Most things we write come out of a moment of enthusiasm
Wow, what a busy day yesterday was! To explain my blogging process, I tend to be going to bed very very late after a full day of doing stuff, so I write these blogs the next day during quiet periods. It is actually quite a process. I do most if my typing on my tablet somewhere as it has a long battery life, is more portable than my laptop and I can type in the WordPress app offline. Then I have to use my laptop to correct spelling as my tablet predictive typing can be a bit odd at times, plus add photos, which is process in itself because they all need to be resized and I do a bit of editing on them too (brightness, contrast, midtones, crop etc.). So basically, sorry these aren’t coming as thick and heavy as they could be, but so far it hasn’t been too bad. I’m typing this on a train too by the way, on my way to San Francisco area. I really like this train, very tempting to forfeit my non-refundable bus tickets to Indianapolis and book a train instead… they have wireless and powerpoints on board, a definite plus for a two day long trip!
So, yesterday! Had a brilliant day hanging out with Keem, my couchsurf host. The day started very early, woke up at 7am with the aim of being at Keem’s (who lives three blocks from the hostel) at 8:30am. I got all my stuff organized and had some more pancakes for brekkie, and even put some fresh strawberries on top. Nom nom nom… Checked out of the hostel and went over to Keem’s place. He has a nice little one bedroom flat with an open plan living area and a very comfy couch. I just dumped my stuff and off we went. We caught the bus to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where Keem had to do some work for a few hours. It was about 10am when we got there. He took me for a brief tour and showed me the cafeteria student area where they had power points and wifi and I spent a few hours typing up yesterday’s posts. They had a giant screen in there (four tv screens all together) playing the news very loudly. It got a little irritating so I used my headphones to try and drown the noise out. At 12pm I got my very first Taco Bell meal of a chicken quesadilla combo that came with a taco and drink. One thing I have to say is the drink sizes here are ridiculous. The small/regular cups here are the same size as our large at home. Seriously, no one needs that much fizzy drink. I have yet to finish a cup, I tend to get half way and can’t take any more and throw it out. The food is pretty cheap here anyway, so I don’t feel like I am wasting money much. Anyway,the quesadilla was surprisingly delicious and quite cheesy too. The taco (their version of fries in a combo) was bloody awful, mainly the mince meat sauce. I ate two bites and that was enough. And that was my first taco bell.
I went for a little walk and took some photos of the campus. For one thing, it is huge, at least as big as Adelaide Uni and Flinders put together, and then a lot more. I think it is basically its own suburb. It is also quite old and the buildings are lovely…
I had a look in the UCLA store, which is part uni branded supplies, part bookstore, part supermarket, and part miscellaneous items that would appeal to the university democraphic, such as posters, toys, and other novelties. I got a book from the bookstore called 1000 Things to See Before You Die. I was having a flick through and they had some good ones for San Francisco, plus it was only $20. It makes a nice reminder of my day at UCLA too 🙂 Back at the cafeteria the European soccer league game was underway. Having watched Peter and his mates get into soccer, it was pretty funny seeing a whole cafeteria yelling, cheering and groaning at the tv. I sat outside and watched more Big Bang Theory. I have season one on my tablet and may be mildly obessed. Does anyone else think Lenard is pretty darn adorable? I got to skype my mummy as well using the uni wifi, though it kept bugging up and freezing a bit.
Oh yeah, another first for today was I saw my first squirrel!! It was pretty adorable (unsure of gender, so it shall be an it. Sorry mr/mrs/miss squirrel). It scampered across the path in front of me before playing with a stick under a tree. We played hide and seek a little as it peeked around the tree at me and darted out of sight when it saw me. Then it went leaping across the grass to another tree. They are actually quite graceful I think, and sorta remind me of deer. I think it is the tails that make them so cute. Without the tails they just wouldn’t work.
Keem finished up his work about 3pm and we went to catch a bus to Santa Monica. Originally we were going to go home, pick up another couchsurfer who was from Taiwan and then drive to santa Monica. For some reason she got held up at long beach and didn’t end up getting to Hollywood at all, so it made more sense going straight to the beach from UCLA considering it is much closer. We were going to catch the bus when Keem decided I had to try the local icecream place called Diddy Riese. Ok, I lie, he asked me if I wanted to go and I got all drool…mmmm, icecream…. ok, there was no drool, but you get the idea. Anyway, we went about a block and joined a very long line that snaked outside. The trick with this Diddy Riese icecream place is that it is a DIY icecream sandwich place. You choose your cookie and icecream flavor, and they make you the sandwich on the spot. OMFG!!! Doing some Googling, turns out they are not a franchise but a family owned business with the sole store that is open until midnight Sunday – Thursday and 1am on Friday and Saturday! I got choc chip cookies with cookies and cream icecream (eat ALL the cookies!!!) and it was pretty amazing. The cookies were like subway cookies but even sweeter. I didn’t actually finish them and ended up licking the icecream off them. But that’s ok, the idea was awesome. And it was only $1.75. Apparently the shop is the kind of place mainly locals go, because Westwood isn’t massively touristy. I really liked the area though, and I reckon if you were going to UCLA it would be a great place to live.
Next we caught a Big Blue Bus to Santa Monica beach. The Metro is actually only one service in LA and there are a few different operators that service different areas. Unlike Adelaide though, which I think also has two different companies, the ticket system isn’t integrated at all. Its ok for me as a tourist, but for Keem he can’t use his metro TAP card. It is a bit annoying for the locals from what I understand. Anyway, the Big Blue Buses only cost a dollar to ride, woo.
We went down the Santa Monica pier were they have an amusement park, lots if souvenir shops and food places, plus stalls selling things like sunglasses, hats, bathers, etc. I told Keem about not being able to find a hat pin and he made it his mission to find one for me. We had great discussions about America and Australia again. He hasn’t been to Australia yet, but plans too, so I told him all about how hot it is and all the big travel spots like the great ocean road and the barrier reef. He wants to visit the beaches and was quite happy when he found out that almost all of our capital cities are on the coast.
We went from the beach up to the 3rd st promenade, which is kind of like Rundle Mall but much longer. There was a evangelist out with a headset on, preaching about how God is angry at the wicked every day, or something along those lines. So of course Keem and I got talking about religeon. It was pretty interesting, the street preachers here aren’t really liked or disliked, while the Adelaide ones get abused a fair bit. I told keem about the guy that preached the very hungry catapillar as a parody which he thought was pretty funny. Keem took me to the local favourite gellati place and they had so many flavours! I got a vanilla mago swirl and dark chocolate raspberry, it was pretty amazing. I have been eating way too much icecream here so far…
I had a bit of a complain to Keem about the american system where they add the tax onto your purchase during the transaction, which makes it very difficult to calculate how much something is going to be! And tax is like 9.75% rather than straight 10%. Gah! Surely this makes it harder for people to budget, right? All this money talk got us talking about the economy (which I know nothing about) and it was all very interesting. I really enjoyed being able to talk about all these different aspects of our cultures and societies.
Keem also did manage to find me a hat pin, we were just walking along and he suddenly went into a general store/souvenir type place and ta-da, they had pins. Clearly he is more in tune with pin vibes than I am. Anyway, I now have a California pin in the shape of the state, yay!
We took the bus back to UCLA and then on to Hollywood where we started. The bus goes past Bel-Air and through Beverly Hills, so that was a nice incidental tour with Keem pointing out places of interest, like Bill Cosby’s house. It was about 7pm when we got back to keem’s place so I did more blog stuff while he had a nap. The day was not over yet though! I have a book called 101 Things to do before you die, and one of them is to write your name on a star on the walk of fame. Preferably in chalk. Well, Keem didn’t have any chalk. He suggested permanent marker, but I wasn’t keen on defacing the street in such a way, even if they do clean the sidewalk every single day. We went and got some dinner about 9pm from In n’ Out, a local burger diner franchise, which is apparently one of this quintessential LA things to do. A friend had told me to check it out, but I didn’t think I would get the opportunity. Anyway, we drove there and got burgers. The menu is pretty short, you can have either a hamburger, cheeseburger or double double (meat and cheese x 2), with fries and a drink. Again, oversized cups. I got a cheeseburger and it was pretty yummy actually, fresh tomato and lettuce and melt cheese, mmmm. Somehow we got talking about immigration issues which again was pretty interesting, which lead to politics. I was impressed Keem knew who Kevin Rudd was and that he got replaced by Gillard 🙂
Next we went to target to get chalk, and then off to explore Hollywod by dark! It was so crazy busy! The different areas of LA have really different atmospheres. Santa Monjca was pretty chilled out and happy, while hollywood is busy and everyone is in a hurry trying to spend money. We went into the hard rock cafe which had live music going. I was surprised how many people were there to dine considering the music was bloody loud and didn’t really suit a restaurant type atmosphere. I guess that is the idea though. I also got to chalk my name on a blank star and took photos, hehe. Another thing to tick off, and one of those slightly harder to complete ones.
Back home finally, published my blog posts and fell asleep on the couch at 12:30am with the alarm set for 5am. Yawn. I’m not sure why but I keep on waking up a lot here, like every few hours. I woke up at 3am and started getting ready to go before realizing I still had more sleep time. Maybe i’m just paranoid about being late for stuff!