Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bronte Beach & Tamarama Beach

Given the hot weather in Sydney this past week, we made good our escape from it and planned for a trip to Bronte on Sunday. Naturally, it was overcast that day and a lot cooler. Not to worry!

We had to park in the suburbs and trek in. And we forgot to bring beach towels. But we had a lovely splash on Tamarama Beach (and I got dumped by the waves a couple of times... ow!) and then a glorious swim in the ocean pool at Bronte Beach.

Joe was never taught to swim, so we did some back floating, back stroke, side stroke and doggy paddling! He seems more confident. I would love to be able to get him some proper swimming lessons sometime.

We got a snag from a stall that was set up selling them to raise money for cancer. The sausage was tough as, and the bread roll was worse! Crikey. Then we had fish and chips later from the Bronte Kiosk, and that was $10 extremely well spent. Delicious.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier, California

We only popped in to the Santa Monica Pier for a brief visit on the last evening of our time in California before flying out at 11:20pm on Virgin Australia back to Melbourne.

We found it by chance whilst driving around with Gerry, taking in the sights of Venice Beach, Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles.

It was cold, but everybody there was having fun. A little expensive to participate in the rides and sideshow alley games - most of them were $5 a pop for 3 tries at a game. You'd wanna come armed with cash!


We found a Rita's Water Ice in Santa Monica.

I have heard all about it from the Restubog family over the years, but seeing as I always visit Philadelphia in winter, Rita's is always closed! Now they've got one in California (which Ruby was VERY excited to hear!).

Mine was a layer of cheesecake-flavoured water ice (like gelato) in the middle, with layers of chocolate and vanilla "twisted" frozen custard (just like ice cream, if you've never tried it before, only creamier and somehow more delicious).

Venice Beach, California

What a beautiful place Venice Beach is, even despite all of the weed-smokers and hippies. (Lord, the smell of weed everywhere!) There were colourful characters everywhere, live music banging on joyously and a wintry sunshine blazing down onto the pavement. People on bicycles and segways sailed by on the bike paths, and the sand was full of people reclining on towels, hoping to bake themselves a tan. We dipped our toes into the water, but it was freezing cold! Better off going for a swim back home in Australia.
Pam's sister, Helen

Joe & Pam

Joe's brother, Gerry


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our first day in Los Angeles

We arrived at LAX shortly before 7 in the morning, all of us exhausted because we'd hardly slept on the Delta flight from Sydney to LA. Not sure why. I usually get some good sleep in, and Joe certainly does. It was Helen's very first longhaul flight so nobody expected sleeping miracles from her, though I did try to coach her through it. I watched The Conjuring and Despicable Me 2 on the plane, as well as reading some of Piccadilly Jim by Wodehouse. I spent a lot of time with my eyes closed but no sleep was forthcoming. Alas.

So anyway, we were totally rooted and headed for our hotel, the Four Points by Sheraton at LAX hotel via the free airport shuttle. They kept our bags for us but apologetically said they couldn't check us in until at least 9:30am. Not to worry, we knew check-in was at 3pm so we were lucky to get early check-in at all! We wandered off to a Denny's Diner which was nearby for Helen's first taste of the diner experience. We were all quite full from the Delta flight (I have never been given so much food on a plane before! Value for money there) but I forced down some coffee.

Here's a pic of Helen and I looking wide awake and excited to be there (roughly 4am Sydney time).

Denny's had some very interesting Hobbit-themed items on the menu (a whole separate menu, in fact) for the release of the new Hobbit movie. Which reminds me, still haven't seen that yet...

After we went back to the hotel, checked in, and napped for 2-3 hours (desperately needed), we went down to see our concierge. We weren't really sure what we wanted to do but we knew we wanted to see the sights. Our tiredness was a big factor. The concierge booked the 3 of us in to do a "VIP Tour" with "VIP Tours" near LAX. It wasn't for a couple of hours, so we went and had lunch at the hotel restaurant.

Here we are, looking bleary-eyed. I thought I was doing the healthy thing by ordering a cobb salad, not really knowing what that was, and it came out with huge amounts of cheese and dressing on it. Oh yes, veeeery healthy.

Helen with her macaroni cheese

Me with my cobb salad

Joe with buffalo wings and onion rings
(read: Joe blissful and in Heaven)

So then we were off! Our driver was great and talked the whole way through the tour, pointing out various landmarks and interesting info about Los Angeles. As we approached each landmark, he'd explain how much time we had, and then we'd hop off for half-an-hour to an hour to explore the area. Then he'd pick us up again and we'd be off. It was the best thing for 3 weary, jetlagged travellers. We didn't have to do anything, just went along for the ride! Loved it.

On the way to Hollywood

The corner next to The Viper Room. Drove by too quick to get a good pic.


Extra points for being able to spot The Hollywood Sign in any of these pics.

Rodeo Drive

The Grove / Farmers' Market