United States Of Kev & Holly

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January 24th 2009
Published: February 5th 2009
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After a rather quick 10 hour flight to LAX Airport - we had arrived at our first destination! America! On exit from the airport, the sun was shining bright, the palm trees were swaying gently and we both took one almighty 'were here' sigh of relief! After jumping on a bus heading to 'Westwood' we were like two excited kids on a school bus, taking in the hussle and bussle of the streets and traffic, and the never ending rows of fast food joints/auto shops/retro style shops/psychic readers (mostly in peoples front gardens!) - we had arrived in America!

After a pick up in Westwood courtesy of Holly’s cousin, we headed back to her condo in Brentwood, a fantastic location in West Hollywood where we ordered in our first of many fast food meals - ‘animal style 3x3 burgers’ from the infamous In and Out - yum!

The next morning Adri and Tim drove us along the very scenic PCH (The Pacific Coast Highway), onward to Malibu where we had a lovely lunch in the sunshine on the pier. The whole place was pretty empty aside from a few fishermen and a hungry pelican! The hills on the other side of the road from the beach are covered with gigantic houses, perfectly situated overlooking the pacific. That night concluded with, yet more food - an eastern European feast at the condo!

The next morning we were picked up by Holly’s uncle (Eric) and headed over to Northridge for some breakfast at Holly’s aunts before setting off on our way to Santa Barbara. The journey took around 2.5 hours, with miles of plantation - mostly citrus trees, strawberries and avocado trees in between backdrops of picturesque canyons and the main valleys (San Fernando & Simi). Before we knew it we were parallel to the ocean and driving into Santa B - a beautiful coastal town with much to tell. Our first stop was the ‘Mission Santa Barbara’ - the tenth of the California missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans, set on a hill overlooking the ocean in the distance. The original purpose of the Mission was the Christianization of the Chumash Indians. ‘Mission Santa Barbara’ today continues to serve the community as a parish church and while there, we managed to sneak in to a mass taking place. In addition to its use as a place of worship, it contains a gift shop, a museum, a Franciscan Friary, and a retreat house. After our historical stop we drove up the pier and gave the keys to a ‘valet service’ to park the car - if only we could be so trustworthy in England! We found a nicely placed restaurant in the beaming sun where tradition involves eating monkey nuts and throwing the remaining shells on the floor - something that felt a little embarrassing at first but we soon got into the swing of it! On the way home we visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to watch the sunset over the canyons. Later on in our trip we were surprised at the volume of homeless people living in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. We were told that when in power Ronald Reagan decided to close down a lot of the mental rehabilitation centers leaving many of the patients to go unaided and end up eventually sleeping rough. So although Reagan has a library in dedication to him, the aftermath of his actions are still present in society today. After a long day we enjoyed a home made sushi meal & tom yum soup with Holly’s family courtesy of Barker!

A traditional American breakfast was the way we started the next day, heading to ‘John O’Groats’ for a whole plate of pancakes & honey, along with too much eggs and bacon! Adri took us to Hollywood where we visited the landmark that is ‘Graumans Chinese Theatre’. This is where many of Hollywood & Americas biggest stars have had their hands & feet printed in cement blocks on the floor. Holly’s hands were a perfect fit with Marilyn Monroe’s while Kev was giving Al Pacino, Tom Hanks & Will Smith a measure. Batman, Jack Sparro & Spiderman line the streets outside the theater making their money posing for photos with anyone who wants to chuck a few dollars their way! We could see the Hollywood sign, however you can no longer get as close due to restrictions being placed around the surrounding land. The sign was originally used to promote the Hollywood hills estates/residential areas, however is now the probably the most snapped thing in Hollywood, other than the world famous movie stars trying to pass around undetected! A relaxed evening walk around the parade of shops in Brentwood, Holly stops breathing for a few seconds - ‘Jack Malone’ from the 'Without a Trace' series (Holly being a major fan) on some back street pastry shop drinking coffee. Kev tells her to go grab an autograph but Holly respects his privacy and we continue our walk. A late evening meal, we head to a placed called ‘Cheesecake’ - the best cheesecake in town apparently - and our views were no different.

The next day we spent most of the morning watching the inauguration of Barrack Obama - fascinating to be in the states at the time - history in the making. Running a little late, we set out getting some buses over to Universal Studios, where we did a studio tour of many film and television sets including Psycho’s Bates Motel, War of the Worlds wreckage, Wysteria Lane, The Truman Show, The Fast and The Furious, Jaws, The Ghost Hunter, and passed studios that were currently filming CSI. We went into a House of Horrors experience where real men in costume jump out of dark corners, including a midget dressed as the child horror - Chucky! Holly screamed the whole way, nearly incurring heart failure while Kevin karate-kicked at every scare! Finished off with a stunt show ‘water world’ including a plane flying and crashing into the arena just near us. We had a great day and jumped back on the metro bus back to Brentwood passing through Beverley Hills & the outskirts of Bellair. The houses were absolutely huge set in beautiful palm treed backgrounds, if you ever end up living in Beverly Hills - you must have done something right!

A few days on, still feeling extremely jet lagged, we relax for the day, check the weather for our next destination - ‘Fiji’. However, we stumble across pretty bad news - ‘Worst Flooding in Fiji History - 10 People dead - Thousands evacuated’. We check a few Fijian websites/see some pictures and realize the scale of the devastation, waiting eagerly on return emails from our Fiji tour providers, we worry…worry some more, and then continue enjoying our time in California (More info on Fiji flooding will be given in later blogs). Adri, Tim, Kev & Holly head to a delightful Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica for the evening where we thank Adri & Tim for putting up with us for the week and being amazing hosts!

After having a great few days of sunshine, the sun decides to take a little rest and we head to Santa Monica beach where we dream we are stars in Baywatch, finished by eating fried, yes fried, ice cream on the end of the pier! We finish the day with an enjoyful pizza & beer meal with the family at Aunt Teresa’s, plus a surprise cake & balloon for Holly’s forthcoming birthday.

Jumping on a midday metro bus we walk part of the sunset strip and take in a few of the famous bars & restaurants including Chateau Mormont (A-list celeb hang-out), House of Blues & The Comedy Store where all great American comedians plied their trade in the early days of their career. We catch glimpses from the sunset strip up the roads to the Hollywood hills, with houses perched on the hills only a-list celeb salaries could afford! We join the family at Aunt Noreens in the evening where Barker creates an amazing Burmese dish called ‘Panthe’.

So our week in America comes to an end and we enjoy a well planned/plenty of time car journey to get to the airport………of course we don’t. We grab a last minute feast and order some ‘Chillies’ takeaway into the condo, we then get on our way to the airport and come to a complete standstill on the highway, half an hour from the airport, and probably half an hour till final check in! Silence follows in the car and we realise if we miss the flight, we miss our connection Fiji tour which departs within two hours of touchdown in Fiji. We somehow manage to make the check in by the skin of our teeth - lesson learned!

All in all a great first week. Our stop in America was primarily a family visit as opposed to ‘travel’, we had a great time taking in some of the American sights & history, however we would like to thank all the family for making us feel so welcome and making our trip to America so special.

So onwards we leave America behind us and head to Nadi Airport (Fiji). Flooding, loss of life, evacuations and devastation, we really don’t know what Fiji holds in store for us…….Keep tuned!

Additional photos below
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5th February 2009

What an excellent blog!! That was such a good read, I bet you didn't miss a detail, excellent! The photos are great and it sounds like you guys are having a wonderful time. Stay safe, have loads of fun and keep up the great blogging :o) x x x Ps. Holly - Just in case you don't know, I went to school with Kev, he's always been a lovely bloke. You are so gorgeous and you make a great couple.
5th February 2009

Lol @ Brent!
Looks like you're having a brilliant time, hope Fiji is just as good if not better! x

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