The Los Angeles Leg.
It’s six days into our USA adventure and today we left the neon lights of Hollywood for the cruisier climes of downtown San Diego. Travelling with kids was always going to mean extra planning so we pre-booked all accommodation in advance via Expedia. Teens eat far more than younger children do, but the upside is that they can carry their own luggage! As a result, Los Angeles has been an amazing experience for all of us and we have packed a lot into a small window of time. Our only regret is that we forgot to pack a tube of Vegemite. We also can’t work out the tipping system here and feel like we are throwing dollar bills around like confetti out of a fear of being viewed as stingy if we don’t. For the most part people we encounter are kind and friendly.
Like many family travellers, we try very hard to balance our trips with a mix of budgeting and sanity saving blowouts. We picked a simple hotel in North Hollywood, The Colony Inn, with the added plus that Uber rides took us the four-kilometre trip to Universal Studios for less than $10 and further on to Hollywood Boulevard for less than $20. On the third day, we worked out how to use the Metro and bought ourselves a day pass for $8.00 each, which connected with the shuttle up to Griffith Observatory (50c a ticket) to take in the city panorama and Hollywood sign. After last year’s experiences backpacking in Japan, our kids are adept at navigating public transport systems, and hubby and I tell ourselves we are keeping it real so they don’t end up all entitled...
I don’t need to tell you that sharing two room apartments with three children means romance is dead in the water! But then again, that is precisely what got us in this situation of bunking with adolescent offspring in the first place… so we continue the jolly memory making – notwithstanding that after five nights sharing a room, meals, actually every minute of every day, we have had a few meltdowns upon arrival this evening. The wifi initially didn’t connect: a ‘Code Blue’ if you will. Luckily, our resident computer programmer went straight to work, only swore once, and order - ie; internet – was restored.
We each have different objectives to accomplish on this trip. For my fifteen-year-old devoted Hufflepuff it has been hanging out at Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter. For my husband it is walking around on a massive US Naval aircraft carrier. For the boys it is seeing snow. For me it is spending time in San Francisco with my dear friend of 25 years Bonnie and her family. We have all bases covered.
Travelling for me is the ultimate adrenaline hit even if I’m not particularly intrepid (yet) with my destination choices. Doing it reminds me people share more similarities than differences, lends perspective and gratitude for what I already have, and gives the same sense of wonder I has as a child upon discovering something for the first time. Growing up on American sitcoms in rural NZ means this country has a familiarity about it, yet little things give me a buzz; a FedEx van passing by, being offered ketchup, and driving on the other side of the road to name a very few.
I’ll sign off now, the youngest is getting cranky and I need to fill him up on chips so I can enjoy my complimentary happy-hour cocktail before we head to The Cheesecake Factory (Penny from the Big Bang Theory works there!) across the road.