Dream of Californication

Thinking of California, a lot of songs and movies or tv shows come to mind. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that we were looking forward to explore this state. Since my friend Els knew some people living in two of the big metropolises we decided to visit San Francisco, drive along the Californian coast to Los Angeles and then towards San Diego.

Driving into San Francisco was pretty spectacular. We drove over a bridge which showed the impressive skyline of the city. The plan was to drive to China Beach, because it has public showers. We would park and sleep in the car in the neighborhood. But as we arrived, the public showers were closed for reparations. Since there were no other beaches with public showers, we decided to drive out of the city to a KOA camping near Santa Cruz.

I was very disappointed because I was looking forward to discover San Francisco. The good thing was that the campground was really nice. They had a sauna and a fireplace with free wood and we met Brice and Floriane, a french couple traveling the world. We enjoyed the evening talking and minding our steps for the skunks, searching for food at night.

The next day we explored the area and we decided to visit San Francisco the following day after all.

As we arrived we parked the car in a prepaid valet underground parking. First we had to walk through some pretty sketchy streets. I found it kind of weird how very poor and very rich people were walking and using the same streets, ignoring each other completely.

We went for a coffee and afterwards made a walk through China town (one of the oldest in the western world) towards the touristic places of the city. We walked through the steep streets up to the Coit Tower where we took some pictures of the city’s skyline.

Afterwards our walk took us to the coastline. We saw Alcatraz, the notorious previous prison, and went to Pier 39 where some sea lions were stealing the show.

We decided to go to the city hall and the mission district. Everywhere were homeless people fixing bikes, talking to one another, sleeping in tents on the sidewalk. And although I knew poverty in the states is very bad due to a lack of a social care system, it struck me really hard seeing it with my own eyes. How is it possible that one of the wealthiest western countries, doesn’t take care of its own people. And I know we have the same problem at home, but nearly not as bad as here, and I know that big cities show the problems of a society more then little towns and that of course the weather here is easy and that everyone wants to make it in California. But I felt really bad and wasn’t sad to leave the city.

The next days we drove along the Californian coast. It was really beautiful.

Los Angeles was next. We could stay in the house of a friend of a friend in Pomona who wasn’t home. We got to know the horrible traffic of LA. It is comparable to the traffic in and around Brussels. We left to be an hour early and arrived an hour late! Luckily Andrea, who had the key, waited for us.

We enjoyed the days alone in the house, ordering pizza, watching some Netflix, relaxing completely. When Bob, one of the owners of the house, came home, we went for diner with Andrea and him and had some good laughs. They told us how to get to LA with public transport and so we did the following day.

First we visited Santa Monica with its famous pier. I couldn’t stop singing the song by Randy Newman: I love LA (thanks mum). 😉

Afterwards we took the bus to Venice, where the tv show ‘Californication’ is filmed. We enjoyed the beach and watched the extraordinary people straying the streets. We loved this part of the city very much and lingered around for hours.

We traveled back downtown where we took the subway to Hollywood. Bob warned us that the walk of fame isn’t very spectacular in real life and he was right. It was fun watching the stars on the pavement for a while, but that became pretty boring after a few minutes and the street itself is uninteresting, unless you’re into sex or costumes shops. The only cool thing were the pedestrian crossings that went diagonal besides the normal horizontal and vertical crossings.

We wanted to end the day with a visit at the Griffith Observatory, but there was no shuttle driving there on a weekday, so we returned home to Bob. The next day we visited his department in university. He is a geology professor and we saw some really cool equipment and fossils. In the evening he cooked some delicious eggplants and we talked about photography. He even gave us a fish eye lens he hasn’t been using for 13 years or so. We were very happy with it!

After a decent breakfast and a good cup of coffee we took off to San Diego the next morning. We were sad leaving Bob. He told us that if we would run into any problem at all during our trip, we were always welcome back. We waved him goodbye as he biked to work.

It took us only an hour and a half to get to San Diego where we would be staying with Marisa, Todd, their two year old, Ananda and three cats. Todd, told us their names and in the beginning they sounded a little odd: Kiki, Pepeejn and Dappitja. It took us a few seconds to realize he was saying: Kiki, Pepijn and Dappertje. We especially liked Dappertje very much and she hung around in our room most of the time.

In the evening we went to a beach nearby.

Todd, who shares our passion for photography, showed us around during the following days and it was nice to explore the city with someone who knows so much about it. First we took some time off in the neighborhood our hosts live in: La Jolla. We enjoyed the beautiful sea and visited some photo galleries.

In the evening we first went to Sunset Beach.

And afterwards to the pier of Ocean Beach, where many surfers spend their free time. We ate a taco in the cozy café above the waves.

On our way home we saw some guys wearing their trousers under their asses. I wondered out loud where that habit came from. Todd told me an urban legend that said that imprisoned men who were available for sex wore their trousers like that and that afterwards the hip hop gangsta culture started doing it because it was something prisoners did, forgetting the meaning of it. Haha, I liked the explanation.

Our last day we first went to the diner Whoopi Goldberg used to work. It was a really nice place. In the evening we went to a kind of peninsula, Coronado, where we enjoyed running on the beach with Ananda who screamed with joy when the waves got to her feet. It was really cute.

And so our stay in San Diego came to an end. We said goodbye to our kind hosts and took off to Anza Borrego, a place in the desert Bob recommended.