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The city of angels

34°3' 8" N 118°14' 37" W Los Angeles

Nov 7, 2014  –  by Maeva

Welcome to LA!

This city is pretty much a gigantic hub of urban areas and industries. Just arriving on one of the 10 lanes of the highway and 2 minutes of traffic gives an idea of how busy LA is. We were lucky to join Mala at her house, after she kindly offered to host us during our stay here. We arrived at her very nice apartment (boy did it change from our home in the car!) and the three of us headed out for a visit of Santa Monica. Mala showed us the very hipster Abbott Kinney street with its spacious and beautifully designed shops and coffee places. Loved the vibe in this street, as well as the long hair, piercings and round glasses of the people walking around! We then headed to the beach for a stroll towards the Santa Monica Pier. On our way we got impressed by the guys making loops on the rings of the open air gym. Steph was game and proved that the paddling sessions from surfing were well worth it! It was crazy warm so we indulged in some frozen yogurt at Yogurtland – we had never tried this one and we were not disappointed! We were like kids in Disneyland trying all the different flavours and topping our yogurts with caramel, candy, almonds and strawberries!

Afterwards, it was time for a well deserved break back at the apartment before heading out again to join Mala’s super nice friends for tacos at a Mexican Restaurant and a movie at their place. We got some delicious tacos and though they got a few orders wrong (when I ask for “no cilantro” it also means don’t put the green sauce that has cilantro on my taco), it was excellent! Back at their place, we sipped some wine and enjoyed sour keys while watching the indie movie “Frank”. Love watching movies that are a little weird, unique and far-fetched and this was one of them! And with Michael Fassbender as Frank, well you simply can’t go wrong. We then enjoyed a night in the first REAL bed of the trip, it was quite something – thanks again Steve for letting us stay in your room you have no idea how happy it made us!

On the Sunday, we figured it would be better to leave touristy things for the week and we headed to Runyon Canyon for a very hot hike. The sun was so strong as we climbed above the Hollywood hills to find a panoramic view of LA at the top. We get it, it’s the equivalent of the gym for people here! They all come in Nike’s, mini shorts and ponytails to jog or walk to the top while calculating their speed and calories lost. Well, let’s just say around noon was probably the best time for that in this crazy heat. There really is only summer in California. We then took a drive on the iconic Mulholland Drive and opted out of a walk on the Walk of Fame of Hollywood since both of us had already been there. Instead, we headed to Venice Beach! Why? Because one cannot be in LA without checking out people dancing to hip hop on skates! Where else do you get to see that? We cruised around on our longboards and also stopped at the skatepark to watch some skills. Venice was fun for the music and the dancers, but in all honesty it was so crowded that we were happy to sneak out of the busyness to go back to the apartment. In the evening, Steve and his girlfriend came over for dinner. Steph, aka the Chef, cooked some absolutely delicious traditional French crepes for all of us, savoury and sweet – YUM.

Steph and Maeva in Runyon Canyon
Steph and Maeva in Runyon Canyon
Maeva on top of Runyon Canyon, view of LA
Maeva on top of Runyon Canyon, view of LA
Venice Beach
Venice Beach
Venice Beach Wall art
Venice Beach Wall art
Venice beach skatepark
Venice beach skatepark
Venice beach dancers on blades
Venice beach dancers on blades

 

Maeva in front of Charlie Chaplin wall
Maeva in front of Charlie Chaplin wall
Old Rossignol ad
Old Rossignol ad

The next day, we were ready for a day full of adventures at Universal Studios, the ONE thing that we HAD to do in LA. It was a crazy fun day as we ran from one ride to the other, catching shows in between. Our favourites?
– Ride: Transformers! By far the coolest, as it combines roller coaster, real setting and 3D – you really feel like you’re fighting robots in there. The Mummy was awesome sensations-wise but way too short. And well, we have to mention Jurassic Park – because it really freaked us (me) out. Hey, there was a tyrannosaur guys, okay?!
– The Sets:  We obviously took the world famous studio tour in the open air bus to discover the world of movie sets. And we know why this is a must-do. We got to watch a water disaster, say hi to Jaws’s shark, be in an earthquake in the subway, encounter King Kong in the wilderness, drive through the incredible set from War of the Worlds and look at movie iconic cars.
– Shows: The visual effects show was fun to watch for insights on the how-to secrets of some scenes, with a touch of humour. But we finished our day with the Waterworld performance, which basically replays a scene of the movie. Backflips, jet ski freestyle, fights, jumps, fire… Mindblowing! Steph now wants to change jobs and play one of the guys in that show for a living.
– And: back in Santa Cruz, I asked Steph to win a Minion for me and he didn’t succeed; so obviously I put him to the challenge again! He had to shoot basketballs in a net and if he scored twice, he could pick a Minion. Aaaaand….. HE WON!!! Needless to say, I was a little kid with my new toy! We are now road tripping with a minion.
As you might be able to tell, we spent the entire day in Universal Studios. So right after, as we hadn’t eaten anything, we rushed to Taco Bell – typical.
In the evening, it was our last night with Mala and she had a friend over. So Steph put together another delicious meal of pasta, cream and shallots. YUM.

Steph and Maeva at Universal Studios
Steph and Maeva at Universal Studios
Maeva and the minions
Maeva and the minions
Universal studios War of the Worlds set
Universal studios War of the Worlds set
Maeva jumping in front of Krustyland in Universal Studios
Maeva jumping in front of Krustyland in Universal Studios
Steph throwing a basketball
Steph throwing a basketball
Maeva and her minion
Maeva and her minion
Steph and the minion
Steph and the minion
Waterworld set in Universal Studios
Waterworld set in Universal Studios
Steph and Maeva in front of the Universal Studios globe
Steph and Maeva in front of the Universal Studios globe

It was time to continue going further South and say goodbye to Mala. Thanks again Mala for your hospitality, we are so grateful!

We first headed to Beverly Hills because I wanted to see some crazy huge houses. Well that was a stupid idea, they all had immense fences, we only managed to spot a few from afar and the intriguing spots had way too much security. No, we didn’t see Jennifer Lawrence. *Sigh*. To make up for it, we had coffee at a lovely TOMS shop/coffeeplace in Abbott Kinney to enjoy their super chill outdoor patio. And we figured we could leave LA on that mocha coffee note and return to the beach life down the coast.

Toms coffee shop in Abbott Kinney
Toms coffee shop in Abbott Kinney
Patio of Toms coffeeshop
Patio of Toms coffeeshop
Maeva having coffee in the patio
Maeva having coffee in the patio
Wall art in Abbott Kinney
Wall art in Abbott Kinney
Wall art in Los Angeles
Wall art in Los Angeles
More wall art in Abbott Kinney
More wall art in Abbott Kinney

Portlanding

45°31' 24" N 122°40' 34" W Portland

Sep 29, 2014  –  by Maeva

We arrived in Portland under a Vancouver-like rain. Finding ourselves on Burnside Street, we randomly spotted Voodoo Doughnuts – one of the stops on our to do list. We jumped out of the car to enter the pink and psychedelic atmosphere of the shop to order some impressive and multi-flavoured doughnuts – proof below. High on sugar, we went to explore Powell’s Bookstore through endless shelves, floors and pages. Definitely the kind of place where you want to grab a pile of books, sit in a corner and spend a rainy afternoon with a good cup of coffee. It would have been really hard to leave the store empty handed so we both picked a book for the trip. Any guesses on what Steph got? Want a hint? Surf. Another hint? California. Yeah, he got Surfing California by Bank Wright, following Peter’s advice of course. By now I think we’ve established Steph’s number 1 priority on this trip, right?

Ordering Doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland
Ordering Doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland
Maeva holding Doughnut Box
Maeva holding Doughnut Box

Obviously, we were really late on the writing/developing/finalizing of our blog (sorry for the delay guys!) so we spent the night in Starbucks working on it. Steph coded, I wrote. After a night spent on the parking lot of Walmart (and not the first one, believe me), we continued working on the blog at the library as it was raining more than ever. And as soon as the weather cleared up, we drove to the Burnside Skatepark, a world renowned skatepark – thanks to Tony Hawk – under the Burnside bridge. We watched the boys crowd take turns in jumps, tricks and rides for a little while, appreciating the urban atmosphere of the spot. We then headed to Alberta Street for a walk along the cute shops, stylish urban art and edgy coffee shops. Our very first stop? The ice-cream place Salt and Straw, of course. Home made ice cream and the smell of freshly baked waffle cones: it was basically Disneyland. I bet you’re curious about what we got now, huh? I went for sea salt and caramel and Steph for peach and walnuts – and yes, it was as good as it sounds. Do I talk too much about food?

Burnside Skatepark
Burnside Skatepark
Maeva at Burnside Skatepark
Maeva at Burnside Skatepark
Maeva with ice cream at Salt & Straw
Maeva with ice cream at Salt & Straw
Graffiti Portland
Graffiti Portland
Maeva in front of awesome wall art in Portland
Maeva in front of awesome wall art in Portland
Maeva faces deer in Alberta Street
Maeva faces deer in Alberta Street

After strolling through the street, we went for locally crafted beers and cider with Philou, a Belgian snowboarder Steph had met on a previous trip to Oregon, and his friend. It was definitely lots of fun to chat about travels and life on the cozy outdoor patio of Cruzroom.

On our last day in the city, we went for a walk around Mount Tabor before heading to the Kennedy School, a renovated elementary school turned into a hotel, brewery, restaurant, bar and theater. It’s hard to describe the school in just a few words as it conveys so many different atmospheres at once. On one hand, you can’t escape the educational and dorm-like vibe as you walk past old classrooms and student photographs. On the other hand, you feel like you’ve entered a sort of Tim Burton like Budapest Hotel with hallways packed with colourful fairytale inspired paintings and sayings on the walls. A brewer walked us around the local brewery and the many many steps that involve beer-making. I insist on many, because I sure would get mixed up among the 20 things to do and the order in which they go! We were visiting the school too early to be able to go in the Cigar and Whiskey room but we made up for it by sitting down at the German like bistro for a local fresh hops beer and apple cider.

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Cigar and whiskey room at the Kennedy School
Cigar and whiskey room at the Kennedy School
Steph at the bistro of Kennedy School
Steph at the bistro of Kennedy School
Maeva at the bistro of Kennedy School
Maeva at the bistro of Kennedy School

We then continued our visit with the Portland Art Museum downtown. The highlight was definitely the temporary exhibition “This is War” with illustrations, posters and sketches from the Great War. It unveiled the darkness of warfronts and the rise of woman power. The rest of the museum walked us through the main historic and artistic movements of the 20th century in just the right amount. Not too big, not too little, the museum allowed us to take a walk through the exhibitions without having to go through millions of hallways and rooms like most places. I even got a picture with my favorite number, yay!

Maeva in front of 5 at the Portland Art Museum
Maeva in front of 5 at the Portland Art Museum

We finished our Portland experience by taking the elevator up the Pink Building (I guess that’s what  we’ll call it) for a panoramic view of the city. Definitely one the places with the coolest vibes, most hipsterish outfits and unique local spots.