Hawaii

Ala Wai CanalChoosing to visit Hawaii had been an impulse decision made in Trailfinders. We had a free flight and were passing over that way, so thought we’d take the opportunity to visit somewhere we might never be again. We had originally planned to stay 5 days, but after doing some research on accommodation, we decided to cut it down, to save costs.

Waikiki BeachWe landed on the island of Oahu and stayed in Waikiki, a beach district of Honolulu. Making the most of this, we hit the beach both days, which was only a 5 minute walk away. Although beautiful, the sea itself wasn’t great for swimming, or much else, as nearly all of the ground was rocks and/or reef. To beat this, on day two, Paul hired a paddle board and I used it as a taxi, hopping on for a relaxing ride with Paul paddling the way. Once we got far enough out to pass the rocks, I had a swim whilst Paul touched up his paddle boarding skills.

Ihop All You Can Eat PancakesHonolulu was also host to our Ihop challenge. They had an all you can eat offer that we decided to take up. We worked up our appetites with a very hot 12km run in the morning sun and then went to work. I had (optimistically) set the bar at 12 pancakes, but only managed 6 and a bite. I was still the champion, though, as Paul only squeezed in 4 measly pancakes [excuse me, and the eggs/hash brown! – Paul]. I absolutely love pancakes, but after that, even the thought of eating another made me feel a little bit queasy.

We had hoped to get out and about a bit more, as Oahu is meant to be beautiful, and is also home to the Pearl Harbour museum. However, due to flight times and our complete inability to master the bus stop system, we didn’t manage to get any further afield. It was a nice taster though, and a lovely beach stop before Tokyo.

Los Angeles

LA Sun

America, America, I’m back once again. I do nothing to hide the fact I love America, the culture, the people, the weather and therefore was more than happy to stop here on route before heading west to Asia. We initially looked at stops in Cuba and New Orleans, but due to restrictions (Cuba and the USA still do not play nice) and flight limits on where we could stop without spending even more, LA was chosen as LAX is a hub and gateway to Asia. Leaving Mexico City, we flew to Dallas and changed planes there, we had the option to stay in Dallas but neither of us really saw that as a backpacking choice and were happy to connect through.

Although I love the country, I god damn hate the TSA. Connecting though Dallas Fort Worth was never going to be easy, but this was an utter piss take, queues and queues with the slowest staff running the lines. Add to the mix a massive airport, our two hour connection ended in a sprint across the airport to find out our flight was running late, rage!

Runyon CanyonWe chose to stay in West Hollywood, a handy hub for local pubs, the Farmers Market shopping area and a half an hour walk to Hollywood Boulevard. This being my third visit to the city, I was happy to see the sights again and spend the week shopping, eating and relaxing. After a slightly chilly winter in Mexico, winter in LA means clear blue skies, sun and 25c weather, utterly perfect city weather. Making the most of our location, I tried to get a good run in each morning, heading up along Hollywood to the Runyon Canyon behind. A large set of hills filled with buff runners, walkers and handbag dogs, its a tough run but with the sights and sounds around, it would be crazy not to make the most of it.

Central PerkingLooking at the tours, we took a trip to Warner Brothers to do the studio tour. I’ve been on the Universal Studios tour, which is fun but setup rather differently. Universal is in the theme park and you are on a trolleys going though sets and theme park style rides like Jaws and King Kong. With WB, you are on a smaller trolley and taken around a live working studio, which is less flashy but oh so interesting.

I had already checked for tickets to watch a filming of Big Bang Theory which was on that day, but it was full (no surprise) which also meant we couldn’t go in and see the set. The tourguide pointed out Johnny Galecki’s (Leonard) red Ford GT parked outside, lovely car. Ashton Kutcher’s (twat) Telsa was also outside the Two & A Half Men set, some well paid actors here. Lots of props, sets and TV magic was shown, a few stars were out and about making it a great tour ending on the set of Friends, which they have kept as a museum piece, everyone knows Central Perk which made for some fun photos, Annie was in her element.

CelebrateCatching a live sporting event was top on the list of our things to do, we scouted out the listings and decided to catch both Ice Hockey and Basketball both at the Staples center downtown. First up was the LA Kings vs Vancouver Canucks, I’ve been to a few NHL games over here and was looking forward to this one, unfortunately the Kings just were not playing that well and it was a bit of a disappointing game. Atmosphere was as usual great along with dinner and beers before at the Yard House, which claims to have the worlds largest selection of beer on draft, staring at , it was hard to disagree.

Our second visit was for the NBA and the LA Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks, it was night and day compared to the hockey, the final quarter looked to be the Mavericks game but the Clippers brought it back as it went to the wire, superb stuff.

Beverly Hills SignA visit to Hollywood normally involves a tour of the stars homes, it’s really a bit of a stupid attraction as you can’t see much apart from fences and hedges, plus most of them are rumours or previous occupants. To put a different spin on it we took a cycle tour around Beverly Hills, may as well get some exercise and escape the usual tourists sitting on buses. The streets were fun to go around and cycling down Rodeo Drive was interesting, usual movie sets were pointed out (Pretty Woman Hotel). Stopping at one of the BH signs, we saw members from Cirque de Sole hanging sideways from it, fancy pants!

I’ve not moaned about beer in a while as the range and availability in Brazil and Mexico was awesome. A look at the beer isle in Wholefoods nearly brought me to tears, the bottle after bottle of great beers, Goose Island, Stone, Mikkeler all in fridges and so so cheap. I must have stood for about 20 minutes debating what to buy, six Stone IPA’s for $9 was an essential purchase. Every bar we went to had at least a decent beer, even the Staples center had many a good beer for sale, though we got turned down for not having passports with us; I took it as a sign that my liver needed a rest.