Coast to Coast: A Road Trip
* New Site
* Sunshine and spare change
* In the city
* City people
* Dragon's Lair
* Fun and Fake
* First Impressions
* New Blog
June 01, 2005
Sunshine and spare change
I am home now and this will be the final entry...
Having handed the car back in San Diego we were now carless again. Fortunately for us the beach was only steps away from our hostel. Acclimatising to So-Cal didn't take long. We were soaking up the sunshine doing some rollerblading and sailing.
Before too long though we had to deal with the horrible Greyhound which was predictably rubbish as usual.
Off to LA then, a place that I had been to before (in December) so I wasn't too keen to stick around in. We went down to Santa Monica and Venice and rollerbalded between the two which is a great way to get around there. Rollerblading though is not so fun when you rent the blades a little way from where you want to skate and you have to negotiate some horribly steep bridge to get there. Not easy. My main problem with LA though is just the sprawl of the place. It took just under an hour and a half to get from Hollywood (central LA) to Santa Monica (West LA). It just seems to go on forever. I think cities like New York (Manhattan) where because they're on an island they have to build up rather than out are much better. Some people say though that LA is not so much one city as a collection of cities. If you try and get around on the bus then you might well come to believe that.
From LA we rented another car, this time from 'Super Cheap Car Rental' who I can very much recommend as the least dodgy of a succession of dodgy but ultimately cheap car rental companies that we've had to deal with. We drove straight out to Las Vegas.
We purposefully drove into Vegas at night because we'd been told that the absurd amount of lights just suddenly seem to rise out of the desert and is indeed an interesting sight. Out of the Luxor casino (one shaped like the ancient pyramids) the brightest light on earth shines up into space. The purpose? well it got a mention here didn't it? Anyway we drove up and down the strip and took in the obscene amount of neon on show. I would definitely say that the Strip looks better at night. Yes it might look tacky but really it's like nowhere else on earth. By the light of day though some Casinos look a bit tired, particulalry at the older end, but lit up I don't how anyone couldn't be wowed by it all.
We did all the Vegas things, we lost a stupid amount of money at Blackjack. we gawped at the (erupting) Volcano outside Mirage. We wondered at the Canal snkaing it's way through the inside of The Venetian (on its second floor!) and we ate mightily at the Sahara and the Mirage. We also rode around in a Limousine (for an hour, not all the time). One night we gambled at a seedy Casino in the old part of town until the sun came up.
Leaving Vegas behind (there is a limit to how long anyone can take that place in our case three days) we headed the California coast via scenic Highway 1. We stopped in Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz which were both very pleasant before finally ending up in San Francisco. SF is a lovely city. For one it's right on the water and I always like that. The up and down terrain is really unusual and I think what helps make SF so unique. The weather while we were there was gorgeous (and I know that SF often falls down on the weather). We went over to Alcatraz which was pretty interesting. However, I had pretty much had my fill of museums so the rest of the time I just took it easy and wandered the streets.
SF is quite an alternative place. It was the home of the 'beat' movement (Jack Kerouac) and the summer of love (the Grateful Dead) having lived around Haight-Ashbury). This is pretty good in some respects, people seem fairly laid back and the city feels quite artsy and less interetsed in making money than say New York. However, I have never seen so many beggars and drop-outs. When I went down to Golden Gate Park and Haight Street I swear I must have been asked for spare change or a 'spare smoke' about twenty times. It's not as bad in developing countries. The only people that beg there are the blind and people with no legs. In SF it seems to be that if you're sitting down you may as well ask passers-by for change. Overall though I think SF seems to be probably the nicest American city we went to. It's definitely a place I would consider living. Although talking to an old resident he said prices had shot up in the last decade and a lot of the arty people had left along with their easy-going atmosphere. However, it's certainly a place I think I'd return so I should be able to make my own judgement sometime, hopefully soon.
Richard, Home, 1st June
Posted by Richard on June 1, 2005 09:49 AM
Category: West Coast USA
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