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Californian Dreaming

I wish the freezing cold temps were just a dream!

semi-overcast 13 °C

After our Hawaii fun in the sun we arrive in LAX Airport, Los Angeles at 3.00pmish and what a temperature shock! Daily highs of 14 to 16° and lows of around 6° which is freezing by our Aussie standards. We catch a bus to Venice Beach and a friendly local who had just finished up at the "Shooting Range" gave us directions to the Venice Beach Cotel. We check in and share a room with an American, Aiden from Arizona, who is looking for work in LA and playing around on the stock market since just turning 18. The previous day he made $400, too easy. The room was simple and clean and had the newest and cleanest bathroom we had seen on the trip! We take advantage of the free tea and coffee, buzz up, and explore.
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We go for a wander from Venice Beach to Santa Monica along the boardwalk. In Venice it was a little scary. There are homeless people and weirdo "performers" (carnies) everywhere. First taste of America and it felt like everyone was hurting pretty bad from the economic crisis. We saw alot of people camping in their cars in carparks and from conversation heard that it was pretty hard to find a job and the cost of living was rising.

As soon as we walk out of Venice and into Santa Monica the sceanery, and vibe, changes dramaticaly, like from night to day. There are these awsome walking only, bike only sections with work out exercise areas that inlcuded bars and swing rings and grassy bits to work your bits. Santa Monica is very clean and upmarket with beautiful waterfront parks similar to Bondi (known by Americans as Boon-dye). The SM pier is HUGE! We bump into a police officer who was really friendly and advised us to get out of Venice because it is "crazy" and look for accom in Santa Monica. He had these 2 big f-off guns positioned between his seat and the front passenger which we got mighty close to when shaking his hand in return for his advice. Steve talked to a surfer on the beach who was running to the water to surf 1 ft slop and he said that the water temp was 10°, crazy over enthusiam for freezing lame surf! GET OUT THERE, not...Steve decides to wait it out for either bigger or warmer surf.

Taking onboard the advice received from the policeman we move on and check into the Santa Monica Hostel International, a very nice hostel with great kitchen and communal chill out areas and best of all, you can eat free breaky for 2hrs which included eggs, toast, juice, cereal, bagels, jelly (jam), tea and coffee. The next day we jumped on a bus and headed for down town LA to visit the Natural History Museum. LA is very grimey and not a particularly appealing place. However the Museum was fantastic. The building was orignially built in the 1920´s and was very grand - marble floors, hardwood and brass fittings with a spectaular main hall with a carved wooden cieling that featured the skeletons of T-Rex and Triceretops having a showdown! The Museum has the largest collection of Dinosaurs in the world. They also had exhibitions of stuffed animals in created habitats from all over the world, mainly northern America and Africa-Strange and amazing to look at. They also had a very comprehensive display of Minerals.
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We had lunch outside of the museum in the sun overlooking a field where school kids were playing Gridiron. Hilarious to watch, the kids were only aged 8 to 12 and were pretty talented, weaving in and out of each other with it all to often ending with a dirt sandwich. The gun kids were smashing each other.
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From Down Town LA we catch a Greyhound bus to San Diego which took a couple of hours. The bus was rank! It smelt like 1000 rotting greyhounds.....When we arrived we had already sorted where we were going to stay and how to get there but we spotted a couple with a surfboard that were looking as dazed as us so we went and had a chat to them. Turns out they are from, wait for it.... Newcastle Australia.... more specifically.... REDHEAD! So hows that, you cant go anywhere in the world without running into a fellow Redn. Chris and Anita join us and we head to the Ocean Beach Hostel, San Diego (about 30 mins by bus from Central San Diego).

The Ocean Beach Hostel has a nice charm. We stay in a double bed couples room which consited of 4 bunk beds pushed together to create double beds. After meeting a few of the inhabitants we quickly realise that the place is a bit of a nut house with several slightly crazy people, not the typical backpacker types you find in hostels. The Hostel is located on the main street of Ocean Beach San Diego´and it also provides free breaky every morn and also free dinner 2 nights of the week. We scored spag bol the night we arrived! Ocean Beach is a crusty tripped out surfing villiage right next to the beach complete with resident homeless, locally run shops, antique stores, many surf shops and tons of bars.
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We checked out the Sunset Cliffs, a 20 min walk south from the Hostel. The coastline comprised of rocky cliffs of up to 50 metres high, lined with mexican style mansions. Large grey pelicans and gulls glided close to the coast line and fed on schools of fish in the ocean below. Squirrells played on the cliffs darting in and out of low lying shrubs. Steve was amazed at the amount of surf breaks along this stretch. There were reefs every 100 to 200 metres with many different lefts and rights to choose from if you were brave enough to climb down the rocky cliffs to get to the cold water! We were also told that it is not wise to surf until 72 hours after rain due to the contaminated run off from San Diego.
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The next day Steve bared the cold and went for the dawn patrol out Sunset Cliffs, ambient temps were about 8° with the water temp only slightly warmer at 13 to 14°. He said it was as easy as just walk along, pick ya reef break, some more crowded than others, then find your own access path or follow a local down the cliff!

Other things that come to mind whilst writing were the bus services in CA were very easy to use and efficient. Maps of all routes were available on the bus via handout brochures. AND there were voice automated announcements of all stops which made it very usefull for out of towners!

Anyway, we have enough of the Ocean Beach Hostel nut house and cold temps after 3 days and plan with Anita and Chris the best way to get into sunny warm Mexico. A trip to the airport and back, several hrs on the internet, and several discussions with locals, we book a flight with Alaskan Airlines from San Diego to Los Cabos for around $160 USD each plus $50 for boards. With limited spanish, and limited info on the border crossing at Tijuana and transport down the Baja, we decided it was safer to fly than drive or bus it. Plus it is around 26hrs non stop travelling bus from Tijuana to Los Cabos and cost about the same as flying. BAJA HERE WE COME!!!

Posted by jessnsteve 11:11 Tagged backpacking

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