Tuesday, 31 January 2017

trek america || from london to la

Well hello there old friends, it's been a while... again. I've been kicked up the backside by an email telling me my domain had been paid for for another year, so here we are.
Back in June 2016, as I'm sure you're aware, I travelled 5000 miles across the world to LAX to embark on the journey of a lifetime. A two month trip around America. Anyone that knows me, knows how crazy it was for me to do this by myself. I decided to document my adventure daily so I could relive the experience when I got home, but unfortunately things have happened since then and I haven't gotten round to it. Now ladies and gents, now, is the time that I delve back into my journal and this time, I'm going to share it with you.

8th of June 2016.
5am. I'm no good with mornings. Infact, mornings are my least favourite time of day. This day, however was different, I was filled with anticipation and excitement. Panic set in. Do I have my passport? Do I have my dollars? Do I have my itinery? Insurance? Hotel bookings? After being calmed down by my wonderful mother, we jumped in the car and drove to Heathrow with my two brothers. I was ready (albeit terrified) to go and explore the United States but not until after food. A veggie breakfast and a bloody mary was just what I needed before I boarded an 11 hour flight by myself. I'm not the best flyer, infact I absolutely bloody hate flying, so getting on that plane alone was a challenge in itself. After lots of cuddles and a little bit of crying, leaving my family at security was difficult. I couldn't even bring myself to turn around to wave goodbye. There was no going back once I'd gone through those doors. I was doing this. I was going to America, alone, for two months. I had no idea what was waiting for me, walking into the unknown. The flight itself wasn't too bad, luckily I had booked my flights with Virgin Atlantic and they were absolutely fabulous. They could not have been more friendly or attentive. Despite how tired I was, sleep wasn't an option, there was a vast array of films available to me and I was constantly being given food and drink. We touched down in LAX at 2:15pm local time. Now it was time to be terrified of customs, which was completely unnecessary because it was nothing like you see on tv. It was smooth, the customs officers were lovely, only a few questions and I was picking up my super blue suitcase ready to "go hail a cab".  I'm going to skip ahead to my first full day in LA because all I did today was keep myself awake until 9pm, eat jalapeno flavoured crisps and drink ginger ale.

9th June 2016.
To get over my jet lag, I booked a couple of days in a hotel before going to the hotel Trek America had booked me into. Luckily, I had made friends with a guy on another trek who was in LA at the same time as I was. We met at my hotel and ventured into Hollywood. I didn't feel particularly safe in my hotel (it was only a few blocks from Compton and every other noise you heard was a gunshot, remind me to trip advisor my hotel next time) so it was nice to have a friendly face around. To check off our obvious Hollywood sight seeing points, we had a little wonder down the walk of fame. I didn't realise how large the walk of fame actually is. 
It's every where. Everywhere. Once we'd walked up an appetite, it would have been rude not to walk into the Hard Rock Cafe and eat ourselves silly with the American portion sizes. Little did we know, in the U.S soft drinks are refilled and bought to your table for free when you look like you're running out, definitely looked stupidly British when we apologised for not ordering them. After food, we headed off to the Chinese Theatre, admiring the great names we'd walked over on the way. It's always a bit overwhelming seeing places you've wanted to visit for so long. The Chinese theatre is just full of hand and footprints from insanely talented and influential people, so standing where they stood all those years ago was absolutely crazy, but that wasn't the craziest thing to happen that day. Once we'd been accosted by all of the people trying to sell us stuff, I decided to go into MAC and buy a lipstick because I was regretting not bringing any with me. 

We'd been keeping an eye on a red carpet being laid out at The Dolby Theatre, so me being the curious being I am, I asked the security guard what was happening later this afternoon. He told me it was an event to honour John Williams, the composer of Star Wars, Jurassic Park and many many more. Sticking around to see who turned up seemed like a pretty good idea considering we had no time limit and this is fucking Hollywood. Next thing we know, out walk John Williams himself, George Lucas, STEVEN FUCKING SPIELBERG, JJ Abrams, Idina Menzel (for anyone that knows me and my love of Wicked, I thought I was going to die), Kobe Bryant and about 20 minutes late... up rocks Harrison Ford. 

Guys, I'm on day one of my trip and I'm stood here thinking... 

Has this trip just peaked? Am I the luckiest tourist in the world? 

10th June 2016.
After the craziness of yesterday, I was well ready to pack up my stuff and move to the hotel Trek America had booked for me. Fully aware that I would be sharing a room with a stranger, my anxiety started to pick up for the first time since I got here. I checked in, was given my room card and my roommate for the day was already in the room. She was this beautiful, sweet Australian girl and we just got on straight away. Thank god. We spoke for a little while about my adventures in the US so far, and decided to go back into Hollywood but this time via the metro and the subway.
American public transport is actually a little intimidating, it's so busy and everyone on there just looks like you've offended them. Being an Australian and a Brit, it was quite noticeable that people were watching and listening to us like we were a different species, something they'd never seen before. 

Once we'd navigated our way to the right station on the subway, we avoided those trying to sell us things and went straight for food. This time Johnny Rockets (apparently the original hamburger) fed me, and by gosh, I was not disappointed. We didn't even need fries because the burger was so ridiculously huge. Tipping is basically compulsory in America, which is a nightmare because everything becomes so expensive, but we weren't sure if we'd tipped them so pretty much ran out of the restaurant. Oops. Is there a better place to go than Hollywood for Madam Tussauds? Probably not, so we forked out the $30 entry fee and spent the afternoon with the stars. Nurel was all over James Dean, and I was sure
one of them would be the real person. Drinks seemed like the way to celebrate the end of a great day, and the start of our trips. I felt so lucky to be paired with someone as lovely as her. I felt instantly comfortable and calm even though usually meeting new people terrifies me. We were told that the bar at Aloft, where we were staying, was one of the best in El Segundo, how convenient! It wasn't a late night for us unfortunately because of the 7:30am meeting time for my trek group, and with that realisation, suddenly, I was overcome with anxiety, excitement... anticipation. It was starting. My 9 week trip around the USA was beginning and I knew my life would never be the same.

Until next time...
Trek begins.
Vegas and Zion National Park.

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