Los Angeles: where literally “everybody seems so famous”. Hot rays of sunshine and a cool, ocean breeze greeted me as I walked out of LAX. I needed to find which terminal Air Canada flights flew into but there are nine terminals! It’s a huge airport but luckily easy to navigate, and I was thrilled when I discovered coffee in terminal two where I would be meeting Herag once he’d come in from Toronto three hours after my arrival. After throwing it back and finishing off my vanilla almonds, our reunion was full of hugs, smiles and EXTREME ADRENALINE FROM THE VENTI.
Just outside of the airport area and about 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood is Culver City, a cute suburb like the Mississauga to Toronto. And thanks to Herag’s family, we stayed at the Four Points Sheraton there, next to the four-story Westfield mall. Oh how amazing it felt to take a nice, luxurious shower in a beautiful hotel after over 20 hours of travelling and waiting around in old sweat. My 13-hour flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles included lots of snacking, thanks to Virgin Australia’s amazing in-flight snack bar, stretching awkwardly every hour or so in the aisles, restlessness since I simply could not get a wink of sleep in and basically watching the entire Harry Potter series (excluding the Goblet of Fire and Half-Blood Prince). I also listened to the whole Pharrell album, which is such a good listen (definitely an album for dancing alone in your bedroom in your underwear).
Although I was exhausted most of the week, having to adjust to yet another time zone, and having gone back a whole day living Saturday August 15th twice, I still managed to see a big chunk of L.A. and eat as much good ol’ American food as I could. Most desserts during the week were consumed at the infamous American restaurant chain Cheesecake Factory or MILK, an awesome little homemade ice cream spot with incredibly delicious scoops and ice cream sandwiches, which you can buy pre-made or build one to your liking on the spot with your choice of creamy flavours between macaroon cookies. My recommendation (and possibly the recommendation of Herag’s entire family): the blue velvet ice cream sandwich. I also tried their incredible flavours of coconut and banana dulce de luche in waffle cones. I’m still dreaming about them. Restaurants I really enjoyed included: Chin Chin – delicious Asian cuisine on Sunset Blvd, incredible Mediterranean and Lebanese food at Carousel, where Herag’s Armenian family had all their favourites brought out and I left with an extreme food baby, and of course In-N-Out Burger, which was thoroughly enjoyed after two-hours of swaying our bodies and singing our hearts out on the floor at Mumford and Sons live at the Forum in Inglewood.
What I didn’t expect about L.A. was that you really don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy the city, simply strolling down Hollywood, Sunset, Beverly or Melrose allows you to see the funky Californian fashion, sit for bites at cute cafes and star gaze, Hollywood stars that is. We actually stood in line for popcorn at the theatres at the Grove beside the flawless Rihanna. Both Herag and I couldn’t take our eyes off her and neither of us gets star-struck. She is just so beautiful! We spent an afternoon at Venice Beach with a walk to Santa Monica Pier and returned a few nights later to check out the Thursday night concerts that are held at the pier weekly throughout the summer (going to be honest, they weren't that great but the pier looks beautiful all lit up under the dark night sky).
Then…there was Universal Studios. The land where dreams are made of when you are almost 23 and act like a 12 year old. Entering through the massive Jurassic Park gates, interacting with “real” dinosaurs and being chased by them on a water ride was such a highlight for this dinosaur lover. I chowed down on greasy, disgusting amusement park pizza and ran around like a kid to all the rides. The studio tour was definitely a highlight. The $95 (American) fee was all worth it once I stepped into the trolley that takes you through their 12,000 acres of land, snapping pictures in front of iconic backdrops, studios and entering 3D, interactive rides on Skull Island with King Kong and riding along with Vin Diesel and the rest of the Fast and the Furious gang as we raced down a virtual highway. The graphics are just jaw dropping. The gang was holograms in the room for the first part of it. It literally felt like I could have just reached out and grabbed Vin’s muscles! (It didn’t work though – I tried).
Now…I’ve been home for a week. My layover in Detroit was just about an hour and the flight from there is about 40 minutes. When we flew into Mississauga, getting ready to land, I could see the CN Tower in the distance and my heart began to beat so quickly. An electric warmth rushed through my blood and instantly a smile stretched across my face. Yeap, Toronto is still home. India could never replace the way those lights and that smelly lake water makes me feel.
Walking through the front door of my mothers house and being attacked by my little Jack Russell Terrier (more like terror), Danny and the two Golden Retrievers, Daisy and Paisley, pure joy came bursting out of every pore on my body while embracing those hairy guys, turning my once-upon-a-time black tank top into a lint roller covered in soft, golden fur.
Some how since coming home I've managed to actually get some sleep while trying to fit in 1001 dates with friends and family. Here we go, my two month break before heading back into the chaos that is India. I'm already enjoying every minute of it. Especially since I came home just in time to celebrate my 23rd birthday tomorrow.
Happy birthday to me!