Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Where to next...

Well now that the whole college thing is up and gone and been done I'm heading off to south east asia backpacking around the place! Plan is Vietnam-Laos-Northern Thailand-Southern Thailand-Cambodia-Bangkok... All in about 7 or 8 weeks!

Hopefully going to have some cool stories and reviews on things when I get back or might even write them when I'm over there bored on some long haul bus journey!

Keep your eyes peeled :)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Travelling isn't always fun..

Ok, after going on about having an absolute laugh for what has been pretty much the whole of this blog I think its time I take a different tact...

Here's a (slightly) censored e-mail I sent to one of the lads after what I can only describe as going to hell and back... bad time

Friday 22nd July, 0600 hours: I awoke to the repetitive sound of my alarm and to the smell of some Guinness farts courtesy of the merriment the night before. However all this was ignored as today was the day Kevin and his proverbial teddy bears had their picnic (i.e. he was flying to America)

0620: Availed of the wonderfully frequent 11a DublinBus into O’Connell street where I took the Airlink service (also operated by DublinBus) to the airport and set to looking around for the U.S. Airways section and the gate to my 2 week freedom from the shackles and chains that is “the audit”

0700: Approached the gate with Philadelphia written over it and proceeded to check my bag in, however....
To give you some backing story,
The flights i booked were dublin-New York/Newark (via Philadelphia)
New York- dublin (via Charlotte, North Carolina (some shit hole))
.....when i requested to the lady at the desk if it would be possible to check my bags off at Philadelphia, as i had travel 
arrangements made
To ocean city from there, she said that this would be not possible and that I had to connect to New York (Newark) . When I queried her on this she said that if i got off at philly and didn’t catch my connecting flight then U.S. Airways would cancel my return flights. Maintaining a cool head I kindly asked her if there was somebody i could further query on this matter as i was becoming slightly distressed, but not overly panicked, with the situation. The woman, of eastern European origin, gingerly pointed me in the direction of the U.S. Airways main desk. This my friends moves me onto a new chapter, not just of my tale but a new chapter of my journey, even if the desk was a 20 second walk from where I stood at the gate. This my friends was where I encountered Alec....

Alec was an intelligent boy born of wedlock in Eastern Azerbijan. Making a quick rise through the ever prominent Azerbijani middle school system he was bestowed the highest honour an azerbijani can get and was allowed to do “airline cunt assistantry” in azerbijani international university (parallel to a Harvard medicine degree in azerbijani circles)

Upon approaching Alec’s desk i heard him speaking to a woman who had been living in America for 2 years and was moving back to Ireland. Unfortunately on her journey back she had lost what she claimed were the majority of her wordly possessions. As any young professional living away from home for 2 years would gather I felt her claim to be true and my heart went out to the girl and her lost possessions. However the girl had nothing to fear, Alec was on hand to save the day! Or was he.....
As I stood patiently behind this woman I heard him refuse to offer her any help and basically tell her “tough shit”. This put me at unease and made me slightly apprehensive as to my own predicament and to how much help this most chivalric of airline assistants would be able to offer me. I approached Alec and explained my situation to him of how I had booked my flights with the intention of getting off at Philadelphia and assumed it would be ok to jump ship at Philadelphia as I had already paid for my seat on the Newark flight and U.S. Airways would not be at a monetary loss pending my presence. Alec explained to me in no uncertain terms that this would not be possible and I had to board the flight to Newark otherwise my return flights would be cancelled! His explanation was basically a beat around the bush way of saying U.S. Airways is such a tight airline that if you were not to be on that seat of the flight then you have not left us with enough time to sell it on to somebody else bla bla bla.. I explained my situation to Alec of how I hoped to make it to ocean city that evening and the best he could do for me was to get me onto an earlier flight from Philly to Newark leaving 4 hours earlier than the flight I was previously booked on to. I agreed and saw this as the best and most efficient way to get to OC as early as I could. He charged me $150 to do this. I shrugged “feck it, I'm on my holidays”

1115: My flight to Philadelphia took off with me on board, I was still slightly peeved about the earlier incident however overwhelmed at the thought of 2 weeks in the sun, a bit of drinking and picking up some new threads. No in flight movie and a pretty mean dinner mattered little to me as my new book “game of thrones” by George Martin kept me company throughout the flight coupled with some tunes and I was happy enough!

1355 (local time): Touched down in Philadelphia, PA. Was in constant contact with my Girlfriend (herein known as “useless”) about possible ways of transport from Newark to Ocean City but she was proving un-fruitful and my plan B, to rent a car and drive down was looking ever more likely and expensive, however it didn’t matter “feck it, I'm on holidays” .Knocked around Philadelphia airport for a bit, went for a fag and then decided to board.

1630: while waiting to board at the U.S. Airways gate I noted another U.S. Airways flight departing half an hour after my own flight. It was to Salisbury, Maryland. Half an hour drive from ocean city. As both planes were no more than 30 seater planes the luggage being boarded onto the plane was in my sights and grasp and I could see my own bag right in front of me. Therefore i decided to chance my arm and offer the guy at the gate a bit of extra cash to let me throw my bag onto the Salisbury flight with me included as it didn’t look like there were many people boarding that flight judging by the luggage. What happened next? I was obviously rejected of this request. Meanwhile feeling more and more that today was certainly not going to be my day.

1745: Touched down in Newark in the middle of a searing heat wave and stepped off the plane to 46 degree heat, made my way to the terminal and grabbed my bags. Bag in tow I made my way to an information desk to enquire  about the cheapest possible route to Ocean City. Turns out Ocean city is a difficult place to get to and this made me nervous and more aware of how daytime was pushing into evening time and I was still a 4.5 hour drive away from my desired location with no means of transport to that location. The man at the information desk wasn’t even sure where the ocean city i wanted to go to was and so just pointed me in the direction of the train station, this is when shit went from poor to bad, I took this inter-terminal tram/train device (this tram would prove to be my biggest enemy come the end of the day)
from terminal 1 to the Amtrak station in this little un air conditioned train in 45 degree heat sweating balls and wondering if this ploy would be tactful. Upon arrival at the Amtrak station I questioned the employees working there who were very unhelpful however told me to go down to the bottom floor and enquire at the main desk of the station. Unsure of how to get down there I chanced upon a big glass elevator and decided this seemed the most prominent of a vertical mode of transportation to  the ground floor from my 2nd floor location. Getting into the elevator by myself I noted the searing heat as it was a glass elevator directly facing the 45 degree sun. Pressing the G button the doors closed. They stayed closed and to my dismay the elevator didn’t move. And didn’t move for a considerable period. As I stood there pressing every button possible and getting distressed and cooked more and more by the minute I had an epiphany that the public transport way was not the way for me. When the door did eventually open half an hour later I decided to get the little shuttle tram/train/cooker to the rental car section of the airport and drive down to ocean city!

2000(ish): Arrived at the rental car section of the airport and entered AVIS. Happy to be within an air conditioned building once again I enquired about renting a car and a possible drop off in ocean city. I could get this litte midget micra yolk for 200 quid for the trip down! Wahey, this pleased me. $200, no bother! I was getting there! “Can i have your credit or debit card sir?” “no bother kiiiiiiiiiiiiid here you are just get me out of this fucking airport!!!”... sorry sir I'm afraid your debit card is being declined... huh?.. turns out they don’t take aib shtyle debit cards in America... poos. Here theres 200 cash you little runt. “we wont take cash sir” heres 50 extra for you and the wife.. to no avail.. even pleaded with the manager of the place. No cash, no aib card no NAHTING... chanced all the other rental places. Either didnt take cash or didnt have an office near ocean city. No dice kevvie.

2100: got the little train thing once again to the amtrak station. Station closed. Train back to the terminal, its getting late and I'm getting nervous. 3 hours gone in this stupid airport getting little tram type yolks here and there and i still have no clue how I'm getting to where i want to go. Fuck this, I'm getting a taxi. Bartered with this African guy. Me:200 him: 500, me:200 him:400, me:250 him: 350.. 300 settled. Agreed. Handshakes, the works. I was delighted, finally getting out of this disastrous place and down to OC

2125: Driving around in his cab the African guy is on the phone constantly and he doesn’t seem to be leaving the grounds of the airport. He is blabbering away in African or afghan or irish for all i knew and ten minutes in to the journey he decides to tell me he doesn’t trust his car to go that far. This is when shit went from bad to worse. Spoof, somebody obviously told him I was ripping him off ( which i was to be fair) so he hops out of the cab, throws my bag onto the highway/road and tells me to get out. Not wanting to leave my bag in the middle of the road I get out of the cab and he drives off. Dickhead. I climb over the railing at the side of the road and take the long slog back through 2 or 3 car parks to where the nearest of those little tram stops was.

2140: Arrive at the rental car place as it is the nearest place to where I had  been ejected from the taxi. I smell terrible at this stage. Hop into the little train/tram yolk and go back to the terminal defeated. Alice (useless) has somewhere along the line texted me and told me there is a flight going to Baltimore at 21:55. Its $230 dollars to book online she says. Check the screens, just my luck its been delayed. Run to the service desk and pay cash to get this flight to Baltimore. $279 with baggage charges. Fuck it, I'm on holidays. Run to the gate, its ok the flights been delayed again until 22:45. I relax for ten minutes then realise I STILL don’t know how I'm getting to ocean city, I look up flight is delayed again until 23:30. I text alice(useless) and she informs me that Baltimore is actually 2.5 hours drive away still from Ocean City therefore a taxi would be in the region of $300, I have spent far too much thus far on top of flights. No Taxi for me. Read my book for a while, look up again. Flight delayed until 00:25. Bollox. Find a comfortable seat to go to sleep in however sleep is the furthest thing from my mind still, I HAVE NO IDEA HOW AM I GETTING TO OCEAN CITY. I HAVE SPENT 430 dollars and I'm still at square 1. This is when I started tearing hairs out of my head. Telling myself I wasn’t going to kill alice, however much i wanted to. It was here at some point that I decided I needed my mam, i was about to emotionally break down!

01:30: Flight still being delayed, unrest has started in camp Newark – Baltimore. Passengers are teaming up against continental airlines and we are as one. We hate the airline, they hate us. Realising I will face an over night stay in Baltimore airport this further frustrates me, had i stayed in Newark i surely would have found a cheaper way to ocean city the next day, what with having the whole day to suss it out. However the flight is paid for, game over, ball bursht. As us angry passengers gather together in unison I start conversation with the woman next to me and her boyfriend. Telling her my predicament she whips out the auld iPhone and finds a bus that runs from Baltimore airport to ocean city at half 8 the next morning. Halleluia! I want to kiss her, i want to pleasure her, i want to do dirty things to this most average looking of women.

02:45: We board the flight. Thank GOD

03:30: Touch down in Baltimore, find a corner to go to sleep in. Find it hard to sleep after seeing airport staff rob phone off of the chair next to already sleeping man. Rest eyes while hugging all of my possessions.

06:30: Airport sleeping is hard, i get up and go for a wander.
07:30(ish): Go to the information desk. Man at desk informs me bus at half 8 isnt going to ocean city, must wait til half 10 bus which is. Gives me permission to go into closed off lounge area after hearing my story. Nice man. I like this man.

09:00: refreshed after hours nap in lounge area go to get a subway. Start conversing with African-American airport staff in queue. Baltimore natives, pure ghetto dudes. Supposed to be cleaning floors however one buys me a coffee and i spend roughly an hour outside speaking with these men and smoking there cigarettes which they are kind enough to offer.

10:30: Humbled by the generosity of these most funny and gangster companions I take my leave to get this “bay runner shuttle” to ocean city.$100.

11:45: Stops at Maryland airfield, man next to me comments on airfield. We begin talking, him and his fiancée are making there way to ocean city for a vacation, she is not that hot, i pay little attention to her. Turns out he is a photographer in New York and has travelled the world. Fella he works for/with is one of the biggest photographers in the world. This guy has photo’d everybody from kanye west to the obamas to kid cudi. ( who by coincidence is playing a free concert in ocean city that evening) I find this photographer guy interesting and his fiancée also so we begin chatting shit about life and what not. 15 minutes out side ocean city Chinese guy wakes up in shuttle. He is baked. Overhear him talking about a soundcheck or something. Photo guy asks him about why he is sound checking stuff. Turns out he is in the support band for kid cudi, tells us he will get us backstage if we can catch his attention at the show and we can meet kid cudi etc as he has played with him loads of times (he was bullshitting, never got back stage)

13:00:Finally arrived in Ocean City and found where I was staying.

36 hours travelling
Flights from Ireland: €687
+        $279
+       $100   
=               $529

AKA too much time and cash for my liking.... puke

Altogether = GRIM

Kevin O'Brien | FS Audit

2 Harbourmaster Place

Dublin 1
Tel: (+353) 01 410 1224

Monday, 12 March 2012

California Advertising!

After spending a summer there and travelling around the state for two weeks and seeing as this blog is for a social media module I of course checked out some of the advertising on Cali.

Needless to say the ads are exactly as you would picture California, showing its diversity, scenery, lifestyle and of course how beautiful the state and the people there are!

Here are some of the videos I came across!

Have to say that most of the stuff touched on in these videos really does give you a taste of what the place is like and we definitely experienced some of this on our trip!

And to finish off here is one of the most famous viral videos of last year. Filmed in Yosemite! 
The infamous double rainbow vid.... enjoy :)

Thursday, 8 March 2012

LA, the end... and going to see the doctor!

On we rocked, and rocked we on... shutup. Harbouring up in Malibu after the short drive from Santa B we got a quick mcdonalds and headed to the beach! Finally letting getting some use of the surfboard we had been lugging around in the van aimlessly for the whole trip, suffice to say Dave was delighted! Finally reaching the beach we were still all pretty spent from our antics in SB the night before and took the first chance we could to lie down. However this didn't impede Farzo, taking off down the beach without prior warning, disappearing on the horizon and not returning for a considerable period. Drowsiness and things not really worth remembering happened and next thing you know we were in LA!

We spent a nice majority of the evening driving around the city looking for a hostel and eventually settled for another dodgy motel towards the end of Hollywood Blvd. Two of us went into the check in desk and talked with the chinese guy behind the counter who seemed a bit sketchy but eventually let us stay! We had noticed a lot of trucks and camera gear in the parking lot of the hotel but we didn't really think anything of it. On the way into the room however we bumped into another guest of the motel who told us that Fergie was shooting a video over the next day or two in the same motel we were staying in! Suppose we were in Hollywood afterall :) None of us could claim to be huge fans of her music or anything but still lads, she is daycent!

We went into the rooms anyway and balmed for a small bit. Then got brushed up for another night on the tiles but on the way out we passed between two cars and a curly haired character wearing sunglasses who looked vaguely familiar. It eventually took Jamie to pose the question while we were leaving the parking lot "Lads, was that Slash?" (ie slash from guns n roses!) We got talking to one of the camera crew and he told us all that was going on, himself and fergie from the black eyed peas were filming a video for some new song they were bringing out!! The guy told us they would be around for the next day or two and said he would try his best to get us a meet and greet or whatever with the two! Totally unexpected but still pretty unreal!

Anyway, we bought copious amounts of some cheap vodka and headed towards the other side of Hollywood to The Viper Room, the club formerly owned by Johnny Depp and the one famous for River Phoenix overdosing and dying on the door step right outside! Dave had booked us all tickets for a gig that was going on there that night for a band called 'warner drive' (I think! Memory is getting hazy) After a fairly long stroll and taxi ride we got there and all I can say after going to the show is that rock n' roll certainly still exists! In California anyway. The night just had a real essence of 'fuck you i'll do what i want about it'. The main singer of the band, during the build up for the solo in 'whole lotta love' by led zeppelin, started tripping majorly on the stage.. Licking the guitarist while writhing on the ground in agony doing the 'ah ah ah ah ah ah' bit
[ <-- about two n a half minutes in]
for the two minutes. Then proceeding to go absolutely spastic for the rest of the performance! There was a massive fight in front of the stage between two absolutely cracking women tearing lumps out of each other and afterwards the scrawniest drug addicted looking performers in the band had some of the best looking groupies I have ever seen completely HANGING off them. The vibe in the place was just immense (definitely nowhere near Bandaoke in reardens on  wednesday though).

Afterwards then outside was just manic. Again, you had the best looking women in Hollywood absolutely hanging off these tattooed punk rocker type dudes who drove really strange muscle cars converted from really old models. It was all just a bit surreal! I felt like I was overdosing outside of there and the drink had well and truly been sweated out of me at that point!

 Dude doing his "having sex with the ground and orgasming multiply" act

Ja Biys

It was about this point we were starting to get narky and tired and wanted to go home so we taxi'd it back to the motel! (lies, that was just me being a tired unenthusiastic negative prick)

So we got back to the motel and as it just happened; Fergie and Slash had just finished filming and were going  for a drink afterwards in their famous person truck. We bumped into the camera man who we were talking to earlier and we got to party with both Slash and Fergie and their respective entourages for the night. Seriously living it up!! (Lies, that last paragraph never happened....ever)

Heres the video they made anyway... dont think it was particularly successful... but anyway

If you squint you can see our white van at some stage (also lies)

So the next day we got up, shook off the hangovers and took a trip down to venice beach! Probably one of the coolest places you will ever go... All sorts going on down there. Dudes selling rap cd's while playing it on their boombox. Girls walking around with snakes on their shoulders. About a million and one places to buy medical marijuana, not being advertised very medically! Basically its a pretty cool place with a lot going on! Myself and blake had a game of paddle tennis practically on the beach on these cool courts they had there, the game got so intense blake had to take off his shoes to keep playing. results of that can be seen below.. the lads took a sconce inside muscle beach, one of the most famous gym's in the world! There was also one of the coolest urban skate parks Ive ever seen down there with skaters doing absolutely ridiculous tricks. This place is just a hotspot for seeing weird shit. It was definitely one of the most eye-opening places I have ever been to. A place where the most artsy and creative people of LA meets gangster rappers in a pretty cool backdrop! Heres some pics anyway..

From Venice beach we took our travels back inland and said we would go get a look at the Hollywood sign while we were at it and it was still bright! Driving in LA is pretty hectic but we got through all the traffic etc. and on the way swung into the wildcard boxing gym owned by Freddie Roach. This is the gym where the (disputably) best pound for pound boxer trains and condition, Manny Pacquiao! We threw our heads into the gym on the off chance we might see either of them but to no avail. All we got was some pretty mean stares from ridiculously well built fellas hammering into punching bags and each other. So we left fairly briskly! Pretty cool to see the inside of the gym though which looks like it could be anywhere in the world. Just a normal day-to-day gym with people working out inside. Weird to think how Floyd Mayweather probably has a multi million dollar strength and conditioning facility in his own home where he trains and Pacquiao trains somewhere you could find off Blarney street. Thats us here anyway in the token group photo..

After that we went rambling around Beverley Hills looking at all the rich houses and doing the norm thing. Had a look at the hollywood sign, turns out its smaller than you would think. Still better than the Dingle one though.. 

Cant really remember anything particularly exciting happening after that so we went back to the Motel and got dressed and stuff for drinking again!

Blakes socks after his demolition by Roger Keverer

Rose and shone the next day after a pretty uneventful night wandering up the hollywood strip looking at all the stars on the ground and all that craic. Today was a poor day though as we were losing another two of our crew. Jamie and Scott were flying home :( So we packed up the van, yet again, for another adventure off somewhere else! The lads flight wasnt until the late afternoon so we took a cruise through compton just to see what all the fuss was about. No shootings or gangster related activity detected we headed towards Inglewood and tested our luck a bit further. Still with a few hours to burn we parked up in Inglewood and got the hurleys out to have a bit of a puckaround. A stupid idea? Yes, Had to be done? Of course. Pulling out our camáns in a dodgy, dodgy black neighbourhood of LA definitely wasnt one of our better moves! Wonder what Dr.Dre would make of that if he saw it! Probably would incorporate it into his next tune....

On that note we got our last picture of the hols as scotty owned the camera so no more visual aid from here on in!..

Dropping the lads off we decided to take another spin down to venice beach for a look around! It was here we managed to somehow blag our way into being in the audience for a Dr. Phil show being filmed the next day! That in mind we decided to kip up in the car that night and chance our arms at being on the show the next day! Cue some dodgy characters freaking us out, a strange man designing an imaginary recording studio for us and assigning us a band name and what our roles in the band were (crystal meth must be a hell of a drug), an encounter with a very dodgy fear dúbh on a bicycle and the James Bond incident! Way too much detail involved in that to explain at half 2 in the morning... So after running away from a couple of suspicious people we parked up in what we thought was a safe spot and eventually got some shut eye. Awaking in the morning looking forward to going on Dr. Phil we realised our parking spot hadnt been that safe, with police cars coming and going left right and centre! We managed to park outside the hollywood police station. 

That debacle behind us we parked up and threw in the best clothes we had left; soggy, wrinkled jeans and shirts that hadnt been touched since vegas. Suffice to say they put us at the back of the audience! Queueing up to get on the show we were delighted waiting with our free capri suns and ryvitas. We went into the studio and took our place at the (very back) of the audience and watched an episode on cyber bullying being filmed right in front of us! The initial thoughts of jeering everyone that came on were kind of blown out of the water when all of the guests were crying and talking about this sensitive issue we left a tad disappointed. Also disappointing was the hampers and DR. Phil memorabilia we were promised wernt given to us. The guy who said we would leave with "bags of stuff" and that it would be "just like christmas" was clearly a spoof... Either way we were on Dr. Phil which is still pretty cool! 

It was with that in our heads we took to the road back to San Diego and the last leg of the journey :( the road trip and J1 as a whole was coming to a very realistic end. On the way we swung by Huntington beach and Newport for one last ride on "the wedge". A spot up the coast from San Diego we had fell in love with over the course of the summer! It's basically a (slightly) man made wave that because of the dip in the sand and refraction from the wall next to it jacks up to a huge height just as it approaches the shore and becomes a massive wall of a wave. Waiting to absolutely destroy you! Heres a video just to give you an idea... 

What an unreal spot!.. I seriously fell in love with this place the couple of times we were here and would recommend anybody in cali to have a look. Its free and time consuming. Happy days!

Blake n myself there at the early stage of july!

Blake on driving duties we got a couple of cans for the final 2 hour furlong back to SD. (I still owe ya for those cans farzo)... Trip over. The car was returned to hertz and we were left to survive out in San Diego for another week or so with absolutely nothing to our names! 

Some unbelievable few weeks though, better than any holiday I have ever been on and definitely comes highly recommended!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Santy Barbarararara...

Woke up in the dodgy motel anyway and the fog around the place had cleared! So we left Santa Barbara city itself and headed towards Isla Vista to check out the college campus and see what all the fuss about IV was.
We headed towards the university and parked up to have a look around. The campus itself is phenomenal, literally located right on a beach you can see why a party atmosphere is firmly attached to the college. I mean imagine spending 4 odd years of your life studying here...

Be kind of hard not to enjoy yourself. Surfing at lunch time and beach parties every night! We parked up and had a quick stroll around the campus just for the sake of it. Jamie got offered a modelling contract in the meantime and things seemed pretty quiet about the place. All of the Irish in IV had moved on and the college wasn't due back for another week and a half so we did what we do best and went to the pub! 

Here's some snaps of the campus to give ya a taste of what it was like..

We were contemplating heading south that day but the one or two pints promised turned into 6 or 7 so I said I would park up the car and join the festivities! I took the car from outside the pub and parked it up somewhere I felt was safe and strolled back to the pub and the lads! They grilled me whether it was in an ok spot or not but I assured them that I had it safely tucked away. So the drinking commenced again in the pub and the very nice bartender pointed us in the right direction for all of the house parties when the evening started to get a bit darker. Wanders were had however as previously mentioned the place was fairly dead! We happened across some parties on our wanders and associated banter was had... Everyone split up but somehow six of the seven of us managed to make it back to the van for some form of a sleep! The mystery of where Jamie disappeared to was solved in the wee hours of the morning. Just as it was getting bright someone noticed a body falling out of the tree next to the car and ambling towards us wearing a soggy blanket. We let Jamie in and decided a few more hours kip was in order.

About an hour later there was a rap on the window which woke us all fairly abruptly. It was a traffic warden lady in her little traffic warden buggy telling us we were parked in a red zone and needed to move the car. Turns out my parking wasn't as "safe" as I had assured everybody else! We rolled down the window to talk to her however the whiff of drink out of the car nearly knocked her sideways. Jamie mumbled something about us moving the car "no bother" and she waddled away looking pretty shocked. As soon as the window went up however we passed out again. Not paying much mind to her warning to be honest! About half an hour later though we were awoken to two state police knocking at the window equipped with sherrif badges, sunglasses and tashes... the whole shebang really! Jamie rolled down the window to greet them and the smell of drink hit the first guy instantly. Between trying to tell us we were parked in a red zone and that we had to move, telling us not to drive because we were probably still over the limit and finding out we were mostly underage he got very aggravated and told us in no uncertain terms to get the F*** out of Santa Barabara and never to F***ing come back. Warning enough for us. Blakey tore into a coffee and a powerade, we all had a bit of a stroll and further south we went again... Malibu ahoy. The land of charlie sheen, tiger blood and winning..... Which is what we kind of needed the state we were in. 2 weeks of road tripping down and copious amounts of burgers was really starting to leave its mark!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Bouncy ball...

Having posted that viral video about Yosemite, its views, scenery and natural quality I've decided I'll bring to your attention one of the most popular adverts of the past few years. This advert was one of those that became bigger than the product it was actually selling, boosting the career of the guitarist whose song was featured, making kids in school yards go crazy for bouncing balls (trust me, I was one of them!) and just generally got people talking....

It also apparently hiked tourism and increased interest in the city in which it was filmed, which is of course in California.... San Francisco!..

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Nothing comes close to the golden coaaaast... except for fog. definitely fog

Right, said I would lash out another blog post because it is some way productive. Trying to get on top of all my assignments before rag week was going ok until today. Hit a serious wall :(..... Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway, where was I!...

With plans to head down the coast and catch a couple of things along the way our first stop was going to be Santa Cruz, a relatively small surfing community which was supposedly nice to see. I'm not going to lie, nothing too eventful transpired here. We got (manky) burritos, went for a stroll down the really long boardwalk there, threw ice cream cones at the seals and just generally spotted talent and did as much as we could in two hours really! Money was starting to run particularly low at this stage and with a couple of other things planned on the trip we needed to budget for we left the souvenirs and the touristy stuff off and went on our way!

The next planned pit stop was pebble beach, a very wealthy community near Monterey made famous by its golf club! However just as we were getting onto highway 1, one the most well known, well publicised drives in the world, famous for the scenery and duration of the drive, Voted the number 1 in national geographics 500 drives of a lifetime! This happened...

The impending fog was upon us. By the time we reached pebble beach you could barely see 5 metres in front of you! A bit of a shame but ah well. Same story for the drive all the way down the coast.. Big Sur, San Simeon and Hearsts castle, smothered! Ah well..

Here's what we should have been looking at....

Heres what we got..

So as you can imagine we were pretty headwrecked! Either way, the day we went to the Golden Gate (which is traditionally covered in fog) it was the warmest day of the summer in San Francisco and every thing was clear as glass so rough with the smooth I suppose!

After driving for a considerable time in the darkness we eventually landed into Santa Barbara circa half 3 am. Not really knowing where we were going to stay we pitched up in another dodgy motel and said we would leave it off until the next day!..

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Ahh beverley stop it.... NorCal Pt3

Waking up on the carpet we all sat around and chatted about the previous nights messing and traded stories. Not sure if we were going to head south towards LA or not today we moved our conversations out onto the porch and subsequently chilled out there for 2 or 3 hours more than we should have. The conversation invariably went off topic until eventually someone rounded up the troops and made the decision we would stay another night! Decision made we chilled out for another hour to formulate a new plan!

Leaving the house we piled into the van and decided we would spin around downtown San Fran and pick up the general vibe of the place. The lads who had been living there for the summer advised us on the best spot to go to see the Golden Gate and gave us a few more suggestions for places to visit etc. Our first port of call was Lombard Street which is a very steep and windy street just outside of the city. Not sure what all the fuss was about we made our way there anyway! On the way it was pretty cool to travel around San Francisco's infamous steep and hilly streets getting some cool views of the city, the bay, and the surrounding area from the hill tops.

After scouting around this area of San Francisco for a time we eventually stumbled across lombard street. Not really convinced why there was so much fuss about it we winded our way downwards regardless.
Lombard St.

From here we then decided to make our way across the Golden Gate and see one of the most industrially acclaimed sights in America! Heading over the bridge this tune came on ( and suffice to say we went mad. Seven lads hopping  about in a car going nuts on the golden gate! Digs were thrown and jungle most certainly was massive. Possibly one of the funniest moments of the trip.

We also planned to make a stop to a village called Sausalito that had been recommended a visit by a friend in San Diego. Pitching up in Sausalito I thought it was a very cool spot. Someway comparable to Kinsale if your looking for a visual but there was a very 'artsy' feel to the place. A fairly picturesque residential community with gorgeous looking restaurants aplenty and a few yachts if your buying. It was here aswell that we saw a cool boat that looked like something a villain from a james bond movie would keep his secret base on!

kind of a submarine/secret base job

This town was north of the golden gate so from here we made our way towards the hills above. Apparently it was the best view of the bridge according to the lads! We wound our way uphill catching some cool views on the way up..

But it was onwards and upwards from here to the place the lads had told us about. It was a kind of abandoned type military bunker used in years previous. Some pretty cool ex-military occupied buildings and bases around we parked up and decided to do some exploring. Making our way around the old bunkers etc we came across a path to walk out to a lighthouse I think was called Point Bonita there was some pretty cool views to be had. It must be said the lads hit the nail on the head with this place, it truly was the best spot to get the bridge into view and take in everything else happening around the bridge, seeing the contrast between San Fran on one side and the Golden Gate national park on the other was fairly immense. This was the last picture we got before the camera went dead, which was a shame as I will explain later.

God awful picture I know but I am seriously proud of it.

Making our way back to the car with the above view in our sights we bumped into an old couple who said we should wait a while and head up to the hill with the missile cover and watch the sunset. Apparently sometimes if you're lucky when the sun sets that time of year there is a green flash just as it sets. They were from the area so we said we would trust them! We jumped up onto the missile dome thing and kicked back, relaxed and waited for the sun to set over the water recounting stories of the summer. The sun eventually set but there was no green flash, it was still fairly cool however what happened next was one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen. After picking up our stuff after watching the sunset we made our way back up the hill to the car and just as we had gotten over the hill the view in the above picture was in front of us except the whole city was alight with the moon literally just hovering above to the left of the beam. I am finding it hard to put this into words but it was truly amazing. Going from seeing the sun set and the ocean being immersed in complete brightness to looking onto one of the world's most famous cities alive at night, the moon gliding above. 

Anyway enough of that gay shit. With that we jumped back into the car, span back to the lads gaf and drank cans because we are hard men who don't enjoy nature and views and stuff. Deciding we were going to hit for the south the morning after we relaxed ourselves back onto the porch for another night of procrastination and mindless yammer. Getting hungry later on we decided to go for a drive-thru in Jack in the Box (fast food restaurant) and the experience has put me off drive-thrus ever since. We ordered for 6 of us in the car and after a lot of shouting into the microphone trying to convey the order to yerone she eventually understood us. Up to the gate to pay anyway and everyone threw the needed amount that their food cost and that was grand. Then we went to collect the food and the Indian lady at the till only handed us over about half of the food we had ordered and paid for. Understandably we got annoyed however she was having none of it. After a minutes or so arguing things got pretty heated so she closed down the service window and locked it with a screwdriver. Me in the drivers seat I started hurling abuse and the lads voicing it from behind. Eventually we gave up hope and said we would go across the road to McDonalds to get food for whoever had been left short. So we ordered for 3 people and went up to the window, same story again! Left short on the food front. Tails between our legs we went back to the lads house. If there is a lesson to be taken from this though it's that if you are in Berkley, do not under any circumstances go to a drive thru! 

Waking up in the morning we packed our stuff and loaded up the van yet again, ready to head south. One of the lads we were with however needed to fly home early so he decided to hang on and get a greyhound bus to San Diego, collect his stuff and make his own way home! The first casualty of the road trip :( We chilled out for another bit saying good bye to the lads and having the chats.Best porch in the world

Hopping into the van we were ready to go but not before the lads landlord could have words though. Trying to charge us rent for sleeping on the floor! Donal stuck up for us though in what I will only the describe as the "ahhhh Beverly" incident and we got away clean enough! Santa Cruz ahoy.......

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Yosemite Revisited

Ok, I talked about Yosemite and how amazing it was a lot.
If this doesn't show you what I'm talking about I'll throw towards travel costs to get you there!

Yosemite video in HD!!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

NorCal Pt2.. San Fran and all that goes with it

So with that we left Tahoe and the last of the wilderness and trees etc.. roughly 4 hours to San Fran according to our sat nav (we had a name for her as well but i cant think of it) so we left the mountains and took to the open highway again!
We were going to san fran for 2 or 3 days depending and staying with a couple of friends that were there for the summer! It felt good knowing we would have the comfort of a bed/floor and a roof over our heads after the few nights up the mountains plus we knew the lads would take care of us the minute they saw the state of us! The drive was relatively uneventful except for a period of about 20 minutes where this guy in a stupid little convertible that didn't look anyway expensive or powerful tried to take over us. You know the type of car, the kind of car somebody buys to compensate the fact they haven't much going on either upstairs or downstairs. He also had slicked back hair.. the prick. Anyway as he sped past us we caught up to leave him trapped behind the car in the fast lane and one of our, usually very chivalric and mannerly, group took a bit of a disliking to him. They then decided to roll down the window in the van and proceed to repetitively shout "GYPSY" out the window at him and give him the finger. After 15-20 minutes of this he eventually found a gap in the traffic and tore off looking non too pleased! Que the laughter...

As we made our way past Sacramento and started ascending up a slight hill one of the lads threw on a metallica album. Myself and a couple of others in the back at the time lobbied for a change however the driver and the passenger were contented with it so we sat grumpily in the back (as you can imagine the tunes playing throughout were always a problem) as we went towards San Fran. However what happened next was absolutely daycent, because there is no other word than daycent to describe this. We had just climbed the slight hill and the long intro for the S&M album was playing and just as we topped the hill this song ( came into its own and the bright lights of San Fran were visible in the distance... And even better than that the gypsy from earlier was in our sights! Lifting it towards San Fran and catching up with our old friend, more abuse was hurled and good times had!

After navigating over the Bay Area's bridges and expensive tolls ($7 quid-ish.. make sure your going to the right place on those bridges, some of them are two storey and fairly confusing :S) we found our way to the lads house in Berkeley, and after some serious searching around made it to their house late at night. So we did what we do best, got some cans of the good stuff, threw on some tunes and chilled out on their ridiculously well furnished porch for the rest of the night!

Next day, Dónal dropped us into the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) station as we were going to head in and do the whole tourist thing around Alcatraz and San Fran city! Before I go anywhere here I just have to take a moment to say that the BART has by far the single most retarded method of payment and ticket fares for boarding. We were slightly put out by it and I wont really go into it but 3-4 weeks later with my suitcase and $1.40 to my name, trying to get to the airport proved fairly traumatic! Anyway!!.. we hopped off the bart in the statiion we were told to and hopped the barriers (see above sentence regarding retarded ticketing system) we were in downtown san fran and not one of us a clue where to go next! We eventually navigated our way down to Pier 39 or somewhere nearby and got on the boat to head towards Alcatraz!

While on the boat we were given the whole talking tour of the bay etc and told of how windy it was blah blah blah... What happened next was absolutely hilarious. Blakey had bought a paddy hat in River Island before we went and I had proceeded to give him dogs abuse regarding said hat. However as the summer had progressed I took a shining to this hat and had somewhat taken to wearing it and caring for it more often than Blake in an almost adopting/parent-like fashion. Anyway as we were bombing across the bay towards Alcatraz island taking in the views and laughing stupidly at nothing in particular a gust of wind took aforementioned hat from my head and launched it up to the sky and it took a nice floating position out on the bay. Scotty took one look at me and had to be picked up from the floor laughing, along with the rest of them. Except Blake, he was none too happy. After some careful negotiating and giving him a reminder of the Flip-Flop-gate scandal (wiki: flip flop gate) things were smoothed over and off we went to see the old gaf of al capone, silvio berlusconi, the dalai lama and bobby sands.

To be honest the history associated with the prison was none too interesting I think it is just the novelty of having a prison on an island surrounded by various different cities is what makes this appealing as a tourist destination. There are no shocking anecdotes of prisoner conditions or escapee stories and after shelling out 30 odd quid for it the comparison between Alcatraz and the free and much more aesthetically pleasing views in Yosemite and the Grand Canyon was fairly unbalanced. Flynn and Dave had it on the ball by giving it a skip. It was still pretty cool to see and have a walk around but if it really is not your thing and your on a budget, give it a skip me thinks!

This dude was jailed for 5 years for robbing a cornetto and a pack of green rizla out of centra

Al Capone probably played baseball here!..


Scotty mac doing his picturesque scenery thing, and doing it well I must say!
The view from that edge of the island.

After a scoot around the island we decided to make tracks back in to San Frandisco for some food and see what was happening around the place! We jumped on the boat and headed back inland. Prisoners of our own hunger.

Terrible joke, indeed. 

So off we went to have a walk around the piers and see what there was to see and find a good spot for a feed! So eat we did and found a watering hole to whet the whistle!

We took a stroll around downtown San Fran later on that night and got to see the city a bit at night! Either way legs were getting tired so we found a BART station and got a train back to the lads house. We loaded up on four loko and cans on the walk back, landed in the lads house and the session began! After an hour or two we made our way up to Berkeley where all the student life would be. We saw a bar with the same name as one of the lads so that was surely our first port of call!

Having one or three here we then made our way up the street quintessentially following the crowd mobbing there way up there. We eventually saw what all the fuss was about, FRAT HOUSES! As in genuine frat houses, I had seen the frat houses in Santa Barbara and didn't think much of them however these were exactly as you would see in American Pie/Van Wilder. Obviously they were based on something but I just thought it was pretty cool to see one in real life! 

We chanced our arms getting into a couple of the parties going on in there however our beers:people ratio (0:10) girls:lads ratio (2:8) and member of fraternities:non-members (0:10) really counted against us. Plus it was getting late and most of the parties in the houses were being shut down by the cops! I guess they must be legally allowed to run parties once they are shut down on time etc, etc. Anyway feeling a bit dejected myself and Jamie managed to get lost from the lads and end up in some apartment complex talking utter bollox to this group of girls for ages. I eventually sobered up, noticed it was getting bright and left him to it. Off for a morning of snoozy snooze on the comfiest carpet in Northern California....

Thursday, 5 January 2012

NorCal Pt 1

Leaving the magnificence of Yosemite behind, 7 tired bodies continued north. We came down the north side of the Yosemite Valley and the landscape changed to a grim, more barren one. Lots of loose, rocky terrain with brown and wasted looking grass sticking up everywhere. Still pretty cool though! Once down and out of the valley we happened upon a petrol station ("Gas station"). The bodies weary and the pockets starting to feel considerably lighter it was here that we happened upon our first hiccough and the first disagreement of the trip came about. As it was regarding the unfair distribution of hamburgers it was nothing too sinister and all was well 3 hours up the road. This was the only bit of friction on the whole trip which I think is testament to everyone considering we were living out of a car for two weeks straight!

Anyway, we drove on for the rest of the day and seeing as it was late when we were leaving Yosemite due to afformentioned hike we found some dodgy little backwater (Gardenerville I think it was called) and had our first (of many) stays in a dodgy motel! Parked up in some backwater on the California/Nevada border we pulled in, got the room and a couple of cans, as natural. As the night aged we toyed with the idea of going into one of the local saloon type bars and seeing what happened however one or two people passed out in the meantime and we said we would give our bodies a rest...

We woke up in the morning and went across the road to the Walmart to stack up on some breakfast and supplies for the road ahead. While everyone else was munching on, myself and Blake realised that Cork were playing the dubs in the semi final of the football. Because of the time difference we managed to most of the first half however we didnt exactly have anywhere to watch it either! As we had nowhere to access the internet either we decided to take turns sneaking into the office of the motel and jumping onto the proprietors computer while he was in the back. Each time after about 15-20 minutes he would come in and kick one of us out but we eventually got to see the result! A narrow and, apparently, undeserved Cork win. Who cares, we'll take it!

So we loaded up the van yet again and off we went. Leaving Gardnerville someone managed to spot a group of very attractive girls in slightly wet t-shirts advertising a car wash. Our thoughts..... HAPPY DAYS! We swung the car around and passed by the same girls advertising it and somebody commented on the fact that the girls looked a tad young. We pulled into this kind of parking lot where the car washing was taking place we realised those suspicions were well and truly correct. One look at the even younger looking girls washing the cars confirmed it for us. And the sign saying girls u-17 soccer fund-raiser really drove it home! While we were parked up (of course we werent still thinking of getting the car washed, we were just stopped..... trying to tune the radio) we noticed our big white van had attracted a few stares. These stares were not of the Gardnerville u-17 soccer team but their hell's angels type biker looking fathers. That was dis-invitation enough for us. Scoot.

A pretty good marketing ploy it must be said, putting the tallest, oldest looking girls of the team out in the middle of a main road wearing wet t-shirts however maybe they should have made the u-17 section of the sign a bit bigger. No pictures of this incident fortunately (or unfortunately, depends who's reading!)

Leaving Gardnerville with a bit of a bitter taste in our mouth we tore on up the mountain ahead to see what all the fuss was about this Lake Tahoe spot. Scotty managed to grab a couple of snaps out the window on the way, and just as well. Yet again, serious landscape!

-This photo is just as we were approaching the ascent to Tahoe

-Here was looking back on where we had just come from!

Once we arrived in Tahoe, like Yosemite, the scenery was absolutely stunning. Nature at its finest! Deciduous trees, crime fighting squirrels all that jazz. However a lot of the place has been ruined with massive signs selling you this, that and the other thing. Kind of took away from the place a small bit, especially after being in Yosemite where there was only one licensed shop in the whole one thousand odd square miles! Meh, troop on regardless!..

We stopped at a shop so a certain somebody could make a couple of "quick" phone calls to his nearest and dearest. 2 hours later we were absolutely fuming and getting a bit impatient as the cigarettes were starting to run out. We did happen to chance upon an absolute lunatic however who gave us his business idea for a kids toy. I wont say anymore on it just in case he has a patent on it however I will say for it that it was an absolutely terrible idea with no appeal to anybody... anywhere. Phone call finished we went off to find the booze cruise that the girls we had met in Yosemite had told us about..

Before you get any ideas of an inbetweeners style magaluf booze cruise I will stop you right there. This cruise involved us bringing a case of our own beer onto a rented raft and doing a whitewater style journey down the river. I will say however that the rafting wasnt very extreme. Hence why we were drinking. Midway down the river we needed to pull in to the side to relieve ourselves while families with young children and couples swanned past us. Inappropriate? Yes, but that was beginning to become a common trend.

Here's an idea of what we were up to... Add beer

Once we drunkenly found the end point there was a bus back to the start so we hooked up with the lads there and tore west for San Fran. Not before we could get a picture with the token fat chick however...

(apparently she used that stick to kill her prey)