Oct 282013
 

The following morning we got up early to get the most out of the day. It was the 4th of July, the USA independence day.
We had plans to get the most of the day to find out how Los Angeles inhabitants celebrate such a day. I wore my USA-bandana all day, so I felt very much integrated. I think I made everyone believe that I was a local patriot!
We drove to Sunset Boulevard to watch the parade there. Everyone said that parking was quite impossible, but I found out that it was quite easy. We just had to park 500 meters away from the street of the parade. Parking that far away obviously does not occur to the locals.

Americans celebrating
Americans celebrating

The parade was fun, much as we had imagined it, but with much more moderation than I expected. There was not as much flag-waving and slogan-shouting as I had imagined. I was actually one of those who were most dressed up with my USA Bandana.

we have integrated in the U.S.A!
we have integrated in the U.S.A!

We also took a trip to Venice beach. That is definitely one of the craziest places I have ever been. There are absurdly many weird people there. If aliens ever were to land on earth I think they had felt completely at home in Venice beach.
It was a freakshow. But when we were walking along the promenade we stumbled across a REAL freakshow as well! We decided to come back another day to see the freakshow, as we were on our way to "Mr and Mrs. Muscle 2013 "- a bodybuilder competition.

Steroid-man with a small willy
Steroid-man with a small willy

We found the bodybuilders, and stood gaping at them for 20 minutes. They were very muscular, and with comically small thong panties with very little content. The women looked even more ridiculous with their obviously fake giant-boobs. They are at least entertaining if nothing else. Typical view on Venice beach
When we met Sarah later she told us that the German lunatic had contacted her on the phone and asked to stay with us. Unfortunately, Sarah is too nice to say no, So when we got back to the apartment we found the German there. It was the first time in weeks that we had a room to ourselves, and he was rude enough to push our host into letting him sleep in our room.
The only reason he had her phone number was because we had problems finding her apartment the first day and had to borrow his phone to call Sarah. He had found her number and sent her lots of messages and begging to stay there without notifying us first. It almost ruined our whole day. I think probably he noticed how little wanted he was because he decided not to join us to go to the city later. We went to LA town centre with Sarah to join the National Day- concert and to watch the fireworks. We were there with Sarah and 2 of her friends, and about 20 000 other people. It was the first time they organized such a celebration in Los Angeles, and it was not very well planned. The queues at the few places that had food, and to the toilets were ridiculous. Seriously; there was 30 meters queue to buy popcorn, and 2 toilets for 20 000 people.

Fireworks in downtown LA on the 4th of July
Fireworks in downtown LA on the 4th of July

Our new local friends told us that there is very little reason to go to Los Angeles centre. There are just a lot of offices, and very little town-centre feel. We were in the middle of the centre of town and were not even able to find a kiosk or a fast-food joint!
After the fireworks we went to Hollywood Boulevard where me and Torunn got to be tourists for a while. We saw the celebrity stars and hand prints they have made in the cement. It turned out that Arnold Szwartsnegger has larger hands than me, Michael Jackson had smaller hands, and Sylvester Stallone has similar hands to mine.

Its Britney bitch!
Its Britney bitch!

The girls told us that although Hollywood Boulevard is considered a tourist attraction it is a rather dubious place. It is supposedly where the prostitutes and all the bad guys like to hang out.
We went to dinner at the Hard Rock cafe, where there are very few bad guys. Me and Torunn shared the BBQ ribs, but did not buy any Hard Rock merchandise. Overpriced…
When we returned, well after midnight, the bald weirdo was sitting by the pool waiting for us. Nobody was happy to see him. He was sleeping on a couch just a short meter away from me and Torunns bed. It was awkward, even for him, because he knew he was unwanted there.
The morning after he thankfully disappeared, and we moved on to our third couchsurfing host in Los Angeles. He lived in another part of Hollywood. When we returned to our car we had received a parking ticket. I saw the damn fire hydrant and parked some distance away, but apparently not far enough. We were 5 feet away from the hydrant, but according to local laws you need to park 15 feet away. Of course nobody had mentioned this to us. Also no-one had explained that one can not park next to a sidewalk that is painted red. I never thought about for a second, what color is painted on the sidewalk, the car rental company could have mentioned this…
We met the couple Adam and Eva (no it is not a joke) in their apartment in West-Hollywood. We also met their geriatric feline "Sequel". He was a senile 15 year old cat with liver and kidney failure that saw fit to wake us up every morning at 05.00 with very loud meowing.

Us with Adam and Eva
Us with Adam and Eva

Adam and Eva are a very nice couple who told us that they have been hosting people for more than 10 years. In fact, they met through couchsurfing. Eva, who is from Taiwan, was travelling through LA when she was staying with Adam, and the chemistry was so right that she decided to stay there!
Adam is a gastronomic guy,like me, and loves good food from all corners of the world. On our first night together we went to a korean restaurant, and shared a meal made for kings. Our next dinner was at a Japanese restaurant. Our first Korean and our first proper Japanese meal, turned out to occur in the USA…a bit surreal.
The first morning we awoke to freshly made blueberry pancaked with maple syrup, and a wonderful freshly ground coffee. It was a real American breakfast!

Stig med "the wolf"
Stig with “the wolf”

Then we went on a roadtrip. We went to Santa Monica, and back to Venice beach. This time, we wanted to see the real freak show! . We paid to get in, and got to meet all the freaks. There was a large lady with a tiara,princess dress and whole beard, a man with hair all over his face, a black man with hundreds of piercings in his face, a dwarf with funny clothes, and several other freaks. They also had some strange animals there - several turtles with 2 heads, a snake with 2 heads, one Siamese bearded dragon, and a dog with 5 legs.

The bearded ladies enjoying themselves
The bearded ladies enjoying themselves

We stayed to watch the show, which was somewhat mildly disturbing. One of the guys had just a hole where his eye was suppsed to be. At one point, he took out his (fake) palate and stuck his finger into his mouth so that it came out in his eyesocket. He also had an electical light inside the socket that he could light up with the switch of a button.
The other guy was goth;white face and black claws. He put a drill deep into his nose and licked it after he pulled it out. Then he put a huge metal-hook into his nose and it emerged back through his mouth….beautiful.

Guy swallowing a sword
Guy swallowing a sword

There also was a girl sitting in the electrical chair (electric girl) and she was lighting torches by touching them with her tongue. The most disturbing was when she started twisting her arms out of her joints. She must have had very loose joints as she actually twisted her arm 480 degrees in a circle, and then bending it downwards. Urgh.
Well we had seen the freaks, so we went back out to the normal freaks continuing our walk along Venice Beach. On the front there are lots of people in green costumes selling medical certificates to buy hashish. Marihuana is legal as long as you have a subscription, and anyone can get one…so practically, Marihuana is legal in California.

Freakshow guy without an eye
Freakshow guy without an eye

Adam brought us to a posh American bar where they have many different types of beer, and lots of different food, but only one hamburger. It was a so-called luxury-hamburger. We ordered a burger each, and it was a burger that I will never forget. Best burger I've ever eaten,but also the most expensive. It was a thick 100% Angus burger meat covered with caramelized onions and melted stilton cheese. It was brown on the outside and red on the inside, and every bite we took the juice was running out of the burger. This is how I imagined a burger in America to be like!
After this we were driving up the coast past Santa Monica beach, up to Malibu. We went to a beach to swim and found out that even though LA is hot the water is still cold. Torunn saw a dolphin. We drove back through a mountain pass and a national park. The area was familiar, so Adam informed us that this was where the classic TV-series MASH was filmed.
In the evening we ate in a Japanese restaurant with Adam and Eva, another gastronomic experience.
The day after was our last day in LA. We spent the afternoon in Santa Monica beach, where we got the opportunity to see vividly in action. This is the beach where Baywatch was filmed. In the evening we went to a barbeque at Adam and Eves friends house.

Brilliant ;)
Brilliant 😉

They lived in a fine house rett at Venice beach. The food was great, and the company was perfect. Adam made a strawberrycake for desert, which managed to convince Torunn that there are good strawberries outside of Norway.
Adam drove us to the airport where we thanked him and bowed to distinguished host and gastronomic talent before we jumped on a 9 hour long Owlet Moths to Cook Island.

 Posted by at 4:56 in the morning
Oct 252013
 

We had to suffer through a very long journey after leaving Rio.. We had to take 3 different planes from Rio to Lima to El Salvador and then to Los Angeles. We didn`t get to our couchsurfer in Los Angeles before 11 P.M. At that point we had been traveling for 20 hours, and been awake for almost 40 hours. We were totally exhausted and utterly tired when we arrived, and got a surprise when we found out that our new Californian friend Sam had 3 other guests and wanted to have a little party with beer and wine. Sometimes what makes couchsurfing great can also be a downside- one must always be social, even when you really just want to sleep.
Sam was a pretty original character, he had military discipline on his couchsurfers. The first morning we were awoken 08.00 a.m by loud,thumping music from the stereo. Before I had time to open my eyes, I heard Sam shouting "lets get this matress out of here, and make this into a kitchen again". You guys can get up and clean the bathroom!” .

Us with Sam and German weirdo

Us with Sam and German weirdo

So I wiped the sleep out of my eyes,and got started with cloth and brush to clean a bathroom that i hadn`t even used!. When you stay in someones home, you need to be quite flexible, and try to follow their rules. Sam is a very clean guy, which is understandable considering how many people were staying with him. The night before we arrived he had 8 couchsurfers visiting, and his home is just a 60kvm apartment with a small garden. I was quite glad that we didn`t arrive the evening before!. When we were staying with Sam there was also a French couple there. They were pretty pathetic in the sense that they were begging for food all the time, as if it is was Sam's job to feed them. The first night they were there, they had asked for dinner, so Sam had made a vegetable stir-fry for them. When he served the food they didn`t say "thanks", they asked if he had any bread to come with the meal!!
That first evening we were there, Sam gave us some kale, and the Frenchman started pleading for food ; “Can I pleeaze have some food, I`m really hungry…” .
So Sam went to the kitchen and came back with more raw kale. The expression on the face of the Frenchman was priceless; a mix of disappointment, shock and despair. It ended with the french couple having to go out at 12 a.m to look for fast food.
We had rented a car at the airport, so there was no problem getting around. Sam does not live in Los Angeles, but in Long Beach, which is a city just south of Los Angeles. If you look at a map it looks like everything is just one big connected city. In the Los Angeles area there are many cities; Long Beach, Santa Monica, Hollywood, San Pedro etc.. But there is continuous development with giant highways and industrial complexes everywhere, so it is very difficult to know where one city ends and the next begins. There are more than 6 million people in the Los Angeles area. We had the same experience as when we were in Miami- everything is designed for cars- giant roads, and lots of drive-in food, pharmacies, cinemas, everything!. Luckily we had a car this time.

Cruisin the USA

Cruisin the USA

We drove around Long Beach and San Pedro enjoying the sea views and observing what the average americans were doing on a sunny day (most days there are sunny days.). First we visited a sandwich-shack and bought what is possibly the most calorific sandwich I have ever eaten - A true American-Italian BBQ chicken sandwich.
We found a nice little park in San Pedro, right on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a pretty idyllic place to eat my calorie-bomb lunch. There were many Spanish-speaking people there.
We drove along the coast for a while longer and visited a cool church made of glass.
In the evening we went out in Long Beach to people watch. It was quite lively with lots of neon lights. We ate out at a Mexican-American restaurant where we were served the most ridiculously huge portions we had ever seen. You kind of do not want to waste food, so you end up stuffing yourself with significantly more food than what you need to get full. It really is completely incomprehensible that not all Americans are morbidly obese. Fast food is abundant EVERYWHERE.
Our host Sam on the other hand is a very healthy guy. He eats mostly raw vegetables, and began the morning with exercise, and ended the evening with beer and yoga.

When we returned in the evening the French couple was gone, but 3 Germans had arrived.
There were 2 German girls and a very weird bald German man travelling alone. The first Sam said to the German girls when they arrived was that they must be dirty after all the travelling, and that they should take a shower before sitting on his furniture.
The next morning we were awoken early by the loud music yet again, but that was fine since we had planned to go to Disneyland that day!
There is 2 Disney-parks, one where there are lots of Disney characters and simple carousels. The second park has some more action-packed rides. We wanted to go to the park where we could meet Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. Finally a chance to discuss certain aspects of life in Duckburg with an authority on the subject. There has always been some aspects of the stories that have seemed unrealistic.
Since it was 2 july, 2 days before Independence day, I checked online to see if there would be many people there. It turned out that it was the most crowded day of the year to go to Disneyland, no queue was under an hour. Regrettably we decided to skip Disneyland, and rather rented bikes and cycled along the beach in Long Beach. It was a nice day and we got a chance to chill on the beach, and see some more of the local area. We bought various effects for the 4th of July (USA flagg bandana, USA flags etc).
The following morning we got up early to go to our next Couchsurfer living in North Hollywood, near the big city. That's when we made the mistake to allow the crazy German to get a ride with us to Hollywood. He was a freak who brought a collapsible bicycle around. Every day he cycled from Long Beach to Los Angeles, 45 kilometers in total.

Sunset boulevard

Sunset boulevard

He said mostly weird stuff, and did not fit in with Sam and the rest of the guys. For some reason he had an obsession to get a ride. It did not seem to matter where we were going, as long as he could get a ride.
So we brought him and his bike along when driving to our next host in Hollywood. When we arrived at her apartment complex we did not know which apartment she lived in, and unfortunately had to borrow the German`s phone to call her. When she appeared, he tagged along with us to her apartment, without an invitation. Our next host was, an incredibly friendly and smiley lady called Sarah. She works as a producer in Hollywood. She works mostly with reality shows, but is working on getting to produce movies. She had just gotten home from work when we met her, and had brought about 10 kg of burritos, salad, rice and nachos from the film set. It was the food that was leftover after the crew had eaten lunch.
It worked out very well for us as we were ready for a quick lunch before going to Universal studios. I was a little embarrassed that we had dragged a bald German up into her apartment, especially since he actually invited himself to eat lunch with us. As an archetypal German he was obviously very very careful with money. So he kept eating long after he was full so that he would not risk having to buy any food for the rest of the day. I know that only because we had this dialogue towards the end of the meal;
Weirdo: “Should I eat some more?”
Me(giving him a strange look ..): “if you are hungry… although I do think they might sell food in Hollywood too…”
Weirdo: “I am not hungry…but I should probably stock up on energy now while I can” … goes to get himself another burrito.
There were many similar dialogues with this guy:
Scene: me and Torunn on the way out the door, while weirdo is sitting in front of the TV..
Weirdo: Before you leave, can you tell me how to turn off the television.
Me: maybe you should push the big red button that says on/off…

After lunch we dumped the German off in Hollywood, and were very happy to have seen him for the last time… which unfortunately was not the case…. read on..…

At Universal Studios!

At Universal Studios!

We arrived at Universal studios, and found that it was much more than just a guided tour of the studio. It was actually an entire amusement park!
It was absurdly expensive to get in, and even more absurd amount of people. 4.July-week is a national holiday-week for all kids, so many parents take the week off to go to Disneyland and Universal Studios….bad timing..
It was nevertheless fun to be there. We ended up spending 8 hours there and managed to visit all the attractions we had planned to see. Most of the queues were 30-60 minutes of waiting, but it was actually not as bad as it sounds. At least they had set up TV screens showing various entertaining stuff. The best was on "The Simpsons" attraction where they just showed Simpsons episodes throughout the queue..

Shrek and the lady on tour

Shrek and the lady on tour

I ended up buying a "Duff" hat. We did the Shrek-ride, the Simpsons-ride, the Jurassic Park-ride, The Mummy-ride, the Transformers-ride, The King Kong-ride, the "House of horror" and "Waterworld" before running out of time.
I have not been to an amusement park in 15 years… and found out that a lot has changed since then!

Homer and Marge

Homer and Marge

Almost all the attractions were 3D-based, but taken to the next level (4D). In both Simpsons, King Kong and transformers- we were put in a carriage that moved around the various rooms where the whole room was a 3d screen. Everything that happened on the screen was reflected by the movements in our wagon, and when the robots jumped around the town and shot lasers at each other in the Transformers-ride, it felt 100% like we were right in the middle of it all. It was absolutely crazy… and very cool. The 5 minutes were worth the 60 minutes waiting in line.
The Mummy was also a ride with lots screens and various action, but it turned into an indoor rollercoaster in total darkness. Very cool!. The second time we did the Mummy we stood in the "Single-lane"-queue. That was the queue where you walk past 99% of the guys in line as long as you are willing to go alone on the ride. They often have places that needed to be filled up.
One of the highlights of the park was obviously the guided tour of the film studio. We went in a train around the scenes where many of our favorite movies have been shot.

Stig in Wisteria Lane

Stig in Wisteria Lane

We even got to visit "Wisteria Lane" from the series "Desperate housewives". Unfortunately, we did not meet Gaby or Bree that day.
Waterworld was also pretty awesome. It is a show where they have gathered a bunch of Hollywood B-actors to create a great show based on the movie "Waterworld". It did not disappoint - lots of shooting, explosions, burning villains and feisty heroes in true Hollywood-style.
We really should have had 2 days in this park!

running fire-guy

running fire-guy

When you go out of the park you end up in "Studio City", which is an attraction in itself. It is a neon lit street with lots of Hollywood-stores, climbing neon-apes, plastic dragons and giant guitars. It is America just like you imagine it to be.
After a long day we headed back to Sarahs apartment and learned a little more about her life behind the scenes. Both she and her husband work as producers, and both are passionate when it comes to movies. They had a projector in their living room and a decent collection of movies. Since I got to choose, and since Sarah is also very fond of bad B-movies, we ended up watching a timeless classic called "The attack of the 50 foot cheerleader”. It really is a movie I can recommend to everyone. It's about a young girl who has to be a cheerleader because her mother refuses to pay tuition if she does not do it. She turns out to be bad at cheerleading, but fortunately she happens to do research on experimental drugs, on her spare time. So she takes a medicine that makes her very pretty, she gets big tits and she gets very good at dancing. The only side-effect is that she grows to be 25 metres tall, and it leads to various complications.
The final scene is one of my favorite scenes of all time, but I can not reveal the full movie here. Go see it!!

 Posted by at 1:10 pm