21 May 2012

Time to hit the open road! - Take two...

"No idea". That single phrase basically sums up this entire trip thus far.

After my failed attempt to drive myself to San Francisco a few weeks ago I liked to amuse myself by thinking that perhaps it simply wasn't meant to be and that everything will would eventually fall into place. I spent time alone in a hostel in Downtown Los Angeles for a while, then returned to my original hostel (because it is just so damn cool!). It had been a while thus I was starting to worry things would never fall into place, but suddenly things changed for I made a cool new friend, Sandra (Germany). She was looking to do a road trip around the West side of America and end up in San Francisco. I, who had now been in Los Angeles for 5 weeks (still jobless), was extremely eager to get away.

This seems like the meant-to-be I have been waiting for!

Our plan was to drive for two weeks from Los Angeles to Arizona (which has Sedona National Park and Meteor Crator) then up to Las Vegas in Nevada, then from there to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Yosemite National Park, to finish up in San Francisco.


I said my goodbyes to all my friends at the hostel, with the long term residencies whom have known me for a while now not convinced whatsoever that I am actually leaving because of the amount of times I have 'left' only to come back again. I admit that I wasn't entirely convinced something wouldn't go wrong, but this was not the time for negative thoughts!

By 6am I awoke, hours before my alarm was set... there was just too much excitement! The day really was a direct repeat of the first time I did all this when I tried to drive myself to San Francisco, although it was really awesome to have some company! At 8.30am we caught the shuttle bus to the airport, then got a shuttle bus to the hire car place and lined up. Sweet!

Long story short, we chat to some lady (this time they did accept my debit card... what the!?)... and she told us how much it would cost.

"$580!?" Sandra and I exclaim, loudly, at the same time.

Counter grinch "Yes well when you add the insurance cover and the fact that you are under 25 years of age, it is $580 for the 5 days"

The website said it would only be like $300 or something... turns out the website's price doesn't include the insurance cost and the 'you are under 25 years of age' fee. Yeah... we're not paying that.

Back to Los Angeles it is... again... why does stuff like this keep happening! This is the third time I have tried to leave Los Angeles!

I was too tired to care really, being up since 6am with only 4 hours sleep and all. I was angry, but... I don't know, whatever I guess. Just add it to the 'list of adventures' or whatever you want to call it. Having Sandra for company was really good though, it was nice not having to deal with everything on my own for a change.

We repeat the exact same route back to the hostel as I did the last time this happened. The many buses, and landing in the same crazy neighbourhood with the crazy people where a bike got stolen in broad daylight. This time during our short stay in this neighbourhood (as I was eager to get out of it, although Sandra refused to acknowledge it was a crazy place), we witness a car accident in our first 2 minutes. It wasn't a serious one, but... still, come on, what are the chances!

Sandra still denies it is a crazy area but whatever, she hadn't seen it like I had.

As fate would strangely have it we just happen to run into Lorenzo (Italy) on the street as we were walking back to the hostel from the bus stop. We had only met this guy the night before, but already I thought he was pretty awesome. Naturally he was shocked to see us returning and asks what we are doing back and why we weren't on our way to Las Vegas. We explain. Then he asks what we are doing for lunch.

I wasn't really in the mood to go but I figured I should anyway, it was a nice day and all. First stop, a place I had never seen before; the Grand Central Market in Downtown L.A.

It. Was. Amazing! I couldn't believe I hadn't been there before!

It had the best and cheapest food I had had in my entire stay in Los Angeles, and I found a stall that sold Heineken bottles for only $2 a bottle! Are you kidding me! How have I not known about this place sooner! Suffice to say with my $2 a bottle beer and an amazing burger and chips, my spirits were back again!

After lunch we walked around some parts of Downtown Los Angeles I hadn't seen before. Yeah... this city is growing on me of late I admit.

I got told that the tall white building (right of the prominent blue building) is a scene from Independence Day
Spurred on by our high spirits and the amazing weather, it was decided to hit the beach. To Venice it is! This was another place I hadn't really explored as much as I should of so it was great to get the chance today. My verdict? It's awesome!

We walked around for a while, exploring the shops and just enjoying the atmosphere. There is such a variety of people in this place.

Haha! It's Muscle Beach!

This guy was skating around on these weird rollerblades, dressed like what looked to be Aladdin,while simultaneously playing an electric guitar with a mini portable amplifier strapped to his back, brilliant! Sadly I couldn't get a good picture of him because he kept wanting to advertise whatever was on the shirt he is holding.
And after that, it was time to hit the beach.

Now, I simply cannot describe vividly enough how amazing this next experience was for me, I know it is 'just a beach', no more special than the beaches back home really, but the simple act of walking around in the ice cold water with absolute perfect weather around me, my shirt off just soaking in the warmth of the sun shine, and my absolute favourite songs in the world playing in my ears, all just completely washed away any of the ill feelings I'd been carrying around with me due to all the bad luck I'd been having. It really was one of the most exhilarating experiences I have had in years, I utterly loved every minute of the hour I spent walking in the water, listening to my favourite music, and simply reminding myself of where I am and how far I have come. Regardless of what happens from now on, I know I can be proud of what I have achieved. 

Venice Beach
Feeling fresh and full of spirit, it was time I pulled myself out of the water and back to Sandra and Lorenzo (who both claimed it was far too cold to go into the water...). Chatting with them was the most I had laughed in weeks, it was a ridiculous amount of fun really. And to think that it was only that very morning that Sandra and I had failed at trying to get a car to drive to Las Vegas ha!

While lying on the sand, Lorenzo randomly asked me "Do you like The Beatles?" however, I had heard it as "Do you like beetles?" so I replied with:

"Which are you talking about, the car (Volkswagon Beetle) or the insect?"

A silence hung in the air for a few moments... then Lorenzo tentatively goes "umm... the band?"

It suddenly clicks to all three of us where the mistake was made haha! Probably a 'you had to be there' situation but far out we laughed hard at this one.

A short while later there was more confusion. With Lorenzo being from Italy, his English is good but not perfect, he was trying to explain to me that being at the beach is good for relieving allergies because of the 'yodum' in the water. Huh?

"You know, the yodum, you breath it in, and it rubs on your skin, it is good for healing"

"Umm... what? Do you eat it or... is it a cream?

"No no, you know, like in the water, the yodum... you know yodum, you can eat it too! It's in the water, you can put it on your food. Yodum! Come on, you know yodum, everyone knows what yodum is! Yodum!"

This went on for about 5 minutes. I was thinking hard but I didn't have a clue what he was on about, you put 'yodum' on your food, and the 'yodum' is good for healing when at the beach?


"Haha! Lorenzo, dude... do you mean, sodium?"

He sat quietly for a moment as his face went red from embarrassment.

"Yes I mean sodium..."

Then we had an absolutely hilarious time making fun of the German language (Sandra is German) because Lorenzo and I both believe that the language always sounds somewhat angry when spoken (Sandra does not think so). This lead onto the fact that, while the word 'surprise' is pretty similar for lots of countries (eg. sorpresa in Italian), in German it is '├╝berraschen'. So when using the German word for surprise when saying the name of the chocolate 'Kinder-Surprise' you have a rather aggressive sounding kinder ├╝berraschen (rawr!!!), scaring kids away from candy and surprise birthday parties ha!

Wow, what a day. It really was one of the best times I have had on this entire trip so far, I cannot thank Lorenzo and Sandra enough. Alas it was time to leave, but not before getting our picture taken to mark the moment.

Sandra (who wasn't aware till the last second we were ready to take the shot, hence the slant ha), Me and Lorenzo heading home after the beach. An absolutely amazing time.
For dinner we went to a nearby restaurant, and on the way ran into Elijah Woods! (He played Frodo in Lord of the Rings if you couldn't picture the name). For anyone who is familiar with the TV show 'Wilfred' (it is an Australian show), well the Americans (being typical Americans...) are filming their own version and Elijah is playing the main character.

After getting told off by... I don't know, the director? for being in the way of filming, this was the best picture I managed to get as I scrambled for the Camera app on my iPhone...

He is standing behind the blonde girl. Yeah... it was best picture I managed...

After dinner it was time to bus back to the hostel, once again landing in my favourite neighbourhood on the way... man this place freaks me out. I'd been arguing to Sandra when we were in this same neighbourhood that very morning that it is a bad place, where I recounted the story of the last time I was here and seen the crazy people in the restaurant and the old guys' bike getting stolen, and only minutes after I had told that story to her we witnessed a car accident, yet still she denied it was a bad place.

Now, eight hours later we are back in the same neighbourhood, and to further prove my argument, we see this at the KFC...

Notice that the entire counter top is protected by a big wall of glass, you have to talk through the little speaker holes to order, and in front of that guy is a box where the register attendant passes you your food... ha!

This neighbourhood really does keep getting better and better! Classic =D

The bus eventually came but we missed it because... I am not as 'agile' as I usually am due to my injured ankle (to Lorenzo's and Sandra's immense amusement, I was honestly worried Lorenzo was going to have a heart attack he laughed that hard ha...), so we had to walk, 9.30pm at night, the couple of kilometers back to the hostel (not my idea). 'At least my ankle is noticeably better' was the only positive I could think of while walking through that neighbourhood.

Once safely back at the hostel I spent the remainder of the night chatting and laughing hysterically with Lorenzo, although it was all to be short lived as disappointingly he was to be heading off to Mexico the very next day. The stars seemed to have aligned for Sandra however which is cool (I am happy for her) because with our driving trip obviously not working out, it turns out that accompanying Lorenzo to Mexico would be the absolute perfect next step for her trip for just so many reasons, so she was to be heading off with Lorenzo the next day also. I am sincerely going to miss them both immensely, the hostel already didn't feel the same.

So alas it appears not heading on our road trip to Las Vegas didn't turn out so bad after all, I had one of the best days I have had on this entire trip, and Sandra found the perfect next step for her trip. Once again the phrase 'No idea' comes to mind.

Although it does leave me hanging and I am forced to yet again in the moment plan my next move.

My parents arrive in America shortly for a 2 week holiday which is cool, I think I will go meet them in Las Vegas, but we shall see how things turn out. I am starting to think that I am not in control of this trip and some mysterious forces are leading me somewhere instead.

And that, amazingly, all happened in just one day.


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