In the beginning: Los Angeles

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October 26th 2007
Published: November 4th 2007
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This was it! The moment we had been waiting for - we’d saved our hard earned cash, dreamt about it for years and Al had even put together a few gant charts of our progress. Lara had spent years reading guidebooks and planning possible routes and talking incessantly about which Spanish school we should be going to, whether we should we spend 3 or 4 days in this place, and discussing whether Galapagos would be worth going to or if it would be too expensive. We were ready....we wanted to be on our way to a life of sipping cocktails in hammocks tied between palm trees.

But its never quite that easy. After frantically packing up our apartment of 4 1/2 years, and pretty much only getting about two-thirds through it we had to give up and say our goodbyes. We had a night out with all the gang in Sydney on Friday night before heading to Bowral for a BBQ with all our families. At least we managed to get so exhausted from packing we slept practically the whole plane trip, leaving us relatively jet-lag free for our brief stint in LA.

Los Angeles would be our first stop of many - we were on our way to learn Spanish in Guatemala before travelling our way through Central and South America over the next 9 months. Our aim was to be conversational in Spanish and make our way (mostly overland) from Guatemala to Panama and then from Ecuador to Rio de Jainero - we couldn't wait! We'd then manage a brief stint in Spain before heading to the UK where we'd enter back into the real world - work, flats etc etc.

On arrival in Los Angeles Lara’s parents friend Edie picked us up from the airport and took us back to her place in Seal Beach. Lara had stayed with Edie as a 14 year old - so it was a little bit of a walk down memory lane for her, and over the few days in LA she would see many of the things she had seen previously.

Edie and her friend Hall spent a few days showing us around, and this is what we got up to:

Day 1: We drove to Balboa Island, which is nestled in Orange County and is a pretty area with plenty of expensive beach houses. Following Balboa we went back to Huntington Beach. The same winds that were fuelling the San Diego fires were blowing off shore making conditions for surfing next to perfect. We wandered around, eating American delicacies such as hotdogs until we could barely stay awake any longer!We did our best not to fall asleep in the back of the car but were pretty relieved when we headed back to the house.

Day 2: We hit downtown LA in all its faded glory. Grand Central Market, Little Tokyo for momos, Chinatown and El Pueblo de Los Angeles where they were getting ready to celebrate El Dia de los Muertos which we would get to see in Xela. This was a dingier side of LA than most tourists get to see but definitely an interesting insight. It gave us a glimpse into a completely different side of LA and the opportunity to see past all the glitz and glamour and

Day 3: Edie had to go to work so we headed to Disneyland! Everyone has to go once in their lives (Lara has now been twice!) - so why not go when there is no one else there due to the bush fires and you can go on all the rides as many times as you like? This is something definitely made more enjoyable as a child but that didn't stop us from going on every ride we could think of and drinking and eating all those terrible staples like burgers and fairly floss.

Day 4: Hollywood and Beverly Hills (Rodeo Drive etc) - the Hollywood sign, the enormous houses and exclusive shops, as well as the Walk of Fame. What can we say? Everyone has to do this stuff, don't they? If you went to LA without seeing the Walk of Fame or the hand prints in the concrete people would be wondering what you actually did there?

Day 5: Edie and Hall Dim Sum (Yum Cha) and Santa Monica, then on the plane for a fun overnight flight to Washington DC - leaving us even further jet lagged!

It was a good way to ease us in to our travel - we pretty much had Edie's place to ourselves and managed to catch up on quite a bit of sleep - no hitting the LA nightlife for us! Many places still to come and many adventures still to have so watch this space over the next 9 months or so to keep up with our travels.

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