Surfers, Desert and Hollywood

For those who don’t know me yet, I’m a beach lover, preferably the ones where you have wind in your hair and sun on your face, a beach that invites you to play with the waves and to stick the toes into the sand. Therefore “Welcome to San Diego” with 70 miles of coastline and beautiful beaches along with its surfer dudes, with their tousled hair, great tan and gentle enthusiasm; looking like they were on a perennial vacation and with an unsurpassed coolness. We hung for two days on our boards and waited for the perfect wave…

Just kidding, we visited Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and it felt like spending an afternoon at Chapultepec Park in Mexico City. Unfortunately San Diego’s pretty crowded on a Sunday and it’s hard to find a parking lot. Therefore we gave up our plans to go for a walk in Bilbao Park and spent instead some hours at Mission Beach, observing the surfers which were waiting for the perfect ride. In the evening we drove up to La Jolla with its seals, sea lions, pelicans and cormorants and got rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

On our second day Sea World was calling. In my view animals should live in their wildlife habitat and not in theme parks but on the other hand sea dwellers are fascinating and it’s a completely different experience to observe them so closely and it’s easier than a huge journey to the Great Barrier Reef or a chilly Alaskan cruise. Yep I know, flat words and they doesn’t really satisfy my guilty conscience but to be honest: we have had a fabulous family day with all this dolphins, orkas, penguins, sharks, sea turtles, belugas, fishes and water coasters.

Our next destination was Palm Springs a desert oasis in the Coachella Valley (Sonoran Desert) at the foot of several mountains and for us important, close to the Joshua Tree National Park. We passed the whole park from the south to the west and stopped at Cholla Cactus Garden with its weird looking desert plants, nicknamed teddy bear cactus. Afterwards we climbed on rock formations named Split, Skull and Hall of Horror always surrounded with the unique Joshua Tree, a palm tree out of the yucca family. We hiked through the Hidden Valley, a place that was believed to be a legendary cattle rustlers hideout.

Before we went back for a cooling down in our hotel pool in Palm Springs (it was only slightly more than 100°F today) we made a stop in Pioneertown. The article in the AA board magazine sounded promising: some enthusiasts from all around the country tried to give this Old West set town new life. Unfortunately John Wayne is and remains dead and Pioneertown became only one of this tourist attraction that aren’t worth a visit but at least we went back with some cool pictures.

Last destination Los Angels, known for its Hollywood sign, its trove of celebrities, the beautiful weather, uncountable palms and the traffic. But LA is also on top of the largest oil fields in the country, has as a city the bigger economy than Saudi Arabia, Switzerland or Sweden and did you know that the Santa Monica Pier was originally built to hide a sewage pipe that dumped treated sewage into the ocean? A melting pot with more cars than people, where more than 135 languages are spoken and a city that moves every year 6.5 cm closer to San Francisco because this two cities are on opposite sides of the infamous San Andreas Fault.

On our first afternoon we hung out between Venice and Santa Monica Pier, observed all the colorful and crazy people, street performers, artists, fortune tellers and happiness seekers, worked out at the outdoor gymnastic apparatus and admired the new blood at the skate park. Fun family afternoon and by the way we walked almost a half marathon without noticing it.

Our second day in LA: First stop Rodeo Drive where you can find all the expensive brands like Channel, Gucci, Prada, Versace, YSL, Cartier and so on. Good thing we did it before 10am therefore it wasn’t really expensive.  After this Sunset Blvd down and Hollywood Blvd up including Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theatre. Unfortunately this places lost a lot from its glamour and they’re now pretty shabby and crowded with weird people. Next up to the Hollywood Hills, Strip and Melrose Place. Good thing that our guide exactly knew which star lives in which house, yep moms are omniscient 😉. Later Burger lunch at Westwood Village and back to Venice for coffee with swiss friends. Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice is probably the coolest block in town. Fancy and unique shops, awesome street art and beautiful folks to stare at, as they walk or roll by while you’re sipping a green matcha kale smoothie or like I did an ordinary cappuccino.

On our last day we fought our way through the morning traffic from LA up to the Griffith Observatory. It has been worthwhile, the view of downtown and the Hollywood Hills is impressive although it was a bit cloudy today. It has to be breathtaking on a clear day or in the evening with all the lights. Afterwards we spent some hours at the rough but beautiful coastline of Malibu and finally we headed back to Venice Beach to find out where this name comes from. When they started to build this district they made a lot of canals to bring the special atmosphere from Venice in Italy to California. The developer Abbot Kinney even imported gondolas and Italian gondoliers. The experiment failed, the gondoliers went back home and due to shortage of space they filled up a lot of the canals. But some of them remained and are a splendid place to take a walk: charming houses, beautiful yards, rowboats, kayaks and ducks in all kind and size.

And finally as usual my smart conclusion: California is always a good idea!!



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