the station a guy handed me a CD as I walked past, offered to sign it and asked for a few dollars “for the children”. I had been warned not to open your purse/wallet or they will try to steal the notes from you, so I told him I didn’t have any american dollars yet. He said he’d take Aussie but I didn’t have any of those either. So he just took the CD back and kept walking without a word. No skin off my nose, one less thing I have to carry! Walked the five blocks to Schrader ave and found the hostel, checked-in and got shown my room. I’m in a mixed, eight bed dorm for $33/night. This includes free wifi and all you can eat breakfast with pancakes. I got my stuff organized and first order of business was to get clean. The shower was nice and warm and better than a I expected it to be. I went out and got myself a phone from a shop just across the boulevard. Pretty sure I got ripped off, but was too jetlagged to bother… $30 for a Nokia hand set, plus $40 prepaid that has unlimited talk and text (including overseas text, nit that anyone would reply). It will last me until the 19 July, then if I want to recharge for the other three days I am there it will be another $40… probably won’t bother.
Was by this stage starving and a sign said 99c tacos. I ordered my chicken taco ($1.08 with tax) which turned out to be a itty bitty little burrito type thing, not the big corn taco I expected like in Australia. It was pretty yummy none the less, and I was still getting over plane food, so that was it for me. Got a big bottle of water and a 680ml can of Arizona Much Mango, total was $3.49 and i know that giant can only cost me 99c. Went back to the hostel for computer fun times, email, couchsurfing.org, etc. All of a sudden I have a heap of offers for couches. Y U NO CONTACT ME SOONER??? Oh well, I haven’t stayed in a hostel before, so this is something new too.
I lasted until about 4:30pm before I was too tired to carry on. Went to bed and set my alarm for six to wake up for the all-you-can-eat bbq dinner organized by the hostel. The alarm went off, I stayed in bed for a while longer. Got up and wondered why no one else was in bed at 6:45am, was about to shower when I realized it was still pm. I didn’t feel hungry so just went back to bed. The guys in the room woke me up at about 11pm when they came back so I started doing some more email and typing this up, but my typing was too noisy and I got told to be quiet. Fair enough.
And here we are now at 8am. I’ve had about 16 hours sleep, so I should be good to go now! They have breakfast going on in the kitchen so will go shower and get some food as i am now actually starving. At 10:30am I am going on a free walking tour of Hollywood Blvd and Runyon Canyon where they have the Hollywood sign and then this afternoon I am going to test out the iFly indoor skydiving at Universal CityWalk. Tonight I am catching up with the guy who I am couchsurfing with tomorrow and he is going to show me some farmers markets. It seems odd, having farmers markets in freaking Los Angeles. Tomorrow he is taking me in an all day tour of the city which should be awesome!
Just realized how ridiculously long this is, so congrats if you made it this far :)
Have a great day everyone!