Venice Beach, Los Angeles
If Camden was on the beach in the late '90's it would be Venice Beach now. Legalisation of marijuana has made the substance ubiquitous along the beachfront, the smell is almost overpowering and no doubt helps generate a roaring trade at the various snack shops along the promenade.
Playa Vista, Los Angeles
Playa Vista is a newly constructed town near to Santa Monica and loosely centred around the hanger where Howard Hughes built the Spruce Goose. Part of the Silicone Beach area, it is home to wealthy young professionals and retirees.
As much artists space as it is museum, the Hammer Museum, is not huge like the Getty, but is in central Westwood. Colourful hair, vibrant glasses and a boho hippy vibe are given off by the visitors. workshops, interactive pieces and musical performances are run regularly.
The Getty Museum is huge, sprawling on the top of a hill, covering a number of modern looking buildings that could have stepped out of any utopian sci-fi show.
Down Town Los Angeles, (DTLA)
DTLA is full of fantastic architecture, from soaring skyscrapers to bas relief buildings. The most memorable is of course Gehry's, the chrome matching his work in Dusseldorf but the Broad has a mesmerising flowing outer facia, and the interior of the Bradbury building brings tourists from around the world.
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
On a hill facing the Hollywood sign and at the summit of the Firebreak Trail sits the Griffith Observatory. Constructed in 1933 and opened to the public two years later the observatory has a number of exhibits like the Foucault pendulum in the lobby and the camera obscura giving views of downtown.
Firebreak Trail, Los Angeles
One of the most enjoyable ways up to the Observatory is to park at the bottom and hike up the trail. The shortest route is about a mile, with other trails taking you on longer routes, mostly to the Hollywood sign.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Already a huge museum space, the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA) is extending significantly over the next few years with the impressive globe already part finished and the other winding sinuous shaped building in the planning stages.
LA Farmers' Market
The LA Farmers Market, and the land on which it sits, has been owned by the Gilmore Family since the late 1800s and continues to be owned and operated by the Family, now in its sixth-generation.
La Brea Tar Pits & Museum
Famous, and famously strange, in central Los Angeles stands the La Brea Tar Pits. A series of dirty pools of asphalt in the ground, bubbling up and smelling unpleasant as they have for over 50,000 years.
Zuma Beach, California
Visiting family in Los Angeles, we spent the day with friends on Zuma Beach in Malibu. Surprisingly quiet considering it was a sunny weekend thanks to Coachella being on, we were lucky enough to see Dolphins out in the ocean.
Fort Worth International Airport
I spent an evening in Dallas thanks to delays in taking off from Costa Rica, leading to a ten hour wait in Heathrow, before turning around in Gothenburg and flying to Riga.
Learning to surf
It had rained all night, so the start of the surfing lesson was pushed back a half hour due to the weather. When we got there we were loaned a rash guard (long sleeved t-shirt) given a lot of instructions on safely and then split into small groups, each with an instructor and taken out into the surf.
We then reached the Bribri village and did the chocolate and medicinal herbs tour. We were shown various plants used for natural lipsticks, glue, mosquito solution and other things. Highlighting just how practical indigenous people have been with their environment. Nothing is wasted because waste cannot be afforded.
Snorkeling in Costa Rica
Once we were changed and had snorkels on, we took a small, somewhat overloaded, boat out to ‘the point’ to swim around the coral reefs. The water was very shallow, most of us got a scrape or two from the rocks but visibility was excellent and we saw some great fish, the highlight being a manta ray.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
We then had a 3 hour drive to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, where we checked into rooms with mosquito netting on the beds before all meeting at an open bar space with wood tables by the small pool.
Rios Tropicales Lodge
We were not expecting much from the lodge as it was in the middle of the jungle; we were told there was no fresh drinkable water, limited bar, meals made by the guides and generally had our expectations set low. However it was incredible...
Rafting the Pacuare River
The alarm at 4:30am signalled the start of one of the main adventure elements of the trip. We would white water raft down the river to a lodge in the middle of the jungles of Costa Rica. We would then spend some time hiking and doing various other activities on the second day and then do some grade 3 and 4 rapids on the final day.
This was a longer transfer down some rough roads but we arrived at an old farmstead and stables. We were quickly geared up and paired with on horses. Mine was a mare called Tarzan.
The mountain bike tour started when we had disembarked from the boat.We started with a tough uphill journey, which was hard work and showed I do not cycle nearly enough. It was about 20k all on gravel roads.
“The experience was adrenaline fuelled, by the end we were all twitching with nervous energy.”
We climbed aboard a flat bottomed boat and sailed along the lake toward La Fortuna and the volcano. The lake is dammed at one end and used as a hydroelectric plant which provide 50% of Cost Rica’s power.