Midnight Talk

Enough with pictures from Barcelona. There will be more, however, of USA. It's quite grateful to have a stash of pictures, you always have something to blog about, even in times like these. Soon it's deadline for our first project this year. It's barely two weeks left and I can therefore say goodbye to any spare time. This urbanism project is different from previous projects, it is very much society planning and much less designing. This week has been so tiring, and more to come. But even during bad days, while sitting on the subway after a long day, dragging that heavy bag with you computer and lunch boxes and cursing the fact that you have not slept enough, you still feel satisfaction. For the simple reason that you do something you love.

I know I have blog readers who are still in high school and some may have anxiety over not knowing what to do after. I also had anxiety before graduation, even though I had a clear alternative. I think I even had a personal crisis. But I'm telling you, when you find your thing, be it directly or after a few years, or even after changing jobs and education a few times, you will feel such a peace of mind and stability in life. You have then chosen a path and you just follow it and enjoy everything it gives you (= a lot). Moreover, everything feels more meaningful. You do not have to write essays on colonialism in India or study for exams in chemistry, with zero interest and motivation.

I just want to say that everything will be all right, life get better and better and suddenly you laugh and shake your head at how dramatic you were once upon a time. If you have anxiety, think about the real reason, what 's the worst that can happen and is it really that bad that it is worth to feel bad about? I know you already know that, I also knew, but sometimes a reminder is needed. / Amateur Psychologist

Random from Barcelona

Barcelona in B&W


Barceloneta Beach

One of the most wonderful moments in Barcelona was at the beach, even though it's November, even though it's too cold for swimming and sunbathing. That maybe made the whole experience even better, an empty beach is always much more peaceful and beautiful. We sat there for a long while, just enjoying the moment. We haven't felt where that special scent of the sea that we are used to from summers in Croatia in a long time, it just wasn't the same thing in the U.S. The water here was even warmer than the Pacific in August. It hurt a bit when I realized how much I've missed exactly this, exactly this scent, this sound and this color of the sea. I need my annual dose of this.

Gaudi's Barcelona

The architect Antoni Gaudi is almost a saint in Barcelona, you will notice it whether you are interested in architecture or not. He has left traces all over the place. He is the one behind Sagrada Familia, Parc Guëll and the mosaic pattern that can be found on all sorts of gadgets in the souvenir shops. Whether you think his work is beautiful or not - he's a freakin' genius.

Casa Batlló is one of his most famous buildings. Although I have seen it, and Casa Mila, on pictures many times, I thought they were cooler in real life. All his works have so much detail that is best experienced IRL. He certainly had no lack of imagination.

We also visited Casa Mila, or La Pedrera, which is not far away. You could go up on the roof (which looked like some sort of park with sculptures), visit the exhibition in the attic and go into a museum apartment.

Next day we went to Parc Güell, the park with probably the most beautiful view of Barcelona. And the park with the crazy houses, the mosaic lizard, lot of stairs and even more organic shapes. I understand why it's on the UNESCO's list of World Heritage, I have never seen anything like it. I love the mosaic.

Barcelona Oberta al Mar

I have fallen in love with a city, again. Our stay in Barcelona was wonderful, except that three days is not enough and it was heartbreaking to leave. Maybe it's good to feel that you haven't done it all, then you have more reason to go back! In addition to everything beautiful the city has to offer, the weather was also healing for the soul. To be able to take off your jacket in the sun, take a walk in the evening without freezing and feel that special scent of the Mediterranean Sea, in the middle of November, felt absolutely amazing. It was almost hard to believe that this is only 3,5 hours flight from Stockholm.

We stayed at a hotel at La Rambla, the wide street that runs through the old city of Barcelona and which probably is the most populated. Our hotel was near the end of the street, towards the sea, so we spent the first day by walking through the surrounding areas, including the Gothic Quarter and the harbor.

The port area is relatively new and was built when the city was renovated for the Olympic Games in 1992. It's clear that they wanted to open up the city to the sea by putting out walking paths, public places and attractions on the harbor, such as a large shopping mall, IMAX cinema and an aquarium.

We made a visit to the aquarium, the largest one in Europe. There was really all sorts of large and small fish, and a 80 meter long water tunnel which was really cool, especially when you were surrounded by sharks. A good option for those cowards who are afraid of diving. For me, in other words.

Hotel W is located at the end of Barceloneta's beach. Of course, we just had to try out the bar at the top (the one that is lit red), which later becomes a nightclub. Unfortunately we had no energy for partying, but the panoramic view of Barcelona is fantastic.

Disneyland & California Adventure

Before we left L.A. we made a stop in Disneyland! How many of you have dreamed about this your whole childhood? And how many of you got to go there? None of us did anyway. Now we finally got the chance to live our lost childhood dream. The amusement park is actually two parks, Disneyland and California Adventure, and you need to buy tickets to both and then run between the parks. So unnecessary. Although on the other hand, it felt like you had twice as much to choose from.

I have a fear of roller coasters, which was the reason why we didn't go to Six Flags. But of course, this roller coaster (with a loop) had to be the first thing we tried. Afterwards I always realize that it wasn't so bad, but until that I die inside a few times. Therefore, I thought we should try something "less thrilling" afterwards, like the ferris wheel. Except it wasn't less thrilling. Mickey's Fun Wheel is a bit different than the usual ferris wheel. It looks pretty harmless, I even had to nag the other daredevils who complained about how boring it would be. Well...

It was far from boring, HAHA. This is my precious viedo that I will always look at when I need a good laugh. Erna and Alex cried in fear and I probably also would have, if we weren't laughing our asses off at them. Best. Ride. Ever.

There were lots of other fun rides, and they are all so incredibly well made, in every detail. Almost all of them had different themes and settings from the Disney films. I mostly thought of how incredible this is for children. We looked for all "thrill rides". Unfortunately, many of them were out of order when we were there, which sucked, to say the least. But of those who worked you have to try Space Mountain (a roller coaster in the dark!), Hollywood Tower and the Indiana Jones ride. 

In the evening when we were out of energy, we went back to the car and drove down to San Diego, our final destination in California.

Universal Studios Hollywood

A visit to Universal Studios is a must when you're in Hollywood! It is both an amusement park and a huge film studio where all sorts of movies and series have been filmed. Since this is one of Los Angeles's most visited attractions, you should get here as early as possible in the morning.

The first thing we did was to take the Studio Tour that which takes you around all studios and environments where various scenes has been filmed. The different environments are everything from city to the Wild West, European village and jungle. In all cars there are screens where you can hear the guide talk while they show clips from movies where these different environments have been used. It really looks different in the movies!

We made several stops where we got to experience some really cool stuff, like when we wen into this tunnel with 3D glasses, while a huge cinema screen that went all the way around us showed how king kong and dinosaurs attacked us, and the ground beneath moved so that everything felt so real. When the car "fell" from a cliff in the jungle, it really felt like we fell. Oh, it's hard to explain but it was so awesome!!! You must experience it yourselves! We also went into a fake subway station with an earthquake simulator, where the ground collapsed and a truck fell down next to us, a train crashed in front of us and the station was flooded by water. Hollywood...

In addition to that, we saw a lot of other environments from, for example, Desperate Housewives, Jurassic Park, The Grinch, and even this plane crash. They bought an entire aircraft, and spent even more money on destroying it, in order to film one scene. It's incredible how they build entire environments for single scenes and then demolish them to build new ones. Can you imagine how much money there is in the movie industry?

After the Studio Tour, which lasted about an hour, we took the Simpsons ride, which was also super cool! It's also very difficult to explain in words, you simple have to experience it. Beware of the longest queue ever, though. We were there early and even then we stood in line for an hour for a ride that lasted for not more than ten minutes.

On the lower section of the park we found, among else, the Mummy ride and yet another Jurassic Park setting with a typical water attraction where you can expect to get wet, especially if your name is Jasmin and you sit at the far end. My butt got so wet that I had to go into the restroom afterwards and bend over in front of the hand dryer to dry my shorts while people laughed at me. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to.

We went to the Flintstones to eat... That moment when you get a half chicken and the largest potato you've ever seen on a plate...

We also saw some shows about moviemaking, including Waterworld with a lot of explosions, burning stuntmen, etc. Here you can also expect to get wet if you sit at the front in the audience.

Our little crew, happy and satisfyed!

Santa Monica Beach

Let's go to the beach, beach, we thought when we woke up to the sunny and hot L.A. We put on our bikinis and drove to Santa Monica, only to be met by that damn Pacific FOG again! It's amazing how half an our from the coast can differ so much when it comes to the weather. The fog makes it several degrees colder and we all had to run into H&M to buy sweaters.

Luckily the day wasn't ruined since Santa Monica had a lot of fun activities to offer, including a visit to the famous pier with the amusement park that you have seen so many times on tv. We tried a few rides and arcade games to warm up for upcoming theme park visits.

Few beaches are as fun to hang out at as Santa Monica Beach, even when it's not sunny. I have never been at a beach with so much activity. There was a part where people were only doing acrobatics and some form of yoga, where they balanced on each other in lots of cool poses. There were also a lot of frames with rings, ropes, swings, balance ropes, etc. We felt like kids in a large outdoor gymnasium. Besides that, a lot of people are also skating and biking on the incredible long and wide beach. People were so relaxed and it really came off on os. If I would visit L.A. again, I would definitely like to live in Santa Monica or Venice.

Last, but not least, I must not forget to mention... Baywatch!

Everybody comes to Hollywood

Los Angeles. Just driving into LA, on Hollywood Boulevard, feels awesome. It's just like in New York, you are amazed by being at a place that you have seen, heard and read about so many times, and suddenly you are there, experiencing it, and it looks as expected but still totally different. Otherwise, Los Angeles is not my favorite city of the ones we have visited. Sure, I haven't given it a fair chance in such a short time, but I missed the freedom of touristing without a car. Distances are huge and trying to get around without a car in LA is like walking in any other city without shoes - you can try but you will pretty soon realize that it is troublesome. However, the city has a lot fun to offer.

The best part of it was that we could experience all the fun with my dear Erna and her friend Alex who came from San Diego the day after our arrival! It had been maybe twelve days since we last saw eachother in Sweden... but still - REUNION!

The first thing we did was of course to check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame with all the stars - the only place where it's better to walk around on foot. We could also walk to this from our hotel since we stayed close. Note to self: Make sure that the names of the stars are visible in the photos next time.

When we felt done, and sweaty (did I mention it's hot?), we went back to get the car. I googled "best spot to see the Hollywood sign" and found a blog that posted the exact address which I then typed in the GPS. The "standard" view points are from very far away and we wanted to get as close as possible to this unapproachable sign.

This is my favorite picture from LA, I laugh out loud every time I see it! We tried to take the best picture ever with the timer but failed hard! Try to make the perfect lift in a few seconds... We realized that he was too heavy for us girls so we tried a different way...

... and it turned out like this, HAHA. I can't. We really suck! And the guy in the background is the icing on the cake! I wanted to continue trying to get the perfect picture but the others looked like they wanted to kill me in that heat, so we gave up. Buh.

We continued to Beverly Hills and Bel Air to spy on celebrities. Rather, celebrity houses. Even more accurately, a glimpse of celebrity house, since they all insist on having gates and walls. As much as you get fascinated by all luxury homes and expensive cars you also get mad. Money really grows on trees here.

We didn't feel like going on a guided tour, instead we bought a map of the area where all the celebs houses are marked and went hunting. Celebrities spotted: 0. I know, it sounds incredibly ridiculous and had someone told me "we went stalking", my reaction would have been "dude... come on?", but you really do get starstruck just by getting a glimpse of this world and actually knowing that here lives celebrity X. Maybe we didn't get to see very much of the houses but we had a lot of fun! The picture is of that little you can see through the gates of Michael Jackson's old place.

We stayed at the Days Inn on Sunset Boulevard that runs parallel to Hollywood Boulevard (I can recommend it if you have a car since there is a garage under the hotel). After a day's sightseeing, we could chill by the pool. It doesn't get more Californian than this.

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