Day 2. We began the day around 9.30am by walking a couple of blocks to a bike rental place nearby, as recommended by our Airbnb host. It didn't open till 12 though - time for plan B. Uber! It was only a couple of miles to the beach and the Uber fare was estimated at around $9, approaching what it would cost us to drive and park there - I really wanted to try and avoid that madness. So, we opted for Uber pool instead bringing the estimate down to $5.50, much more agreeable.
I think Uber itself is a great concept (only used it a couple of times back home though - too pricey), Uber pool simply matches you with other riders going in the same direction as you and you practically split the fare. Means much less downtime for the cabs and must be a lot more efficient for them too. We waited on the corner of our street for 5 mins for the car to pull up, a Prius. About 1/4 mile later our driver pulled over to pick someone else up, a girl who was a bit of a clutz dropping her phone on the way in and out of the car! Her ride was less than 1 mile and she let on that she was on her way to work. I'm not sure I would have bothered 'uber'ing that far, but whatever - she was interesting local to observe!!
Once we arrived at the beachfront, we hired a pair of beach 'crusier' bikes and cycled 2.8 miles to Santa Monica pier along the twisty beachfront cycle path. This was great! The bikes lived up to their namesakes wonderfully though I think my roadbike back home is safe for now. We took a stroll along Santa Monica pier and spotted some Dolphins off the end! Very cool.
We cycled back along the beach taking in the sights, sounds and smells along the way. We hired the bikes for around 90 mins which cost us $18 total, not too bad really. By this point it was pretty much lunchtime so we used our trusty Reddit guide to LA to steer us again and found a delightful diner, apparently used in the movie "Knocked Up" called Swinger's.
The service was excellent as was the food. I had a shortstack of pancakes and some french toast (bang goes any semblence of healthy eating!) and Catherine had a yummy looking breakfast burrito.
We Uber pooled our way home again, this time taking a very scenic detour of beautiful Santa Monica. We decided to make our way back towards Hollywood and 'do the walk'. What a dissapointment. We didn't even bother getting out of the car. Very crowded, tacky looking shops and just generally a bit tired.The walk looked completely un-glitzy and just didn't do it for us. I did stop round the corner to look for directions to the Griffith Observatory and discover we were only a block away from Capitol Records and, as it happened, the end of the walk of fame. So despite my protestations, I snapped a picture for posterity anyway - just to say we'd done it!
After this we set the GPS for the Griffith Observatory, a beautiful place sitting high above the city in Griffith Park. The traffic to get in on the twisty hill road was pretty awful and we couldn't get into the main parking lot as it was full. People were getting quite irate at being told to turn around, park further down the hill and walk! up the hill. We didn't mind though and duly obliged.
What a beautiful place, with great views too. I always like to experiment with my photography on these trips and this scene proved an excellent candidate. I took approximately 20 handheld shots over a 2 minute period and using Photoshop turned these into one composite image - my poor Macbook, it really struggled with only 16GB RAM. I'll leave a proper edit session on this image for when I get home but for now, I'm happy with the results for a first try on a new technique. Next time, I need to make sure to wait and take more pictures and ensure everyone in the scene moves.
I may have succumbed finally and purchased a selfie-stick for this trip. Much of the last two days I've been saying to Cat just how much LA is like GTA5. Well, you start one of the missions in that game at the observatory and sure enough I again experienced de ja vue for a place I've never been!
We walked back to the car, only about 15 minutes and as we got to the part of the road that was closed earlier we found that it had now opened. As we got there a fat American who had clearly done their weekly workout waddling up the hill shouted "I though it was closed, we drove past 3 times but you wouldn't less us in! It's not fair!". It was honestly like watching a small child throw a tantrum. Just walk, it's not going to kill you!
Griffith park is a lovely place to just soak up the city from a distance.
Anyway, dinner time was now upon us. I headed toward downtown via a very rich feeling suburb to take a look at MacArthur Park (again, full of homeless people - quite shocking to me just how much there is here). En-route we passed an interesting looking burger place called Tommy's. There was quite a line for it so we figured it must be good! We stopped for a delicious chilli burger each before heading home.
I spent the evening messing around with Photoshop trying to edit that picture of the observatory above and Cat finished her book. Our Airbnb host was obliging and a book swap ensued for one of the books in the apartment - little things like make a trip for me.
I write this today in a Starbucks in Malibu en-route North toward Santa Maria. Only a couple of hours driving ahead of us till we reach our bolt hole for the evening, see you then!