Let go of the little distractions
Hold close to the ones that you love
Cause we won’t all be here this time next year
So while you can, take a picture of us ~Frank Turner: Polaroid Picture~
A couple of weeks ago my friend Becky and I decided to organize a day out. We usually come as a three out here in California, nicknamed the English Muffins, the Minions, the Brits, occasionally the Hobbits, due to the fact that we are all about 5ft tall. This day however, our third Muffin, Alice, was out celebrating the end of school with some classmates. Adamant to survive a whole day of being apart, doing something other than sitting by the pool drinking our body weight in Jamba Juice whilst Alice was off enjoying herself, Becky and I hunted for something fun to do or see.
This is why, one bright Sunday morning, we packed our bags, popped to Safeway for a picnic and headed to the very end of the line on the tram to Alum Rock Park.
A bit like a mini Yosemite, Alum Rock Park is a stunning national park in the mountains of San Jose. Not very many people (that we spoke to) had heard about it, but it’s a completely beautiful place full of hikes, trails, wildlife and breathtaking views.
Becky and I spent a good couple of hours weaving in and out of the mountain tops on the “Quick Trail” (which is quite inaptly signposted; turns out Quick trail is short for The Todd Quick Trail which is one of the longest in the park). If you’re prepared for a bit of a walk however, I would highly recommend it. The Quick trail took us to the highest point of the park, where you can see for miles over a stunning landscape of San Jose.
We hobbled back to the tram at the end of the day, exhausted and blistered but satisfied that we had spent the day adding to our collection of mental snapshots of California. These are the moments that we never want to forget because they’re so amazing or beautiful or stupidly funny. Like sitting on a beach at night toasting s’mores on a campfire- or absolutely tanking your first ever kegstand at a house party.
There have been a significant amount of ‘polaroid picture’ opportunities recently, mostly because school is officially done so we’re finishing our time in America as we began it- as a constant holiday. Last week in particular, was our long awaited trip to the south of California, including Los Angeles, Anaheim, and, of course…
The Happiest Place on Earth. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s actually true. Disneyland is the only place in the world where it’s not just acceptable, but a requirement to become seven years old again. Nothing can possibly make you happier than running around a world full of princesses and cartoon characters, trying on minnie mouse ears and spending the day being thrown around on rollercoasters. The California Disney isn’t a very big one, it can be covered in a day, maybe two if you want to get a park hopper ticket to California Adventures next door. The Cars ride in California Adventures is worth the wait, and Indiana Jones in Disney is always a classic. Definitely go to the Colour Show and stay for the Nighttime firework display. Watching those, all of a sudden I was no longer the 22 year old who had moved by herself to America, I was the 5 year old little girl who demanded that her reception teacher call her Esmerelda (from the Hunchback of Notre Dame).
From Disney, we took a shuttle taxi to Hollywood Boulevard, where we stayed for the remainder of our holiday. Unlike Disney, Hollywood is a place I would definitely recommend saving until you’re grownup, as I can’t imagine I would have appreciated it as much as a child. Having stumbled accross the Hollywood Walk of Fame five minutes away from our hotel, we decided to recover from all the excitement of Disneyland by relaxing in an open top tour bus which took us around the celebrity houses in Beverly Hills. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand it was really fun and our tour guide was a fantastic entertainer. It’s easy to get swept up into the buzz of star spotting, peering up random driveways and gawping at billion dollar gated communities in the hope of seeing this actress or that singer. However, if you stop and think about it, it’s really pretty creepy. I don’t doubt that some stars love the attention, and ask for the constant barrage of papparazzi, but some people are simply famous because they are good at their jobs. We drove past rows of pristine lawns and basketball hoops attached to garage doors which can never have been used because if a celebrity let their child out to play in their own front garden they’d be bombarded with photographs from a random bus load of tourists. Rodeo Drive was a nice area to walk around however, and it was nice to look in the expensive shops even if we couldn’t afford to buy anything! One thing i’d definitely recommend is to go to the top of the Griffiths Observatory- it’s completely free and offers great views of both Los Angeles and, of course, the Hollywood sign.
3) Santa Monica/Venice Beach
LA is a weird place, particularly for tourists I feel. One minute you’re getting snaps of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at a movie premier (yes, that actually happened), the next you’re sat on a bus with the old man with a glass eye, the gang member who’s doing a cheeky bit of facebook perving and the crazy man in a fez who’s trying to sell you rings whilst picking at his golden teeth. Unfortunately, the dodgy bus journey was a necessity for us to get to the 3rd and 4th major destinations in our vacation; Venice Beach and Santa Monica. Travelling aside, those two days were without a doubt among the best of my life. Totally chilled atmosphere, beautiful hot weather and amazing beaches, it was the epitome of what you expect the Cali lifestyle to be. Venice beach is a bit like a Camden Market equivalent on beach, with people selling henna tattoos and touristy trinkets as guys skateboard along by the side of the sand. Santa Monica, aside from the Pier itself, was calmer and the town seemed a bit more upmarket. It’s a very pretty beach and what’s totally cool is that there is a load of swings and gym bars on the sand, which means you can swing looking out to sea. I got taught to do the monkey bars by a random but very kind stranger.
The end of this week was pretty emotional. Partly because when we got back to San Jose we had to pack up and leave the accommodation which we had lived in for the past five months and move into the fraternity house across the road. The state of the Delta Upsilon showers is enough to make anybody want to cry. More upsetting than this though, was that I had to say goodbye to my two best friends who have flown back to England to be reunited with friends, family and a good old Sunday Roast. I’m really lucky to have met these girls and to have shared some amazing moments with them, I will see them ASAP when I’m back in London
For now though, I’m the last muffin standing and excited to be travelling some more of California, and making my move to the East Coast.
So in the stillness of the moment
Make sure you take a Polaroid picture
And keep it with you forever
To remind yourself that everything changes
But there was this one time
There was this one time
When things were okay