California was an experience. Loved where we stayed, away from all the hustle and bustle. Caught a shuttle into Disneyland each day we had tickets for it. It was really nice to be able to watch my family and have the focus on them. It was fun to observe them seeing things for the first time. What a mad house though, people everywhere!
Highlights were Disneyland, of course. Medieval times for me, Universal Studios for my husband especially. I loved UCLA, the grounds are beautiful, lots of trees and the red and cream brick. Rodeo drive - no stars, well we didn't recognise any, saw a very very fancy car though, and lots of expensive shops and guards. Venice beach was an eyeopener, muscle beach looked recently renovated and we saw Gordon Ramsey filming Master Chef on the beach.
Met a kiwi guy who is in the film industry - working on the Gordon Ramsey site. He said that he wished he'd given himself more time to decide what career he wanted, the film industry is tough and the wrong fit for him. He has a huge loan to pay off though, so has to grind away at it until he can afford to move in a different direction.
And I was pleased we found John Waynes star on the Hollywood walk of fame - there were plenty of others too like Michael Jackson etc right nearby. Great for tourists, although the locals just walked over the top like it was nothing, and that is how it is when you are around stuff like that everyday.
There were things we didn't get to do. As we said to the kids, well that is something that you can bring your families here to do. Lord knows I won't be in a rush to get back to the madhouse.
Most times, we would be doing the speed limit, and it would look like we were crawling, other cars would be just zapping by us at incredible speeds, in and out and all over the place. Thank goodness my husband was driving, I had to cover my eyes at times it was that fast and furious. Yes, felt like a real country bumpkin!
For Disneyland we had a three day pass and California Adventure which is right next door. It was wonderful to watch the children thrill in being there and seeing a lot of what there is to see. People everywhere, colours, smells and sights that threaten to overload ones senses. Good walking shoes are a must! They loved the rides, they loved the shops, the evening fireworks and commentary are fantastic, the light show on the river was spectacular and dramatic. Even though we had the three day passes, and we made good use of them, we did not get to ride every ride or see everything!
I suppose I have a little bone to chew with Disneyland. It is a magical place, what they do they do well, however the queues were so long! We made good use of the fast passes, and not all rides had them. Still the waiting time was huge. 40 minutes, 60 or even 80 minutes is way too long. That limits the number of rides one can physically fit into a day and when you compare it to the length of the ride you want to take, it's ridiculous. I believe that they have to do something about that, either add more rides or limit the number of people they let in on any given day. I see a lot of money being made, perhaps that is all they care about.
Sometimes I wonder - do our children appreciate what they have done and seen? I know they have enjoyed it all. I see the looks on their faces. Do they appreciate the opportunities presented though? Perhaps when they are older they will look back and go wow, we were so lucky. I know I look back on my own childhood and think how lucky I was. Being allowed to be a kid, having mum and dad present in our lives, lots of family outtings together, that was lucky. May our children have the same feelings.