California, California Blogs, North America, The Americas, USA
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California Part Five: sea, seals and Hollywood

After our stay in Monterey,  we got a early start, made some pancakes and hit the road in the Californian sunshine. The Big Sur was amazing; roads cutting through big red rock, big green, rolling hills, clear blue sky and the turquoise ocean hitting huge rocks that were rearing out of the sea. We even saw a pelican. We then found stretches of beach where masses of seals were sunbathing.

USA California Big Sur

Finally, we arrived at Hearst Castle. We asked if we could just wander around but were told we ‘d have to take a tour. This turned out to be a good thing, partly because our tour guide was really good and got everyone involved but also because the house itself was 5 miles away from the visitor centre up in the hills and I definitely didn’t fancy walking.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

The house itself was not what I expected. I expected a National Park/English Heritage-esque, big, old, grand house. Instead, the architecture was based on  Mediterranean houses and filled with art from Italy,  Spain, France and Holland. The indoor and outdoor swimming pools are exactly how my pools are going to be when I build my own castle (watch this space). It was like something in a Roman emperor’s palace.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Once the tour was over, we returned to the road once again and finally reached Pismo Beach, which seemed nice. After hitting the supermarket for essentials like crisps and biscuits, we settled in for the night (at about 8.30pm as it got dark), after having to spend the evening sitting in the truck to escape the many mosquitoes, determined to eat us.

We made a mad dash into the tent and fell asleep, only to be awoken a few hours later by an army of raccoons invading our campsite, trampling over our tarpaulin. Waking up to the sound of screaming and banging was rather disconcerting if you were not aware of raccoons. It sounded as though someone was trying to break into our truck. Or a bear (obviously, it was not going to be a bear, but when you’re half-asleep, your mind like to freak you out). The next morning, the campsite seemed unharmed, but our visitors were unveiled when a raccoon was discovered in the bin next to our tent. It later got poked out by the park rangers. Here’s a tip for you, don’t camp next to the bins. We thought we were being smart, setting up close to the showers and loos. We hadn’t thought about the trash.

That day we went to San Luis Obispo. We parked up and hit Higuera Street, finding all the shops. After a bit of window shopping we went to the Natural Cafe for grilled cheese sandwiches and then returned to the shops. Before leaving we stopped off for smoothies at Jamba Juice and then went back to the campsite and wandered up to the beach where we failed to make a sandcastle using our smoothie cups. Annoyingly it was really windy we couldn’t stay for long and sunbathe. Instead, we watched people out windsurfing.

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We later discovered that we had a frisbee in the truck, so we played with that before heading out for a Chinese buffet. After another early night, we had a raccoon-free sleep and in the morning set off for LA.

Our journey took five hours but we did stop off in for lunch in Santa Barbara. It was a lovely place, especially in the sun, it was a shame we couldn’t stay for longer. Whilst walking along State Street, we found a burger place called The Habit, where we found good quality, well priced food and prompt service.

After a few more shop-stops, we were navigating our way through traffic in Malibu and finally made it to my travel buddy’s cousin’s house. It was so nice to have a night in a bed, a decent shower and no raccoons or mosquitoes- we were covered in bites. We all went out for dinner on the pier in Santa Monica, another lovely area.

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It was then time for Hollywood Boulevard. We parked for 2 hours, at the mere price of $20. We spotted the sign, far off in the distance, had lunch at Johnny Rockets- a proper american diner- saw the handprints, footprints and signatures of celebrities, outside the Chinese theatre and some of the names on the Walk of Fame.

LA- Hollywood Boulevard

LA- Hollywood Boulevard

We then wandered down to the adjacent Sunset Boulevard, down to the Guitar Centre.  There we found the handprints of all the big names in music, such as Queen, Jimmy Page and ACDC. There was also memorabilia, including  Bob Dylan’s hat and harmonica, Kirk Hammett’s guitar and a Jimmy Page signed guitar. We got very excited. This was the highlight of our day.

LA- Sunset Boulevard

LA- Sunset Boulevard

Soon enough, our 2 hours of parking were up we didn’t feel the need to renew it so we went back to the house and sunbathed on the front lawn. Later it was time for dinner, so we headed out to the Tinroof Bistro in Manhatten Village- it was yummy.

The next day started early, with breakfast at a bakery. We had cake for breakfast. I love America.

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