I spend the day attempting to write inspired by the absolutely amazing view of Los Angeles out of the apartment windows. My eyes however don’t want to write, they want to sleep. I fight hard but it is impossible to win this battle and I wake up several times without even remembering falling asleep.
I drive to collect Simon from work, my brain remembers yesterday’s mantra and I find the journey far less stressful. I’m hungry again so we stop off at Venice Wholefoods. The choice of freshly prepared food is bountiful and the amount of attractive shoppers is impressive. I fill a box with healthy salads and vegetables topped off with roasted chicken and eat it at a table outside. My eyes are bigger than my belly so I give my leftovers to a homeless guy. Simon drives us home via Silverlake, reminiscent of Roath Park – LA style. We spend the rest of the evening chilling out.
I manage about 5 hours sleep. I wake up in an empty apartment, my hosts already out living their busy LA lives. I’m hungover. My day doesn’t really get going until Simon’s workday is coming to an end and I have to drive for the first time in America in an expensive car on the wrong side of the road. I get into the car and shut the door only to discover that the steering wheel is on the other side of the car (not the best start). It is so weird mentally adapting to driving a car when you’re sitting on the wrong side. On the highway I develop a mantra, “keep to the left…. keep to the left” to prevent me from slowly drifting across the lane to the right hand side where I’d normally be positioned. Suffice to say I make it to Santa Monica in one piece, slightly perspiring and with white knuckles where I’ve been holding onto the steering wheel too hard.
After catching up with Aubrey, I join Simon and Danny at a business meeting – thankfully it involves food as I am now ravenous. Simon asks me if I’d like to drive home but I politely decline. We stop off at Joe’s, where Simon used to live, to collect some of his stuff. My left knee hates me and I have spent most of today limping around after walking for so long around the Hollywood hills yesterday afternoon in inappropriate footwear! Back at the apartment Simon encourages me to go for a bike ride with him as he believes it will help my legs heal. I don’t believe him but the ride proves me wrong. We cycle around on the quieter nighttime downtown roads stopping off at picturesque spots; LA Live, The City Hall, the amazing architecture of both the Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Broad contemporary art museum before cycling home.
We all jump in the car and drive to Santa Monica. Simon has work today and so I get a guided tour of the lovely Doves by DNA salon, meeting all of his friendly work colleagues. The salon is on Main just a few blocks from the beach so I go for a wander. The famous Santa Monica pier is just a short walk down the beachside bike path so I head there. I’ve visited this beach many times in the past but I never remember it being this quiet. I take some photos from the pier then loop around back to Doves.
Kasia kindly drops me off at Fairfax for my day of exploring Hollywood. Using mapsme I navigate my way to LACMA, the modern art museum, only to disappointingly discover, after a 45 minute walk, that it’s closed on Wednesdays. I cut through the La Brea Tar Pit gardens and make my way up La Brea passing the many shops and boutiques until I reach Hollywood Boulevard. I follow the pavement pink stars Walk of Fame stopping at the Chinese Mann’s Theatre to look at the hand and foot prints set in cement next to the autograph of famous names from over the years. Then I continue on to Argyle where I first stayed with Jacqui some 19 years ago. I probably should have called it a day when I got here as I have walked a lot, but I want to get closer to the Hollywood sign so continue on my quest into the Hollywood Hills. The houses are so cute and I imagine incredibly expensive. When I eventually realise that I am deep in the hills and have no hope of seeing the sign any closer than I did half an hour ago I turn to head back to Hollywood Boulevard where I come to my senses and book an Uber.
I’ve made plans this evening to meet up with Alex who is currently living here in LA and has a most fabulous job working as a lawyer for Simon Cowell’s TV company on America’s Got Talent. I arrive at No Name, yes that is it’s name, but I’m held captive outside by the impossibly good looking door staff. Reservations are only available to friends of the owner or chef but I eventually get in with a little name drop. Alex is meeting Michael and Valentina to discuss life as an entertainment lawyer. The venue is lovely, low lighting, plush furniture and amazing pieces of artwork adorn the walls. We sip classy cocktails and eat steak tartare, pate and macaroni cheese (that was my choice!). Tonight a new hip hop artist is performing and the place soon fills up. The company is lovely and when the show is over we say goodnight jump in an Uber and Alex and I head to No Vacancy in Hollywood.
I can only describe this club as an experience. We are greeted in a dark car park by a kooky guy in a huge fur coat, a small red “NO VACANCY” neon sign buzzes above our heads as we wait to be joined by a few more folk. Six of us are sent up the stairs of the house to a bedroom decorated 1920’s style. A beautiful lady is reclined on a bed in the corner of the room wearing a black negligé and a smile, she welcomes us, informs us of the house rules and invites us to have a wonderful night. Her bed then automatically slides across the floor revealing a secret staircase entrance to this prohibition themed club below. It’s super cool. We get a drink from the hotel lobby style bar and take a leather seat by one of the open fires in the garden where we listen to a blues band play live music.
From here we frequent a few of West Hollywood’s finest bars and clubs until it is time to call it a night. I’ve had such a fun night being reunited with Alex seeing some amazing venues. Unfortunately after Alex has left and my taxi is booked my mobile phone dies. I am stranded in West Hollywood, no idea where my taxi is and not sure of my downtown address. Panic is sobering. I opt to knock on a closed coffee shop door (coffee shop staff are always the most helpful!) and a kind lady agrees to book me a cab home. On arrival downtown, in the vicinity of the apartment, I wander around the block gazing up at the ridiculously tall skyscrapers in search of mine. I eventually find it. I have never been so glad to see my bed.
Today I have metamorphosed into a couch slug. Thankfully I can genuinely blame jet lag. I wake up early but after a bowl of porridge and a cup of coffee I zone out. I remain in this weird sleepy state for a majority of the day, trying hard not to succumb to the slippery slide of slumber. Simon paints and I watch an entire tv boxset. Movies and food fill the rest of the day until it really is time to go to bed. I’m hoping that my lazy day today means I’ll be full of beans tomorrow when I go exploring.
We sleep in late. With both Kasia and I suffering in a battle against jet lag where unsociable sleeping is seemingly winning we are determined to win the war struggling against long blinks and jerky head bobs. As luck would have it Si and Kasia’s fabulous apartment building has free Starbucks for tenants in the lobby. I do a coffee run. Fuelled with caffeine I go in search of fresh air leaving Simon painting and Kasia resting to descend from the magnificent 30th floor city views to the magnificent 7th floor views of the surrounding towering buildings. I find myself a spot in the sunshine reclining on a four poster double sun bed to attempt to concentrate on writing but I’m easily distracted. The building acts like a giant sundial and when I’m shivering in it’s shadow I change seats. It’s not long before I am in the shade again and rather than continue the chase I head indoors.
There are several meetings taking place and so rather than do any work I eavesdrop. I like listening to Californians chat, everything is so positive and doable. I could sit here listening all day but when Simon texts to see if I am hungry I realise that I am. We go local for a healthy salad and a mobile SIM card – life affirming internet data! We accompany Kasia to the beauticians and Simon even dips his toe into the world of eyebrow maintenance – he is so LA!
We spend the afternoon and evening hanging out, falling in and out of consciousness and watching movies. Ordering LA Cafe delivery when we get hungry and mostly drinking wine.
We’re back out on bikes and doesn’t my bottom know it! I think I must have bruised it cycling yesterday because it’s not happy with me this morning. We head to EggSlut for breakfast, brother Adam’s suggestion, but the queue is ridiculously long so vow to return another day and instead cycle on to LA Cafe. We dine outside to keep an eye on the bikes. I sit on a swing seat watching the kooky pedestrians walk by, we eat parfait, drink coffee and admire the huge artwork murals painted on the sides of the tall buildings that tower above us.
Back at the apartment a spruce before jumping in the car and driving to collect Kasia from Burbank Airport. It’s so nice to see her. We crack open a bottle of red and catch up on the sofa. After showers we’re all a bit hungry so make a visit to Kasia’s favourite little sushi restaurant Komasa. The salmon and yellowtail sashimi is so fresh, we eat spicy scallops, California rolls and spicy tuna rolls. We toast each other and our families with hot saki and then wander around Little Tokyo buying donuts, listening to the karaoke singers and snooping around the kooky clothes stores.
Back home an exhausted Kasia collapses on the sofa and we all take it in turns to nap watching trash tv awaiting the season premiere of Game of Thrones. I eat a majority of the donuts!
Today is going to be a very long day and I say that quite literally! The 17 hour time difference between Sydney and Los Angeles means I’ll be taking off at 16.25 from Sydney International this afternoon and landing 17 hours later at exactly 16.25 this afternoon in LAX airport Los Angeles – meaning my 17 hour journey doesn’t really happen! How weird is that?
I wake up on the Bondi Road sofa bed after a lovely night’s sleep. Slowly my housemate hosts emerge bleary eyed and hungover from their dark bedroom caves like newborn creatures allergic to the sunlight – I am completely sober and rather annoyingly spright. Caroline, Rachel, Joe and I head downstairs to the coffee shop next door. Rachel and I used to frequent this place for an after class long black way back when I was staying in Bondi and we dabbled with the uncomfortably warm world of Bikram yoga. We meet Caroline’s friend Laura and I eat breakfast chatting to Joe about all things travel and the mysteries of planet earth. Before I know it it is approaching one o’clock and my transfer bus’ imminent arrival spurs me to collect my bags from the apartment. I say an emotional goodbye to my longtime travel companion Rachel and I’m waved off by the gang.
For the first time in my life on this flight I am passing over the International date line. I am actually travelling back in time. It is so confusing especially when I take off mid afternoon Sydney time, change my watch to Hawaiian time and in less than an hour it’s dark outside, meaning I’m travelling through tonight but at the date line it will become last night and on arrival in Honolulu I will see this morning’s sunrise again – I think. Still not sure. I occupy my confused mind by writing until I become tired enough to attempt sleeping.
Aloha, I’m in Hawaii! Honolulu to be precise. Am I allowed to tick it off my list if I’m only at the airport? I have to go through immigration so I definitely entered the US border. I’m also delirious. I should definitely be asleep and not eating a bacon, egg and cheese croissant-wich! Stupid Jetstar’s 9 hour flight with no food unless you previously ordered it. Starving hungry bad!
I’m sat next to the lovely Helene on my Hawaiian Airlines flight that will transport us to LAX. We hit it off after a nap and chat travel, world politics, aspirations, manifesting and Los Angeles. Helene has such a positive outlook on life and it rubs off on me. After 17 hours of this long haul journey we see the cluster of tall skyscrapers of the smogless, sunshiny Los Angeles Downtown come into view out of the window and I get excited.
I’m a little dazed as I descend the escalator and completely zone out staring at the back of the pilot’s head (he has an unfortunate case of dandruff) so much so I fail to notice my brother Simon waiting at the bottom! Hooray. It is so good to see him and I’m a little overwhelmed to be finally reunited with family after such a long time.
Simon and Kasia’s new downtown 30th floor apartment has the most incredible view of sprawling Los Angeles. I unpack, have a cocktail and we head out on bikes for some food. Riding a fixed wheel road bicycle with jet lag after a cocktail isn’t advised but I survive arriving at the art district and the Pie Hole cafe unscathed.
Back home we chill out on the sofa. It isn’t long before I’m listening too, rather than watching, the tv from behind elongated blinks. Simon and I build my bed and I pass out rather than fall asleep. And so begins the American adventure.