A Travellerspoint blog

California Eating

Food diary of a fatty

Arriving in LA was a bit of a shock after Fiji. It was kind of cold, hectic, not very pretty, and really quite American. I don't think it would rate in my top 10 places i've been (or even my top 25) but there was still fun to be had.

It's not an easy place to get around without a car so I did a fair amount of wandering in West Hollywood where my hostel was. There was a lovely shopping area down the road from me with very fancy shops, a cute little tram, stalls of people who pounce on you offering to show off the work of their hair straighteners on you and asking when you last had your hair cut (when i last brushed it might have been a more pertinent question but hey), some less fancy shops, some great thrift/antique/second hand places and The Cheesecake Factory. My my. I'd been warned not to eat much before going in for the cake so I decided to forgo lunch and have a piece of cheesecake with a cuppa in the early afternoon. Even taking such precautions, it took everything I had to finish my piece. I was so full I didn't even ask the waitress if i could adopt the abandoned piece of Reese Pieces Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheesecake that had been desserted (boom boom) after about 3 bites (i'm not exaggerating) by a guy at the next table.

I spent a day on a bus tour doing all the LA sights - saw the Hollywood sign, walked down Rodeo Drive, went to the theatre where the Oscars are held, saw all the famous people's stars on Hollywood Boulevard, drove past famous people's houses in Beverly Hills, saw the balcony where Richard Gere wooes Julia Roberts at the end of Pretty Woman and visited the crazies in Venice Beach (which is kind of like Camden by sea, with more drugs)... all very glam and superficial but quite cool to see.

I also went to The Getty Centre for a day which was fab (although I did slightly ruin the bonus of it being free to attend by ending up paying $25 to get there. The bus driver watched me put a $20 note in his machine for a $6 ticket before saying 'You did not just do that' rather than telling me it didn't give change. Helpful) - a massive art gallery with exhibitions from all over the world and different eras. My favourite parts were the architecture tour and garden tour I went on which explained all about the artistic visions of the architect and the garden designer which was v interesting.

So, after failing to spot any celebs but managing to catch up with Mel and Emily who I met in Fiji (bonus), I flew to San Francisco where I could barely conceal my excitement at seeing Francesca again. In fact, I was so excited I had to put my ipod on a jaunty song and mime singing and dancing along in the back of the taxi. Our reunion was somewhat complicated by the fact that my flight was delayed and I didn't have a phone but after much racing around different airport terminals, multiple airport wide (airport wide) pages of each of our names and a lot of confusion we were eventually reunited in our hotel, much to the amusement of the receptionist.

I LOVED San Francisco. Such a beautiful city with lots to do, lots of different areas to explore, fantastic weather (we were VERY lucky) and lots to eat :-)

We did a lot of wandering around different neighbourhoods soaking up the atmosphere, sitting in little parks watching the world go by, stopping to try a tasty morsel somewhere... we both loved Haight-Ashbury which is a fab area with really funky shops and a slightly hippy-ish feel, we explored China Town and saw fortune cookies being made, we nearly died trekking up (and giggling at) the insanely steep roads of Nob Hill, saw the crookedest street in the world, had amazing (ly large) burritos in Mission, we wandered around the Buena Vista Park, sat in Union square people watching, ate a delicious brunch on Washington Square, sat on the dock of the bay, had the life scared out of us by a tramp on Fisherman's Wharf who hides with a screen covered in branches behind a bin and jumps out at passers by, admired the sea lions. ate calamari at Pier 39.....the list goes on!

Comedy highlight was probably our Segway Tour around Golden Gate Park which was fantastic. It took me a while to balance on it without wobbling or shrieking like a woman possessed (Francesca showed me up by being all composed and balanced immediately) but after that it was so much fun! Felt slightly ridiculous and very much enjoyed the bemused expressions of passers by.

Sadly, the comedy highlight was NOT the stand up comedy night we went to. Alarm bells should have sounded when we couldn't find the venue and eventually discovered we'd walked past it several times as whilst it moonlights as a 'comedy' venue by night, by day it is a hairdressers. The second warning sign was being greeted by the girl at the door with 'Oh, we've been expecting you'. Because, yes. We were the ONLY PEOPLE who had bought tickets.

So, we took our seats, breathed a sigh of relief when two other girls hot pursuaded in off the street, then sat back and endured one of the longest and most uncomfortable evening of our lives. I don't think the worst part was the fact that the two (we were promised 'four of SF's best'...) comedians weren't especially funny, or the fact that the both had their notes on the table beside them and kept saying things like 'what other jokes do i have??' whilst glancing through them. I don't even think it was the fact that they told all their jokes directly to our faces with no escape from eye contact or fake laughter. No. I have to say the worst part was the compere/girl on the door.

This girl was also incredibly unfunny (though she clearly found herself hilarious), and also made eye contact for just a liiiiittle bit too long every time. In addition to this, she loved the sound of her own voice and didn't feel the need to develop any kind of coherent thread between her comments, or even avoid repeating the same thing again and again (we heard at least 6 times that dating in San Francisco is very hard). However, all that could have been forgiven had she not spent 70% of her time trying to promote (yet, paradoxically ensuring noone in the room would ever EVER even entertain the thought of considering to maybe think about possibly going to) her one woman shows - "What Momma Said About 'Down There'" and "In Search Of My Clitoris" - a 'really fun' look at the always hilarious topic of female circumcision.

We literally ran away the second it was over, unsure whether to laugh, cry or drink ourselves into oblivion. We were entirely certain, however, that we would be doing everything we possibly could to avoid those one woman shows.

More successful trips included a cycle ride along the Golden Gate Bridge which was really beautiful - ending up in Sausilito where we got a ferry back to the city, a day trip to Alcatraz which was great - brilliant audio tour and really well set out, and a wine tour to the Sonoma Valley. We also went to Marin County for a few days of rural retreat. The buses only run on Sundays and public holidays (!), there are no shops or restaurants and the hostel we stayed in didn't allow alcohol! It was also practically empty and we were actually the only people staying in the (huge and beautiful) house we were in so we had a very wholesome few days of walking in the hills (AMAZING views of the city and Sausilito), cooking for ourselves and working our way through their board game collection, getting completely addicted to a great game called Sequence.

We started the fortnight by making a list of all the food we wanted to eat whilst there and i'm proud to say I think we managed to acheive most of our goals. Having lots of time there meant we could go back to places we really liked so we did return to Nick's Crispy Tacos on Taco Tuesday for $2 tacos and $3 margueritas. We also managed to equip ourselves with dessert for 6 nights through 2 visits to the Cheesecake Factory (i'd actually live in that place if I could. The choice is incredible. I honestly think we spent longer choosing our cheesecakes than I spent deciding which university to go to). We exploited the fact that ice cream places will give you free tasters, we smuggled wine into the cinema when we couldn't finish it with our dinner, we were slightly disappointed that the promise of Happy Donut didn't really live up to expectations, had some incredible raw tuna, revisted the fudge shop who let us taste the fudge and the salt water taffy AND gaves us free popcorn, ate dim sum in a square in China Town watching men play Mah Jong and marvelled at the miracle that was a chocolate brownie from Tartine Bakery.

In short, we ate our way around an incredible city, enjoyed perfect weather, laughed a LOT and had Otis Redding in our heads basically the entire time.

Posted by Hoodfish 06:56 Archived in USA

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