It’s going to take a while for us to stop saying “hola” and “gracias” all the time. These small sayings simply roll off the tongue. Luckily so many people in LA speak Spanish so it wasn’t totally out of place but still - we had 4 days to cut it out. I’m guessing “Buenos dias” won’t go down so well in New Zealand in a few days’ time. One thing that didn’t take long to stop doing was look around in the bano for the rubbish bin for the toilet paper. Won’t be missing that. Back in the first world was feeling pretty good. Two things were clear immediately: South American prices are a thing of the past, and we were feeling (and looking) a bit unkept in our worn holey travel clothes. Lol.
Our first day was spent at Disneyland. You’re never too old to appreciate Disney Magic but we did feel a tad self-conscious lining up for photos with Poo Bear and Tiger. We were older than everyone else in the queue by at least two decades but never mind - tiger is cool! The fireworks display at the end of the evening was awesome with a flying Tinkerbelle and Dumbo all part of the show. Mike was feeling particularly pleased with the day as I didn’t make him line up for either the ‘Dumbo’ ride or ‘it’s a small world’ ride, both of which we had queued for ages at Euro Disney years ago, and both of which he feels he’s too cool for! The park closes at 11pm but we hadn’t really thought of our exit strategy to get to our next hotel. Disneyland is miles away from the rest of downtown LA and we just assumed we’d get a taxi. Had we researched it (at all) we would have discovered this would cost over $120. The fact it being mid-night and many miles away not registering at all with us. We managed to negotiate the ride for $90 but even still - that sort of money would last days or even a week in South America!
Almost every single American we met and spoke to wanted to know “why didn’t you hire a car”? Our reasoning of not wanting to battle LA traffic, driving on the other side of the road and car, and thinking it would all be a bit too stressful for the end of our holiday all seemed like good reasons. But with cabs costing a fortune, and public transport being so shit - hiring a car would have been a bloody good idea. Especially considering what we got up to over the next two days.
For our second day we had pencilled in Magic Mountain: another theme park that specialises in roller coasters. Mike somehow managed to convince me to go, despite the fact that I DO NOT LIKE roller coasters. Terrified in fact! Maybe I should have made him endure “it’s a small world” at Disneyland after all. But to get to Magic Mountain on public transport was going to take a lot of planning. We set off with a hand full of printed maps and directions for various bus and train stations, and soon discovered that the last train home was much much earlier than we had thought. Since it was already quite late and considering we had absolutely no idea how we were going to get home we decided to shelf Magic Mountain until the following day so that we could get more information.
With the rest of that day free, we set off to Santa Monica Pier followed by a stroll along Venice Beach. Mike lived in LA for 6 months when he was 10 - in the general Venice Beach area, so before we knew it we had found his old street and his old apartment block. Memory lane - tick.
Just like in the movies
Walk down memory lane for Mike
So day 3 we tried again to get to Magic Mountain. Armed with even more maps and directions plus bus numbers and an insane list of connection times we set off at 7.30am. 3 ½ hours later we arrived at Magic Mountain. I kinda figured the longer it took to get there the better; less time for scary rollercoasters. To get there we walked, bussed, trained, bussed then bussed again. To get home we bussed, bussed, metroed, walked then cabbed. What a mission - but according to Mike the rollercoasters were well worth the effort. I have to admit I did enjoy a few of them, although I did have a small freak out at a particularly scary ride where they didn’t even have a proper harness, just a bar across the knees. No thank you - not for me! Even Mike found that one pretty insane. The worst/best roller-coaster (depending on your viewpoint) was called X2 - check out this video of it:
You tube link (skip the ad): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-y-0IFiZqY
Again - thanks but no thanks.
For our fourth and final day we decided to do one of those ridiculously touristy ‘hop on hop off’ bus tours as there was still so much to see, and not much time. From the comfort of an open top bus we checked out Hollywood town, downtown, China town, Korea town. Every town! We couldn’t ‘hop off’ quite as much as we would have liked but did manage a few stops. A walk around Rodeo Drive, where the only thing we bought/could afford was an ice-cream, and a walk down Hollywood Boulevard with the sidewalk of stars, where we found a star with ‘Keely’ on it (a 50’s singer apparently).
Time for some shopping....
Why didn't you get the large slice
I have a star along Hollywood Bvld
Our four days in LA were jam-packed and as we headed to the airport we realised that it was the first time we were leaving a place before we were ready. All the way through South America we caught the next bus only when we wanted to. Nothing was pre-booked. Leaving LA felt premature. So we will definitely have to go back, one day, maybe on our way to the UK? Who knows when that will be though? Finishing the trip in America, we felt, was just perfect.