USA Road Trip – Day 10 – Lazy Days & Crazy Nights

As we had visited a lot of beaches and had seen the sights of Hollywood, originally our plan for Sunday was to spend the day at Universal Studios. However after having a bit of a crazy one the night before and all feeling slightly hungover and tired, we decided on a lazy pool day instead.

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Even though we had enjoyed the odd beach afternoon or a couple hours downtime, the majority of the trip so far had been go, go, go. Not that we were complaining as we were having the best time, but there is no better feeling knowing that you have no plans and can just take the day as you please.

I was quite jealous when I found out Megs and Fraser had enjoyed breakfast in bed, but Matt and I had already found a good spot around the very chilled out pool area and I was enjoying a snooze in the sunshine. (oh how I wish England would have reliable weather, sunbathing in March – the dream!)

We had lunch at the pool bar, which was so yummy and needed and then spent the afternoon either chilling in the hot tub, reading a book on a lounger or playing bat and ball in the pool.

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By early evening we were feeling revived and decided we should do something fun for our last evening in LA. So after a quick change we decided to get the free shuttle bus from the hotel to Universal Studios which was only 10 minutes up the road from us.

We had left it too late to actually visit the theme park, however they still have the CityWalk, which is an all day, all night entertainment area, which includes restaurants, bars, shops, nightclub and cinema.

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We had a little walk around and went into a few shops and then decided to pop into Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville for a drink and a game of cards (as was tradition on this trip) the cocktails were delicious and we ended up staying a little longer than we first expected as it was just so nice and chilled.

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It was starting to get dark when our thoughts turned to dinner. We could have stayed put but we wanted to have a little explore and see what else was on offer.

There were so many food outlets to chose from however nothing was taking our fancy, also a lot of the options were fast food places and we wanted something a little nicer than that. We made our way over to Tony Roma’s as we had heard it was meant to be quite nice place for ribs and steaks etc however while waiting in the queue for a table, we didn’t really like the atmosphere of the place it felt hectic and the food just looked like fast food. So we left still umming and ahhing about where to go. We ended up walking right to the front of CityWalk and found Saddle Ranch Chop House. It looked fun with its cowboy theme and mechanical bulls and there wasn’t much of a wait so we thought we would give it a go.

Unfortunately though we were sat right at the back of the restaurant (this is a huge place) and there wasn’t really anyone else around us. It really lacked any atmosphere (it all seemed to be out the front) and we were surrounded by creepy looking cowboy themed waxworks. There was a moment where we decided to leave this place too however we just couldn’t decide where we wanted to go and didn’t want to aimlessly walk around again, so decided to stick it out. Hoping for some good BBQ food.

In fairness my ribs and sweet potato fries were delicious however the rest of the group didn’t have dinners to rave about but they were nice. In hindsight we wished we had just gone to Hard Rock Cafe!

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We declined desserts and decided to go for another look around the shops we had missed the first time around, before heading back to the hotel, to enjoy wine under the stars and play perudo. THE game of the holiday.

Love, Chloe xx

USA Road Trip – Day 9 – Hollywood!

It was so nice to have a lie in, in a large, cosy, comfy bed after the last few uncomfy nights in San Diego (those beds were the worst!) The boys had gotten up early to watch the rugby on their i pads by the pool area and Megs had gone for an early morning dip (I’m the lazy one!) so I joined them a little later on for breakfast. Nutella Stuffed French Toast. Amazing!

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The boys engrossed in the rugby!

Over breakfast we decided what to do with our day. Should we go to Universal Studios, visit the sites of Hollywood, visit more beaches? The list was pretty endless. But eventually we decided we would drive down to Hollywood Boulevard to see the sights and then drive onto Santa Monica as the weather was so amazing we had to make the most of it.

We hadn’t realised how close we were to Hollywood Boulevard, just a 10 minute drive down the hill from our hotel and straight into a multi storey carpark very easy.

It was a Saturday morning in Hollywood which meant it was super busy. We made our way along the walk of fame but we couldn’t see all the stars as 1. There are so many of them it would have taken the whole day to see them all and 2. There were lots of people trying to see the stars/take pictures etc, plus it was super super hot. Also something a little strange and what some people may find a little full on or overwhelming is that so many people try to sell you their CD, or were handing out their resumes and headshots. Sometimes literally trying to shove them into your hand. It’s mad how people think you could be someone to help them make it big!

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We managed to get a few photos and then decided to head over to the Chinese Theatre and see the hand/foot prints.

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To be honest we didn’t think much of the Hollywood Boulevard area, it’s pretty run down and with the heat and constant array of people trying to sell you their soul we decided to call it a day after just over an hour.

On our way back to the car park we managed to get a good view of the Hollywood sign and also popped into a few shops.

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Back in the car we were looking forward to spending the rest of the day chilling on the beach in Santa Monica. However the traffic was awful and the closer we were getting to the beach the foggier it became.

By the time we made it to Santa Monica and parked up we couldn’t believe how cold and misty it was and how different the weather was back in Hollywood! You could feel the sea mist on you and it looked really eery, but that didn’t put us off, we still went for a walk along the pier, checked out some of the funfair rides and had a mooch around the stalls selling local wares.

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How crazy is this sea mist/fog?!

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Where’s the sea gone?

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Feeling a bit chilly and peckish we decided to head in from the beach and walked along the main high street. There were plenty of food places to choose from however being a Saturday most were only offering brunch or some had stopped food until the evening and seeing as it was afternoon and we had had breakfast we were really looking for something a bit more substantial. Hello Cheesecake Factory.

This restaurant was huge. Matt and I have visited cheesecake Factories before in America and Dubai but this was Megs and Frasers first time. Matt decided to order a couple of starters as a main as he wasn’t feeling that hungry but we couldn’t stop laughing when we saw how much arrived for him! Megs and I went for Buffalo chicken and fries and Fraser went for a burger. I ate as much buffalo chicken on this trip as I could as its my absolute favourite and I’m yet to find anywhere in the UK that tastes the same as America.

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Matt and his light bites haha

After dinner we decided that we had had enough of the cold misty weather and would head back to the hotel for a bit to chill, swim and have time to get ready before the evenings activities. But first we had to buy some cheesecake to take away! You can’t go to the cheesecake factory and not sample the cheesecake. The Oreo one is always my favourite!

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leaving the fog behind!

We were a bit disappointed with the weird weather and it was a shame we didn’t get to experience Santa Monica properly, however back at the hotel the sun was still shining and it was boiling hot. So we went for a dip in the pool and enjoyed a couple of drinks in the hot tub.

Later that evening it was Megs turn to surprise us all with her planned activity and she had booked something fun. A table at No Vacancy in the centre of Hollywood.

Pulling up in the taxi we had no idea what to expect, it was like something from a horror film when we arrived. No street lights, no people, just an old creepy looking hotel, with a no vacancy sign swinging in the breeze.

We walked up to the front of the building and there was a man sitting on a rocking chair on the porch. I think we were all thinking Megs where have you brought us? However he was super friendly, checked our names were on the list and then we waited a couple of minutes for a friendly hostess to take us into the club, or that’s what we thought she was doing. Instead she gave us a few instructions on the show times, not to take too many photos and how when we entered we had to chose from 1 of 3 doors to go through. Interesting…She left us and said she would meet us by the bar area.

So we stepped inside the building and were greeted with 3 doors, we went for door number 3. We gave it a little push and ended up in another room (a bedroom) with a very beautiful woman, dressed in lingerie, laying on the bed. She explained the rules again to us, asked if we were ready for a good night and then pulled a lever which moved the bed she was on backwards to reveal a secret staircase which we were then told to go down.

This lead us to the main bar area which was designed in a sort of burlesque/speakeasy type way. It was all very surreal but was really amazing. We met back with our original hostess who then took us to our table, which was located outside in the little courtyard area which was decorated with fairylights.

It was a lovely, warm Saturday evening and we couldn’t wait to see what the night had in store. We ordered a bottle of vodka with mixers and took in our surroundings, it was quite a small venue but there was something interesting around every corner with a real mixed bunch of people.

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At 11pm the show began first with a tightrope walker above our heads and then the burlesque show on the main stage.

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We had such a fun evening and when we called it a night we had to leave out of the back door, where we ended up back on Hollywood Boulevard which was surreal as we honestly felt like we were in our own little bubble in the middle of nowhere all evening.

If you are after a fun night out in LA I would definitely recommend No Vacancy, just make sure you book in advance!

Love, Chloe xx

 

USA Road Trip – Day 8 – LA Beaches!

A mix of emotions again leaving another amazing place and San Diego we will be back! However we were excited to get back on the road, in the Wagon and drive on to the next location and this time it was Los Angeles.

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Megs in the wagon!

Megs decided she was ready to take the wheel and after a quick lap of the car park we were on our way to Laguna Beach. I used to love MTV’s Laguna Beach so even though this was about 10 years later!! I was excited to check out the beach where so much drama happened.

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Hello Los Angeles!

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Boys in the back with all the snacks!

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Megs behind the wheel

Laguna Beach was beautiful but very small and not what I imagined at all. A small little town on the cliff top overlooking the beach, filled with quirky little boutiques and coffee shops it was cute and pretty. But I honestly thought it would be a lot bigger.

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Check out this house! We eventually found the car park, after a bit of a scary 50 point turn on this driveway (sorry about that!) but we took a moment to check out the sea views.

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I guess we came a little out of season as the beach café wasn’t open so we jumped back in the car and with me behind the wheel, we drove onto our next stop…Huntington Beach.

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Just call me LC

The drive along the Pacific Coast Highway is amazing. All the way along the West Coast, passing beach after beach and view after view.

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I loved seeing all the different spots and then finally we arrived at Huntington. A huge difference to the quaint Laguna. Huntington was big! Sand which went as far as the eye could see, a long pier lined with stalls and small shops with a restaurant/diner at the end and then a main high street with bars, restaurants, shops and cafes. It was a typical American beach filled with surfers, skateboarders and people playing volleyball.

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We went for a wander along the pier and along the beachfront. Finally settling on BLK Earth Sea Spirits for lunch. This was the perfect spot and we sat outside on the balcony over looking the sea and soaking up the sunshine. I also think this was the healthiest lunch we had all trip, salads and juices all round we knew we were in LA! The food and view were amazing, would definitely recommend!

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Look at this view!

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Refuelled and rested it was time for Fraser to drive us to our final beach of the day…Manhattan Beach. Matt’s university friend Phil, his wife Jess and their baby Greyson live here, so we decided to pop in and say hello, check out their gorgeous home and then we all headed down to the beachfront just before sunset.

We walked along yet another pier this one a little smaller but still just as pretty as the others, watched all the yummy mummies jogging with their babies and then finally found a little bar with a view of the beach, to have a proper catch up over a glass of vino or two (sorry Matt having to drive the final stretch to our hotel!) – Also sorry I didn’t seem to take any photos here, clearly too busy catching up!

As night fell, Phil and Jess had to get back to put Greyson to bed and we decided it was time to make a move and head to our hotel. Phil had already warned us about the traffic and how even though our hotel was only just over 20 miles away it would most likely take us a couple of hours to get there!

We were very grateful to Matt for driving us in the dark, with the crazy LA drivers, in lots of traffic but we finally made it to The Garland just after 8pm.

The hotel was so pretty, it had a retro modern theme, and the staff were super friendly and helpful, we checked in so quickly, dropped all our luggage into our beautiful rooms and then made our way down to the The Front Yard restaurant. Passing the stunning outdoor pool area which was covered in fairy lights and had a projector screen showing the film Matilda which people were watching from the pool, very cool!

The restaurant was packed and we were very lucky to get a table on a Friday night without booking, but the staff were so lovely and helpful. Turned out the majority of them are aspiring actors and actresses so Hollywood! We ate some delicious flatbreads and pastas and then shared a couple of desserts between us.

We ended the night under the stars by the pool, drinking wine and taking in our new, beautiful surroundings.

Love, Chloe xx