Hey traveller!! Did you miss us? Apologies for the long hiatus but the Nigerian Travellers Series is back and Henry will be taking us on a Snoop Dogg's "Area Code" inspired journey to the "213" city. You probably guessed it from the title of this post....California baby!!
My name is Henry Osaji. I'm a Subsea engineer, Project manager and Entrepreneur. I consider myself an explorer and adventurer because I believe these are the best principles for a traveler. An explorer will shop, party, seek food, adventure, or bum around the beach depending on what are the most unique/popular experiences his/her destination has to offer
Growing up and seeing California on TV and other media, I was always enthralled by its cultural diversity, liberal open-mindedness, geographical beauty, lifestyle and the variety of industries it leads the world in from tech to entertainment. So I planned a trip there for a week with bae
The first thing you notice in LA is the traffic. It's not as crazy as Lagos and definitely has better infrastructure but everyone drives so the roads are filled with cars. Like most 80's & 90's kids I grew up listening to Snoop Dogg so I always wanted to see this city with the "213" area code. I reached Long Beach and headed straight to the waterfront and shoreline village. I stumbled upon a ferry that was going to Seal Beach down south, got a beer and hopped on!
You have magnificent seaside rooftop restaurants down there. I walked further to a party hosted at another beach venue and just enjoyed the music. I ended up socializing with a young Italian couple visiting from Milan who indulged my terrible Italian. This is the beauty of exploring - you stumble upon unplanned places, people and experiences.
At Hollywood Walk of Fame I had a rather unexpected experience. I met an elderly British man with a very clean, proper English accent who invited us into the church of Scientology. I know what you might be thinking - "church of Scientology on the famous Hollywood blvd?" Yup me too! Definitely did not expect to see a church on one of the most vain, worldly & unvirtuous streets in America. I wasn't really convinced by the religion but I guess as an open-minded guy, I had no qualms giving them a chance to win my soul.
In LA I met all of my favourite VIP - Obama, Rocky Marciano, Meryl Streep, Don Corleone and my fav actor of all time Clint Eastwood! I’m talking of course of Madame Tussauds museum, a wonderful experience.
I met Obama :D
Venice really is a beautiful beach with vibrant deep blue waters and white sands. You have a long stretch of beach homes whose multi-colored and diverse architecture give it a very unique vibe.
It has a tiny little bit of the feel of Ilashe beach in Lagos but with smaller and trendier beach homes much closer to the water, way more people and much more activity. However its stretches for so long that there are large parts that are more secluded and offer the emptiness that Ilashe beach does. Also, unlike the Atlantic, the Pacific ocean has very cold waters so if you plan to swim, be warned!
Mind you, hiking to the summit of Griffith Park unto the observatory is very physically exhausting. We walked past houses owned by famous actors like Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie, Jack Nicholson and also Leonardo di Caprio; we also saw vast swathes of land lost to wildfires. If you watch the news a lot you'd know Cali loses tens of billions of dollars a year due to wildfires. Many of them are man-made and are made extremely worse by the very dry California climate that is highly susceptible to drought.
Maybe the best part of it all was the Pacific Coast Highway drive. It is amazing. In all my travels, traveling this road easily cracks the top 5 of things I ever did. Many stretches of the road are one lane in each direction and many times you would have the pacific ocean on your left and numerous mountains and hills on the right. I lost count how many times I almost veered off trying to snapchat while driving!
Northern California is just a trip by itself. Oakland is not the best place to see, it is going through an economic downturn right now and some parts can also be unsafe at night so if you visit here ensure to take necessary precautions to know where to go as and especially where not to go.
But San Francisco, well that is just another thing. We crossed into town coming from Bay Bridge and heade straight to Chinatown. It is one of the largest Chinatowns in North America together with Toronto's and it really is amazing.
Next stop Golden Gate Bridge.The moment you see it you are immediately awe-struck by its beauty and massiveness. The giant red columns and big thick cables are really prominent in the skyline of this wonderful city.
Golden Gate Bridge
I completed my visit to the city by going to Sausalito and boy is this place beautiful!! It's the little Italy of Northern Cali. If you've been to Venice, Fort Lauderdale or Amsterdam and loved the "city on the water" theme you'll like Sausalito too.
Our Uber driver implored us to drive down to Land's End which, I admit, I didn't know about. We walked to the edge of the cliff on the Pacific Ocean; it was a little too dark, too cold and way too windy unfortunately so we couldn't really see the views in all their complete glory. But the wind was bringing in the smell of wild, endless ocean. It also kinda reminded me about my time living in Aberdeen, Scotland, which was pretty much like that 80% of the year. So I ordered a few singles of Jameson, like I usually did in Scotland’s bars back in the days.
I loved the completeness of the trip. California is so amazing and vast that you need a couple of well planned trips to fully explore but for one week I did well! The people are cool, open-minded and friendly. My only regret? Not having been able to add San Diego to the Itinerary.
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