Flying into Los Angeles after being in Colorado is about the biggest swing in extremes it’s possible to have in the USA. Flying in over the city is daunting enough, seeing it sprawling to every horizon with countless freeways running bumper to bumper with congestion. Emerging from the airport and seeing the insanity unfold on the streets was almost enough for culture shock. Luckily I’d been given some good advice and was told to avoid staying in the city and find myself somewhere in Venice Beach to spend a few days. From there it’s pretty easy to take some day trips to Hollywood and the other attractions.
You ever know what’s going to happen while travelling and being in Venice Beach was a perfect example. Only a couple of minutes after arriving in my hostel I met two Australian girls in my room, two Laurens, who then introduced me to an English guy, Tom. From that night onwards for the next week we became a squad and had some pretty epic adventures travelling around Southern California.
Our time in Venice Beach was really easy going. We’d wake up, have a chilled out breakfast along the beach, sit on the beach or the beach walk somewhere and people watch, have some drinks and watch sunset and then party into the early hours with friends from the hostel. That’s really what Venice is all about. You can be as normal or a weird as you want and as long as you’re not ruining somewhere else’s day, that’s absolutely cool. The activities going on and the people we met made for some of the most interesting time I’ve had so far in my travels. Street art, performances, skate boarding, exercising – it’s all there.
Not wanting to break up the group just yet (apart from Lauren 1 who was on her was back to Australia), it was decided that we’d all travel down to San Diego and spend a few days there. It was another place that everyone had told me that I needed to visit and after being there I can definitely see why. We fell in love with the place the second we arrived at the hostel, it was incredible! Right in the CBD it has a main house surrounded by multiple ‘bungalows’ that give the impression of being in a tropical paradise even though two doors down the skyscrapers of the city start. The city has a few main areas worth visiting; the Gaslamp District, Little Italy, the waterfront and San Diego Zoo. Outside the city a short drive away are heaps of great beaches and natural attractions along the coast. Generally the place has an awesome tropical vibe.
The San Diego Zoo is supposed to be the best in the world so it was on the top of our list of things to do while we were in town. From the second we walked into the front gate and saw a map of how enormous the place was, we were sold. It is by far the best zoo I’ve been to and it has a collection of animals from every kind of climate and continent on earth. We started our tour at just after opening in the morning and were walking around until almost closing time, the place is immense. Not only does it have a lot of animals but the enclosures were the most ‘natural’ environments I’ve seen as well which made me feel a bit better about the ‘animals in captivity’ guilt.
So for the next few days we explored the beaches, frolicked with puppies at a dog beach, had an epic jam session with a group at the hostel, had a couple of nights out at bars in the Gaslamp District, made some new mates, and then travelled back to Los Angeles where we spent our last night as a squad before we separated. I was on my way up to San Francisco.