I’m addicted

I’ve got a major addiction and the more I get of it, the worse it gets. I just can’t help myself. It’s a beautiful addiction but it’s so freaking expensive! Yeah, I guess you could say I’m addicted to travelling.

I love sitting in trains (I also like just looking at them for some odd reason), busses and even though I don’t like airplanes, they do take you to the most amazing places in the world.

Last Monday I came back from six terrific days in London where I once again, met really nice people and created a lot of happy moments. Four days later I find myself dreaming about my next trip – and to be honest -, I can’t wait to hop on the plane again. Perhaps this day will come sooner than I’d expect it to be.

If only I had an unlimited credit card..

Celebrity Saturday

Hey! A couple of weeks ago in California, I experienced something I wouldn’t even dream of. It all started at a festival in Pasadena called Make Music Pasadena. My friend from New York was playing at the festival and near the end of his bands’ set, someone came on stage to sing with them. I had no idea who this dude was but they seemed to have fun. After the gig I met that dude, his name was Matt.

Matt invited my boyfriend and I to come to his after party in Los Angeles. Of course we joined him, as Pasadena is one of the least exciting cities I’ve ever visited, and because this after party sounded like it could be fun.

When the band wrapped up, my boyfriend and I left. I got a text message with the address and we called a cab. When the cab arrived, it ran me over so naturally we had to order a new cab. About 40 minutes later we finally were on our way to this mysterious place somewhere in Los Angeles, not too far away from the festival we were at. The cab driver stopped the car, we paid him and didn’t have a single penny left.

This after party was in the Los Angeles hills. We couldn’t find it at first, until we heard someone say “Hey! You’re the first to arrive”. This kinda reminds me of Jay Gatsby’s parties in the book called The Great Gatsby. Mysterious, no idea of what’s coming next and no clue of who the host it. Anyway, we walked up to his garden and Matt was still busy preparing for the party. He told us that he likes to organise these kind of garden parties. The year before he threw about 20 parties in the summertime (if I recall this correctly). Still, I had no clue of who this guy was. Maybe I am too young to have recognised him.

He placed a vinyl in his record player and by the time this happened, the first guests arrived. Everyone brought drinks and some even brought snacks. All of them knew each other so of course the boyfriend and I felt a bit left out. His advantage was that he’s in his thirties, which was basically the minimum age at the party. And there I was, 21 years young and at least 13 years younger than the average age. But who cares! I was in Los Angeles at some weird, but fun party having the time of my life.

Matt told us he was born in Thailand and told us some more about his life. He was super hospitable to us even though he didn’t know us and the one person that did know us, arrived a couple of hours later than us.

Then Matt took out two wooden steep boxes. Each of them had a hole in the middle.  The boxes have to be about 15 yards away from each other and the goal is to throw all of the three little bags into the hole. There are two teams consisting of two persons. You throw in turn, so only one person per team per round is able to make points. I’m double jointed so throwing a straight line is pretty difficult for me. Needless to say, I sucked at this game. And it probably didn’t help either that I was drunk from all the vodka. My teammate and I surprisingly won the game (I don’t know how we managed to do so, but – thank God I guess? – the point counting system is incomprehensible and you can just throw them carelessly). This meant we were still in the game. The next round we were out and after this I gave up. Throwing seemed like mission impossible.

I took a nap in Matt’s music studio on a very comfortable couch and by the time I woke up, my friend had arrived. He brought me more vodka, sweet things but at that point completely unnecessary.

Couple of hours later, I believe it was 1 AM, it was time to go home. The party wasn’t over yet but I was worn out and so were my boyfriend and friend. My friend gave us a ride back and we immediately fell asleep in the motel in Pasadena.

Two weeks later, towards the end of our road trip I looked up some reviews of Make Music Pasadena. Apparently that dude called Matt is an actual public figure. Ever heard of the band called Weezer? Yeah, Matt = Matt Sharp. I checked it, he was born in Thailand and the picture looked an awful lot like him. So Matt, a guy who formed that band called Weezer back in 1992. Guess what? They have over 3 MILLION likes on Facebook…

I thought I had a pretty cool story, but my friend whom I’m currently staying with in London overruled me. What did he do? He played with his band at Prince Charles his house.. Their job was to scare every celebrity/person from behind the bushes. Now that’s something you don’t get to do every single day!

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Hey, hey! I’m back and I’m leaving again!

Hello! I’ve been back for over a month now, and – strange as it is – I’m still getting used to something that used to be my life. The study period abroad changed me in so many ways and the life I used to live, and I’m very grateful for that. But I want more, I want it different and I’m desperate to travel.

In a couple of hours I’m leaving for a festival in east Germany. It’s called Melt! Festival and last year was amazing. We were with a group of about 12 friends and even though the weather was terrible (the worst I’ve ever experienced, and hell, I’m from the Netherlands!), my little club of fellow festival lovers made these days unforgettable. Super excited to go again! In less than 24 hours I’ll be dancing on the holy festival ground named Ferropolis.

What I’m also very excited about, is my coming trip to London. From next weeks’ Wednesday to Monday, I’ll be staying at my friends’ place in North/East London. I haven’t made a lot of plans yet, but I’m definitely meeting a friend I met at FDU last semester, and if I’m lucky, I get to go to a We Are Scientists show on. London is gonna be fantastic, can’t wait.

But what I’m most stoked about is my trip to New York in September!! I realised that the people I met made a really big impact on my life and I miss them a lot. There’s just no way of not seeing them for a long time so I decided to live on bread and water the next few months, but this way I’ll be able to see them again, so yay!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Us at our basecamp at Melt last year. See the dark clouds in the back? Clouds, rain, wind, thunder and tornados – 5 days straight! This year we’ll be treated with a shit load of sun fortunately!

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Coastline journey

One week ago the boyfriend and I flew out to Las Vegas to celebrate his big three O. Las Vegas was cool, exactly how you’d imagine it. Casinos, rich men smoking cigars, drunk people, sun (freaking 100 degrees Fahrenheit!!), many many tourists and more. It’s quite the experience. Needless to say, we had a good time and spent way too much money on indulging ourselves. Three days and a tedious flight later we landed in the lovely LA again.

We spent a night in downtown LA and the next day we drove to Pasadena to see one of my friends play at a festival called Make Music Pasadena. It’s a cute festival spread over thee city centre. The crowd was young and it felt kind of like a little music community. Way different from what I’m used to in the Netherlands and even more different from the New York music scene.

After my friend’s gig we got invited to an after party in Los Angeles, but I’ll write more on that in a later post.

Sunday we had a long trip (7 hours!) ahead of us, driving all the way from Pasadena to Sacramento. I don’t know what was going on in my head when I decided I wanted to see the California capital. Everyone whom I spoke to about it said no Elja, don’t do it, it’s ridiculously boring over there. Stubborn as I am we went there and man, were those people right. Every shop was closed, as well as 50% of the restaurants and bars. Sacramento though, is a beautiful town with a lot of trees (it’s called the city of trees) and well maintained parks. But don’t go there, it’s not worth the long drive.

In college I took a wine tasting course and as a hospitality student, there’s no way around going to Napa. We stayed at the Silverado Resort which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. They have tennis courts (we even played there too!), pools, golf courts, a fitness centre, a spa and I’m sure there are more activities we didn’t know about. Their service was outstanding, from check in to check out. Nothing, absolutely nothing to complain about. It was simply perfect.

We also visited a vineyard called Mumm and tried six of their sparkling wines while sitting in the sun and enjoying the scenery. If you like wine and need a little rest from the city life, Napa is the place to be.

And finally, after two weeks we drove to San Francisco. I heard many good stories about this city and of course, seen it in movies. But it was slightly different from what I expected it to be. There are so many homeless people in SF, it’s unbelievable. Would these people be stuck in the seventies and eighties when they smoked weed all day long and do hippie stuff? Also, stylish people were nowhere to be found even though it’s so artistic.

I did have a great time in this part of California. It was super cold because of the fog, but the city itself is charming, musical and there’s lots of stuff to do. The Golden Gate Park is gigantic. It has a science museum, Japanese tea garden, botanical garden and more. I bet summers in San Francisco parks are awesome. I read 4/20 on Hippie Hill (Golden Gate Park) is one of the biggest 4/20 gatherings in the States. So definitely go there if you like your (medicinal) weed.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have to chance to visit Alcatraz as the tickets were sold out until Sunday (we stayed in SF from Tuesday to Thursday). Visit Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill for a view over the city as well as Twin Peaks.

On Wednesday we went to this bar on Van Ness and Hemlock to check out some bands. The first band had potential, but needs a new lead singer. He hurt my ears. The next band was surprisingly good. They’re called Girls in Suede. They had a good energy going on and knew what they were doing. The girl who played the bass also played two songs on a saxophone. When they finished their show, they handed out CDs. Can’t wait to listen to it!

For the next couple of days we didn’t plan anything so we just drove and stopped the car whenever and wherever we wanted to. And so we ended up in Santa Cruz!

Santa Cruz, a.k.a. Surf City, is in central California and known for their amusement park (voted the best of the world) and excellent surf spots for every level. The beginner surf spot near the pier was overly crowded so we decided not to rent boards.

Instead, we’re now driving on route 1 by the coast heading south, to our next – still unknown – destination..

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What do you mean “Starbucks”, in Venice we have the streets

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After spending a week between Hollywood, Malibu, San Diego and Santa Monica, it was about time for something different. In the afternoon I got a new haircut (it felt so posh drinking complimentary mimosa’s in a Hollywood hair salon!) and by the time the sun went down, we found ourselves strolling around the streets of Venice.

Venice is a cute little place with all of the original Californian features we see in television shows and movies. We walked by the canals in Venice just like Hank Moody did with Rebecca in Californication. It’s funny how I recognise more things from media the more I travel around the globe.

It’s a different place. You’d see the cool skateboard guys, surfers and even lifeguards with their lifeguard cars as we know them in the movies. If you’re planning on visiting LA, the Venice beach area is a good recommendation to spend at least an afternoon! The guy in the first picture was working on his laptop outside on the streets. Guess he’s too cool for Starbucks!

They’re all about contradictions though. Check out these restaurant signs:

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Thomas Hamburgers “world famous chili” – China Beach “Vietnamese bistro” – “grill & sushi”

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Tsunami evacuation signs throughout Los Angeles – Phil, this should be your buildings’ art!

Before heading back to Hollywood, we had dinner at a quirky place. The food was surprisingly good and the decor was different. See below. I can’t recall the name but it’s the restaurant with the “grill and sushi” sign.

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These are some other snaps shot in Venice:

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From LA to San Diego and more

Everything they say about this city is true. The grass is perfectly cut, there’s always traffic, everyone seems to be an actor and the list of things doesn’t end. But it’s truly a wonderful place. Wherever I go I’m astounded by the scenery, people and beauty of the city.

On Thursday we went to Disneyland in Anaheim. I’ve wanted to go here for a while now, but I was kind of disappointed by the insanely long lines that go up to 1.5 hours. We stood in line for Space Mountain for more than an hour when all of a sudden, the attraction broke down for the second time that day. Guest Services gave us fast passes for three attractions after we talked with them, so in the last hour we got to skip the line for three attractions. It was a nice day, felt like a kid again!

On Friday we took the car to San Diego. Surf was finally up!! The drive there was incredibly long. It should’ve taken us 2 hours but it took us 4 hours instead. LA traffic was killing us! Once we were out of LA, it all got better. Yeah, LA is definitely not the place to be if you’re in a hurry. Everyone always drives as if they’re in the Fast and the Furious, but when Highway Patrol drives by, everyone suddenly drives like angels.

We arrived in San Diego around 3:30 pm, parked the car and rented surfboards at a local shop. The people in the store were typical surfers. Blond, tanned, blue eyes, lean and beef cake-ish and talked in the most relax way you can imagine. The shop closed at 6 so we only had 2 hours surf. The guys from the shop didn’t charge us for the second hour, sweet!

So my boyfriend had never surfed before and I went to a surf camp twice when I was a little younger. This doesn’t say anything though. I have the knowledge of how to surf, but when I’m actually in the water, I still don’t know what to do (ok.. a little bit exaggerated). I taught him the basics on the beach and we subsequently walked to the ocean. Time to practice! I kind of hoped I could impress my boyfriend and luckily for me, I caught the first wave and stood up as if it was nothing. I guess the Californian waves are easier to tame than French waves!

I was very proud of my boyfriend. Even though he wiped out many times, he also managed to stand up, and one time he even jumped up (so without the knee-step in between). Yaaayy we have a natural! I feel a lot of surf holidays coming up!

On our way back (took us 2 hours), when we entered the LA zone again, we noticed how only LA’ers have crazy driving habits. It’s a combination of Formula 1 and go karts. It’s so dangerous and it really requires full attention on the road. But ok, enough about LA traffic. This is the least interesting thing to mention about this spectacular city.

On Saturday we went to Universal Studios in Hollywood. I didn’t know what to expect but it was awesome. They sure know how to entertain and it’s not a mystery why they’re the top production studio in the world. We went in the Jurassic Park water ride, the high speed Revenge of the Mummy dark roller coaster ride, the 3D Transformers ride (my absolute favourite, and I don’t even know what Transformers are) and a couple more. We also did the Universal Studios Tour which took about an hour. It was cool to see what it looks like on stage. The King Kong 3D ride at the end of the tour was amazing. Within a couple of years, every cinema will have moving chairs and stuff to make the experience of a 3D movie even more believable. When going to Universal Studios, do go on this tour! It’s so mind blowing!!

My boyfriend wanted to see shows so we watched the Special Effects show (there’s so much they do with and without computers, it’s crazy!) and went to the Waterworld show which was one of the raddest things I’ve ever seen. It’s based on the movie Waterworld, starring Kevin Costner. There was fire, and flying people and obstacles (amongst others a plane) and – of course – water. During a fight scene, one of the actors (woman) accidentally got hit by another actor (man). But I think she was okay. Those actors really have to be in top shape, it’s inhuman what they’ve to do! Running, jumping away from fire, swimming, jet-skiing and all of that at a high pace. I recommend everyone to see the Universal Studios!

It’s Sunday now and we’re going to Malibu in a bit. Exciting! Hopefully we’ll be able to surf again!

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Stars, botox and the pier

After sleeping in till 11 am, the boyfriend and I decided to have a relaxed, touristy day in the City of Angels. We took the car to one of the most touristic places in the United States: the Walk of Fame. Personally, I’m not really into the touristic way of exploring a city, but when in Los Angeles, one should definitely check out the Walk of Fame.

The first names of the street (it’s soooo long) didn’t say anything to me but the more you walk towards the commercial stores part, the more names you’ll recognise. Honestly, it wasn’t that interesting or whatever, but it was cool to see it for once. There weren’t many tourists around but that’ll come next week after Memorial Day. That’s when the big crowd is free from school and everything.

We had a nice lunch with a view over the famous Hollywood sign and took off to Beverly Hills after. There we checked out some stores and had a stroll through the streets of district 90210. The streets are very clean, people are dressed to impress (everywhere in LA really) and massive plastic surgery  failures occur every 100 steps you take. From way too full-of-botox-injected lips to Michael Jackson kind of nose jobs. It’s really funny to see and hideous at the same time. The houses are gigantic, as well as the extremely tall palmtrees. I wonder how much an average villa in this neighbourhood is..

I was craving ice cream and the first ice cream shop we found was one of the best I’ve ever been to. I’m a real ice cream and milkshake addict so this was quite the experience. The place is called Ice Cream Lab and they make the flavour of ice cream or shake you want while you’re waiting. Pretty cool and one of the nicest things you’ll every taste. Prices go from $5 and it’s definitely worth it to take a big cup (= more expensive) instead of a small one.

People in LA have their own way of driving cars. They give priority to every pedestrian, but make their own rules for driving on the road. They drive fast, cut you off if you’re a too slow driver, they stop their cars in the middle of the intersection if they missed an exit, but driving around LA is the best. It feels so liberating. Don’t push the pedal too hard though, because there are transparant speed bumps everywhere on the smaller street (not the avenues).

After taking a brief break in our Melrose Ave guest house, we drove to the Santa Monica Pier where we paid $12 for parking. Insane. It was after 9 pm already so every activity on the pier – the ferris wheel for example – was closed or closing. A bit of a waste of money but the beach was all worth it. The sand felt so nice and so different from the Miami sand. Beautiful.

I looked up a trendy restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard and after being seated at the bar for 20 minutes, we finally got placed at our table. The restaurant is called Tar & Roses and it’s a fairly new LA restaurant. The crowd is young (25 – 35) , lively and good looking. The service was outstanding. We had a very friendly waiter who said “how were the first couple of bites?”, every time he served out a new course.

We had a bruschetta-cheese-charcuterie platter that was one of the most surprising food starters I’ve ever had, followed by a ricotta-gnocchi with asparagus. Delicious! The boyfriend had a lamb with chutney. Dessert was interesting. We had bruschetta with roasted strawberries and ice cream, and a toffee pudding with whipped cream. Melts in your mouth!! Two of the tastiest desserts you’ll ever try!

The cool thing about their menu is that you can combine some small veggie-cheese-charcuterie starters for a reasonable price of 3 for $14 and 5 for $20. The menu doesn’t have normal sized starters or main courses, but it’s divided in small and bigger plates, and veggies and snacks. Their combination of food is exceptional and the price is really good too. If you don’t want to spend too much, there’s plenty of cheaper priced plates, as well as for more expensive plates. Prices for desserts range from 8 to 11 bucks. The food is from local farmers and it’s organic.

Now back in the guest house, ready to go to sleep. Tomorrow I’m gonna add some pictures of today!

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I’m in California!

It’s a dream coming true. Ever since I was 15 years young I wanted to visit this part of the world, and finally I’m here!

I landed safe and sound in Los Angeles and now waiting at the baggage claim for the boyfriend to arrive from Detroit.

The travel from our campus to JFK was long and exhausting, needless to say I’m pretty spent and hungry as we didn’t get food on the plane – or maybe they did but I was sleeping. I passed out directly after take off and woke up after three hours. Watched Life of Pi on the plane (great movie to watch on the plane! It finished exactly when the plane hit the ground) and read a book about wine. Good flight, nothing to complain about.

JFK was – once again – total crap by the way. Everything such as escalators, elevators and stuff were out of order and with three mad heavy bags to carry, oof don’t let me get started. LAX on the other hand is a convenient airport. It’s big but divided into sections and it’s very easy to find everything you need.

Here are some snaps I took from my seat on the plane. I’ve seen snow, desert and typical American neighbourhoods.

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I see my boyfriend standing at the baggage claim. See you!!

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Goodbye east coast, hello west coast!

Exactly four months ago I left the Netherlands for the east coast. I didn’t know what to expect but it has exceeded all my expectations, and more. Now, I’m sitting in my dormitory lobby, killing time before – once again – going on a new adventure: California.

This spring semester was better, cooler, crazier and much more than anything else I’ve ever done in the 21 years on this globe. Reality hasn’t hit me yet, I’m still chilling at the university like every other day, but it’s really over. The last words of this chapter have been written. 

In two hours I’m leaving Fairleigh Dickinson University once and for all, and I’m really sad to be leaving but also this amazing chapter has to end. I’m flying from JFK to LAX at 4 pm so in less than 9 hours I’m in the Golden State. Woohoo!!

Sun, sea and beach, here I come! 

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I miss the Netherlands..

I miss the Old Amsterdam cheese, bitterballen, kroketten, hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) and stamppot (mash with cale or other veggies). I miss the Dutch sing-a-long songs. I miss the black and white cows with yellow tags that are everywhere where you go. I miss the directness of people and their free spirits. I miss the tulips and wind mills. I even miss the clogs even though no one wears them. But most of all, I miss my friends. I love you guys, can’t wait to see you guys again! June 10th, mark it in your agendas.

  

 

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