USA I Santa Monica

This is me overjoyed with the fact that this is the day I board a plane for Los Angeles. After spending the last few months working as a travel agent I am finally reaping the benefits and travelling! This is the start of an epic two month adventure and I can't wait to share it all with you.

One thing I think I will be asked a lot is 'how much did you save?'. The answer to that is not enough and not much. I left with $5000 in my savings account and my first ever credit card. I got a 28 degrees card which is basically the only credit card you should ever travel with. This isn't a plug but I just found it a lot better than using a travel money card with Commonwealth bank. You don't pay any overseas transaction or currency conversion fees and no atm fees either. I had a $6000 limit on this. Spoiler alert, I did go over this and I am now currently in a lot of debt, but it was so worth it. Bare in mind that a lot of my trip was paid for, accommodation, coachella ticket and camping, and the contiki tours.

The only thing I hate about travelling is not being able to do it with her. I wish I could take her with me everywhere. America is so dog friendly. It made it that much harder being away from her for so long. I miss my parents as much as any other child, but she is my fur baby of course I miss her slightly more. She needs me as much as I need her.

Just a fresh faced gal off on a big solo adventure.

One of the fun things you learn as a travel agent is how to choose meals. If a customer has a specific meal that means they will receive their meal first. After reading a few tips on flying and aeroplane food facts I decided to try the vegetarian options. I am in no way vegetarian, I love meat, but aeroplane meat is not meat. There is nothing more dry than the chicken inside the in-flight meal. I quickly found out that the vegetarian option on flights basically just means beans and lentils or whatever is in the above dish. Look, it wasn't horrible, but surely it would be easier to just steam some vegetables? Replace all those legumes with vegetables and I would be so happy.

For the first flight I finally got to watch 'The Greatest Showman on Earth'. After listening to a historical podcast on PT Barnum and being shamefully obsessed with musicals this satisfied my soul. Plus Hugh Jackman, enough said.

No one cared who I was until I put on the mask. I bought a humidiflyer, which is the mask contraption on my face. Basically this mask is designed to help alleviate jet lag, fight in-flight infections and make the air you breathe humidified. I mainly got it because I hate dry aeroplane air. I don't know if it did much for jetlag but I was able to sleep pretty well on my flight, which is unusual. I would honestly recommend this to anyone who cannot stand dry air, it really was a lifesaver. The mask I am wearing is the Kiehls Instant Renewal Concentrate mask. 

If you look closely you can see the Hollywood sign up on the hill.

After getting off the plane it was so nice to find out that the TSA workers had so kindly unlocked my suitcase for me so that I didn't have to.. Nothing was stolen or broken. Not that I really had anything in my suitcase worth taking. Always keep the expensive things on me, by that I mean laptop and cameras. Once I got out of the airport I was collected by the most down to earth and genuinely kind Uber driver. I let him know it was my first time in Los Angeles and that I was looking forward to trying In-N-Out. Thinking back, it's a bit lame that a burger was the first thing I said I was looking forward to arriving in a new city. But then again, I did just endure a whole lot of legumey meals on those flights. 

He took me to In-N-Out, but not only that. He ordered and paid for my meal as well as sitting with me outside to eat it with me. I asked him to order me what he would get. Double Double whole grill onions with extra sauce and fries animal style.  He also insisted that I got a hat, which I clearly did. 

Review, A M A Z I N G! Well, the burger was, but that was to be expected. The chips tasted like cardboard. Actually, I would rather eat cardboard, they were that bad. I continued to order fries from different In-N-Out's thinking that maybe it was just this particular store, but it wasn't. Every single order of fries I got were horrible. 10/10 would not recommend. The burger was delicious though. To be fair, if you get the double double you don't really need fries.

After checking into my very 'cosy' Airbnb in Venice Beach, I decided to go check out the infamous Venice Drum Circle. For the most part it's what you would expect, hippies and humans alike dancing to bongo drums and smoking weed. The minute I stepped out of my Airbnb I am pretty sure I had a contact high just from breathing in the California air. I am in no way a stoner, plus I really really don't like the smell of weed, but each to their own. If I wasn't already a little high just from the general air, I definitely was by the time I left that drum circle. I chilled for a while enjoying the vibes and watching the sunset when a dude offered me a beer. We got to chatting and he wanted to take me for a drink to celebrate my first night in America.

We went to a Mexican place, which I later found out was a chain that is renowned for their huge Margaritas, Cabo Cantina. The one in the picture is not one of them. For my first tacos in America, I wasn't exactly amazed. I gave them the benefit of the doubt considering it was more a bar then a fine food establishment. Plus I only tried the steak taco as the guy, whose name I don't even remember ordered two servings of the same flavour. What kind of psychopath does that?

After a drink with him I was so bored I just wanted to leave. He would not stop talking about himself and who he knows. It was the most LA conversation I've ever had. Apparently he was some producer for Always Sunny, he even went as far as to show me his IMDb page. I don't think there is a bigger signifier to a woman that you have an extraordinarily small penis than showing them your credentials. Can I see your resume and cover letter as well while we're at it? Safe to say I bailed on that whole situation. I am still confused as to why I didn't just leave when he went to the bathroom? Why did I wait until he was out, to tell him that I wanted to leave? I could have just walked out, it's not like he had my number or knew anything about me? I guess I was just being polite. One thing I learnt very quickly in LA was to fuck politeness, at least when it comes to men.

Random dude dropped me back NEAR where I was staying. Never let a dude know where you live, especially when you are travelling solo. Once he drove away I ran to my place and had the best bath ever!

How's that world of difference a little bit of makeup does?

I can't believe for the whole time I was at the Airbnb I did not take a photo of the awesome cruiser bike I had loaned off the owner. It was red, had a cute little basket and was basically my sidekick for the time I spent in Venice Beach and Santa Monica. From where I was staying it was about a 10-15min bike ride to 3rd Street Promenade, the main shopping strip. I still remember my first beach ride. It was phenomenal. I cannot reccomend staying in Venice Beach enough. This was my absolute favourite thing to do, ride up and down the beach.

I won't lie, that first ride really took it out of me. It wasn't hard, I was just tired and very unfit. My first stop was this cute little juice bar that quickly became my Santa Monica obsession. I asked what the most popular drink was and went with what they told me, the flax master. Below is all the ingredients that were in it.

These were all over the place. Little vitamin packets. LA is extremely health conscious. I really regret not making the most out of it while I was there. When I left LA I quickly realised that I wouldn't be able to get tumeric and wheatgrass shots wherever I travelled. 

After my very Los Angeles breakfast smoothie I spent the day window shopping for the most part. One of my loves since London is Urban Outfitters. I am still so upset that we don't have it. Screw Topshop, give me UO any day! So you can imagine I was pretty stoked to visit my first American UO. I was incredibly impressed. Online shopping really doesn't do UO any favours. One of my favourite things about them is the layout and visual merchandising of their stores. It is always so on fleek! I spent way too long in this shop.

If you know me, you know I am a magpie to anything holographic. It's a real problem. Look at the decorative hanger below. I don't need that whatsoever, but I want it (she said about every single thing in the UO Home range).

I made a lot of purchasing regrets in America, most of them revolved around not buying things because I thought I would buy it later. This never happened and I missed out on buying a lot of really unique and fun clothing and accessories. This belt was one of these casualties, a victim to my indecisiveness. 

Shopping with your pets is just a given in America, whilst in Australia you get yelled at if you try and carry your dog inside just to quickly grab something because you can't leave your stage 5 clinger dog outside otherwise she will cry as if you are tearing her limbs off.

I am disappointed in myself that my first American slice was from a craptacular food court, but in my defence I was starving as I had only had a smoothie for breakfast.

These nopes above were found in a really cute toy shop called Puzzle Zoo on 3rd Street Promenade.

One of my favourite chains, Lemonade. This was the Spicy Fin Poke Bowl and it was incredible but I didn't really get to concentrate on it as much as I would have liked to. Just after I took these photos a young guy started chatting me up. He wasn't bad looking, but he was interrupting my food. He ended up asking if he could join me so I let him. I didn't mind chatting, but I did have to be more conscious of how I looked attempting to eat the poke bowl with chopsticks.

He took me to this spot he liked. It was just a random little park but it was a nice little overlook onto the beach. I bailed because I had already made plans to see Nicole and Ned. It was nice chatting to this guy. He will be in my video when I eventually put those together.

Before meeting with Nicole and Ned we had been looking for a rooftop pool for ages but couldn't find one close by. They sent me an elaborate list of instructions of how to get to where they were, which was inside of a pool. I quickly went to Forever 21 and bought the cheapest swimsuit there and then followed their instructions. Go to the Shangri La Hotel, try to get past the lobby and go to level 2, walk down the hallway and go down the emergency exit, there is a window halfway through, climb through it and you are in the hotel pool. It didn't entirely go to plan. I did have to pretend I was going up to the rooftop bar and then go back down to level 2, but either way I got there.

We spent an hour or two catching up by the pool. It was so good to see Nicole. We live right by each other but she is always busy with her music, whether it be recording or touring, she is always working her butt off somewhere in the world. When we caught up she was in LA finalising her FIRST EVER ALBUM! I am so so so proud and happy! Nicole has been working on this album for years and a lot of long hours of recording and being on planes in general has gone into this. She has sacrificed a lot and put her heart and soul into the lyrics that she wrote all herself. Below is all the necessary links to use when you purchase her album. I bought myself a hard copy and it is the only cd I will ever have in my car.

All the links to purchase and stream her new album are all HERE as well as how to get tickets to ger upcoming gigs.

Love being a third wheel to these lovebirds. 

Here's to Nicole for her first ever album Excuse Me!

After we shared a bottle of champagne at the Onynx Rooftop Bar on top of the Shangri La, we then went to SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa. For some reason I have no photos but I did take videos. This will probably be a recurring theme of this trip. I tried very hard to vlog and take photos but this turned out to be quite a feat. Practice makes perfect. Anyway... for dinner we got the Nozawa Trust me set. This included organic edamame, tuna sashimi, albacore sushi, salmon sushi, yellowtail sushi, snapper sushi, hirame sushi, toro handroll, blue crab handroll and the daily special. This was hands down one of the best meals I ate in America. If you love sushi, this is a bucket list item. Or if you can afford it, dinner every night when you go to LA. The fish was so fresh and delicious, it honestly melted in your mouth. After dinner I said my goodbyes and rode my bike back to Venice. I have never ridden a bike so fast, it was so spooky and black riding on the beach, and I haven't even mentioned the homeless people...but that's another post.


*Please note, this is my first blog post where majority of the photos have been edited with Lightroom. I am still learning and have taken a few creative liberties because this is my blog and I can post what I like. I hope that by the end of these posts you will be able to see a clear progression of how my skills have improved in Lightroom, well here's hoping.

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