Last night was… magical. We bombed it to Westwood, Los Angeles at around 11pm to gobble up the “best ice cream sandwiches in America” – and for only a dollar seventy-five! This magical slice of heaven is called Diddy Reise which can be found on Broxton Ave, Westwood. You choose 2 cookies (chocolate chip, white chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, candy chip, sugar, almond – you name it, they have it) and then you choose the ice cream filling! Oh my goodness…. so, I’ll let you into a teeny tiny secret, I went for one white chocolate chip cookie and one chocolate chip cookie with espresso chip ice cream as my filler. It was AMAZING. It’s messy, gooey, delightful… and all for under $2! Bloody bargain if you ask me.
Westwood is also the home of the famous UCLA campus, so we thought we’d invade for a little while. We found the library with its cathedral-like ceiling and the humanities building, all were pristine and beautiful of course. What could be better than this? The piano outside the college theatre (yes, they have a theatre!) asking us politely to “play me, I’m yours”, maybe? Lovely. As the rain came down we danced by the fountain. The view from that fountain is mesmerising, even at midnight with the rain coming down hard… Oh UCLA, I will come back some day!
The last blog was only uploaded this evening because I sort of forgot to publish it! My only excuse is that I was in the midst of mid-terms and my brain was flustered, hence the mistake. Nevertheless, this mistake will be redeemed within the next few minutes.
Two weeks ago, my lovely friend Rhiannon came to visit me in the beautiful Californ-i-a. She landed at John Wayne on Saturday morning so what better way to introduce her to a classic Golden State luncheon than to whisk her off to Five Guys, one of the best fast food places in the west. Well, that was in Tustin so nothing to shout about.
Moving swiftly on. The next morning Rhiannon and I battled fervently with a rental car company for a couple of panic stricken hours until we were finally allowed to hire a lovely blue Nissan Versa for our imminent trip to San Diego. Once the rental problems were overcome we hopped into the battered automobile and made a speedy return to Irvine to pick up our fellow travellers. Once on the road we had the pleasure of listening to an abundance of rap songs praising Indiana University (Rhiannon is studying there for a year), along with other lovely tunes. Once in San Diego we hit up Old Town, a superb ancient town in the middle of the city. I loved Old Town, it had the cheesy American tourist feel but still retained it’s old-style American glamour. We had some lovely Mexican food at the heart of Old Town before venturing back to our hotel for some classic American television cheese and an early night.
The early night was just what we needed after the drive down the day before, because we awoke on Monday morning feeling refreshed and lovely. We set off for the zoo after a classic hotel breakfast (which included some questionable scrambled egg, and a Belgian waffle maker one can only dream about) and boy oh boy is the zoo a marvelous place to visit! We spent the whole day there, the weather was gorgeous, and the animals were enjoying the sights of 5 eager British eyes peering upon their habitats. My favourite animals that day were the monkeys (always the best hosts, at any zoo I’ve visited), the elephants (a fleeting glance before they were taken inside for feeding and bathing), the giraffes and the rhinos. We stopped off at the Sabertooth Grill for a bag of chips and to unearth the fruit we’d stolen from the breakfast buffet and the hotel.
The zoo was by far amazing. BUT two other events made the trip a delight, and caused giggles galore for all five of us who had the pleasure of viewing such things. Firstly, as we sat down to rest by the panda cafe we glanced to our right to see a man, with his coat hood pulled over his head, bent at the waist with his head in the litter bin. IN the litter bin?! Now, we thought he’d lost something frightfully important like a wedding ring or a 50 dollar bill so we kept an eye on him to see if he was successful in his search. About five minutes later he finally released his head from its entrapment, wiped his face and walked back to his family in order to continue eating his lunch. To say it was bizarre is an understatement, it was hysterically funny and incredibly strange. Moreover, no one else in the surrounding vicinity (and there were many people eating their lunch nearby) even batted an eyelash at his odd behaviour. Nevertheless, it improved our day no end. The second amazing experience did not happen at the zoo, unfortunately, rather it happened on the drive home. SO, we’re on the freeway back to Orange County and we take an exit just outside San Diego to use a restroom and refuel on caffeine. We find a small gathering of shops and pull into the carpark. What we didn’t expect to see in the carpark was a duck. A duck, my friends. Sitting on the asphalt, just having a great time. The duck didn’t flinch when the car approach, it didn’t even move when we took pictures and giggled. It just sat there. So after we’ spent a questionably long time praising the duck’s courage we parked up the car and ran into the supermarket to use the toilet. On our walk back to the car the duck was still there, still sat in the same space it was before. As Lucy pointed out the duck was ‘within the lines’ of the allotted parking space so he wasn’t in violation of the highway code. With this realisation made, we continued on our way to Irvine.
After the events of San Diego we took a day to calm ourselves down and resume the daily grind. A day later and we were back causing mayhem, this time in Hollywood. What a beautiful place Hollywood truly is. Our plan initially involved hiking the Hollywood hills to see the Hollywood sign but due to landslides the road was blocked. With this unexpected information we made our way back down the hill and drove to Sunset Blvd. The Hollywood Walk of Fame: wow. It’s magnificent, what a wonderful idea . It is truly spectacular walking on it because it’s just part of the sidewalk, something thousands of people walk over every single day. We saw all of the Beatles’ stars (including the freshly installed Paul McCartney slab), Audrey Hepburn greeted us, as did my favourite Marx Brother Groucho. After our skip down the stars we ventured to find ‘the best record store in California’: Amoeba. And yes it is, folks. It’s lovely, yu can find everything in there: tapes, CDs, records, LPs, DVDs, posters, clothing… you can buy, you can sell, you can browse at your leisure. And browse we did, for hours. It was truly amazing.
Ah, and I nearly forgot to mention the basketball. We managed to score 5 tickets to see the Clippers that night for only $4! We toddled along at 7.30 to watch our new obsession play to his finest. Blake Griffin. Words cannot describe how obsessed with him we all are. None of us could tell you why either, we just are. In a jokey way, but also in a serious way – it’s a British thing. Plans for a shrine dedicated to him are developing in our heads. Seriously.
So that was Rhiannon’s visit to California. After the spectacular day in Hollywood we had a relaxing few days before she went back to Indiana on Sunday.
After that FINALS WEEK was upon us once again so I managed to catch another glimpse of crazy American panic studying. It truly is the best sight ever. Better than the San Diego Zoo monkeys posing for a photo opportunity.
And then Spring Break sprung its way to Irvine. Now, here’s the thing, many presume Spring Break (woohoo) to be some crazy drunken conglomerate of drug addled teenagers and wild party girls living it up on the shores of Mexico. Well, not us. Not that I’m not a fan of drunken antics, trust me I have enough stories to stretch to eternity. No, all the Spring Break plans were far too expensive for us (the summer roadtrip looooms) so we opted for the chilled I-can-read-whatever-I-like-and-watch-all-the-TV-in-the-world sort of Spring Break. Except, Nikoline and I bombed off to Joshua Tree for two days.
I know I said Death Valley was spectacular, but my gosh California, you do spoil me! Death Valley was a wee longer trek from Irvine than Joshua Tree (an hour and a half from the OC!). With this beautiful rocky desert on our doorstep I’m planning more trips to see it. The difference between Death Valley and Joshua Tree is not incredible but there are obvious positives one can attribute to each. Death Valley holds a far more eerie atmosphere and the history wrought within the vast space echoes around you. And whereas Death Valley is a far more isolated environment with a wider variety of surprises, Joshua Tree is more rocky and the climbing opportunities are immense. Needless to say that for a girl who almost never exercises (not intentionally anyway) my entire body ached from those climbs, spectacular as they were. On the way back from Joshua Tree we stopped off at Desert Springs and went back to the 80s for some natural spa goodness. When I say the eighties I genuinely mean turquoise tiles lining the hot tubs, old women wearing flower swimming caps and jingly pop being played on the radio. It was also a popular place for retirees to talk to one another about being retired. Now that experience was something else, nothing as spectacular as Death Valley or Joshua Tree could beat that amazing facility, ad it only cost $3 to get in! Bargain!
Now, it’s late here my little chickens and I must rest. I forgot to write about the beauty of Universal Studios but I promise to talk about it in the next blog. I will also try to be more regular with my posts (depending on how fun I’m been that week i may allot a certain day to writing a post). Until next time…
Okay, so I finally have time to update this!
If you have seen me over the past few weeks I most probably will not have made much sense, my physical appearance would have been rather disheveled and I would have been snowed under with uni work (sorry, homework). But I’ve still found time to have fun, namely in desert form. Death Valley. Yes, it warrants its own sentence because it is truly delectable.
So, you know I said Venice Beach was magical. Death Valley is even more magical, well maybe they’re equal in volume of magical-ness but they’re different kinds of awesome. If that makes sense. Death Valley… What to say? There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe my experience. Here are a few that only partly sum up the experience: mystical, enchanting, enthralling, captivating, awe-inspiring, barren… I could fill this page with appropriate verbs but I won’t. You must go. Death Valley is the most appropriate phrase that could be attributed to it, because it is truly a barren land full of many delightful crevices, incredible views and incomprehensible stories. It’s no wonder people who live in the desert go crazy, it’s a strange silence that fills such a vast space and I’m not sure I could handle it. Before going we expressed our excitement to a few Americans who were divided on the subject. Some warned us of a terrible disappointment, telling us not to expect much. And others became overwhelmingly excited for our forthcoming adventure. After experiencing it I fall into the latter opinion. I’d go again, and again… and again. It’s just… I can’t write any more on the subject, my brain will wonder and I’ll be rendered a mute schizophrenic if I continue.
Moving on. That was the highlight of the past few weeks, if I’m honest. However, little surprises have come our way. Mostly in the fors of planning ahead. Our Spring Break plans are coming together quite substantially, and our plans for the next two weeks are gathering stallion-like speed.
Last night, however, we went to see the long-overdue Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Now, here’s the thing, this film came out in the UK last summer so I should have seen it by now, but it has only graced American shores for the past two months so I have a semi-excuse. The film is magnificent. It’s a thinker (or a tinker…?). The cast is superb: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong… Basically, the best of the British male acting clan. Being British myself I also spied a few television favourites of mine. Trigger from Only Fools and Horses featured heavily, the scouser skinhead from This Is England also had a part, as well as my favourite character from the TV drama ‘Waterloo Road’: Grantley Budgen, as I know him. Of course, not many people outside of England will know who I’m talking about so I’ll move swiftly on. The film was so articulate and delicate in it’s story telling, I either have to watch it again (with notebook and pen in hand) or read the novel (John le Carre) because I need to know what was going on!
The next two weeks will provide far more exciting adventures for you chickens, so hold your nerve!
Oh, and it got Best British Film award at the BAFTAs. Take that America!
Okay, so this is a little side note and a bit of a plug. So while I’ve been over here in the gorgeous Orange County my best friend’s little brother has been recording and re-recording music tracks. The first time I heard him sing was actually on a YouTube video posted by a mutual friend. It is him (Josh Bannister) covering a Deaf Havana track called ‘I’m a Bore, Mostly.’ A beautiful song by all accounts, and the lyrics are fantastic. Although the original song is delightful Josh brings it into his own, creating calming acoustic waves that prick your eyes with salty tears, raise your arm hair with excited goose bumps and will have you humming along without even realising you are. Feast your eyes and ears on this sweet:
Wasn’t that just gorgeous?!
On a further side note, lately I have become obsessed with David Bowie. This has been ever since a rumour has been flying around that he could be headlining Glastonbury 2013. If this is the case I am very excited. Here’s my favourite Bowie track of the moment:
Until next time my hot Californian quesadillas!
Well well well I am getting better at blogging aren’t I? This is the second within a month. Mad lady.
So, what’s happened since good ole new years in Vegas you say? Well, a tremendous amount: a visit to Venice Beach, The Edison, witnessing the ‘epic’ Blake Griffin dunk during the Clippers’ last home game… the list continues.
This weekend just gone my lovely friend and ex-housemate Natalie came to stay and experience her very own slice of SoCal homemade pie, which a sprinkling of sugar and a cherry on top. She came in bubbling on Friday evening, jetlag soon hit and she was in bed by 10pm sharp. However, the following day life was back on track. Natalie and I bunked a ride with my gorgeous American housemate and three other international exchange students to venture in Venice. That’s right. Venice. This ain’t no gondola ridden backwater though, this is the glorious grassy smells and funky talented Venice Beach, Los Angeles. The city itself gets more beautiful the more you go, Venice is almost as strangely admirable as Las Vegas. To live in Venice must be a surreal experience that only few can handle and stay relatively sane, same goes for Vegas. These two places go hand in hand when talking about crazy America. As I am yet to visit the Deep South I will keep comments above board. It is a truly fascinating place and I urge you to go if ever you find yourself with nothing to do in the city of angels. After our Venice adventures we got back into the car (a fantastically white people carrier, featuring a ukulele and a tape deck) and bombed it down to Melrose. This street is a beaut when soaked in the warm L.A sunset. The boutiques are cute, the people are cuter.
The next day I took Natalie to Fashion Island. The place to go if shopping is all you desire. I’ve never seen a happier woman. She felt right at home in the land of plastic surgery, miniature dogs in pink apparel and tight pants. And, of course, Forever 21 was raided by both of us with all the energy we could muster.
Huntington Beach was on the cards for the next day, a gorgeous beach with a gorgeous town centre to match. Huntington is the home of surfing, hosting the Surfer’s Walk of Fame, and surfing brands and stores line the sidewalks boasting their surfing talent to all that want to hear. It’s not unusual to see a man casually donning a pair board shorts or a wetsuit on the side of the road before sauntering to the beach. It’s not unusual to see groups of teenagers discussing the difference in versatility between their newly purchased Vans trainers and their old(skool) ones. Huntington is one of my favourite places, it’s gorgeous and just lovely to be at.
On Natalie’s last night in the OC we took her out of the county itself, to Los Angeles no less. We went to see the last home game of the Los Angeles Clippers (basketball, for those who don’t know). The Clippers won with over 100 points, and we got to see the ‘dopest’ dunk in Clippers history by none other than Blake Griffin. I wasn’t aware this moment was so glorious until I returned home to find an email from a friend’s little brother expressing his envy that I got to witness it firsthand. So, yes, history in the making it would seem.
So there you go, my adventures since the last blog. I’m sure a lot more has happened but I can’t think of it right now. But such is life. More to come my little chickpeas! Take care, E x
Hello and welcome to the best thing you’ll ever read. I joke, it’s just me attempting to document my study abroad in the mighty California in the US of A. Orange County to be precise. That’s about forty miles south of Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood, plastic surgery and Ryan Gosling’s Morrocan restaurant: Tagine.
In order to stop an endless, and possibly poorly punctuated, description of my entire life I feel a procession of images that sum up my being will ultimately be more interesting. Feast your eyes on these lovelies:
There you go, a summary of parts of my life. Hopefully that’s enough of an insight. Keep those images in mind when reading future blog entries. It might help make sense of them, but it might not.
Until next time my little chickens!