I arrived in Los Angeles, California, having changed planes and had a pint briefly at Dallas Fort Worth Airport. I also recall meeting an English guy who kindly let me sit down beside him. We discussed football, I said I was a Bournemouth fan, he was more of an England fan rather than a club team supporter. One thing about LA is its bloody hot! I was sweating every day. I visited three beaches (Hermosa, Venice and Santa Monica). All were amazing, Hermosa was my favourite as it was more exclusive and quiet with more locals than tourists. I also was honoured to visit Bestie’s (now called The Underground Bar and Grill) which is on Hermosa Avenue near Hermosa beach. The bar was once owned by Belfast Boy George Best when he played for LA Aztecs. Having been to George Best’s funeral, a fellow countryman and all that, I was in awe of the tribute to Geordie up on the wall in the bar. Worth a visit alone.
I also went to see David Beckham’s first ever training session for LA Galaxy, having to get three buses to the Home Depot Center in Carson on the very edge of the city. This was the scariest bus journey of my life, as I passed through only black areas and the bus was full of gansta rappers, with me the only white person I saw for about 2 hours. I felt I could have got mugged easily! So I didn’t take any photos or videos. I feel my Northern Irish charm and tranquility got me by. On the log bus journey, I often made way for kids and grannies (allof whom were black). As we passed through the Compton estate I almost had the nerve to hop out and compare it to Bangor’s Kilcooley (a normal Northern irish working class council estate 2 miles from where I grew up). Then my heart got the better of me and my safety was to stay on board rather than venture through the sort of streets that rapper Tupac Shakur was gunned down back in 1996. Oh its not exaggerated – these streets of Compton are rough and yep Kilcooley would do well to stay in such a battle. Still after the long and scary bus trip, I got to see the excellent stadium (The Home Depot Arena) and the LA Galaxy and Chelsea teams train. I also ironically watched David Beckham’s first game live on SKY in the LAX Route 66 Airport Bar just before my flight to Auckland. They lost 3-0. I didn’t get to meet Beckham, but had the honour of having my SOE NISC fleg as the only one up in the entire stadium. At one point I was shouting for him to come over but he couldn’t hear, I was some 30 metres away.
I took an organised bus tour of LA and Hollywood which was well worth the $25 price tag. It lasted for about 6 hours and I met some lovely Irish ladies and a Bosnian girl called Natali, who had the most amazing skin. I sat beside her on the bus. I was also given the nickname of “Jonny Sombrero” by the bus driver as I bought a sombrero at Mexico Town (on the way), which cost me only $2.99. It was too big in the end to take with me so I donated it to the hostel before I left for New Zealand. The bus tour allowed me to see Hollywood Hills, Bel Air, Beverley Hills, Mulholland Drive, Rodeo Drive amongst many other streets. I also got to see the set of the Grease Movie, the Stars at Hollywood (photos by Britney and Jackie Chan) and many famous people’s houses on the hills.
I stayed at the Venice Beach Cotel Hostel, which was amazing! I overlooked the gorgeous beach, waking up to tea, guitar and the pacific ocean every day. A swim at 7 am has never been so much fun. Also had a couple of good nights in the hostel with the crew. Irish Emma from Donegal kindly donated some coke and black rum my way, when my carryout of beer ran out, and some nutcases from England’s Coventry showed the kind of passion and desire for life that Coventry City fans would be proud of. I’ve put in a photo of the last night in LA, as it was a good send off to a mixed city of dreams and devils as well as angels! A German guy called Dominik also chatted away to me – he had been working in Toronto and I think was heading on to Las Vegas next to meet a Denmark girl. These are the sort of people who I will remember. Happy, friendly people, it doesn’t matter where they’re from, they’ll have a beer and a chat with you.
There was so much to do and see in Los Angeles and Hollywood that I crammed a lot in. I also visited Santa Monica Pier and walked the length of the beach in the hot hot sun to see the scene where some of Baywatch was filmed. I didn’t meet Nicole Eggert. In fact I hadn’t seen nude breasts since June so was happy to view the topless beauties sunning it up. There was the opportunity to go surfing and do beach volleyball as well, but money was to be saved for adventure sports in New Zealand, so I had some cheap beers in the hostel of an evening and also tried a few local bars. I left LA for a 12 hour flight across the international time line to Auckland. I enjoyed my time in the USA, but feel I must venture there again, but to many other cities next time. To live and die in L.A. Its the way to be. Life goes on…
Beers Tried – Blue Moon Lager, Moosehead, La Cerveza Del Pacifico Clara, Red Dog.
Bars Visited – (on route) TGI Fridays at Dallas Fort Worth Airport. Bestie’s/The Underground Bar and Grill, Route 66 at LAX Airport, Bar Opposite Venice Beach Cotel, Mexican Bar.
Transport Used – Bus, Coach, Taxi, Airport Shuttle.
Nationalities Met – Bosnian, Welsh, German, Australian, Republic of Irish, English, American, Dutch, Danish, Portugeuse, Polish.
Currency Used – US Dollars (and I got some New Zealand dollars and Chinese Yen at LAX Airport).
Where I Stayed – Venice Beach Cotel Hostel, Windward Avenue, Venice Beach (I woke up overlooking the beach).
Price of a Pint of Beer – Around $5.
Favourite Food – Mexican burger and chips by Santa Monica Boulevard for less than $15.
Favourite Drink – Water (It was SO hot)
Favourite Thing about Los Angeles – Venice Beach swim at 7 am.
Favourite Thing about Hollywood – The view from the hills.
Moving Moment – Having my SOE NISC fleg up at David Beckham’s first ever training session for LA Galaxy.
Key Song – Bran Van 3000 – Drinking in L.A.
FACT – Santa Monica Pier marks the very end of America’s longest and most famous motorway – Route 66.
A video I made of Live music by Venice Beach, LA, USA:
A video I made while on a Bus Tour of the Hollywood Hills, USA:
Another video I made while on the Bus Tour:
A video I made once inside the Home Depot Arena, Carson, LA, USA:
Another video I made inside the Home Depot Arena, Carson, LA, USA once I put the SOENISC fleg up:
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