It was the last day of the North American leg of our adventure. We'd driven, coached and sailed through Canada and the USA. We got up slowly as check out wasn't until noon. Our flight was at midnight and we didn't need to return the car until 8pm.
After a Skype chat with Jill's mum, Bridget (she's almost got the hang of technology!!) we drove up to Griffith Park. This apparently is the best vantage point across the hills to the 'Hollywood' sign. It's a long windy road to the observatory at the top. Well worth it. The view across the city is brilliant. Even the ever present smog cloud didn't spoil it. The sign is very clear and prominent on the hillside. Its only been there since the 50's but we've all seen it on tele and besides we wouldn't be proper tourists if we didn't do touristy things.
Next stop was Venice beach. This is where all the body builders do there outdoor workouts. That bit is known as Muscle beach.
We didn't know what to expect but it is such a cool place. The beach is split in to three sections. The beach itself which is huge and sandy, then behind that is the cycle, roller blading and skate boarding section. Then there is the pedestrian area which fronts the market stalls, bars, shops etc. It is lined with buskers, wanna be rappers, dj's and hippy stores. If you imagine half the stoned hippies from the 60's who didn't kill themselves all gettting together to try and make a non-corporate living while still being wasted on marijuana this is it. A fun place but I expect with a seedy under belly.
The Police turned up to a dispute between a lady and some teenagers who were throwing things around.'Grow up you little f***ers she screamed at them' 'Don't want to, its my constitutional right to be a kid' one replied.
Anyway LA's finest arrived to 'protect and serve'.Two burly coppers in shorts.....and we've only just got out of wearing ties!!!One got out and just hung a 2ft extending baton over his shoulder while he adjusted his gun belt.
Pointing at the kids he said 'Stay there, while I talk to the lady'. All 5 kids just stood exactly where they were and didn't say a word. Amazing what a baton, a tazer, a hand gun and a pump action can do.
We watched for a while but once it was clear they weren't going to shoot anyone we moved on 'Nothing to see here'.
We had a bite to eat in one of the cafes then as the sun went down we headed for the airport. It had been a lovely day and a cool end to this leg of our adventure.....next stop New Zealand....another former colony. We don't mention that though.
It was a 12.5 hour flight but fortunately a glass or two of red and a couple of Nytols and we slept through most of it. We left LA at 23.55 on Friday night and arrived 12.5 hours later at 08.40 on Sunday morning. Who nicked Saturday !!! Something to do with a dateline. When I was a kid that was a dating agency. Will we ever get that day back?
We eventually got out of Auckland airport after being bio scanned for pets,meat or plant seeds. I know, beats me too.
We got the Super shuttle bus to our hotel. Basically this is a mini bus with a trailer for your cases. It takes you to your hotel for about half the price of a cab.
We are staying at the Hyatt Regency.....very swanky. You know the drill by now. After me....dump the cases find a beer.
We had most of the day so we explored the city. Pretty nice, lots of shops as usual but a pretty marina with bars etc. Despite sleeping on the flight we were still very tired so it wasn't a late night.
Today we were up and out. We headed down to the quay side and boarded a ferry to Rangitoto island. This is a volcanic island about half an hour from Auckland. There is nothing there except the volcano. It was a gloriously sunny day so armed with water and a sarnie we landed and headed for the summit of the volcano.
We are so glad we did this. It was a fab day. The hike to the summit was great. We were surrounded by forestation growing on top of lava flow. At the top you can walk around the rim and look into the volcano. The views from the top were superb.
I didn't know it but Auckland is built on 50+ volcanoes. They haven't erupted for a couple of thousand years but even so.
We came back on the ferry after 5 hours on the island. Tonight we've had dinner at the marina and are now laying on the bed writing. Me writing this blog and Jill her journal.
Tomorrow we are picking up the camper. It's then 3 weeks on the road exploring both islands. Not sure how much wifi we'll get so this may be the last blog for a bit. I'll try and post pics etc whenever I can.