Published: September 23rd 2011September 22nd 2011
San Diego and Venice Beach - both by the pacific ocean but with completely different vibes. Before I divulge any details of our stay I will mention that preceeding our trip to San Diego Jon, Stephanie and I had one night in California's capitol city Sacremento. I think its fair to say that neither Stephanie nor I expected much from the city but upon Jon's recommendation we stayed there for one night, and I can say that I'm really glad we did. Old Sacremento is a fantastic area, like something out of a western; wooden pathways, old trains and kitch little shops. A fantastic costume shop aswell selling halloween stuff - so jealous I can't be in the States for this holiday! We also took a tour of Capitol Building aka the Governator's old hang-out! Okay, yes, that sounds like it would be really dull I'm sure you're thinking, but no, our tour guide knew so much history about the State and made the hour long tour really fascinating. We got to sit in on a Senate discussion and sat in the Congress room aswell (both modelled on the British House of Lords and House of Commons respectively!) and stood at the entrance of the current Governor's office. The picture of Arnold S. was notably absent from the wall of governors but we were assured his picture was been created as we speak! Also found out some random info that I didn't know before; California is the 32nd US State created in 1850. I know it all sounds really geeky but I loved finding out about these things! So yes, in conclusion, go to Sacremento, you only need one night really but its a cool place to go visit!
Anyway, on to San Diego, which I can honestly and shockingly say has been one of my top 2/3 places in the USA. Shockingly as I didn't really have any expectations of the place. We stayed at the Ocean Beach International hostel for 6 simply fantastic nights. Not the cleanest nor did it have the best food or anything like that but it had the best vibe of any of the hostels we have stayed in. The staff are such characters and the people we met were all so friendly and social and at times odd, but in a good way! There was always a game of beer pong going on (gutted that on every night I had failed to sign up quick enough to play!) and drinks on the patio, which always turned into drinks on the beach! We had one fantastic night around a bonfire on the beach! We met some really interesting people that night (the Aussie's Luke and Daz) as well as some other people such as our roommates Jan and Steve, Big Papa, Jason, Joe, and the crazy Germans Holgar and Sven! =P Back to the place - fantastic! There aren't many sites to go and see but it just has a great feel about it. The day we arrived it was the annual Ocean Beach Arts and Music festival so there were lots of interesting stalls, vendors and singers literally on the hostels door step! We also checked out the Farmer's Market on the wednesday which had little stalls for vegetables, jewellery, hot food... Ocean Beach really is about the beach though - we had about 2 days worth of perfect sunbatheing weather and on one good day we rented surfboards and wetsuits and went surfing! It was my first time attempting this and it's safe to say I am not naturally gifted in this skill! Pretty sure I swallowed half of the ocean in my attempt! But just walking along the coast or walking down the pier at night is stunning. Another highlight of Ocean Beach has to be the food - I simply had to sample the famous icecream waffle sandwich, have an acai berry smoothie and have dinner several nights at Hodads! The burgers at Hodads were the best we've tried in America! A mini burger is huge! You literally have difficulty fitting it into your mouth to bite! And the milkshakes are a must - the pictures on my facebook don't do it justice! I've decided that Ocean Beach is one place I would love to visit again! We did also venture more into downtown area to go to the famous San Diego zoo, which was alright btw - perhaps more enjoyable if you are 6 years old, but downtown was kinda scummy actually - Ocean Beach is the place to be!
So with heavy hearts we commenced on our final (yes! final!) greyhound journey to Venice Beach, and instantly wished we had stayed longer in San Diego! After accidently booking the wrong hostel we were about 40 mins from the beach (we thought we'd booked a place on the beach!) in a 12 bed room even though we had booked an 8 bed. The 'roaring social scene' of Abbot Kinney was non-existant, the beach was FULL of homeless crazy people (Stephanie and I were asked by an insane old black man who belived he was Hugh Hefner whether we wanted to be playboy bunnies), muscle beach was actually unimpressive and our clothes ultimately smelt strongly of weed due to the dozens of legal marijuana clinics set up beach front! The best bits of our days in Venice Beach were actually spent in Santa Monica, where we sunbathed, shopped and explored the pier! We also ventured out to downtown LA one day to check out the Emmy red carpet! We couldn't get close at all but we did manage to spot a couple of Glee and Office actors stopping for interviews. We also saw Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy (judges on So You Think You Can Dance US) but I think I was the only one to be a bit star-struck lol. So the lessons learnt on this part of the trip were that Ocean Beach is immense and Venice Beach will only be enjoyed if you are stoned, crazy or a bit of both...
I'm currently sat in the Banana Bungalow West Hollywood trying to forget the fact that in 4 days I will be returning to the UK! I will blog in a few days about our final leg of our trip in Los Angeles but to give you a taster tomorrow I'm heading to Warner Brothers for a studio tour and saturday will be spent at a fright night in Universal Studios!
Blog soon! x