I hopped off the plane at L.A.X.
With a bundle of Polish paperwork and my cardigan
Welcome to the land of fame excess (whoa),
Are they gonna let me in (to Poland)?
Jumped in the bus,
Here I am for the first time
Look to my right and I see the consulate sign
This is all so crazy
Everybody seems so famous (can’t name a single Polish celebrity)
Now we know how Miley felt arriving in L.A. There is really nothing better than walking in to a hotel and feeling like you are the fanciest person in the world. This doesn’t happen for Ry and me often because of our low budgets for the majority of our trips, but when we had to go to Los Angeles to finalize our visas for Poland, I’m pretty sure Iggy Azalea was blasting as we strutted in to our super posh Beverley Hills hotel. Straight off a bus because we were too cheap to pay for a $60 cab in L.A and in to free happy hour because, as we discovered, that’s what they do at fancy places.
We’d planned three nights in L.A. to ensure we had plenty of time if there were visa complications, but also made sure our trip aligned with New Year’s Eve so we could party it up in Los Angeles before catching an 8:00 AM flight home the next morning (we do not recommend flying home this early). After the visa took all of 40 minutes of the first day – including the time it took for Ryan to run to an ATM because we had to pay in cash and the time it took the poor clerk woman to sort through the giant pile of papers we gave her, unsure of what she needed and what we needed for HR at work – we had a full day and a half of ‘work’ to explore the city. Our only concern while leaving the visa office was that they were going to mail our passports with the visas inside to us in about a week. When we asked if they would provide tracking info, she said no. When we asked if she would be informing us when they were mailed, she said no. So, we embraced her YOLO spirit and went out to have adventures rather than worry.
First stop: breakfast. Because we were feeling particularly healthy that day (as we generally are) we went and ate loaded fries and chicken and waffles at 10:30 AM. Please stop judging now. And may I just say, we fully agree after that meal that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I would never skip it again if it always tasted like that. Breakfast definitely set us up for an excellent afternoon exploring the Getty. This museum, though a bit of trek for us from our hotel (given that our limo driver was occupied), was definitely worth the trip. The art exhibits are extensive, but the gardens outside the museum with great views of the city really make it worth the trip to the museum.
After the museum, we returned to the hotel to get cleaned up and enjoy a free cocktail. Out front, they had a sign welcoming, by name, the various dogs of the guests who were staying there. That’s how fancy it was. Trick’s on them though – dogs can’t read. From there, we embarked on what was to become the longest Uber ride of Ry’s short life.
We were headed to SpaceX, where Ryan’s friend was waiting to give us a private tour. Because our fancy vibe was really just a ploy to elicit less judgement from the hotel people, we decided to call an Uber. And not just your regular Uber, but an Uber Share. Los Angeles is a very spread out city to begin with, and opting to share a car with a couple strangers was one of the more unfortunate decisions we’ve made while traveling, but our limo was just not available (though the concierge did ask if we’d ordered one as we left the hotel). At the hotel, we were the first passengers to hop in Abed’s car. After about five minutes of peaceful driving, he stopped off in a neighborhood where we picked up Passenger #3, a polite, 20-something girl. The driver punched in her destination as well and we were off. Estimated arrival time: 35 minutes. Ugh. No sweat though, we’d be there in no time. Little did I know Ry failed to use the restroom prior to leaving the hotel…
Fast forward half an hour. We were nearing Passenger #3’s stop when the driver received another request on his phone. From the right lane on a 6-lane road, we suddenly whipped the SUV 180 degrees and began heading away from our destination. Safety first, kids. We back-tracked some 15 minutes to pick up Passenger #4. While we made room for her in the backseat, Ry whispered to me that his bladder was nearing its maximum capacity. Apparently the free coffee and drinks had caught up to him. New estimated arrival time: 30 minutes. I sensed Ryan was unamused by this update.
Abed dropped Passenger #3 off at her stop, which was just blocks from where we popped a U-ey earlier. From there, the Uber navigated through miles of traffic, in the fast lane from LA to Tokyo, before finally rounding the corner for SpaceX, well over an hour since we left the hotel. Ry’s mind was elsewhere at this point, as he stared out the window longingly, hoping for this ride to be over. A cruel irony awaited us, however; when we left the car and Ry sped ahead to find a toilet, we happened upon a long queue of 30 or so people waiting to go through security. Needless to say, Ry wasn’t the most animated when making introductions to his friend who came down to meet us at the entrance. Once through security he left our tour guide and me in the dust as he scurried down the long hallway hunting for a bathroom, like a food-deprived lab rat to cheese. Like a racehorse on crack. Overall, he gave the experience a 1.5/10; the relief on his face when he emerged from the restroom was not unlike that of a man who just received negative test results for a terminal disease.
Though much of the tour is classified, we can definitely say SpaceX was an out of this world experience. When we got back to the hotel and ordered a pizza to the room (once again exemplifying our fanciness to all the hotel staff), I noticed a list of all the items they could provide for me, including but not limited to: a comb, because Ry somehow thought that would work in my Kesha-like mane; a humidifier, because fancy people use those a lot; and a sewing kit, which I think was just to identify those guests who were posing as rich people but were really too poor to hire a personal tailor.
The next morning, we got up bright and early to walk from Santa Monica pier to Venice beach. We felt very Californian in our attempt at getting exercise so early in the day (or really at any point in the day). The weather was infinitely better than back home and it was made even sunnier in our minds by the fact that most people were at work and we were working from the beach. In December.
The day passed really quickly but one part seemed to take forever – or at least an hour and a half – and that was when we tried to find Kogi BBQ Taco Truck. ‘Tis famous’ according to Ryan. It’s now infamous in my mind because, after walking a very long way to locate it, it turns out it wasn’t there that day. So we went back to the beach and ate delicious sandwiches instead because if there’s one thing Ry likes more than water features, it’s sandwiches.
We spent the night riding roller coasters, going out to bars, and partaking in fancy happy hour at our hotel one last time. It’s safe to say we became Californian very quickly. And, as the sun set on another trip (and another year), we reflected on how it was probably the best business trip we’d ever been on. Given that there was very little business and mostly just trip.