Tag Archives: California

The Spring Break Diaries – Amerexico, bus friends and a sparkly puppy (Day 5)


After our wild night watching Dance Moms and eating baguettes, we were understandably not up quite so early this morning and we were also depressed by the fact that the Weather channel promised us temperatures averaging around 16 celsius. For some reason we decided to ignore our eyes which told us that the weather outside looked gorgeous, and got dressed in like tights and stuff. Needless to say we’d been outside less than two minutes before I was changing into shorts around the side of the hotel (classy as ever…for the record I was wearing a bikini and a skirt which makes it okay?) I however, was wearing shorts and tights so had to strip off…behind a flowerpot. 

Anyway so today began with an unexpectedly and highly unnecessarily posh journey into Coronado. The whole debacle was so horrifically embarrassing that I can’t even bring myself to go into it to be honest but safe to say we all came off looking like idiots. Anyway then we jumped on the bus of lunatics to go into San Diego. I can’t actually remember any characters off this particular bus but I’m sure there were several. Actually this may have been the day that there was a woman chatting away to her backpack and rubbing her nose on it like it was a child. This is the reason that I never, ever go on buses. But really.

First stop was the same mall we went to yesterday so that I could return some sunglasses that broke literally ten minutes after I bought them. This was also the moment that Emily realised that she is physically addicted to Starbucks. Then we climbed aboard another bus because it was next stop Old Town! On this bus we met our first bus friend of the day, a cheeky young lad who, when he found out we were Ocean Beach-bound, told us to ‘smoke a blunt’ and then giggled like a child. As we got off the bus together, he invited us to a party he was throwing for his cousin from Chicago. Unfortunately it was on Saturday i.e after we were leaving. Alas.

Old Town was even more hilarious and fun than I remembered it being the last time I went there. I should add that it was sunny and we were all in v. good moods, although we were probably offending anyone of even vaguely Spanish heritage with our childish cavorting about, shouting ole etc. We also all bought near-matching friendship bracelets because a) we are lame and b) we are friends. Sophie came over all Catholic and bought some rosary beads or something?

We were by this point all practically keeling over from starvation so we had to do a little rethinking of the meticulously drawn out Plan (courtesy of Emily and Sophie, naturally) and decided to get Mexican in Old Town. We had local recommendations from one of our many connections and so headed for Cafe Coyote which was another BRILLIANT DECISION. It was AMAZING. Our waiter was lovely and v good at finding stuff that didn’t involve cheese when we asked him what he would recommend and there were ladies making tortillas right in front of us and the food was soooooooo good. We split two dishes between us which we now realised was the most sensible way to do anything anyway and oh my God I am practically salivating writing about it. Seriously anyone that goes to San Diego and hasn’t been or even if you have, GO. The only minor dampener on this experience was the fact that we couldn’t get margaritas but I bet they would have been incredzzz and I don’t even like margaritas that much.

So next we remembered we had loads of beaches to go to so we wandered back to the bus stop and got on another bus, only our fiftieth that day. We were planning to go to Ocean Beach but at the last minute we decided to go to Pacific & Mission first, instead, which ended up being a good shout because we LOVED them. Pacific in particular was gorgeous and we sat there for ages – it was quite windy but if you lay on the sand it was warm – and reminisced about when we first arrived in Williamsburg and stuff. Then we wandered down the boardwalk thing lusting after houses and puppies and making rash plans to sell all our belongings and buy a condo together.

We had to wait a while for another bus which nonsensically we had to get all the way back to Old Town and then out again to Ocean Beach. This is why cars are necessary. We also made another friend at some point around here from Wisconsin and generally felt like we were in the opening scenes of a 90s teen movie as we wandered around in the sunshine. Eventually the bus arrived, we got on it, got off, etc, got on other one, and then we were Ocean Beach bound. We were on a mission to find this burger place called Hodad’s that has been featured on the Food Network (which is basically like my bible) but in a surprising lapse of organisation we had failed to actually look at where it was and so we just got off the bus more or less at random. As we got off, Josie asked where exactly we were looking for and Sophie announced the name of the place.

“Oh, no,” a random fat man said ominously. “Y’all should have stayed on.”

He then gave us directions, in a tone that suggested we had got off the bus several continents too early. We reminded ourselves that this is America where nobody walks anywhere, ever, gathered up all our British reserve and set off, and sure enough we were probably like three blocks from Hodad’s. Luckily, we all survived the trek.

The burgers were good. Sophie and Emily’s involved some sort of boiled bacon contraption and there were a lot of number plates on the walls. That is all I really recall about this dining experience as it was VASTLY overshadowed by the hilarity that followed. I feel I can only sum up Ocean Beach in a list of the sights we saw over the next, say, 45 minutes:

– A man using bags of what looked suspiciously like weed but Sophie assures us was ‘homemade Spinach pasta’ (whatever), as currency

– A man wandering about with a parrot sitting merrily on his arm

– Another man casually leading around two llamas (REGARDEEEEE)

– A million hummus/avocado/other healthy vegan food stalls (not really that outrageous but atmospheric nonetheless)

And the best one…

– A man with a tiny puppy that was PINK AND PURPLE AND SPARKLY.

I am not even joking. It was legitimately covered in fairy lights or something, just trotting around after this man like nothing was out of the ordinary. As Josie said, “the things you see here only work if you’re high.”

So anyway eventually we got on a bus that took us back  to the Old Town Transportation Center (which at this point may as well have been our home). It was at this point that things got even weirder, if that is possible, when we decided to take the tram home as we had been admiring it for ages and it seemed vastly more luxurious/less dangerous than the lunatic buses. As we got on, we witnessed two people having what looked like a v violent argument, but what was more unusual about it was the fact that one of the person having the argument was filming the whole thing on their phone. Anyway so we avoided that carriage.

In the carriage we did go into we met our next, final and most hilarious bus friends of the day. One of them was a man, quite possibly a (very friendly) drug dealer, who lived in Tijuana (this tram went STRAIGHT TO TIJUANA what) and wanted our day pass as he didn’t have a ticket. We would have donated ours except we needed them for the six billionth bus that day. The other was some blonde boy who went to San Diego State. I forget how we started talking to them but all of a sudden, we were discussing whether or not the British authorities cut off your hand if you don’t buy a ticket, then we were being invited to a hookah bar where this blonde guy’s friends worked, and then next thing we knew, he was handing us his phone so that his friend Jordi could play the saxophone down it to us. I kid you not. Josie of course was loving this and was yelling “PLAY TO ME, JORDI” down the phone. After a few false starts Jordi finally got the message and played us a lovely long solo on his saxophone which we all applauded. He then told the blonde guy that he was gonna come meet him (i.e us) at the next stop but unfortunately we had to get off. Blonde boy was devastated and seemed particularly concerned that we were never gonna see him again.

After this ridiculousness we thought our night would calm down but no, first we had to wait for literally AN HOUR at a bus stop in downtown San Diego in the freezing cold, fending off weirdos left right and center (why we did this I have no idea). I remember being hysterical but that is it unfortunately. Eventually the bus came and we got on it and I don’t even think there were many weirdos on it, although there was a guy with a sling who got on carrying an entire crate of beer and a suspicious backpack. He then called up his friend and, acting all cool and casual, was all like “oh, you down to hang tonight? I got a couple of beers, you know” which amused me a lot. Anyway as we deduced from this conversation him and all his friends seemed to live on boats which was quite cool. We almost invited ourselves along.

Eventually we reached our hotel but then the bus just stopped about half a mile away from it down the freeway which we then had to trek all the way back up looking like bedraggled Mexican immigrants. Only a fitting way to end the day really.



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The Spring Break Diaries: Roadtrippin USA (Day 3)

Day 3 began just as early as day 2, although this time there was more of a reason because the car was being helpfully delivered to the hotel by the rental company at 8AM since we had serious cruising to do. After a couple of false starts (first when the valet man attempted to rob the car away from us and another when we realised that the SatNav was entirely in German) we were on our way over the Coronado Bridge and into San Diego.

Unfortunately, due to SatNav Bonnie’s over-efficiency, she decided to take us not via the coast but through random highways etc. Luckily we were only going as far as La Jolla which was our first stop so we weren’t deprived of gorgeous coastal views for very long and when we reached La Jolla (basically named for me) we were more than rewarded cause it was GORGEOUS. We were going to look for somewhere to get breakfast or something I forget but in the end we got so excited we just parked up and ran around the front looking at baby seals and squealing. A nice man told us to go around the side where even more seals were and then we saw dolphins playing in the ‘natural sea’ (Sophie’s words) and generally got massively excited.


Anyway eventually the novelty wore off very slightly/we were hungry so we wandered the streets a little bit and ended up getting breakfast at this place called The Living Room and then we went into various tacky tourist shops where I accidentally scammed a South African woman/stole $15. This meant that we had to flee very quickly so we piiled back into the Britmobile and off we went.

This time we ignored Bonnie the Sat Nav and stuck to the coastline which meant taking many a scenic detour, for example the one we took up the hills and into a random skydiving center where we stopped so that Sophie and Emily could use their classy portaloos. Josie and I were quite concerned that Emily had fallen off the cliff at some point because she disappeared but it turned out she was just taking some pictures.

As it had now been about four hours since we left Coronado and we were still in the general San Diego area we decided to get a move on and so off we went through Del Mar, where we stopped in some random person’s driveway to creep onto the beach and take pictures, Cardiff, Carlsbad and Oceanside on our way to Dana Point.

surfy scenes on the pch

The car didn’t have an ipod cable which was tragic as we all had carefully prepared California playlists (pre-Spring Break procrastination at its peak) but luckily the radio provided us with many a classic and even the most abruptly edited Elvis medley any of us had ever heard. Anyway eventually we reached Dana Point and parked basically at the top of a mountain and found a delightful little garden of love which overlooked the harbor – my dad’s favourite in the world – and we walked down to it and got lunch in the sunshine. This was where Sophie and Emily discovered ‘lemon pepper’ which they literally have not stopped talking about since and even hunted it down in Food Lion yesterday and I have since sampled it and it is indeed very good.

By this point it was probably like 2PM or something so it was time to move onwards and upwards to the next stop on our tour, i.e the main event, i.e LAGUNA BEACH. I have honestly never seen anyone so excited as Emily was when we drove into those hallowed MTV-famed lands. When we drove past the surf store that Stephen used to work in we had a very close brush with death but luckily we survived swerving halfway across the road and continued on our merry way. We parked, walked down to the beach, wandered down the beach for a while and took in the sights etc and then we got in the car and drove to this other beach i.e the One where they always go on Laguna Beach. I did have a minor disaster here as somehow I shut my foot in the car door and although my actual foot was fine, my flipflop did not fare so well. Undeterred I hobbled like a cripple to the safety of the beach while Emily brought a bottle of wine and dispensed it into any sort of plastic container we could find, i.e Starbucks cups and bottles. All for her own consumption of course. After she was done driving.

On the beach we gazed lovingly at the sunset/each other and took sickeningly wholesome pictures such as this:


The ones on Emily, Josie and Sophie’s cameras are actually much more adorable/vom-inducing as mine was running out of battery but you get the picture (lol…). We watched the sun go down and declared our lives perfect (ish). Then it was time for dinner. Obviously as we are entirely food-oriented/had to look up food instead of cocktail menus we had already planned ahead and had our little eyes on this place called Nick’s. It was super busy even though most other restaurants were fairly empty, this being a random Monday in March, so there was gonna be like a forty minute wait but the helpful boy at the front told us we could leave our cell number, wander about and he’d call us when he was ready for us so we decided to stick it out.

Best. Decision. Ever.

We wandered around looking at art etc in the dark and then returned and the food was so good. After much deliberation I had steak which I have been entirely deprived of lately and then we also got dessert as we’d seen this one cake go out past our table like a billion times that looked incredible and it was.

The majority of the way home was fairly uneventful until the last hour when suddenly we were surrounded by a thick ominous fog that meant that none of us could see anything and made the Coronado bridge extremely interesting. We needed to fill the car up with petrol and Josie & Emily ended up making friends with a police officer in our efforts to find a gas station but in the end we were successful and returned to the hotel very very happy people.


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The Spring Break Diaries – Getting There (Day 1 & 2)

We are finally back in the Burg after what can only be described as one of the best (nearly) weeks of our lives. I have fallen in love with California and I know we have all, since getting back, been trying to find ANY way to return (masters programs/becoming a surfers wife – you get the idea!).  SO – here you have it, our spring break diary. LET THE EXCITEMENT COMMENCE!

Day 1.

Day 1 was not very exciting as it was really just our flight, but none the less there are a few carefully selected highlights that need to be remembered…

  • We got picked up by taxi Jose who was a very lovely man. As this taxi service was around $30 cheaper than any of the other ones we called we were expecting something a bit sketchy – we were envisioning ourselves being driven to Richmond in a rickshaw style device by a man in a sombrero but luckily for us, Mr. Jose was very efficient in getting us to the airport…around 3 hours early. (mine and Emily’s doing obviously)
  • Because this is us, our plane to Chicago was delayed. Initially it was only 25 mins but every time we looked it kept creeping up until we were delayed for a whole hour.
  • Boredom ensued but was soon defeated by an…interesting…game of “would you rather?”; no limbs or be deaf and blind?…seeds or herbs? etc etc.
  • Flight one was a mini-plane to Chicago which terrified Emily somewhat
  • Chicago airport and their interesting baggage claim systems. Apparently it is a great idea to put everyone in a line and then take off the bags in a random order so no one can see them. This means that people were missing their connections and an INSANE airline woman began shouting at a poor innocent passenger exclaiming “why you wait for your bag!? WHY YOU WAIT?!!” Obviously people should never check bags. Lesson learnt.
  • Noodles
  • Flight two – Chicago to San Diego
  • This flight was lovely. Whilst Emily and I weeped to New Years Eve, Bella was stuck next to an obese woman with an interesting aroma and a fear of flying who decided to fidget for the whole four hours of the flight. (Literally the worst seat neighbour you could ever imagine. She literally spilled over into my chair, played her music at an offensively loud level and spent the whole time muttering about how she ‘couldn’t handle this.’ She couldn’t handle this?! WHAT ABOUT ME?!)
  • WE ARRIVED IN SAN DIEGO (and drove off to Coronado where we were staying) – in a state of extreme excitement
  • The Hotel (Loews Coronado). Lets just talk about that. The hotel was seriously gorgeous, I do not know why we were allowed to stay there and I feel the hotel didn’t really either.
  • However, one woman Sister Katie thought we had been there for ages. As we were checking in we noticed a wedding party outside, at which point I realised that is my destiny to get married at the Hotel Del Coronado, and then as we were leaving the lobby area for our building we were accosted by a little, possibly drunken old lady who informed us that we were “fantastic” and thanked us for taking part in the wedding before she was gently corrected by her friend who told her that we were in fact complete strangers. She then introduced herself as Sister Katie and we all laughed uproariously and she shared some wonderful advice to do with having too much fun and ‘being careful’ (wink wink nudge nudge…)
  • And then we went to bed cos we are wild (and were moderately jet lagged with the three hour time difference)

Day 2. 

  • We were all awake by 7am, obviously really excited for our day ahead. Having meticulously checked the weather for the past 3 weeks we were aware that today was going to be the hottest day (29 degrees woo) so this day had been designated as sunbathing day. And here was the view we woke up to :

  • After a quick breakfast muffin and a mini explore we headed to the pool. Jack Johnson was playing and I don’t think any of us could have been any happier at this point.  The pool was gorgeous (and heated) and we must remember IT IS MARCH. What is this insanity?!
  • In the afternoon we headed to the beach. Even more gorgeous than the pool and to top that off – Lifeguard towers. My Baywatch fantasies were well and truly fulfilled and over the course of five days I must have taken at least 50 pictures involving lifeguard towers in various guises.

  • That evening, obligatory British sunburn in tow, we headed into Coronado town centre. We had the standard argument of where do we go for dinner and eventually settled on a lovely little restaurant called Rhinoceros and all ate way too much and then decided to have ice cream afterwards just to gorge ourselves further.
  • Then we went back to the hotel in preparation for the next day: THE BIG ROAD TRIP!

To be continued…

S xx

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Places to visit #2 – Monterey CA

Ever since being obsessed with Cali veteran John Steinbeck I have ALWAYS wanted to visit Monterey – in particular Cannery Row. Made famous by Steinbeck’s novel of the same name (and arguably my favourite book) Cannery Row, I imagine, has that old town charm that makes America so great.

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.  
John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

I am sure it’s nothing like the book, with bums chilling out in the Palace Flophouse and friendly prozza’s everywhere…but I know you can visit Doc’s famous aquarium (which sounds like my perfect activity!). I guarantee you will hear me harp on about Steinbeck again on multiple occasions throughout the year as he is an absolute babe.

Only problemo is that  Bella has been here already (bitch), but I will make her take me or find a new and better travelling companion. We’ll see…

S xx

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