Day One – April 4th
Up at 5 AM for a 9:15 flight to L.A.
Kate was coming to see me off as well but she has gone off that idea now!
Wendy and I left home at 5:30, traffic is light on the Ring road arrived way to early.
Must say that I have had the quickest ever experience of firstly getting my boarding pass (already pre-booked an aisle seat) and then a walk-up to border control – no waiting at all. Time for a coffee and await the announcement for boarding. I just hope that getting through border control in L.A. is a quick – yeah right, as if that is going to happen.
I decided to travel light this time around. Last Sunday we went over to the Sth. Melbourne market to pick up some hemp pants and a shirt. Hemp is a great material for clothing, light and breezy and perfect for the heat and humidity of New Orleans.
On the plane and ready for take-off. The seat I pre-booked has paid off. I have no-one sitting in the two seats next to me. I have also pre-ordered my meal (Cajun chicken salad) and got my meal first.
Great flight, very smooth. Wow, what a difference a year has made to LAX. Because Australia has a Visa waiver agreement with the U.S.A. you are able to use a self serve booth to verify your passport. I was through border control in 15 minutes! I had braced myself for the normal one to two hour slog I have encountered on my previous trips. The down side of getting through the entry procedures is that it is only 8 o’clock and I am not able to check-into my accommodation until 3 P.M. Although my Air BnB host will allow me to dump my suitcase.
The taxi driver was a nice fellow. Originally from Ethiopia he has lived in the States for 20 years. The conversation turned to politics and Trump. I got the feeling Trump is not very popular with my driver, I wonder why!
Dropped my case off at my home for the next two nights. There is an old hippie lady living in the front house. Out back are two bungalows. The owner of these if Jeff (my host) who is a muso. The bungalow is old but clean but the big advantage is I am only three block from the beach.
Off for a walk down Main Street, passed a shop called the Fork-In an Aussie pie kitchen. The pies looked good but not sure about the mushy peas.
I realised after a very long walk down Main Street that I was going the wrong way from my destination (the Santa Monica Pier) and I was now at Venice Beach. You know, Venice Beach from the photos that abound of very muscly men lifting weights.
It has turned into a magnificent morning. There are lots of joggers, bikers and roller bladders out getting some exercise. I sign told me it was 1.5 to Santa Monica Pier. Unfortunately that is miles not kilometers. The walk is tiring me out but it is so nice. The beaches here are so wide and clean and the ocean is flat calm.
I sure earned my coke and a sit down at the pier. I have no idea what the time is but I have picked up a free map of the area.
Feeling hungry, time check is 11:15 and I am at the 3rd. Street Promenade. Lot of funky shops and dining places. Decided to try out Bruxie the Original and ordered a fried Chicken Waffle sandwich. Very tasty.
My accommodation is on 2nd. Street which is, you guessed it, one street from 3rd. Street. I walked back and was able to check-in an hour earlier. Oh how good does a shower feel after a 14 hour flight.
I had picked up a U.S. Sim card and phoned Cara. She is still working in Orlando at Disney World and it was good to hear her voice.
Although I am dog tired I am going to force myself to stay up and adjust to the local hour. What better way to do that than a cold refreshing ale. I found a British pub that was offering a happy hour from 3-7 with $4 craft beers. Went for a pint of ‘Fat Tire’ and then a Santa Monica XPA. The bar is starting to fill with Poms. One of the new comers was telling the barmaid in no uncertain a manner what she should be pouring for her. I loved the barmaids reply, ‘It’s not my first day.’ A very unsubtle dig to say I know what I am doing. Time to move on, the music is shit and there are way too many Poms.
Moved around the corner to 4th Street. and found a craft beer/gastro pub called West 4th. Street & Jane. They have Abita’s Purple Haze on tap.
It is only 5:30 and I am ready for bed. Gotta eat though and went to a Mexican place on Ocean Blvd. Had a small plate (no such thing in America) of corn chips, guacamole, salsa with a side of beans. Seriously good salsa and I had to get another cup of it.
Finally back at the bungalow and it was lights out and ‘Good Night Irene’ vey quickly.