LA, Las Vegas, Seattle, San Fran back to LA

Our Air Bnb in Venice Beach was tiny but awesome, we were so adamant to stay in this area and the hotels were either really expensive or too far out. We were a 10 minute walk away from Abbot Kinney Blvd which is known as Hipster Street. It’s the perfect place to people watch whilst sipping an iced coffee in the heat before moving to the next coffee shop to get the perfect donuts. Venice is still the grungy, crazy, diverse place it was when I visited it as a kid with my family. I was so eager for Stu to love it, which he did immediately. You have the beautiful coast and the insanely wonderful people to watch and chat to. We walked through the canals looking at the wildly different houses which cost millions and wandered through alleys to get the best food.

We walked all the way from Muscle Beach to Santa Monica on the first morning. Stopping to show off our crazy skills on the gymnastic ropes… We stopped off at Pacific Park on Santa Monica’s Pier. It’s full of amusements, rides and candy floss. the view from the pier is also beautiful looking into the vast ocean and seeing how crazy busy the beach is. We loved our first couple of days here and glad we stayed just in this area before we set off travelling about. We knew we would have a few days to explore the rest of the city on the way back.

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Las Vegas… What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas right? This place was crazy. We’d been staying in a lot of dive motels trying to find the cheapest and cleanest we could get but coming to Vegas we decided to use our old friend Air Bnb. We stayed in a huge complex joined onto the MGM Grand which was a suite so we could cut costs down buying food and drinks in. Mainly drinks and some potato chips…

We did a lot of walking about the strip. Looking into all the crazy over the top hotels and listened to awesome live bands. The first night we went straight to New York New York Hotel to go on the roller coaster after a few beers first, it was so much fun! We gambled on the machines but didn’t dare get near the poker tables, they were great to watch people though. Stuie even won a bit of money on a random machine too!

We also booked to see Zombie Burlesque, it was a hilarious comedy, cabaret, burlesque show that we were glad we booked to watch. You came out with side pain from laughing. They definitely didn’t take themselves too seriously and it was a little bit of blue for a Vegas trip.

It did feel good to dress up and be silly for a few days since we’d been moving everyday from one place to the next. We also had a great night out on the last night in the old strip, which was definitely more worn than the glitz of the new strip.

We ended up finding a tiny bar tucked away, where we made friends with the bar staff (always a hangover looming when this happens) and a pianist who was a genius and could play any song you asked (shout out to Lou since we got Spandau Ballet played) Too many gin and tonics and songs later we piled into the Uber, spilt a drink, got a fine, and I was sick back in the hotel room… safe to say we did Vegas right. The next morning checking out and driving to Hoover Dam was a blurred memory that I’m still trying to forget.

Seattle… We fell in love with this city as soon as we drove into it. We always say it’s our favourite city that we visited. It’s a slower pace than some places we’ve visited with beautiful landscape just minutes from the laid back atmosphere. We’d go back here in a heartbeat. Our Air Bnb was a dream. The best one we stayed at in the States.

It was in a families garage that they had converted. The photo doesn’t do it justice since there were little details that made it amazing, like the three different styles of coffee makers and beautiful furnishings that made it out of a Pinterest pin board. There was also an Xbox which Stuie was extremely happy about but didn’t get much of a chance to play!

First we drove to Pike Place, it’s somewhere we’ve always wanted to visit because, well food. We researched into lots of places to try out, especially coffee and mac n cheese.

We were warned not to go at the weekend to the Market so it wasn’t too busy when we went. Beechers mac n cheese is the best and I’ve craved it ever since. We bought a few bits to cook back to the house along with amazing pasta, cheeses, breads and even tried lavender infused pasta. The first ever Starbucks is still right there with huge queues, we didn’t fancy waiting so the next day we ventured to the roastery, it’s huge with so many different bars to get a coffee, cake or even a cocktail at. We loved doing a taste testing here and watched as the coffee beans were making their way through the roasting process as we sat and enjoyed the caffeine hit.

As Seahawks fans we managed to get tickets to a preseason game at Century Field. It’s an incredible atmosphere in the city on game day. Everyone is sporting their jerseys, leggings, hats, jumpers, socks to support the team and people really get into the tailgate, this was only preseason as well, we can’t imagine how it is for the proper games.

I think the reason why we loved Seattle was the new quirky cafe’s and restaurants, the small independent shops and book stores, the fact that we saw our first poetry slam night and a lovely political left vibe throughout the city. You’re close to all this and yet a small drive out and you’re on Pudget Sound surrounded by beautiful waters and nature. Our ideal city.

San Francisco… Our main tourist attraction in San Fran was of course the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz. We’d booked tickets for the extended night tour back when we were in New Zealand since we knew it booked up really quickly, especially being there in the summer months. I’d been before but we got to see so much more on this tour. It took you into the hospital wing, an underground isolation group of cells that was so creepy and you got to watch the sun sink low under the Golden Gate. We heard different stories and found out what the island was before it became a prison, essentially it’s always been a fort of some form or the other and to hold off invasions for the bay. It’s gruesome and grimy and we loved it. There’s so much history and such a vast difference from prisons in our country now. We couldn’t imagine being stuck on the rock isolated from everything in bad conditions listening to the sounds of the city getting blown in through the windows.

We decided to walk to the Golden Gate through the park with a picnic. The day was beautiful and full of sunshine, the park was full of people playing various different sports and many like us who wanted to eat yummy food in the peace of the park from the city. We walked for miles and miles this day and enjoyed every bit of it, we even got a free bus ride back to the wharf!

There’s so much to do in San Fran, we walked all over the city to get the best bakery goods, see the wharf at Pier 39, coffee, tram rides to hang off and an awesome spot for a happy hour wine! We were also lucky enough to stumble across a great street food festival that had so many food trucks with a diverse array of food that would satisfy anyone!

After an incredible 5 or 6 weeks road tripping around the west coast of the States. We’ve seen so many tiny 2 road towns, stayed in horrendous motels that actually made our skin crawl (Thanks to bedbugs in one motel) and seen the diverse and incredible range of landscapes in such a small timeframe. We loved it. Especially want to mention Victor Montana and our unique stay in an Air Bnb that made us extend our stay. Maybe it was just because we got frequent visits from their dogs, lovely chats by the pond with the owners and picking our own fruit in the garden!

We did also visit Puyallup State fair which was an amazing experience, from vegetable competitions, strange and interesting collections and a huge fairground not to mention the food we’d definitely check it out again!

Our last few nights in LA were great, we stayed at the opposite end to Venice and explored the Hollywood Blvd (at night to get the real grotty sleazy experience for Stu) Universal Studios was our end treat to visit Hogwarts again! Also an ill timed trip to visit the Griffith Observatory, since there was an event on heading over there and we got stuck in ridiculous traffic. We’ll be back to this side of the states very soon. There’s so much to see and do and so many hills and forests to hike.

There were too many things to write about in our short but very jammed packed time. Here is a map showing the little loop we did with a few of our spots.

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See ya’ll in Mexico!

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