California05 Sep 2016
Travelling alone has its bright and dark sides. You can neither share the excitement when you notice a sea lion swimming next to the boat nor look all the 227 meters down the Golden Gate Bridge. But you are free to do whatever you like, without discussing your options with anyone. For instance, you can exchange one more day in San Francisco for visiting the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, which probably isn’t the way of spending your holidays that many would choose.
In the museum you will find a former ballistic missile that after its retirement started an academia career as an univeristy, general-purpose computer.
Renting a car
The lady at the Avis counter tried really hard to give me this Camaro.
— Mustang is an entry-level sport car. But Camaro (Camaro!) is really luxurious.
She also told me that they have a red Camaro, but Mustang (which I originally booked online) is only available in black. What could I do? I chose the luxury and agreed to get the Camaro. When it came to signing the deal, lady Avis told me that Camaro is only $30 more expensive than Mustang - per day. Given this unexpected piece of information, I decided to stick to the original choice. However, she wasn’t accepting “no” as an answer:
— OK, there’s one more thing. Please tell me which airlines did you use to get here.
— Lufthansa - I said, adding that I don’t have the ticket anymore.
— No worries, it’s important that you are Lufthansa customer. For such special clients we have a discount: only $10 extra fee for Camaro.
Really, I didn’t have a chance.
Pacific Coast Highway
If you’re going from San Francisco to Los Angeles, you can either take one of the standard highways and see the Hollywood sign in about 5 hours or choose the Pacific Coast Highway, part of the State Route 1 (and admire the views for 8+ hours). It was the best 8 hours during the whole trip. The road is simply beautiful, with Pacific Ocean on one side and a steep wall of mountains on the other. It really deserves to be contemplated. A lot of people did - you’ll find multiple viewpoints there. Seriously, you should see it, at least in the street view:
I was listening to the latest Iggy Pop album. There’s this song, Paraguay, about escaping from the civilization, from all of these information and knowledge, that really resonated with me then, at the western edge of the North American continent.
The main museum in Los Angeles is LACMA. It isn’t unusual for the museum to have a small park in front of it, so you can enjoy trees and fresh air before or after enjoying the work of art. However, in case of LACMA, the fresh air part is not entirely true. You can smell some oil or petrol scent here and there in the park, but it isn’t caused by the vehicles. There’s a few small lakes across the park (and one quite big) filled with a thick, black oil. They are fenced (as they probably would be fatal for a potential swimmer) and bubbles from time to time in the way, that only a thick, black oil pool can bubble.
It’s really strange to see such lake in the middle of a huge metropoly.
A really good way to feel the Americans’ love for their cars is going to the Mulholland highway in the Sunday morning. The road is very curvy, scenic and runs through the mountains. Every week you can spot multiple sport cars there, from old BMW to new Ferraris and from Corvettes to Fiskers.
Last day I hailed an Uber to get to the airport. A black lady was driving and listening to some really nice music. She wasn’t really talkative (unlike the other Uber drivers), but that was fine. I used Shazam to find out what song is that. A minute later the whole album was downloaded to my phone. We exchanged a few words about crazy taxi prices and she wished me a good flight. Later, I submitted an Uber comment to the ride: “great music, thanks!”. Now it’s time to go home.