Wednesday, July 30, 2008

USA-A-A 2008

18th July - Friday
Woke up real early, around 3.30pm, went to the airport and departed at 6am. After 6 hours, we arrived at Narita Airport Tokyo for only about 30 minutes until the next flight. There I felt sick and threw up! It seems I ate something bad in the plane. We then went on to our second plane travelling to San Francisco where the flight was awful and I threw up again and felt awful for the next 9 fun. Arrived at San Francisco, the time was 9am, so it was almost as if I travelled for only 3 hours, when in fact it was 15 hours, hah!
We took a speedy taxi, and my first impression of America was...HUGE. Everything was really big. Our hotel was pretty much in the middle of the city, called Hotel 480. We checked in and went straight to bed since we were all amazingly tired [nice hotel room!]. We woke up at around 6pm, heh kinda late, and we got ready to go out for dinner. Walked to Chinatown, really big area, and we ate in a Chinese restaurant. Our first mistake..ordering something without asking about the size. The portions were HUGE, we had to take it back with us to the hotel. After dinner we walked near to the bay, cold weather, about 10-12 degrees, ahhh.

19th July - Saturday
Woke up really early still due to jet lag, around 5am. Got ready went for breakfast, and the omelette I ordered was made up of 3 eggs!! AHH. Went back to the hotel while my dad went to rent a car. In the hotel I napped again, hehe. Woke up at 12, and we got ready to go on a San Francisco city trip. The bus picked us up at 1pm, and took us to the office to get on the proper bus at 2pm. We toured around the whole of San Francisco, saw the golden gate bridge, went down a street that still thinks it’s in the 60’s. Saw many buildings, went down the Beverly Hills version of San Francisco, tour guide told us that stars like Sharon Stone, Robin Williams and Nicholas Age live around there . We looked at a load of old buildings, all the Victorian styled houses, very nice. We also had a look at Alcatraz from a distance. The guide’s name was Bill and he had been doing this job for about 20 years and his humour was hilarious, very comical haha. The whole tour lasted 3 hours. After that we were dropped off at the Wharf, for some early dinner, an Italian restaurant called Scoma’s! We then walked back to the hotel, going up those steeeeeep San Francisco hills was soo tiring, but pretty :)

20th July- Sunday
Woke up at around 10.30, checked out of the hotel. Dad rented out a Chevrolet, still not used to him driving on the left side of the car! We drove down Highway 1 Pacifica. Stopped off at Rockaway Beach for a lunch at the Portofino restaurant. I had a Fettucine Davinci, yumm. I noticed a lot of cars with Obama stickers on them as well as houses with it. California’s a pretty democratic state. :]
We arrived at Santa Cruz, and checked into a motel called..America’s best inn’s and suites!! How pretentious.
We walked around the bay area, saw this guy, wore underpants, and a batman mask with a sign that says “Obama 2008” and he was just standing their shouting “Vote Obama!” and one woman walked passed him and is like “Oh, are you Obama?” and he’s like “No, I’m his cousin!” Everyone just LOL-ed.
We walked around the wharf, saw some Sea Lions being all..sealion-y, and saw this guy with a guitar singing Beatles’ songs. In fact, I’ve been hearing ALOT of places playing Beatles songs, I forgot how big the band was here, in the 60s. We then walked into a vegetarian restaurant!! woo. I had a rosetto. :]

21st July- Monday
An early wake, cheapo breakfast with just a table of pasty thingys in the reception. Checked out of the place and hit highway 1. We arrived at Monterey to try and find this 17 mile drive down some rich dude’s homes, but we decided against it because you have to pay meaning more moneys goes to those rich dudes!
Instead we continued down south and went to a small town called Carmel. At one point in this town, Clint Eastwood was mayor! The place is so strange, an area of houses like Hansel and Gretel visited in that children’s story. All those houses are like the Wicked Witches house, but in a nice way of course. It’s also the only place that has a row of rubbish bins, literally one metre away from eachother. We had lunch there as well, a HUGE salmon and cheese sandwich. It filled me up for the whole day, that’s how amazingly big it was.
After lunch we continued our drive and listened to Sufjan Steven’s instrumentals on animals. This must have been the most beautiful views so far. I even wrote a short poem just to describe it:

Ocean to my right,
So clear and wide
Another world
By my side.

Skies of blue
No cloud in sight
No drop of dew
No painted kite.

Hills of shrub
To my left
The palest green
Of fires that've swept.

I just had to write something, so pretty and large.
We passed the area of Big Sur, and had lots of scenic stops.
One point, my dad stopped to smoke right where a few firefighters were, lol. My dad pretended he wasn’t smoking when the firefighter came past him and we saw him smoking as well. the irony!
There’s been a lot of wild fires recently due to the dryness so that’s why there are a lot of firefighters about.
After all the hilly areas, we hit flat land near the coast and stopped to take in the beach area with funny little possums prancing around.
We drove to a small cute town called Cambria and checked into a pretty motel called the Bluebird. as...the place had loads of Bluebirds! We had dinner at a place called Sow’s Ear, the restaurant was teeming with tonnes of pig statuettes, hehe and the place didn’t have pork anyway. Very it get it? Patriotic, pigarotic? XD

22nd July - Tuesday
Woke up early again from a difficult sleep. Went to Hearst Castle for Tour 2. A one hour, 40 minute tour with tour guide Justin. It’s an amazingly enchanting place, over 120,000 acres of Hearst’s land, with this HUGE mansion/castle [ranch to what Hearst called it lol] of sooo many rooms all with so much architecture and art from around the Renaissance period [Hearst’s favourite era] as well from all over the world. From China to India to Venice, everywhere. He collected artifacts from all over the world and put them in this huge castle he made, Everything was made to such sheer perfection, the place is really a treasure. It’s never been given a price tag, because it’s priceless.
Hearst was a man that thought big and put his idea to inspiring use. A new inspiration on my list for sure.
After the tour, we had lunch. A SLICE of pizza each; note the capitals....One slice is the size of a small pizza you buy in Cold Storage in Singapore!! We ate, got attack by wasps, then continued on our down south.
Stopped off at Pismo beach for a coffee and a look around. Pretty busy, not sure if it is a holiday?
Drove down to Santa Barbara and checked in at a motel at around 6pm, called Motel Six. We then went for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, I ordered a veggie was..HUGE! Took half of it back to the motel for breakfast tomorrow, hehe.

23rd July - Wednesday
10am wake and an early checkout. Drove to the direction of Los Angeles. Passed Santa Monica and Malibu-those rich people’s homes. Stopped at Paradise Cove for fish ‘n’ chips. Continued deeper into LA, tried to do some celebrity spotting gahaha. Saw many paparazzi’s in vans though.
Stopped off at the Getty Art Museum and has the deepest car park I’ve ever seen! 7 floors of car parks underground, we ended up in P7. The museum was a very nicely done place. Saw a painting I really liked by David Hockney. They were selling posters of it in the shop but it was way too long. I might order it back home!! hehe.
After that, entered Hollywood to find our hotel-Best Western Inn. Talk about horrible traffic. According to a LA local, anytime is rush hour. Everyone honks their horns, crazy crazy. We finally checked in. For dinner I had ramen in a Japanese restaurant, woo :)

24th July - Thursday
Left at 9.30 to our LA ~grand tour. Headed to Mulholland Drive, and passed Charlize Theron’s home. We saw her assistant outside! Also passed Will Ferrel who has 2 houses in the same place...strange. Also down that drive is Sean Penn, Ice Tea (?!?!?) and Meg Ryan’s house. We drove up the drive and hit a high view where there was a clear view of the Hollywood sign.
After that we drove to the Hollywood owl and saw the LARGE theatre, many many seats. We passed Eva Longoria’s house-a nice pink house! :D
Then passed the hotel that filmed most of the Pretty Woman.
Then went to the Kodak Theatre at the walk of fame and the Chinese Theatre-the area where stars plaster their hands and feet and sign it. The whole area is filled with dressed up characters-the Riddler, 2 face, Spiderman, Jack Sparrow, and Jason the killer dude! Who came round to me and sliced me twice.
After that we passed Steven Spielberg’s house, on the highest hill.
Tour guide named Troy went passed all these hotels owned by different stars.
The Standard owned my Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. The Hyatt chain in LA owned by Justin Timberlake. Saw Paris Hilton and Britney’s house..eeee. Some place called Ketchup owned my Ashton Kutcher.
All this was pretty much down Sunset Boulevard, a popular celebrity area, especially with the outdoor cafe’s where they want to be seen, hah. Also passed the infamous Viper Room owned my Johnny Depp and the place River Phoenix died coming out of the place.
After that we went to a fancy place in Beverly Hills where all the rich and famous shop, saw a 10,000 dollar candle!!!
Went for lunch at Farmer’s Market, a really funky place. :]
Then drove to downtown Los Angeles, which is pretty much the CBD area, filled with skyscrapers but quite empty. We then drove back to Hollywood dropped some people off, then continued on the last 2 hours on a ‘movie stars tour’. So we basically drove into Beverley Hills again except this time it was to the houses. Loads of famous houses, old stars like Marilyn Manroe’s old house all the way to Bruce Willis and Will Smith. And even....Tom Cruise...eeee. Ringo Starr lives there too! :O
After all that we were dropped off outside the Chinese theatre, saw the premiere for the new Kevin Costner movie called Swing Vote. Place was even more packed than normal.
Had dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

25th July - Friday
Airport dayyy, off to New York.
Woke up at 10am, ate yesterday’s Chinese noodles using my fingers XD
Drove to the LAX airport, got there at 1pm.
Checked in, crazy check in! Remove shoes, laptop checks, everything! They should have just made us walk in naked.
Went on American Airlines, the plane left at 3.30, a 5 and a half hour flight. On board I watched Horton Hears A Who and 21. Had to BUY food, ahh. Staff were actually quite nice and funny, especially with their reactions to a few delays.
Arrived 12am New York time. Airport trolleys charge you 3 dollars per trolly!! No free trolleys, I was stunned.
Took a taxi, the dude has a GPS system so he can never get lost, and at the back with us there’s a touch screen TV with news. Not that I’d look at it when I just arrived in NEW YORK CITY.
Arrived at the Holiday Inn in Brooklyn-Union Street around 1am, sleepy time for sure. :)

26th July - Saturday
Woke up late - 12.30 pm but was still tired-ish.
We walked to Prospect Park and got some hot dogs for lunch.
Sat around at Prospect Park for a while, really nice place and large. We then headed to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, you have to pay to enter and the girl almost ripped my dad off with 10 dollars, tut tut.
After the gardens, we walked to the Brooklyn Museum (this is all in Prospect Park btw, yes big big) saw Egypt, African and Asian sculptures and art. At 5, we went to the museum’s cafe, for snacks and coffee. I think I had the best vegetarian soup there EVER.
Walked back through the Botanic Gardens out through Prospect all the way to a nearby cinema. Batman....sold out, damn.
So we sat for a while, then went for dinner at an Indian Restaurant, not bad, but..not enough chilli for sure.
Walked back to the hotel, store shopping for fruit.

27th July - Sunday
Woke up, had some in-room breakfast. Took the metro to the South Manhattan Ferry area, to Ellis Island (Statue of Liberty). The area was soooo busy, so we decided to drop the ferry idea.
We walked down Broadway, saw the World Trade Center memorial area (very big) as well as many interesting landmarks. We had lunch then continued walking. Walked to many of the parks and then decided to walk to Chinatown to find a cinema and sunflower flip flops (lol) for my mum because the shoes she was wearing were giving her blisters (alot of walking).
It started to rain and was realllll windy, so we waited under the motorway connecting to the Brooklyn Bridge, with a pretty view of the water. We walked to the pier to look at shops and then.....we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn!!! Exhilarating. Exciting. Enthralling!
Once across the bridge, we walked around downtown Brooklyn, still trying to find a cinema. Even the malls didn’t have cinemas. Two things that are hard to find here, - Post Office/Box and a Cinema.
We went for dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant, yummy! My parents had couscous, while I had grilled salmon in this yummy sauce. :D

28th July - Monday
Late wake, oops, - 12.30.
Took the metro to Herald Square, Manhattan. Saw the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. We walked north to Times Square and had some lunch. Had a look at the famous buildings [David Letterman’s show building], broadway theatres. Stopped at a street filled with music instruments! Had a look at a view. We walked to the north down Broadway, right under Central Park and had a look for a cinema. Found a cinema showing only indie movies..oops. So we walked south, down 7th Avenue and found a HUGE cinema with 25 different rooms! Watched the Dark Knight - awesomeee [read my review].
After the movie, we took the metro back to Brooklyn and went to an Asian restaurant down Union Street. I had sushi and sashimi!

29th July - Tuesday
Took the metro to Central Park, 35 minute trip ahh. Before the park, we went for lunch at the Green Cafe, where I had a salmon, cheese and tomato sandwich!! woo.
We then walked into Central Park’s south entrance. Walked to Strawberry Fields, the memorial garden for John Lennon!
We then walked around the park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Huge but very interesting place. I would love to go there again. It’s the only place where you can pay whatever you want to enter. Reminded me of Radiohead’s latest album, gahah. They even had costumes worn in the comic movies. Such as Christian Bale’s suit in the Dark Knight.
After the Met, we walked through another part of Central Park to head back to the metro.
Got off, and had dinner at a place called the smokehouse, where I had fried chicken with chips and yummy spinachhh!!! :) The sitting area was nice too, could see the outside of people walking around, doing their daily things.
Alot of walking today, got blisters. :|

30th July - Wednesday
Woke up late again, ahaha.
Had lunch on 5th Avenue, cold soup. Too much tomatoes!
After that, we took the metro to Manhattan. Stopped off at a souvenir shop, then to the music street - 48th street. I boughts myself a guitar! A Taylor 210 CE dreadnought!! :):):)
After that, we had a snack break, then off to the metro back to Brooklyn.
Took a break at the hotel, then went for dinner. I had a vegetarian lasagne at a cute restaurant called Aunt Suzie, heehee.
My last New York day today, and I really did have an interesting and unique 5 days. :] Must put pictures up!

Next stop, UK..