Thursday, October 21, 2010

Goodbye Las Vegas...

Last day in Las Vegas was fantastic. We saw some free cirucs acts under the big top at our hotel, and later went to the "sideshow" (also in the hotel) to play some carnivool games. I played a darts game where first prize was a MASSIVE stuffed animal if you hit the bullseye. I really didn't think I stood a chance (especially after a Jack and coke) but ... I WON!!! What a fluke. Kerry and I took this huge toy back to the room, then took plenty of photos to prove I had won it. We later gave it to a little girl because there was no way we could carry that thing around. Her parents were very grateful, and they even gave us their contact details and said if we passed through Waterloo, Ontario on our travels (where they live) we would be welcome to stay with them!

Later that night we packed our bags (ready for our trip to New York the next day) and then headed out for dinner. I ordered Asian and along with my meal came a fortune cookie. I could not believe what I read, it said "travelling to the east will bring you great rewards." WOW WOW WOW. What a coincidence we are heading the east coast, right?!? OMG I was speechless.

So here we are, on our way to New York!! Just arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina on a 3 hour layover. I know nothing about Charlotte except that they have a basketball team called the Hornets. Oh, and that it's in the South (not the deep south but they still say "y'all"). Apparantly this airport has a bar with free wine tasting ... I'm heading over there right now!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Las Vegas

Arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday evening after an 8 hour bus trip from San Diego. Weather was warm but raining slightly. We're staying at Circus Circus - got such a good deal at $14 each a night. The room is fantastic - two big beds, tv, shower with warm water etc. A nice break from the hostels we've been staying in. We spent the night walking up and down the strip visiting various hotels/casinos and playing some of the slots (Monopoly!!!). Vegas just doesn't stop, even on a Sunday!

Slept in Monday morning and spent the afternoon at the pool. Weather was perfect - in the high 20s. Got tickets to see Jersey Boys (story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) at the Palazzo Hotel. The show was BRILLIANT, as was the dinner we had at Palazzo prior to the performance. Later on we went to Rhumbar at The Mirage for some cocktails - I had two very strong strawberry caipirinhas - slept well that night!!!

Hit the gym Tuesday morning (today) for a much needed workout, then straight to the pool after that for more swimming/spa-ing/tanning. The weather turned from sunny to stormy late afternoon, so we decided to stick to our hotel and avoid being outside. It's Tuesday night now and Kerry's out shopping while I'm watching the lightning outside - got such an awesome view from the 23rd floor!!! Hopefully the weather clears up tomorrow - it's our last day in LV.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Downtown & Alice in Chains concert

Went to a few pubs in the Ocean Beach area on Thursday night - all fairly low key. Went to Downtown San Diego the following day and spent some time eating and shopping. I also booked tickets for the Alice in Chains concert that night. They were playing at a venue on a university campus (I pictured it to be smallish but it was actually the size of Adelaide's Entertainment Centre). Mastodon and Deftones were supporting - I think more people showed up to see Deftones instead of AIC. AIC were awesome, apart from Jerry Cantrell's guitar f**king up during "Rain When I Die." Sound was VERY loud too. Once we got back to the hostel I went straight to bed. Not long after I started feeling sick, so I went to use the loo but found Kerry sitting there feeling pretty bad too. We think it may have been the donuts we ate at the concert. Such a great night turned so bad - we shared the bathroom for the next hour or so. Thank god it didn't last that long!!!

It's Saturday night now and we're good to go! Gonna hit the bars either Downtown or at Pacific Beach (or both). Then we head to Las Vegas tomorrow morning....yay....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ocean Beach & Seaworld

Arrived in San Diego Tuesday evening after a long day at San Francisco airport! So happy to be here but unfortunately the weather isn't too good (it's so cloudy/foggy and I haven't seen blue skies since SF). We are staying at a hostel in the Ocean Beach area - it's not that great....

  • excellent location (right on the beach)
  • free wi-fi
  • unfriendly staff
  • 2 bunk room is tiny (and bunks seem to be held together by duct tape!!!)
  • no mirror in bathroom
  • shower has no hot water
  • shower feels like needles pricking your skin
  • kitchen is filthy (just waiting to get gastro)
  • free towel rental BUT towel smells like tuna
Oh well, that's what backpacking is all about I guess! I shouldn't complain as we're only paying $19 a night. So back to the good stuff...

Ocean beach is full of surfer dudes and hippie chicks. The vibe here is really relaxed - nobody seems to get dressed up (even at night). I think it's fashionable to be unfashionable. We spent much of yesterday walking along the beach, watching surfers, playing pool at a local bar, and browsing through a market located on our street (the Farmers Market on Wednesdays only). That night a few of us from the hostel had a (legal) bonfire on the beach - lots of drinking and laughing until the police showed up (it's a dry zone). Luckily someone had spotted them from a distance, and that gave us enough time to bury our cups and bottles in the sand so we didn't get caught. After the police left we burnt our cups in the bonfire, took the empty bottles back to the hostel and called it a night.

Today Kerry and I went to Seaworld. It was a great day with lots of spectacular shows and fun rides. Given that the weather wasn't that great there weren't too many people there. That meant less lining up for rides, so that was a plus! So glad I bought a Shamu poncho, because if not I would have been soaked!

Back at the hostel now, tired and still undecided as to whether we'll go out tonight...I'm sure we will.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Goodbye San Francisco....

SF was one quiet city on our last day. Not much happened - spoke to a homeless person named Mary for about an hour and then had some cheese and wine back at our hostel (it was free). Played some pool and went to a bar down the street that had THE BEST mango mojito! I'm definitely introducing this to friends back home. Stayed 'til closing hours then went straight to bed.

Up early for our 10:50am flight to San Diego. We caught the BART (Bay Area ? ?) to the airport, but timed it very badly because we missed our flight!!!!!!! Luckily we were put on standby and given tickets for the afternoon flight (4:20pm) at no extra cost - there's barely anyone on this flight so we are guaranteed a seat. I am so grateful for that - and now I can breathe a sigh of relief.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lombard Street, Coit Tower & Italian Heritage Parade

San Francisco was abuzz today!! Fleet Week celebrations are continuing (apparantly this is the biggest F.W. in 20 years) and the 142nd Annual Italian Heritage Parade was on too. The streets were lined with floats, marching bands and losts of open air dining. Such a fun place to be!!! Kerry and I managed to get caught up in it all at Washington Square - they were handing out food and I scored a nice big slice of chocolate cake! So fresh, so delicious.

We also visited the "crookedest street in the world" today - Lombard Street. Very steep, very curvy and the speed limit is 5km/hr. Think I'd avoid driving down that one! Later on we walked to Coit Tower which is situated on Telegraph Hill. It cost $5 to go to the top, and even though there were some great views of San Francisco I really don't think the cost is worth it (in fact there are some high points in SF you can get to for free).

Tomorrow will be our last day here. It's a public holiday (Colombus Day) so hopefully the city will be just as lively as it was today. Going to play some pool in the hostel, and then I think I'll have an early one tonight so I don't sleep in tomorrow.

Fisherman's Wharf & Union Square

Ok, it's Sunday morning in San Francisco and the past few days have been BUSY BUSY BUSY! Here's the lowdown:

Spent the whole day at Fisherman's Wharf on Friday. Weather was perfect - sunny and fresh. The legs certainly got a work out walking up and down a hilly San Francisco! It's Fleet Week in SF so the wharf was busy. Kerry and I decided to splurge and have some seafood at a nice restaurant - glad we did that - it was yummy. Later we went for a walk through Golden Gate Park and found a nice area to sit down and watch an air show over the bay. Was very noisy but absolutely spectacular at the same time. Caught a cable car from the wharf back to the hostel - at $5 one way it was a rip off! That night we watched the Giants game from a pub at AT & T Park (the Giants home ground) and it was packed. Great atmosphere!!! After the game we went to a club called Vertigo with some people from our hostel. Fun night - no cover charge and drinks were cheap.

We spent Saturday shopping with some girls from our hostel (Gen from Sydney and Su from Korea). Mainly stuck to the Union Square area - I bought a new bag since my other one broke and also some underwear from Victoria's Secret. That night Kerry, Gen, myself and a couple of other people went to a club called Elbo Room in the Mission District (party central). Really cool place and we met some friendly Norwegian backpackers too. We stayed 'til closing hours, and the cab ride home was a memorable one. Our cab driver was this huge black guy who was cranking rap music (think it was Cypress Hill) on the stereo. He let 5 of us squeeze in and "bounce" the cab when we were at the lights - hahaha. I love SF!!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

San Francisco

Arrived in San Francisco at 8:40pm after an 8 hour bus ride from Hollywood (we had to go via San Jose and Oakland). Loved seeing the lights of the city as we were crossing over the Oakland Bay Bridge. Took about 20 minutes to walk to our hostel - surprisingly we only came across one crazy person (expected to see a lot more)!!! The hostel is really nice and there's only four people to a room. Won't be going out tonight as Kerry and I did a Hollywood pub crawl last night and I'm still exhausted from that. The weather is back to being sunny again so we're going to spend much of tomorrow sightseeing (if all goes to plan).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

USA Hostel open mike night

Went to the hostel's open mike night last night. Had about three different bands on and they were very talented. They played some originals and covers (Bob Dylan, Radiohead etc.). The drinks at the hostel bar were unbelivably cheap ($4) and there was a lot of alcohol that went into them - I'd say about three shots per cup. I had two cups of whiskey and coke (which was so hard to get down) and that was enough for me. The bar closed around 1:30am so Kerry, myself and our Kentucky friend Jared walked to a club on Cahuenga Blvd (I think it was called Halo). By the time we got there it was about 20 mins 'til closing time and security seemed reluctant to let us in. As soon as we got in all eyes were on us because we were the ONLY WHITE PEOPLE IN THE CLUB!!! And this club was packed!!! I was too drunk to care, but Kerry said it was rather awkward. We stayed 'til closing time (which wasn't that long) and in that short amount of time 2 fights broke out. A girl who got caught up in one of them left with her dress practically over her head. It was nasty!!!!!!!

Got to bed around 3am this morning and got to chat with Kirsty for a bit via Skype (yay). Ended up wasting the day by sleeping in 'til 1:30pm, but it didn't matter so much because the weather is still crap. Catching the Greyhound bus tomorrow (Thursday) and heading up to San Francisco - we're booked in to the USA Hostel up there because we loved it so much here. Better start packing.....we leave early!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Santa Monica & Venice Beach

Up early for a trip to Santa Monica and Venice Beach today. The weather still isn't the best (certainly not swimming weather) but at least it wasn't raining. Took the free shuttle bus and spent the morning on the Santa Monica pier, before walking to Venice Beach after lunch. It was really quiet due to the weather so there really wasn't much to do. We headed back to Santa Monica to catch the bus back to Hollywood but we kept missing it! Not sure I like the bus system here.

Took an hour to get back to Hollywood and as soon as we got off on Santa Monica Blvd and La Brea we were surrounded by cop cars and a helicopter hovering above. Turns out someone held up a Target store so they were blocking off both roads around that area. Needless to say we quickly headed away from the situation. Walking further up La Brea we stumbled across High Voltage Tattoo aka LA Ink - wasn't close enough to see if Kat was working, but I thought it was pretty cool either way!!!


Miserable weather today. Slept in again and did a little bit of shopping (just browsing, no buying). Tried on some Halloween costumes so that was fun. Later that night we had dinner at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset Blvd, and this has been a hang out for many musicians over the years (Motorhead, Led Zeppelin, Guns n Roses to name a few). It was a pretty cool place; the food was yummy but the waitress was a bitch!

Signed up for the stretch hummer limousine ride around Hollywood. It was the best $25 i've spent!!! Just had the most amazing night in Hollywood - the best so far. The limo was stocked with free bubbly and vodka (all you can drink) and the music was cranking. About 20 of us drove around Hollywood with our host Kareem. We visited a bar called the Saddle Ranch (on Sunset Blvd) where they had some really cool music and a mechanical bull too. After a few drinks I so badly wanted to get on, but I was wearing a dress so that was a no no! A few of our fellow limo riders had a go and they did really well too. Back in the limo they continued cranking the music, and everyone got right into it when they played Jay Z & Alicia Key's song "New York." Too bad we weren't in New York, right!?! I can't remember the name of the other club we visited (somewhere on Hollywood Blvd) but we were told if you had "boobs" you could get in free (meaning all guys had to pay they $5 cover charge). This club played a lot of old school rock like Guns n Roses and Ratt. As soon as AC/DC came on (Highway to Hell) I was out on the dance floor singing my heart out. They also played some Midnight Oil and Nine Inch Nails, so that was cool too. At the back of the club they had a punk/emo band playing. It was really good to see some live music and this band was definitely something I could get in to.

Back at the hostel and in bed now. We're down to just 5 in the room (the past three nights there's been 8) so it's pretty quiet. Looking forward to a day at the beach tomorrow...fingers crossed we have some nice weather!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dillons & Runyon Canyon

Had a big night last night. Went to an Irish pub called Dillons which is on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. It was Saturday night so the place was packed. Spent of few hours drinking and chatting to local Los Angelians before leaving just prior to closing hours (all pubs/clubs close at 2am in LA, which is a bit disappointing). On our way back from Dillons we decided to grab a slice of pizza at a place called Grecos. The slices are huge - I had a cheese pizza and it was DELICIOUS!!! One of the best i've ever had.

That same night a couple of Aussie girls we were sharing a room with were celebrating their last night in Hollywood in a BIG way! By the time we got back to the hostel one of them fell asleep sitting upright on her suitcase, whilst the other was running up and down the hall looking for her bag (which she'd actually left on her bed). Both took turns sharing a toilet bowl for the rest of the night.

Slept in this morning 'til about 11am, then went hiking at Runyon Canyon in the afternoon. Quite a leisurely walk and many people were there with their dogs. Unfortunately, due to fog (or maybe it was smog?), we had a bad view of the city once we reached the top. We were told we would also be able to see the Hollywood sign - not the case. Maybe I'll head up there again on a clearer day....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Universal Studios

Didn't get much sleep last night - Hollywood is a very noisy place! Non-stop music, shouting, sirens and helicopters. Doesn't help that our hostel is situated next to a public carpark just off Hollywood Blvd either. At around midnight someone decided to play music from their car at high volume - then repeated the same song 4 times (I counted)! Oh well, the ear putty will come in handy tonight.

Spent the day at Universal Studios. Weather was a warm 29c - ended up getting sunburnt. Went on the new Simpsons ride, which was a 3D rollercoaster (meaning you're not actually on a track but the screen in front of you makes it feel like you are). Very fun but only went on once as the line was long. Took the studio tour in the afternoon - 1hr line up but it was worth it. The new King Kong 3D ride that was on that tour was pretty cool. Spent some time in Universal City and got a funny photoshopped photo of Kerry and I.

Back at the hostel now and the weather is much cooler. Going to head out soon and check out the pubs/clubs on Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Los Angeles

Arrived! Hostel location and facilities are fantastic - love the free wifi (just typing this on my netbook from my room). Met two Australians and two Chinese girls we are sharing the room with. Weather is warm (quite humid acutally) and the hostel has a pub crawl on tonight. Gave it a miss - too tired - maybe tomorrow...