Los Angeles

LA is over hyped but it still is a quirky place where you can do much more than your average American town. We were couchsurfing in Hollywood which meant we could have a place we treated like home. This was a big factor in us being able to have a more chilled week.

We made sure we did at least a few novel things each day and thanks to help from our host we were able to live more like locals rather than tourists. It's indubitable that I've mentioned food too much but as it is so engrained into the culture it would be rude not to get familiar with it. Chilis, Carls Jr, Baja Fresh, In N Out, Jack in the Box and IHOP were this weeks selections. All were incredible. Special mention has to go to Roscoes: a restaurant chain in LA dedicated to the dual service of chicken and waffles. In case you were wondering, no, they don't go together.

As a former proud holder of an Alton Towers annual pass, going to 6 flags magic mountain (the best theme park in the world) was a highlight of mine. I forced Joe to go on all the rides even X2 which was apparently a 5th generation roller coaster - how is that even possible? In typical American fashion the descriptions for all the rides provided a lot of amusement as we left wondering how 5 of the rides could all be the fastest, tallest and longest in the world. 

Living in Hollywood, the wall of fame and sign lost it's impact after the second day. Venice beach, however, on a Saturday afternoon was crazy. Bohemian and hippy central it had pretty much everything. I was the only white witness to a 'historic rap battle', the street basketball players would probably have all made it into the GB team and the cyclists would have gladly killed anyone who dared to step into their lane.

On other days we were in the audience in a Hollywood studio for a late night talk show. The late late show with Craig Ferguson on Tuesday May 22nd was our claim to fame. We saw a premiere, chilled on long beach and went to the Getty museum. The Getty museum is definitely worth a visit. A billionaire left most of his money to a trust who were instructed to build the best art museum they could and with a few billion you can do a pretty good job. He also only liked pre 1900 European art which gave it a reminiscent feel of the National Trust.

The biggest news of the week of course came on Saturday afternoon with the Champions League final. Watching it with 3 Germans gave it added intensity which was probably to blame for my slightly excessive 10 minute celebration. It was a fitting end to 19 years of 'so close yet so far', although it was a shame I couldn't enjoy the moment with my Liverpool and United friends back home. It was an enjoyable end to our time in America and having crossed time zones we have now arrived in Fiji. 

San Francisco

I was still in a South American mindset arriving into San Francisco and adjusting to the suddenly foreign Western norms took longer than I thought it would. Having this slightly unsettled mind was frustrating as it was undeniable that San Francisco was a fantastic place to be in.

We spent exactly a week in and around the bay area. Alcatraz was fascinating, the Golden Gate bridge was just as striking as it had been made out to be and the orange bay skyline didn't disappoint. Following the basketball in Atlanta we were fortunate to experience two more American sports: baseball and arena football. Unsurprisingly both had an abundance of unnecessary razzmatazz which was a staple part of any American sports event. We first watched the San Francisco Giants lose to the Brewers and then later saw the San Jose Sabre Cats beat the Utah Blaze. The latter Arena Football game was particularly noteworthy as the start consisted of the standard over exuberant national anthem, a guy in leathers riding out into the middle of the pitch on a Harley Davidson and then finally the Sabre Kittens giving the obligatory pre-game cheer leading dance.

Joe had a predilection for root beer and was busy tasting every variety he could find. I had happily settled for the triple combination of mountain dew code red, A&W cream soda and cherry coke. On the food front we continued our assiduous devotion to all things American. Conquests this week include Taco Bell, Chipotles, A&W and Quiznos. As well as this we went to the specialist stand alone shops Ikes Place and Bi-Rite Creamery. They were voted 1 and 2 in California which was, from our limited experience, a fair assessment. In other words the sandwich was probably the best I had ever had.

My time here has already answered several questions. The main one being that while I like life in the states, I had heavily underestimated the UK. I'm looking forward to returning to it with a new appreciative set of eyes. Following our trip to San Jose we caught a bus to LA where we will spend the next 5 days.