Archive for April, 2004

California day 5

We’re going to Coachella today! Wow. But first, a little more San Diego. So hard to leave this wonderful place. So we drove a little around La Jolla, took some pictures at the beautiful LDS temple (which is, as i mentioned earlier, even more impressive during the twilight) and then the truly greatest American experience — dinner at the world-famous Hooters! Our server (which is an American word for “waiter”) was Starley, who is apparently Jewish! Horrors! She even went to Kotel on her Bat-Mitzvah! Oh my. After a little stroll on the beach, we headed to the desert.

But no, not yet — California is a very diverse place, so we had some mountains and forests on the way. So it was similar to Beyt-Oren again, but much longer and with a genius improvement called “Turnouts” — short side lanes for slow traffic. Slow traffic is me, of course, and i let all those American guys to pass me. I still don’t why were they in such a hurry.

And finally the desert. Huge, endless, with quite a lot of RV’s going to and fro. Some half-abandoned “restaurants” on the way. A very long drive there, and though monotonous, not boring, and even quite beautiful.

Now Coachella is the name of the valley and also of a small town there. Nothing special about the town, except the Polo field. It’s special, because first of all, all the other “fields” we’ve seen there were golf places, and there are a lot of them. Secondly, the Coachella Music and Arts Festival took place there. We’ve spotted the place from afar — there were huge lights pointing at the sky (like in a Soviet war movie, i thought.) We arrived at the campsite right on time, just a few minutes before a very long line formed there. The tent was a good surprise — it was my first time building it, and it was a breeze. The box said that it is for four people, but it had place only for two, or as El’ad said: “It is fine for two people, but four? – Sprats!” Riga sprat, Riga sprat, goes so well with this or that.

That’s it, tomorrow’s the big day. Pixies.

California day 4

We took a peek at the old city of San Diego — nicely restored with dressed-up tourist guides, but interesting mostly for the kids. Then some driving around the hills, some nice views and then — the world-famous zoo! Ya mama. Animals and stuff. Very fun, but really not that much to tell. I took some pictures, and i’m particularly proud of the hummingbirds. Maybe i should study a little ornithology. El’ad, for some reason, was very curious about the koalas. The pandas there symbolized San Diego in the best way — laid-back.

Later we took a little walk around the Balboa park, which is really nice. Maybe we should have went there earlier — it’s a quiet place with some very nice Spanish buildings. Maybe some other time. Then some more driving around the city, and also to the world-famous Coronado — the fancy suburb on the peninsula connected to mainland with a long narrow bridge. Some impressive pics there too, and a supper in a Japanese restaurant. El’ad kept complaining about the quality of sushi there — he was very disappointed, according to him it paled in comparison to Tel-Aviv’s Sakura. Actually he was right, but hey, it’s San Diego! He’s supposed to be LAID-BACK!! In the evening we found ourselves an internet cafe. Expensive, damn it!

California day 3

The last day in LA. We were planning to go to San Diego in the evening, but were in a mood for a little culture in the morning, to balance the rollercoasters, so we went to the world-famous Getty. As El’ad said, “That’s what happens when someone gives someone else a billion dollars and tells him to build a museum”. The experience begins at the parking: it is located at the foot of a picturesque hill, and the city had built a highway way just to facilitate it. From the parking there’s a monorail tram going up the hill, and on its top is the museum. An appropriate word to describe the whole thing is “futuristic”, but “Gattaca” is even more on the spot: everything and everyone is squeaky clean, the walls are sparkling white, and the gardens downstairs … oh the gardens. The museum itself is not too big; maybe LA can’t take large doses of high culture. But for what it is, it is a very worthy visit.

For the afternoon we went to Venice beach, which is quite like the Eilat promenade, but American, which here means — original and real. And of course much much bigger. No chic there, just a lot of interesting and very free people.

Before hitting the highways for San Diego, we stopped to buy the camera for Dudi in a small store on Hollywood boulevard. It’s a Minolta DiMAGE Z1, and though it looks a little weird on the pictures, it’s very cool in reality.

I drove all the way to SD; there was some slow traffic on the way and crossing the huge sprawl of LA’s one-story suburbs started to feel like eternity at some point, but as soon as we hit the country it started to look very nice. When we got close to San Diego, the sun was almost down, so we got an amazing view of the San Diego LDS temple, which is much more beautiful and unique than the one in LA. Indeed, this was just the start of how nearly everything in SD is just better than in LA.

Our hotel in SD was Travelodge. “Well maintained” means “not ruined”, but El’ad says that it’s not that they don’t have the means to clean it, it’s just meant to be that way, because one old Jew owns 99% of the hotels in the world, the cheap and the chic, and Travelodge is supposed to look like a motel; it’s diversity, really. Sounds somewhat reasonable.

In the evening i drove to the world-famous Gaslamp Quarter and after i turned to Broadway St., i noticed police lights in the rear-view-mirror. For a few moments i thought that he’s not after me, but then he activated the siren. At that point i wanted to die. I carefully pulled over, opened the window, and a very slick young policeman asked, just as i expected: “Your license and registration please.” He checked my passport and told me that i turned left from a straight line. I was so shocked that i didn’t even understand what he said exactly and just let El’ad do the talking. He let me go with a warning. I hardly managed to handle the car to the parking, then we went to an Italian restaurant and i ordered Gin-Martini right away. And then some wine. Just didn’t want to leave El’ad any doubts about who’s driving back. It took me a couple of days to understand what the policeman said, ’cause i started to imagine all kinds of weird things about the American traffic regulations. The meal was pretty good, but for me that evening was pretty much ruined. Trauma.

California day 2

After the little driving exercise last night we went back to the hotel to finally get a proper sleep, but alas — we couldn’t. Oh, the jet lag. Both of us hardly got any sleep. At least it was easy to wake up early.

We quickly agreed that there are probably no serious cultural, historical or natural landmarks in this town. Now El’ad didn’t have any particular ideas of where to go, but i, of course, wanted to go to the happiest place on Earth — Disneyland. El’ad vetoed, just as i expected, not wanting to expose himself to the cheesiest tourist trap on Earth. Eventually we settled on the world-famous Six Flags, because it’s lighter on the theme part and heavier on the thrills and rides part, which was perfect for me. Before that, however, we took a ride on the world-famous Mulholland drive. A long road through forests and mountains, it resembles the Beyt-Oren road in Israel, except that it’s in the middle of a city. It was very cool and l33t to park the car on a steep cliff. Watching the fancy villas, we quickly came up with the second silly-phrase-that-would-follow-us-till-the-end-of-the-trip — “Mi shegar po — histader!!” (“Whoever lives here – made it!!”). El’ad was very pleased that from that moment on he can brag in front of Eisenberg that he visited the street after which that movie was named. I almost made an accident there, when i turned left on green without yielding to the cars in front of me. Apparently that’s the rule in USA. It would never work in Israel, where green is always green!

On the way to Six Flags we dined at a world-famous unique gourmet restaurant called Denny’s. Just kidding — it is obviously a chain, but not even half as good as London’s Garfunkel’s. Very American of course, and very junk, no matter how hard they advertise their veggie, diet or low-carb meals. The pancakes are served with all possible sauces and confitures AND whipped cream. A lot of it. But of course i finished all of it. Hey, it is America.

Six Flags was a real treat. A little expensive, but worth the price, as it is chock-full of rollercoasters, just the way Aharoni likes it. As for El’ad — it took him some time to wash away the desperate “get-me-out-of-this-silly-tourist-trap!!!” face (and i also yelled at him — it worked) and eventually he started to enjoy it. In a Whack-A-Mole race against El’ad i won a stuffed animal of an unknown sort — we called it “Cat”, but Hadar says it looks like a dog. Both of us took a lifetime dose of rollercoasters. On one of them, the world-famous “Viper”, every time a ride started the P.A. proclaimed “Enjoy your ride on the V-I-P-E-R!!!”, and because we stood in line for some time there and heard it at least five times it became the third silly-phrase-that-would-follow-us-till-the-end-of-the-trip. Other memorable rides include “Goliath”, “Gotham City” and “X” (the one with the longest line). One last notable thing: El’ad noticed that nearly all girls there, of all ages (most were around 14) wore denim panties. I don’t think i would notice it myself; he says that it induces pedophilia.

On the way back from Six Flags there was a huge traffic jam on the I-5 highway. We listened to OK Computer and at “Exit Music” El’ad came up with the fourth silly-phrase-that-would-follow-us-till-the-end-of-the-trip: “We hope/cha cha cha/cha cha cha.” (It later developed to include “… a song to keep us warm/there’s cha cha cha/cha cha cha” and applied to many more songs.) Sick of that jam, we got off the road (pesha`!!!) and had a dinner at a restaurant which actually looked like it is not a part of any chain, “Wild Thyme” (seriously). The food was slightly better than the average junk, and the waitress was particularly nice (later we found out that in USA most of them are). The funny part was that i heard a familiar song, and realized that i’m familiar with the version performed by the venerable Flys. I knew that it’s probably a Byrds cover, but didn’t know what is the name of the English original, so i asked the waitress, and all she could tell me was: “It kinda sounds like the Beatles…”

On the way back to LA we checked out the sleeping bags prices at Sport Chalet, and i picked up a bottle of the world-famous Mug root beer. Damn it, i wanted to taste the notorious beer replacement for minors and the ultimate weapon of ghost-pirate destruction. El’ad said that it’s the most disgusting thing he ever tasted; i didn’t think so, but it did taste just like Ben-Gay, so i won’t be drinking that crap again anytime soon. In general, the soft drinks in USA are rather bad compared to those in Israel and i’m not quite sure that it’s just a matter of what i’m used to. Judging by the American taste, it seems that Israel’s cheap “Super Drink” brand would be a real hit there, while Coca-Cola bottled in Bney-Brak and adopted to the Israeli taste wouldn’t stand a chance.

California day 1

The flight was pretty bad. The food was OK (El-Al), but there were no movies (because of the Memorial Day), and i hardly got any sleep. My first jet lag.

The car: at LAX the car agencies are not at the airport itself and there are shuttles to the pick-up lots. Which is not bad, but for some reason the AVIS shuttle arrived late, and we were pretty pissed to see happy Dollar, Hertz and Thrifty clients taking one shuttle after another. Oh well.

Hadar made me promise that i won’t drive on the highway right away, which was a good thing, because the world-famous LA highways are crazy. El’ad handled them pretty well. A notable feature of nearly all roads in the USA is poor asphalt, so pretty quickly we came with the first silly-phrase-that-would-follow-us-till-the-end-of-the-trip — “Do we have a puncture? We should pull over to check”. The first time we thought we had a puncture we actually did it.

The first night we stayed at Motel6 Hollywood. It is indeed pretty cheap, but they are fair: if the guest leaves early, they give the money back. If there’s no parking at the hotel, they give back the money for the parking outside. The room is a little smelly when you enter it, but after opening the window, it goes away. Overall — a decent place to sleep. Only one serious problem — CNN’s was not on channel three, in fact there was no TV at all.

We took a little walk on the Hollywood boulevard, the one with the stars. Nothing special, really, it looks just like Allenby in Tel Aviv (that is — not particularly good!), just with the stars. So there are some attractions — the world-famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater (with the stars’ handprints), Ripley’s Believe it or Not and of course, L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition (apparently, that last one became so important that it can be found on the MSN map, in LA tour guides, and among the flyers in hotel lobbies. I get the impression that Scientology is doing a pretty good PR job lately). Anyway, the jet lag kicked in, so we only took a peek at the Grauman’s Theater and went back to the hotel to hit the sack.

I set the alarm clock on 08:00pm, but obviously woke up much later, at around 09:00pm. And of course it took some more time to wake El’ad. We went out to explore LA’s nightlife and i drove for the first time. After going on red light once, i got a grip of myself. I drove through all of the world-famous Santa Monica boulevard, which, despite being featured in certain hit songs, it’s just a very long street with a lot of traffic lights connecting several suburbs. If i’ll go on with comparisons to Israeli streets, then this one is like Zhabotinsky in Ramat-Gan etc., really nothing special. The only landmarks worth of notice on this street are the Herbalife building, the Flynt Publications building, and LA LDS Temple. There’s a little alley in the end of that street, near the beach, with some pubs and restaurants, but it’s not Israel, so at 10:30pm they were all closed, and most of the people at that alley were homeless.

California day 0

The bags are ready at Hadar’s place. My last mindless day at work. Apparently my lovely government decided to play with the calendar, so my flight is on the Memorial Day and not on the Independence Day, which is not very nice. In any case, i also noticed that i land back in Israel a day later than i thought. Oh, the dates. But why should i care.

In the duty free we got ourselves 500ml of Chivas Regal in a plastic bottle, for the trip.

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