Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What I done

Despite doing a fair few things in the last week I've been very lax in posting about them, so I'll try to rectify that by writing something now. Previously on Cosmic Zoo you saw me flying out to Los Angeles for a collaboration meeting and doing a bit of celeb spotting in Heathrow airport, but what happened next...

My first day in LA (a week last Saturday) was my only free time before the meeting started on Sunday morning, so I met up with my friends Ben and Erin who live there. They kindly offered to show me some sites for the afternoon and evening. We started with a trip to Santa Monica, which was busy with people out shopping and visiting the pier. We headed down to the pier (which has a fun fair on it), but decided to avoid the crowds and stuck to the beach end where we had a decent fish and chips [or fish and chip - singular - as it was called] (in fact some of the best fish and chips I've had in the last year or so have been bought in the US!) and a nice afternoon beer. That evening after relaxing back at my friends flat we headed to a new caf&ecute; that one of their friends had recently opened. It was called the Golden State Café and I'd recommend it if you're in the area. The burger was really good and there were a very nice selection of local beers. Later we went to another of their friend's brothers 21st birthday up in the Hollywood Hills, which was a nice and relaxing event in a really nice place. The jet lag eventually got the better of me and I had to get a lift back to the hotel. During the whole day we apparently travelled on all four main highways that cross LA.

The rest of the week was filled with the meeting schedule, but the hotel we were at was determined to try and screw with this by providing free drinks at every opportunity. Embassy Suites hotels have a policy of free drinks receptions every evening from 5.30pm to 7.30pm (supposedly limited to 6 drinks, but this rule seemed easily circumvented - not that you needed to circumvent it as the six drinks were ample). These drinks weren't meagre measures either. I assume the policy was meant to get to too drunk to move out of the hotel and keep you spending money in their bar, and in fact it seemed to work as I barely went to anywhere else.

On the final day the meeting finished at midday, so a few of us (mainly Cardiffians) decided to head to the beach for the afternoon before catching evening flights. We went via the airport, so people could check in their bags and not have to carry them to the beach, but the main thing of note was the mode of transport we took there. We were driven there in a limo, complete with mirrored ceiling, flashy lights, and free drinks. There were 10 of us in the limo, so in fact it worked out as a cheaper option to take than the normal Super Shuttle minibus service! After the airport the limo then took us on to Venice beach (we got a couple of strange looks from people as we got out). The previous weeks weather, in Arcadia at least, had been gloriously sunny, but down at the beach it was really hazy with no sight of the sun. However, we were at the beach, and we were British, so we were going to stay there, goddamnit. The main thing that Venice Beach seems to have, other than a huge stretch of golden sand, is a very long boardwalk (without the boards) lined with shops full of tat (mainly bongs and t-shirts) and street artists/vendors. This was interesting to see, but not necessarily the sort of place you'd want to spend too much time. However, it was really good to relax on the beach for an afternoon despite it getting chilly later on and the sea being to cold to swim in (well it was possible to swim and people were doing it, but I wasn't going to give it a try).

That was all for my latest US trip. At the end I was torn between wanting to come home, but also reminded of last years excellent road trip and wanting to see some more of California. I think next year, if we're back in California in the spring, we might well have another road trip. No more celebs spotted in Heathrow on the return journey.

Sorry I couldn't inject much excitement into that recap. There is a bit more I did, but that may just have to go undocumented for now.