Welcome on Board

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On my last weekend in LA a friend and me went down to Long Beach, where the Queen Mary is stationed. We did a self guided as well as a ghost and haunted encounter tour. It was really interesting to get to parts of the ship, that you normally don’t get to see learning about the story of Queen Mary, a ship with quite a history. Whether being a transatlantic passenger ship, serving as the grey ghost during WW2, or now as a hotel and museum. I am not so sure about the ghost stories and encounters that people are talking about that happened, but oh well it was fun anyway and pretty scary at some points. You definitely got to see some of the not so nice areas of the ship. It must have been amazing leaving New York crossing the Atlantic Ocean on the ship when it was still operating. Being on the ship really made me want to do a cruise tour in the near future. So another thing on my bucket list 🙂

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After that we went to the main area in Long Beach. I loved walking around at the harbor, along the pier with all its shops. The ice cream we got was so yummy, fitting the weather perfectly.

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Litte final treats

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While I slowly realize I am really leaving LA next week, more and more all the things I will miss so much pop up in my mind. This is why I took a long beach walk with my roommate and one of her friends, including his Rhodesian Ridgeback Koi yesterday, enjoying the view on all the boats out there. For dinner we went to our favorite Thai restaurant in Malibu, enjoying the drive there watching the sparkling water and the sun disappear behind the mountains, leaving the world in a golden color.

Going back to normal really does not sound like an option for me at the moment and luckily even though I have to leave, it won’t be for long, as I will be back to do a 4 week round trip with some friends from Germany. Then Scotland is coming up, which will be far from normal as well. Trying to think in a positive way is the best I can do now. But one thing for sure, California I will miss you!

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Sunshine, cocktails and fun

My last days are flying by, but I can’t say that I am not making use of them wisely. I had a great weekend with a lot of sunshine, the beach, cocktails, sunsets and most important with amazing people, who always make it fun.

On Friday, after getting off from work early, we went to Crystal Cove close to Newport Beach to enjoy some amazing food and cocktails combined with a beautiful sunset.

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On Saturday, we enjoyed some British humor, watching Notting Hill, at the Eat Sea Hear outdoor movie night in Santa Monica.

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And finally on Sunday we relaxed at the beach and ended the day with some treats from Urth Caffe. I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend 🙂

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Gay Pride Parade

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This Sunday the yearly Gay Pride Parade took place in LA. It was announced as a quite big event and a friend and me decided we would join the spectacle. We unfortunately arrived after the parade had already started so it was quite hard to find a good spot to watch. I hate being small sometimes 😉 But after walking around for a bit we found an acceptable place to stay. The parade was really fun to watch. Everybody was smiling, and obviously having a good time. Many known companies and brands participate, like “Bank of America”,”Chase”,”The Coffee Bean”,”The Abbey”, only to name a few. I always find it amazing how people can wear certain outfits with such a confidence, if you look at the pictures, you will know what outfits I mean 😉 What was also really touching, was a group of 4 old men, probable all in their 70’s, walking in the parade, holding a sign “Senior Gay Community”. Unimaginable what it must have been like for them all their life’s, not being accepted or hiding their true selves, because being gay was nothing you would talk about in the past decades. Made me really happy to see those 4 men walking 🙂 I must say that I believe it is a great idea to encourage equality in this way, and I would watch this spectacle again, if I had the chance to do so next year.

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Up and down we go

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Hiking is always fun. I definitely found my love for it while being here in California. Of course I used to go for walks back in Germany, but you can’t quite compare it to actual hiking, if there are no mountains or at least hills involved, and this is the case in the area of Germany where I live.

The past weekend after the International Dinner Party a couple of friends and me had the day before, where we had way to many calories for that day, we decided a hike would be a perfect option of enjoying the beautiful weather and to burn some of the input of calories from the last day. We went to the Will Rogers State Park, which eventually leads into the Topanga State Park. You start at the Ranch of Will Roger, which today functions as a museum, passing by a polo field and a riding stable, until you finally get to the path on which the actual hike starts. You get some beautiful views of the coast, all parts of LA and some fancy houses. This is always what amazes me the most, the view. Most of the time I seriously question myself why I am doing this over and over again, sweating and having aching calves, but then I know why once getting closer to the top 🙂 No matter how many times I have seen LA from above before, it always amazes me how big the city is, how many green parts it actually has and how beautiful the coastline looks 🙂

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If you’re going to San Francisco…

Hope everybody had a great Memorial Day Weekend. I know I am kind of late, but I was really busy this week, and then I did not have my pictures with me when I wanted to upload the post yesterday.

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For my second Memorial Day in the States ever I went to SF to meet up with my host family (back from when I did my High School Year) and to attend the graduation of my host sister who got her Master Degree in Business Administration. I was so excited to meet them after not having seen them for 4 years now, except for my other host sister, with who I could meet up in Brussels when she did an internship there.

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Honestly, I fell in love with the city, and I can’t wait to go back in August when I will do a round trip throughout the West coast of the States with a couple of friends from Germany. What I love about the city?! Almost everything. The architecture, the location at the water and the surrounding bay area, all the food places and options you have, the steep streets, the sea lions at the pier, that everything is basically in walking distance or accessible with public transportation, the diversity of the city without loosing its intimacy, I could go on and on. Not that I do not like LA, and I definitely favor the weather and the beaches here, but what really makes me prefer SF is the fact of not having to rely on a car like one has to in LA. Even though the walking can be so tiresome, I loved doing it, because this in my opinion is the best way of exploring a city, by walking around, being able to stop whenever you want and take a closer look, and eventually getting lost, only to see even more of the city, not only the main tourist attractions.

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After a long drive up, which I had to do by myself as my roommate wasn’t able to drive being under the influence of pain killers for her gallbladder problem, I made it to SF Friday morning, after one night of staying with her at her families place in Fremont. I attended the graduation, which was kind of boring like always, but I was in good company. We had dinner at a place in North Beach, which was really fancy and yummy. We ended the day with some cake at a cute pastries place. I slept in a hostel at Fort Mason, an old military base, which was really nice, as I had a gorgeous view on the Golden Gate Bridge and the sunset from there. I can recommend Hosteling International at Fishermen’s Wharf to everybody, who wants a cheap but good alternative. On Saturday we all together went to Angle Island, doing a tram tour on the island, and from there heading to Alcatraz. I loved the view you had from the boat on Alcatraz, Sausalito and SF. The entire trip took us almost 7 hours, but it was definitely worth it doing the combined tour of Angel island and Alcatraz. We walked around Pier 39, watched the sea lions until my host dad got pooped on, making the decision this was the indicator that it is time to go. We walked back to my hostel, grabbed my suitcase to take it back to my host families hotel where I would stay the second night. We had Ramen for dinner, a special Japanese dish, which I never had before, but was similar to the Vietnamese place I am going to regularly here in LA. As we were all really tired and my host family had to catch an early flight next morning going back to Washington, we ended the day with typical SF ice cream called ‘It’s it’, which is ice cream between two oatmeal cookies, yummy 🙂 Next morning I said goodbye and went to sleep again, as it was only 6:30 in the morning. I loved waking up later having an amazing view over SF out of the rooms window which was located on the 22 floor of the building. As my host family had left I toured SF on my own for a bit, visiting Chinatown, having some clam chowder soup at Fishermen’s Wharf, climbing up the streets to Lombard Street, until finally heading back to Fremont. As my roommate has had surgery for her gallbladder, we could not really do anything expect watching TV until I had a home cooked dinner of chicken, potatoes and salad. On Monday I left early in the morning, driving back alone. I am good with driving for the next couple of days now 😀

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I had an awesome Memorial Day weekend, based on a great city and being surrounded by people I love 🙂 Can’t wait to come back to SF and to go to Washington to visit my host family again before going back to Germany.

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Great night with great people

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This Saturday I had a little get-together for my birthday in a restaurant/bar in Santa Monica called Sonoma Wine Garden with a couple of friends. I have never been there before but after looking at pictures of the location and ratings I decided this would be a fun place to go. And it was! The food was good, even though there are definitely better places out there in this price category, but the service was great and every question we had was answered with patience even though it was quite busy. A friend and me got a little wine tasting of 3 different white wines, due to our indecisiveness 😉  I really loved the interior design of the place, all the candles and the wooden parts gave it a cozy feeling, and the redesign of wine bottles as lamps was creative. I had asked for a table outside when making the reservation but they could not assure me to get a table there, and we ended up at a table inside, right in front of a huge window though, which actually was the better outcome, especially for having dinner. The outside looked really cool too, but it is definitely more a place to grab a drink. As it was my birthday, and my friends must have told the waiter when I went to the bathroom, I actually got a full size portion of dessert, with a little candle. The 2nd wish I could make this week 🙂 The best about it, it was a German dish called Kaiserschmarrn, so yummy! So Sonoma Wine Garden is a place I would definitely recommend, especially to grab a drink on a hot summer night, enjoying the outdoor terrace!

After dinner and drinks, we went to walk around for a bit at 3rd street promenade. It was so busy, but I guess this was due to spring break, which makes LA so crowded in general and the hot weather, which makes everybody go outside.

All in all I had a great birthday week, with a relaxing beach and biking day on Thursday (my actual birthday) and a delicious Italian meal with my roommate for dinner, a surprise birthday cake and ice cream on Friday at work, an USC campus tour on early Saturday and the dinner just mentioned, perfectly rounded up with an entire beach day from morning till sunset with friends on Sunday. I simply love being in California, what more is there you can ask for?! 🙂

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USC campus tour

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After having visited UCLA two weeks ago, I thought it is time to use some of my free time and make a visit to USC campus as well. Me and a friend took the metro, which has a stop right in front of the campus entrance and took a walking tour. I am always impressed when making visits to campuses of US universities. They are so big, and I love the feeling you get when walking around. I really liked the arrangement of flowers and trees on USC campus. When walking around and paying attention you could see how much thought was put into the design of the campus, with flowers planted and clocks painted in the colors of the school, and even bike paths adjusted to fit the mascot of the school.  It is just so different in Germany, where some universities don’t even have a campus, buildings can be spread around the entire city or you have ugly concrete buildings from the 70s. I have to say the university where I study in the Netherlands is really modern but we totally lack the campus feeling as well. Many clearing-up operations were going on for the finished graduation on the previous day. Many graduates were walking around in their gowns, to take pictures, possibly to take some nice shots without the crowds that must have been there the day before. The tour made me really excited for my upcoming trip to San Francisco this Thursday where I will attend the graduation of my host sister, from my High School Year I did in Virginia back in 2008, on Friday. I can’t wait 🙂

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Historic Downtown Tour (part 2)

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After the guided tour and lunch, my friend and me went to the Spanish section in LA and its main part being on Olvera Street. I loved all the colors, wondering at the same time, who is going to buy all the ‘junk’ people try to sell to tourists. Our tour ended with a Starbucks Frappuccino, after passing by and taking a look at Union Station and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, asking for tickets for the night, which were too expensive as a special show was going on. Oh and I for the first time took the metro in LA, because there is a direct line going from Culver City, which is only 5 minutes by car away from me, to Downtown. A really cheap and relaxing way of transportation I would say, not having to look for parking and driving in Downtown in general, which drives me nuts with all its one way only streets. Of course there are always some weird people in the metro, but I didn’t have to be scared of being on my own.  The ride made me feel like being in NY, which is always a good thing 🙂

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