USA (West Coast)
After a 5.5 hour flight from Hawaii, we arrived in Los Angeles. We took a taxi and checked straight into the Orbit Hostel in West Hollywood. It was about 1.00am and we all burst into our rooms, turned all the lights on and woke up all of our new roommates just so that we could make our beds. It was me, Ginge and Blue in one room and Tanq, Mould and the girls in another.
The first morning we decided to go for a walk to the Farmers Market where we were told that celebrities are often seen shopping here. With our eyes peeled for clothes and celebs we soon decided to take a lunch break, well more like a liquid lunch!
That night we headed to the Sunset Strip to check out the local nightlife. We first went to the Saddle Ranch which was more of a restaurant but with a bucking bronco in the middle of the floor. We sank a few beers and watched people (drunks) attempt to stay on the bronco. The girls decided they had seen enough when there was a big busted girl revealing almost everything and promptly told us to drink up. They always seem to spoil the fun!
After a walk down the strip we noticed a large queue outside a particular club. Once we got closer we learnt that it was Johnny Depp's fampous Viper Room. So we paid the steep entrance fee only to be greeted by Hard Metal/Reggae Rock (whatever they call it) freaks all bouncing around to a live band. We all tried to mix in and look like we were enjoying ourselves but we stood out like a sore thumb! We ended the night with a few drinks in Red Rocks bar which was a bit more of your normal bar and normal crowd.
The next day was to be the arrival of 'Ritchie Rich'. The girls went to meet him at the airport and us lads done a bit more shopping (I think Moulds, Tanq and Blue are worse than the girls). It was then another liquid lunchtime whereby now Rich had arrived and reluctantly joined us lads for a few beers.
We had planned that night to join an organised night out with our hostel. There was a pool competition and free beer, then a small walk to Seven bar in West Hollywood. Well the night started off well with Blue making his first real contribution to the group by winning $100 in the pool comp and putting it straight into the bar for the groups beers. Nice one Blue! The night ended with everyone very intoxicated and leaving us with an almighty hangover the following morning.
That day was a bit of a blur and can't remember much apart from Tanq, still half cut, started doing a bit of a pole dancing routine (that looked rehearsed) which we have videos to prove. I mean, come on Tanq, there's no excuse for that kind of thing. Needless to say, I think the girls enjoyed it? I think!
The following day was to date my favourite in America - Universal Studios. There is so much to writ about it's impossible to cover everything. There were Jurassic Park, Back to the Future and The Mummy rides, Shrek and Terminator 3D shows, a Waterworld show and a tour round Universal Studios.
We first went to The House of Horrors which I can honestly say is very scary. It's pitch black in there and they have actors dressed up jumping out at people. Some of them do take it a bit seriously and get a bit too excited - especially the bloke with the chainsaw!
Next was a trip round Universal Studios with a look at the different sets and how they use special effects. We visited the plane crash wreckage in the War of the Worlds film and a trip down Wysteria Lane (Desperate Housewives set). I hope the spelling is correct for all you fanatics!
We had our photos with Shrek and Donkey (who was hilarious), Spongebob and many others. I think the favourites of the day were the Shrek 3D and Waterworld show though Rich and Ginge put on their own show screaming like girls on The Mummy ride!
A quiet night was due to reflect on the days activites and also to be ready for the L.A. City tour the following day. Unfortunately H had to attend Hospital with an M.R.S.A infection in her leg to be fed more antibiotics and couldn't come with us on the day but did manage to do the tour on our second visit back to L.A. with Jules who had to sit through it again!
The first stop on the tour (by Micky Zee) was the Hollywood walk of fame. Now, we had timed this to perfection as it was the premere of Oceans 13 at the Chinese Theatre. The stars were due to arrive in the morning for the 'Handprints' presentation. Me, Blue and Moulder decided to stay next to the carpark rather than try to look over the crowds by the red carpet. Within 10 minutes or so, George Clooney and Matt Damon pulled up about 20 yards away, but our reactions were that slow as we were in shock that we didn't manage to get a photo.
However, the rest joined us after and the 3 of us were trying to convince them who we had just seen when Mr Brad Pitt turned up! This time we were not to be denied and between us managed to get a couple of shots of him (see pics!)
The next stops were the Hollywood Sign and Venice (muscle) beach for lunch. We went up into the hills for photo opportunities of the sign and to look out onto the views of Hollywood. There wasn't much going on at muscle beach as the weather was still in the June gloom period but on a busy summers day i don't think us lads would look out of place. Shortly after lunch we stopped outside the school from Greece. Righdale High which was actually really called Venice Beach High school.
We then headed over to Beverly Hills to have a nose at the celebrities homes. We saw the entrance gates to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes home, Mel Gibson's, Mick Jagger's, Samuel L. Jackson's, Jim Carey's and many more. There was also a new home being built which Micky Zee suggested to be the Beckhams new house which was directly opposite Tom and Katie Cruise's. That would make a lot of sense! But who knows!
The last stop was Rodeo Drive which i'm sure all you ladies know is the location of filming for 'Pretty Woman' which also includes The Regent Beverly Wiltshire Hotel. I mean, I didn't have a clue and didn't know where i was supposed to be taking a photo of! We also thought that Rich was being made to propose as he was dragged into Tiffany & Co. kicking and screaming by Julie.
That night was spent trying to cheer up H by grabbing a few drinks and watching the most cringe worthy comedians in the hostel. So without embarassing the comedian, we sneaked out one by one and finished our drinks in our room.
The next morning, the lads got up bright and early to go and watch the England match. After missing the first half and paying to get into a dodgy irish pub we watched the match and headed back to the hostel to play in the soccer match and practice some ball skills of our own. Another early night was due as we were departing L.A. for the exciting and lively resort of San Diego.
We checked in at Sunset Cliffs Hotel in San Diego and were all contemplating whether to hit the local bars. Ginge, H and Ju decided to make the most of our plush accommodation as we were all by now so used to slumming it in hostels. The rest headed out and soon realised that San Diego wasn't all that! It ended up with a few laughs as we all came out singing Happy Birthday to a 40 year old man who actually asked us if jesus had sent us to cheer him up!
Richard and the girls had booked up to go to Sea World the following day which is the home of Free Willy. They had an amazing time and told us lads about the shows that were put on as we started to regret not going as we'd done nothing all day. We were on the move again the next day as every hotel and hostel were fully booked and busy yet the resort was so quiet! We had to move to another hotel right onto the beach. Now what has become customary now Rich is with us that we have to draw out the lucky lad who is to room with H. After an hour antagonising wait (for the lads!), H eventually drew Ginge out of the hat which ended up with them both going their separate ways to sulk!
The last day of San Diego was to be quite memorable! We were walking along the pier when Mould had a phone call to say that his sister Natalie, and Stuart were now the proud parents of Harry Robert Palmer. Congratualtions Nat and Stu!
Our next destination was one that we were all looking forward to, yes Hooters in Las Vegas! The girls didn't actually know we had booked to stay here but it was a nice surprise! So we headed straight to the bar for a few drinks and to check out the scenery - Blackjack tables, Craps and Roulette, not to mention the waitresses in orange hot pants! We then decided to hit the town and have a bit of a gamble and make our way to the Bellagio! After expensive cocktails and drinks, the 'classy bird' Julie was escorted out of the bar and promptly back to Hooters, where she was pleaded with to finish her travelling stint and take up the offer of becoming a Hooters girl! Unfortunately she declined the offer when she realised she didn't have the famous assets 'up top'!
We decided to take it easy the following day and relaxed by the pool in the baking hot desert weather and had a look around in the evening as we were to be leaving Hooters and checking in at the Luxor Hotel.
As we were checking in at the Luxor, Ritchie Rich was treating Julie to a night in the Bellagio, so we got ready in the 'dive' Luxor and met Rich and Julie in the Bellagio for some more drinks. We decided to head to the MGM Grand for a bit more gambling (note no-one was really winning anything at this point) and also to the club there. We had arranged to meet Sarah and Greg there who we had met on the Fiji Experience.
With another hangover, Ritchie Rich and Princess Julie had to drop their nametags and slum it with us lot in the Luxor for one more night. So we stayed by the pool and had a stroll around on the evening to see the Bellagio Water Founatin Show and the lights of Las Vegas.
Well the life of luxory was now over and it was time to get back to reality and check in at the USA Hostel in old town Las Vegas. The first thing we noticed was that it was a very shady area and the taxi driver warned us about walking around at night. It was like going from one extreme to the other with the hotels/hostels, although the swimming pool was pretty decent here. So we decided to make the most of it and spend all day and night there which included a BBQ and a few drinks.
We had booked to do a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon the next day which was amazing. We had 'Captain Bob' as our pilot who had a real dry sense of humour but soon had us laughing after a couple of jokes. We landed within the canyon and had a champagne lunch, Ginge and Rich also tested out the echo chambers. We mentioned to H if she fancied doing the Canyon Swing and after a long pause she said she wasn't up for it!
Rich and the girls were due to fly to San Francisco the next morning whilst us lads flew on the night, so we could spend an extra day by the pool. This is where we met Arj and Joe who were also on the Fiji Experience. As Mould was going to be leaving us early he arranged to spend time in New York with them as they were also heading that way. It was then time to say our goodbye's to Arj and Joe and to the city of Las Vegas so we made our way to the Airport. We had decided to fly as it was about 15 hours on the bus and not that much more expensive to take an internal flight - or so we thought! After 45mins to get through security and a shuttle bus to the departure lounge which we didn't know existed, we were minutes late for our flight. We argued blind but to no avail and had to spend the night on the airport floor and pay for a new flight the next morning.
We eventually arrived in San Francisco later that morning and there was only one thing we were going to do - sleep, oh, and collect our bags that were on the flight we missed! Later that day we had planned to go out as it was Mould's last night with us. We went to the local Irish pub where we drank to the early hours of the morning.
On Mould's last day we did the San Francisco City Tour. We went to Muir Woods and went over the famous Golden Gate Bridge which was another stop for more photo opportunities. We went to a look out point over the San Francisco skyline where you can also see Alcatraz and the bridge. On our way back to the hostel we passed the house featured in Mrs Doubtfire, but after all, our attention was focused on our goodbye's to Moulder.
Well Mould, you acted the 'bigman' splashing the cash in front of the Hooters birds and you've got numerous pairs of boarder shorts, but i'll think you'll agree, it was well worth it!?
So after our sad farewells to our fellow traveller we arranged to do the Alcatraz tour the next day. We caught the ferry over and went straight to the prison cells to do the audio tour. This was very interesting as it informed us about the various escape attempts (including Clint Eastwood's!), the rules and regulations and the history of the island before it was a federal prison.
That evening we went to a diner for a meal and a few drinks for us lads to say our goodbye's to Rich. He and the girls were going back to LA the next morning but me, Tanq, Blue and Ginge were going the day after.
We didn't do anything special in LA this time around, H and Julie (again) did the city tour with Mickey Zee and Blue also managed to get to the final of another pool competition, but unfortunatley missing out on the $100 prize money.
Our time had come to leave California and get our flight to the Big Apple!
All the best.