Defying gravity on Venice Beach
A skateboard park along Venice Beach, LA
Time travellin' to the USA
Anyone who loves '80's pop trash will know that Cher once wanted to turn back time. Well, we have discovered that you can take back all of the bad things you said on the flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles, where time travel becomes a reality. After taking off from Japan at 16:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, and flying for 9 hours, we managed to arrive in LA at 09:00am the same Tuesday morning, allowing us to relive most of the day again in another city. Admittedly, the reliving part is slightly slower and more dopey than the first time around due to jetlag, and the culture shock of arriving in the US after so long in Asia is pretty dramatic, but still we stumbled our way through Tuesday for a second time in West Hollywood.
The high life in LA
The lovely thing for us about arriving in to LA was that it gave us the chance to see our first familiar face in the entire trip in the form of Helen's aunt Bea, who has lived for many years in the Hollywood Hills. She met us at the airport
with a huge beaming smile and from then on, showered us with kindness and hosptality until the moment we left to continue on our way. She truly went out of her way to show us how welcome we were, including putting great thought into what we would eat so that it was different to what we had faced for the previous 9 months (not an easy task at all!), even going so far as to lay on a cheese fondue one evening, very apt given the unseasonably cool weather we were experiencing while there.
It also allowed us to enjoy a few home comforts for a change, and staying in a home and not yet another hotel was a really treasured experience. In particular the ability to make a nice cup of tea with real milk whenever we liked really meant a lot to us, along with the serene peace and quiet through the night of not staying in a hostel, helping us to get over some of our jetlag.
Most of our time in LA was spent taking it very easy and spending time around Bea's lovely home and garden, allowing us to recharge our batteries somewhat.
On the rare occasions when we did venture out of the house, we made an excursion to see two very different types of US culture, the Getty museum and Venice Beach. Both were pretty unique in their own right. The Getty museum is an impressive, ultra modern, fabulously designed building surrounded by lush grounds of almost equal interest to the art inside.
At the opposite end of the cultural spectrum, is multicultural Venice Beach, music pumping and anything going! The lively mix of attitudes and ethnicities teaming all along the beach, in one big riotous blend of creative expression, seems to encapsulate the essence of LA in an endlessly fascinating way. The skateboard park was amazing. The tricks the kids could do in the halfpipe (we have no idea if that is even what you call it, very uncool!) seemed to defy gravity as they took it in turns to try and outdo one another with bigger and faster jumps over the sides. A block back from the actual beach, you can see the very pretty houses and cottages that line the canals that give the area its name.
We also took a walk along Hollywood Boulevard to
have a look at the walk of stars (very excited to see Danny De Vito's star!) along with the preparations that were going on at the Kodak Theatre for the upcoming Oscars ceremony. It was all very buzzy and exciting to see the workers constructing all the seating along the red carpet walkway up to the theatre, jostling with frantic looking organisers rushing around mumbling into walkie-talkies. It was weird to think that 3 days after we stood there, a whole host of Hollywood's beautiful people would be following in our footsteps. We even got to walk up the staircase from the street towards the theatre itself along the red carpet (although at this point still covered in plastic sheeting), where all the movies that have won best Oscar are displayed on light boards along the side of the stairway up to the theatre. We thought about how many actors and directors had nervously walked that same route towards the Oscars ceremony, wondering if by the end of the evening it would be their movie that won, filling the next vacant spot on the list. The atmosphere was electric with expectation.
Very randomly we also managed to catch up
with another Chiswick West 4 Harrier while in Hollywood. As luck would have it, occasional runner and now full time, Hollywood based stand up comic Jim Tavare was performing on the Friday night we were there, and actually quite close to Bea's home. We managed a quick chat with him in The Laugh Factory on Sunset Boulevard before watching him do his thing (double bass, tuxedo and all) on stage. It's a slight step up from playing the Quintin boat club (Chiswick) where we last saw him, and there was no Gambrinus on sale, but still it was a great night out and a very LA was to round off our stay on the West Coast.
Mike then headed off for a week's language school in Guatemala to brush up his spanish, leaving Helen to spend some quality time with Bea. The ladies proceeded to have a fabulously chilled out week, going to see some of those Oscar winning movies at the cinema, making wicked cocktails, and going loco at the heavenly emporium of all things delicious, Trader Joe's. Happy days!
We had a really wonderful time in LA, so thank you very much Bea for everything you
did for us while we were there, we truly appreciated the efforts you went to for everything during our stay and we hope we can reciprocate when we are set up again somewhere in the future.
But onwards now and south to a new continent and the final leg of this trip, and back to more familiar territory in the Spanish speaking world of Central America.
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