A more relaxed day today. A slow start and then mostly in California Adventures again. Finished the day with another nightcap at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. Of course I ordered the secret, not-on-menu Dole Whip cocktail. Mmmmm…
Probably the main reason for coming back to Disneyland was to experience Halloween in the parks. And not just Halloween in general, but to come to one of the special Halloween parties that they throw in the park. Sure, it is an excuse to sell more tickets. But they also do know how to put on a show. So we spent the first part of the day in the parks, and then got into costume for the nighttime…
So one of the main reasons to come to LA this time of year was to visit Disneyland. In particular it was to visit during Halloween. The park is done up in a spooky manner here and there and many of the rides have a bit of a spooky theme to them. Importantly there is also Halloween parties, but more on them later in the week.
Rather than go into the detail of all our running around Disneyland and California Adventures, which you have read before on this blog, I’ll just post some random photos each day. Enjoy!
Sunday in glorious Santa Monica. Well, glorious in that the weather could not have been more perfect. High 20’s, sunshine, no clouds… perfect! But in terms of being a great place to hang, it is pretty sweet but not somewhere I feel the need to come back to just to hang out.
To be fair we hadn’t spent too much time exploring, really just wandering around the main shopping and bar area. So today, before we departed for Anaheim, we decided to wander the beach in true Cali style. And what better place to start than on the world famous Santa Monica pier.
The pier is your typically touristy carnival type affair. Sideshows, rollercoaster, games of skill and chance, people trying to hawk off all kinds of wares. Being Sunday it was nice and busy, and so were rubbing shoulders with tourists and some locals I imagine as we made our way down. On the way, I mentioned “skeeball” to Kate who had no idea what I was talking about, so when we came across it of course I had to show of my prowess in the classic ball tossing game. Prowess? OK, I really don’t have any. I earned a measly 4 tickets for my efforts.
On the way out Kate came across Zoltar, but we really couldn’t be bothered finding out fortunes… things were pretty good as far as we were concerned. So we made our way down to the end and made our way back. Feeling a bit peckish, we stopped off for some tacos. Even likely dodgy pier tacos were pretty tasty… California Mexican food is pretty good.
Venice Beach was only a couple of miles away so we decided to walk along the beachfront down to there. I had visited 20 years ago, and had distinct memories of it being slightly dodgy and full of t-shirt vendors. We would see. The walk was nice and it was interesting to see how in just a couple of miles the vibe changed a little. Santa Monica is reasonably upmarket, and Venice is a bit more hippyish and you could definitely tell along the walk… there was a clear point at which we felt we had arrived at Venice Beach. While plenty of it is probably faux-hippy and skater, it had a more interesting vibe to it.
Oh, and A LOT of t-shirt stores still exist! Nothing much there had changed. In fact it still did feel quite similar to what I remembered.
With an ice cream under our belt, we thought it best to actually go and drip our toes in the water. The beaches were MASSIVE! I can’t recall seeing so much sand before. The water itself… it was quite nice but it wasn’t exactly the warmest! Not really too tempted to have a dip. What I was tempted to do was run along the beach Hasslehoff style. Seeing the lifeguard shacks on the beach was kinda cool. We even saw some lifeguards spring into action right in front of us! Thankfully no one seemed in real peril.
It was getting time to make the walk back, getting nice and roasted by the sun. But it was pretty great to just be walking along the beach and soaking up the California sunshine. Back to the hotel it was to grab our bags, then to catch a shuttle down to Anaheim, our home for the next 6 days. Yep, Disneyland awaited.
Hello everyone! Yep, Kate and I are in LA!
Now I haven’t been to LA proper in something like 20 years. I have been through LAX a bazillion times, but after my first trip never really felt compelled to spend anymore time. Well, this time I decided to when Kate and I decided to do a relatively quick jaunt to LA, I thought it would be good to dip my toe back in. I *really* wanted to visit Griffith Observatory, so why not spend a few days chillin’?
Kate and I arrived midday on the Friday after a fairly non-eventful flight and then headed to our digs in Santa Monica. It is hard to know exactly where to base yourself in LA, but Santa Monica was one area I remember liking when I visited, so decided that was the place. Plus, who could resist a gorgeous art deco hotel on the water? The arvo was spent wandering about, only keeping ourselves busy until we finally collapsed from the travel.
Next morning, we started our heading out in to LA day. We didn’t have heaps planned, but did have a few things on the hit list. Into an Uber we jumped and headed toward Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. I remember last time it felt impossible to get around, and I have no idea how we would have done today without being able to call an Uber at basically any corner.
It was breakfast time, and where else would you visit than a dedicated egg eatery called “Eggslut”? Yep, that is it’s name. And basically everything on the limited menu had eggs. But hey, it sounded OK to me. I smashed down an egg brioche with bacon, caramelised onion, sriracha and it was delicious! No wonder quite a queue had formed by the time we left.
From there is was to our first main destination, the Shag Store. Those of you who know us know that we have A LOT of work by Josh Agle (aka Shag) in our house. So of course we had to visit the store! It was so great to see a bunch of his works framed up gorgeously. We didn’t over indulge, but of course we picked up a thing or two to bring home.
Back into an uber, and up the road to a bit of a mecca for someone like me, the world famous Amoeba Music store. I had visited the one in San Francisco many years ago, but had never visited the Hollywood version, so with Kate egging me on, she watched as I indulged in a bunch of records. Nothing that wouldn’t have been too difficult to get at home somehow, but a whole lot more convenient (and a bit cheaper) to buy them there. And of course I had to visit the King Gizzard section of the store!
We were close to Hollywood Boulevard, so thought we may as well wander up that way. This is the part of LA I remembered, and remembered being very underwhelmed. In some respects it was still the case. However it was fun to just wander along the sidewalk, checking out the stars of those A through Z grade celebrities that we found. I will let you rate the stars above as you see fit.
After a bit of a rest and lat lunch, it was off up into the hills. Yes! The Griffith Observatory! I had wanted to visit for quite a while, so it was great to finally visit. It was our up close of the classic (and pretty underwhelming) Hollywood sign too. But you know. When in LA…
Sitting up in the Hollywood Hills the gorgeous old building overlooks sprawling LA. It is quite an incredible city when you see it like that. It is just so… big and flat. Quite remarkable that there are only a small of handful of pockets that could have anything resembling high rise buildings. That’s what makes it so unique.
So off it was to explore. The observatory itself is not huge. It actually doesn’t take too long to visit all the exhibits and things. But that building is beautiful and views are great. Best was to just be on the room, looking out over the valley.
But a visit wouldn’t be complete without catching a show in the planetarium. I have such fond memories of the old Melbourne planetarium, and this also had the added bonus of being truly iconic. So we got in and laid back and enjoyed the (fairly standard) show about the planets and stars. It was OK, but I will never grow tired of seeing that projection in a space like that.
As we emerged the sun had just gone down, so the view had transformed from sunny and hazy to glowing orange and glowing street lights. LA looked even bigger like this.
We soaked up the view and then decided it was time to head back to Santa Monica. After battling a bit of traffic we got in, dumped our goodies, and headed straight to the bar for a nightcap. I got the bartender to whip me up a gin cocktail (with lemon, honey and mint) and it was mmmmm. Hit the spot after a nice long day in the sunshine. A brief bit of a walk outside and it was time for bed.
Namaste! Here it is, my epic adventure to Everest Base Camp. Be amazed at the beauty of the Himalayas and stories of me eating my weight in momos 🙂
29/01/2018 – Kathmandu to Melbourne
And that’s it! That is my Nepal and Everest adventure. My trip home all went to plan… out of Kathmandu on time, a stop over in Bangkok airport, and then back in Melbourne, all without issue.
It was such an amazing trip that the next day back at work (yep, back at work) I had that moment, when going through (somewhat) pointless emails that it dawned on me… only a few days earlier I was looking at Mount Everest in the Himalayas. Sigh.
28/01/2018 – Lukla (2830m) to Kathmandu
Yes! As you have worked out there was a happy ending to the story the next day!
We got up early again, scheduled for the second flight of the day. As soon as we were up we could see from the skies it would be a different story. No breakfast, just a quick cuppa, and it was down to the airport. With only a slight delay of an hour or so, we saw the first planes coming in. Woo hoo! We would be leaving soon.
And in no time we were getting on a plane. Oh the excitement! This time there was no fake-out… we were taking off from the short Lukla runway and on our way back. A nice smooth flight and in just an hour we were back in Kathmandu.
All things going to plan today would have been the day when everyone was starting to do their own thing, heading home or off on other adventures. But given we had not really had a proper farewell we did our best to try and finish off the day with some fun. We had a few different hotels amongst us, so myself and some others went to the very swanky G Adventures hotel to freshen up while some others were back at the Fuji, where it all began. But we all had hot running water and that was the main thing.
Oh, and that hot running water! On the trip I had never felt too much of an urge to *need* a hot shower, but it was quite glorious to be in one now. But it was also my last few hours in Kathmandu I could explore, so after freshening up, I decided to wander about the city, just to buy some souvenirs and soak it up one last time. Oh and to eat more chilli buff momos!
I didn’t do terribly much, picking up some small gifts for everyone back home. I also did enjoy my chilli buff momos as well as some steamed chocolate momos. They were OK, but I could see why they weren’t common on menus.
After getting back to the hotel and freshening up, we all met up again for one last dinner. Pasang and Mingma helped get us all together and what was lovely was that we had a chance to all say our farewells to them together. Pasang and Mingma were amazing and followed in what is seeming to be a long lineage of G Adventures CEO’s that are simply just pretty incredible people. These two were a massive part in making this such an incredible trip.
Pasang and Mingma bid us adieu, and the whole hiking gang headed off to Fire and Ice, a local pizzaria. Yep, pizza. We had all had our fill of rice and daal bhat and momos and so some pizza was in order. And what pizza it was! Nice traditional Italian style pizza. So with lots of pizza and beers we enjoyed our last dinner together.
Some of the crew had flights to get to or early mornings, so we said our goodbyes there. Some of us had lazy mornings the next day so we headed out to a local bad, Ozzie Bar (no, not an Aussie bar) for more drinks and live music. Damn, it was a strange place! Two of the guys had visited when they first arrived in Kathmandu and warned us it was a bit odd, and it was but so great. There was a local band playing cover songs, some in English, and some in Nepali which was fun. They then took a break and then things got kind of strange. A couple of locals were cuing up random Youtube videos on the screen and absolutely nuts dancing ensued! So crazy to watch them and everyone else getting right into it.
The band came on and their cover of “Sex on Fire” was strangely and weirdly a bit of a highlight. Hearing it with the Nepali angle was one thing, but during the song, a random person in the crowd opened their bag, got a saxophone out, and started wandering the bar playing along. We all seemed to think he was part of the act, and while we couldn’t say he was entirely in tune with the band, we just thought it was an added layer of oddness to what was already happening. But then after a couple of other songs security went up to him, got him to put the sax away and marched him our of the bar! So strange! What a fantastical way to end my last night in Kathmandu and Nepal.
27/01/2018 – Stranded in Lukla (2830m)
Oh, the disappointment.
After the perfect trip I guess something was bound not to go to plan and alas it was on our last day. Bright and early (i.e. 5am) we were up and getting ourselves ready to wander down to Lukla airport for our early morning flight back to Kathmandu. The wake up call did not come as expected but I was awake as a fe were so we all met in the dining room. Pasang let us know that the clouds had settled in so there was no point heading down to the airport yet as nothing would be happening for a little while. But he was full of optimism that we would be off during the morning. Having had our delay in Kathmandu due to similar circumstances we were happy enough, although that started to fade a bit as we were offered breakfast at the lodge rather than head to the airport.
So we waited. And waited some more. Then yay! It was all systems go so we grabbed our bags and wandered to the airport. We went through security and waited along with a dozen or so other hikers in the freezing cold waiting area. We didn’t have a thermometer, but it was clearly below zero and none of us were that prepared. But oh well, we wouldn’t be here long. Or so we thought.
An hour passed. Then another. Then another. The sound of a helicopter got the whole room excited that a plane was arriving but alas, no. With every minute were were getting sadder or more frustrated. It wasn’t dire… none of us *had* to be in Kathmandu by tonight, but we had all been dreaming of our hot showers that were awaiting.
At about 3pm Pasang called it and decided we were better off waiting at the lodge. He was still hopeful we would be flying back, but he could see we were all cold and thought it best we were somewhere a little warmer. So back we went, but I had the feeling we were done. After an hour or so, it was official… we were spending another night in Lukla.
Everyone was pretty bummed. I mean in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t that much of an issue, but I would be lying if, at the time, it didn’t take some shine off the trip. In hindsight I hardly think of this, but right then all we wanted was a hot shower, a big meal, and to be celebrating success in Kathmandu at our farewell dinner. Instead, our farewell dinner would be in the lodge here in Lukla. Oh well. I made it to Everest Base Camp so things weren’t so bad 🙂