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Biking on the Beach

After demolishing the tasty sandwich, I felt powered up… enough to rent a bike and cruise along the path from Santa Monica Beach to Venice Beach. I popped into the shop next door, and explained to the girl at the counter, that I’d like to rent one of their bikes for an hour. She quoted me a price of US $7, which although rather pricey, was expected considering that I was hanging out on one of Los Angeles’ most popular beaches. I accepted the fee, and she then explained the shop policy. They charge you after you return the bike, and require a government issued ID as a safety deposit. Well, my drivers’ license was back at the hotel and I only had my passport on me (which I refused to be parted with).

She looked me in the eyes, then said that she’d trust me to return the bike, and she let me leave. She simply checked my passport to ensure that my name was correct, and took down the passport number, then off I went! I was lucky enough to have perfect weather… blue skies dotted with small wispy clouds, bright sunshine with a crisp cool sea breeze. It was a really nice ride. The other bikers were very courteous, never speeding on the narrow path, and always remained on their side. I’m not sure if such orderly methods would work back at home!


While biking, I passed by small parks, with children building sand castles, pushing one another on the swings and just having a grand old time. It was adorable, and I couldn’t help but to pause and watch for a bit… I love kids!

Continuing along the bike path, with a slow and steady pace (it’s a while since I last rode a bike), I happily drank in all of the sights which are icons of So Cal. From volleyball nets to surfboards.. It was all there. At this point I must confess that I was very much surprised by the beaches. Coming from a tropical Caribbean island, I didn’t know what to expect from the USA coastline. California did not disappoint!

After a while, the scenery changed drastically. It took on a grungy appeal, became very crowded and loud music drowned out the ocean. Obviously, I’d arrived in Venice Beach. There were rows and rows of shacks from which people sold everything from artwork to tacky souvenirs, and homeless people napped under the palm trees. I hopped off the bike and wheeled it along the busy street. One thing that caught my attention, was the various graffiti which covered most of the larger buildings within the area. Some were very tasteful, and I had to snap a few photos.

My journey was cut short however, when I was insistently approached by a ‘dealer’ and I jumped back on my bike and pedaled back the way I came. As a young solo female traveler, that was one scenario I preferred to run from and I really didn’t care if the person was offended!

Thankfully, the rest of my day went by without any more possible problems. After finishing my ride, I returned the bike to the shop and walked for about 15 minutes until I found the closest bus stop for my Big Blue Bus back to my hotel. At the hotel, I collected my bags from the luggage room, and sat out on the verandah for a while. It was the main area of the hotel for guests to have a smoke, so soon after a girl appeared with a cigarette in hand. She was quite friendly, and we spoke for a bit. Turned out she was from South Africa and she just landed in the USA for the first time. She was extremely excited, as she was starting her new job as a hairdresser on a Princess Cruise ship the next day.

I love cruises, so of course this was an easy topic for us to talk about! The time flew by, and before I knew it… my shuttle to the LAX airport was outside. We wished each other the best of luck, and parted ways. LA, it was really nice to meet you, and who knows… I just may see you again sooner than I think!

 

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First Stop… LA!

The first stop on my RTW trip was Los Angeles, California. A sprawling metropolitan city  dotted with tall palm trees and fringed by white sand and blue waters. After exiting the airport, I was collected by the hotel’s shuttle bus, taking me to my first home away from home.

My hotel room at La Quinta Inns and Suites was absolutely lovely, and provided the perfect antidote to jet lag. Seeing a bed after a long red eye flight, is like seeing a glass of cold water after trudging though the desert. I dropped into a coma-like sleep almost immediately. Thanks to the time difference, it turned out the be the longest night of my life so far, at a grand total of 17 hours and I made the most of it! The next morning, the included ‘Bright Side’ breakfast which consisted of eggs, toast, jam, fruits and muffins was very tasty, and gave me enough fuel to start my very first day in sunny California!

Since I was only going to be in LA for 1 day, on my way to Asia, I chose to hang out at the beach, rather than to make my way downtown. I left the hotel at 10 am, and headed to the bus stop, where I would board the Big Blue Bus to Santa Monica. After waiting for about 15 minutes, the bus arrived, I paid my $1 charge and hopped onboard. The journey lasted roughly 30 minutes before I could feel the fresh ocean breeze.

I got off near the entrance of the Santa Monica Pier, and was greeted by swarms of pigeons. Groups of little children had a blast, by trying their very best to trample a few of the very chubby looking birds. It was kind of adorable, so I watched for a bit. I then strolled along the pier, and gazed upon the landmark of the area, the Santa Monica ferris wheel. It definitely gave the area a lot of character and a fun-filled ambience.

There was a lot of things to see at the Santa Monica Pier. From the many stalls that line the boardwalk, selling everything from cotton candy to hats, to the street performers trying to make their way into the entertainment industry. I wandered around, peeping into small shops and snapping photos of everything imaginable. Obviously, I was rather impressed.

I found a small little restaurant a bit off the main pier that seemed to draw a crowd, so I decided to stop for lunch. The inside decor was very retro, and I was simply loving it. The staff was friendly and kept me company while I munched on my Philly steak and cheese sandwich. While eating, I met the owner of the bike rental shop next door, and thought that it would be fun to bike along the bike path connecting Santa Monica beach to Venice beach. I’ll let you know how that went!