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New York

40°42' 46" N 74°0' 21" W New York

Jan 17, 2015  –  by Maeva

We were then approaching one of our most anticipated stops: New York. After seeing the prices for Airbnb’s in the city, we were so grateful that our friend Arnaud let us stay at his place. We had met him in Vancouver not long before he moved back to France. When we looked up his address and saw a street located in the very cool Williamsburg, we were like “wow, these guys have a killer location!” And when we got there, not only did it confirm the awesomeness of the area but we got to see their really cool apartment. You know, the kind that makes you want to drop everything and move to New York. We met his roommates Flo and Lionel – whom I offended right off the bat by saying I had the same necklace as him. Oops. But it’s true! Anyways, we had some pasta over a nice chat with everyone and Flo broke the ice by asking: “When is the last time you guys took a shower?” It was amazing to have a good night’s sleep in a cozy home and in a real bed!

The next day, we went for a walk around the city – only to remember how much you’ll end up walking in the streets of New York. We also went to B&H, a gigantic photography store that looks like a factory inside. You leave your bags at the entrance, then you go through the different floors and their thousands of products. Whatever you’re looking for, they’ll have it. Once you pick what you want, they send it through their machine while you have to go pay. Only once you’ve paid do you get to pick up your purchase from another booth, where all the orders make their way above your head. Plus every salesperson is Jewish and wears the kippah on their head. It’s quite an out of the ordinary experience! We then walked down Broadway and discovered the super cool store Forbidden Planet full of comics, Marvel action figures and superhero toys. We also made a quick stop at Brooklyn Industries, a very cool apparel brand where I got to spend a bit of money… In the evening, we met Arnaud’s friend, Lisa, who’d just gotten here from Paris and indulged in some fine tacos at a small and cozy restaurant in Brooklyn.

Maeva in Arnaud's appartment
Maeva in Arnaud’s appartment

The following day, it was pouring rain so Lisa, Steph and I agreed that it was museum weather. We opted for MoMA and were not the only ones to have that idea apparently, when we saw the crowd inside the building. It was a great visit through contemporary art with very cool exhibitions. The highlight was definitely Robert Gober’s “The heart is not a metaphor”: he creates realistic sculptures (mostly sinks and legs) using wax and real human hair in a minimalist setting to convey a very strange feel in every room. As it was getting colder and colder outside, we treated ourselves to some hot soup before heading to the store with the best merchandising in the world. Yes, I mean Urban Outfitters. After buying huge extra warm scarves and a few other things with Lisa, we were ready to step back in the freezing streets. In the evening, we headed to The Jane Hotel to meet up with the others. The interior was very fancy, especially on the lounge side: velvet couches, a fireplace and chic decorations. It typically looked like a cigar room. We stayed a couple of hours on the other side, at the bar of course. What a disappointment to realize that in such an elegant place the waiters were not so good. Steph had to ask one of them to redo his Old Fashioned as it tasted like soda. Not so classy! But other than that, the atmosphere got really fun as it started getting crowded. What a contrast when we stepped back to the other side to find a huge crowd of drunk people dancing on the classy seats to Rihanna. Well, we joined the dance floor for a little while, snapping some Polaroids in between, getting pretty god shots with Flo looking like a marionette as the guys held him so he wouldn’t pass out! We then made a very quick stop at Union Pool for some quesadillas. When we arrived at the apartment around 3am, Arnaud suddenly said “I have to prepare the turkeyyyyyyy!!” And this is how, in the middle of the night, he and Steph held the huge turkey in the sink, filled it with salt, water and herbs and struggled to make it fit in the fridge. It was pretty hilarious. But after all, it was Thanksgiving the next day, so…

Vinyl cases at MoMA
Vinyl cases at MoMA
Design exhibitions at MoMA
Design exhibitions at MoMA
Inside the MoMA
Inside the MoMA
Huge drawing in MoMA
Huge drawing in MoMA
MoMA lights
MoMA lights
Putting the turkey in the fridge at 3am
Putting the turkey in the fridge at 3am
Preparing the turkey at 3am
Preparing the turkey at 3am

With quite a lack of sleep, we woke up the next morning to go see the parade on Broadway in the cold and in the snow. We got there too late unfortunately, and most streets had been closed off to avoid having a massive crowd. We tried through every way possible, but simply couldn’t get closer to the parade. So we stayed with the crowd a few blocks away. Lisa and I were lucky to be with the guys, as we got to sit on their shoulders to get some shots of the balloons: Spongebob Squarepants, a Smurf… We only spotted the back of Finn and Jake from Adventure Time – Arnaud almost had tears in his eyes. It was the only reason he’d come here!

Spongebob squarepants Christmas parade in New York
Spongebob squarepants Christmas parade in New York
Lisa on Arnaud's shoulders at the parade
Lisa on Arnaud’s shoulders at the parade
Smurf Christmas parade in New York
Smurf Christmas parade in New York

We then made our last grocery shopping for the upcoming dinner and headed back to the apartment to cook the turkey, which requires several hours. Steph led the way with Arnaud, while the girls cut some vegetables. But it was such a good decision to make the stuffing ourselves and not get a pre-made one. As the cooking takes a few hours and requires thorough monitoring, we put episodes of Adventure Time and then Home Alone on the projector in the living room. Sprawled on the couch, it honestly felt like Christmas had come early.

Turkey preparation and polaroid
Turkey preparation and polaroid
Turkey preparation
Turkey preparation

4 hours later, the turkey was then ready and we all headed to JP’s place, another french friend of Arnaud’s. It was basically the Thanksgiving of the expats who don’t have families to go to for the long weekend. And what a crowd! We were all gathered in this incredibly well designed apartment around a huge steel table in the kitchen. Everyone had brought something, so you can imagine the amount of food spread out in front of us. We therefore had a delicious dinner paired with some wine and excellent conversation, happy to meet and chat with such fun people. We even went up on the roof, climbing up the ladders to find the best view of New York by night. Honestly, we couldn’t have dreamed of a better Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving in New York
Thanksgiving in New York
Thanksgiving in New York
Thanksgiving in New York
NYC by night
NYC by night
Maeva climbing up on the roofs of Brooklyn
Maeva climbing up on the roofs of Brooklyn
Arnaud and Lisa at Thanksgiving
Arnaud and Lisa at Thanksgiving

After a lazy morning in Brooklyn, we had some sushi before heading to Times Square with Lisa, just to see those giant screens once again. We then went on a little shopping mission in Levi’s and Urban Outfitters as it was Black Friday and there were some pretty good deals. After a well deserved Starbucks break to escape from the cold, we took some photos in the metro and headed back to the flat before going back to JP’s flat for Thanksgiving part 2. We got to finish eating the meal from the night before as there were so many leftovers, and it was still just as good! We then had the most insane game of flip cup, getting drunk on Corona and Jaegermeister cracking up and screaming “team spirit!!!” whenever we had the chance to do so. And yeah, one side had more team spirit that’s for sure… but we’ll give points to Lisa for screaming on her own on the other side and representing the other team. Once everyone was totally tipsy enough, we decided to head to the bar. Not without pretending to use “the force” to open elevators. Blame the Jaegermeister. We walked to Union Pool for a night spent 80% in the Photo Booth (where we spent most of our money) and 20% drinking shots of Tequila (where we spent what was left of our money.) We even got to see the oldest DJ alive who looked like he’d stepped right out of Fort Boyard. We had WAY too much fun with everyone and just couldn’t get enough of the Photo Booth. We got home super late and quite drunk. So of course, we didn’t leave in the morning the next day like we were hoping to… We woke up at noon, I believe I was still drunk and honestly we had had so much fun that we were tempted to never leave Arnaud’s living room. But hey, we had a car to sell and a plane to catch in Montréal, so a couple of hours and a necessary McDonalds later, we were on the road to Montreal.

Lisa and Maeva in the subway
Lisa and Maeva in the subway
Lisa and Maeva in Times Square
Lisa and Maeva in Times Square
Photobooth epic photos
Photobooth epic photos
Love from Maeva
Love from Maeva

And of course, at the very end of the trip, we were stopped by the police on the road. But all good, he was just unable to see the state on our license plate and wished us a good day!

Arnaud, Flo and Lionel thank you guys SO much for letting us stay with you we had such a BLAST. We really hope we can return the favour someday somewhere in the world and have just as much fun. You’ve made our stay in New York totally kickass.

 

Gone girl in Salt creek

33°28' 49" N 117°43' 25" W Salt creek

Nov 12, 2014  –  by Stéphane

We ended up stopping in Salt Creek, thanks to the same surf shop I was talking about in one of my previous post. One guy told us it was his favourite spot in the area because of the clear water making you think that you are in a tropical location. And he wasn’t lying: clear blue water with a really green park on the hill spread above the beach. Yes, it’s not common since we entered California to see wide and not-burned areas of green and freshly cut grass. Only where we tend to sleep, in luxury residential areas (it feels safer), or in very expensive state parks.

Salt Creek Park and it’s very green grass for a drouth period
Salt Creek Park and it’s very green grass for a drouth period

We first enjoyed the view with a nice lunch on one of the tables. An improved and healthy meal for people living in a car: organic baby spinach and avocado topped with 2 fried eggs. And a juicy Californian Apple for dessert. Yes, it’s almost gastronomic food for American people. But honestly, stop stereotyping for a minute: people from the whole west coast are far from the fat couch potatoes reported by Super Size me! The number of vegan and gluten free people seems to be a lot more important than the burger-or-other-fast-food fans. As long as you stay away from the malls of course!
I then dropped Maeva off at the closest Starbucks to continue working on her personal project. Already 3 days in a row that she was focused. Quite a lot for a person who is convinced to have ADD! Well on my side, I was still 100% on surf mode! So I went back to Salt Creek, for a surf session this time!

Salt Creek public library where Maeva was working
Salt Creek public library where Maeva was working

The waves were small and nicely shaped at the south peak of the beach, so I got to practice my lefts! I’m still a beginner on this side because I always go the easy way when I have a choice. Well this time I didn’t, and good for me because I ended up at sunset with some good rides! And It was time to pick up Maeva.
We then both agreed we deserved a movie, based on our respective personal achievements. We still hadn’t gone to a real movie theatre since we crossed the border, and for movie addicts like us it’s a veeery long time. And unlike our first drive-in experience, we got to pick the movie, so we chose Gone Girl. Twelve dollars per person is quite cheap when you realize that the show is only for you and 1 other couple in a huge cineplex showroom. We wondered if it was because the movie was too scary for a 10pm showtime. But we figured it was probably just because it was a long movie. And indeed, we got out around 1am and were honestly creeped out to just park randomly somewhere and sleep in your car, right after seeing some insanely freaky characters! But you should see the movie, it’s really good. And not just because “it stars Ben Affleck”, ladies please.

An old Volkswagen minivan with a local winery branding, you better like yellow!
An old Volkswagen minivan with a local winery branding, you better like yellow!
On of our favorite home made meal: chili corn carne topped with an fried egg.
On of our favorite home made meal: chili corn carne topped with an fried egg.

Little memories of Huntington Beach

33°39' 22" N 118°0' 11" W Huntington Beach

Nov 12, 2014  –  by Stéphane

With Maeva now working full time on her personal illustration project, I guess I’m now the new editor in chief! Just so you know folks, you are gonna have a lot more surf stories than anything else. Part of the deal with Maeva, who is definitely less interested in surfing than me, is to spend some time on her side improving her drawing skills in order to become a famous illustrator. Who knows?! As for me, I get the two last two weeks on the american west coast to surf between L.A and San Diego. Not too bad, and the water is warm enough to not wear a wetsuit anymore, finally!

So guys, don’t be hard on me, it’s only my second post on the blog. I know Maeva has better writing skills, especially in English, which is why she was doing the blabla so far. In addition, it was really pleasant for me to read my own story in which I’m playing the main role! So you might hear my little french accent throughout the next few posts but I didn’t cheat, I didn’t “learn when I was little” as she always says when people are impressed by her native american accent!

Back to our road trip, Huntington Beach (HB) was one of the must do’s on the way south! Indeed, I came here nine years ago, in July 2005, with my good buddy Etienne. We actually spent almost a month in LA, learning English in the morning and checking out skate street spots during our free afternoons. We had mapped out a bunch of locations around LA from our favorite DVDs and first online videos to do our own grinds and jumps on those iconic spots! But more particularly, HB is where I tried surfing on actual waves for the very first time! Yes, because I did try when I was maybe 5 years old, on a polyester board in the staircase of a rental house somewhere in Brittany. Didn’t work out too well though, I broke the surfboard in two pieces! So this time with Etienne, we went in the water and it turns out it was much better! Okay we were on 9” long soft top longboards, but the summer waves were small and it was our first time. Gotta start somewhere! So here we were with Maeva, looking at the same beach and surfers from the HB pier, good times!

The Huntington Beach pier. Longest concret pier in California
The Huntington Beach pier. Longest concret pier in California
A pelican staring at the water from the Huntington Beach pier, waiting for a band fish to cruise under and jump
A pelican staring at the water from the Huntington Beach pier, waiting for a band fish to cruise under and jump
The small waves of Huntington Beach
The small waves of Huntington Beach

We spent the day in this little surf town, cruising along the ocean as well as the two main touristy streets. I even bought a swim shirt to switch from the wetsuit, a Quicksilver one of course to feel like Kelly Slater. In white though. I didn’t find a pink one, and I didn’t necessarily want to catch everyone’s attention in the water… I still fall for no reason too often. We also looked at the Duke Kahanamoku statue. The man who basically exported surf out of Hawaii when they were still surfing on self made pieces of pine back in 1912. I felt even more impressed when reading some stories about him, what a life!

After cruising around – Maeva is getting better on her longboard – it was time for a frozen yogurt! But we were disappointed to learn there is no such shop in town. However, a guy told us about a “different” place that was worth checking out: Bonzai bowl. He wasn’t really able to explain the concept of the store but looked very excited about it, so we gave it a try, and that was something! Try to picture a family size yogurt bowl filled with a fresh-fruits-frozen-smoothie topped with granola and freshly sliced fruits. Healthy, beautiful, tasty, in one word: amazing.

Maeva posing in front of a classic and really nice blue 57’ Chevrolet in Huntington Beach
Maeva posing in front of a classic and really nice blue 57’ Chevrolet in Huntington Beach
An old T2 Volkswagen, iconic hippie minivan, with a halloween decoration. Did you notice the foot hanging to the surfboard leash?
An old T2 Volkswagen, iconic hippie minivan, with a halloween decoration. Did you notice the foot hanging to the surfboard leash?

After this, I was ready for a surf session! Normal as Maeva would say, but we had already planned our next stop: Umami Burger for dinner (which was just 30min away driving) so we basically had 3 hours to kill.

I surfed until sunset with lots of very young-and-annoying locals who were not ready to let others catch waves, the competition was hard! Meanwhile, Maeva was tanning on the beach reading “The Power of Habits” to tell me the best parts later that night. I caught a few waves, nothing crazy but I was surfing in my memories at the same time.

After we gazing at another really nice sunset, we headed towards Laguna Beach to Umami Burger. Lots of people had told us about it, so it was time to cross it out of our bucket list. Umami Burger is a chain of gourmet burgers mainly located in California, that’s all we knew about it. So as usual we were expecting another fast food chain with a big flashy logo on the side of the road, nope, not at all. Of course we had Google Maps to guide us to the cute little restaurant with a mediterranean-surfer decoration, with waiters and even someone to seat you and walk you through the flavour of each burger. Wooh, it’s fancy! Maeva was almost feeling bad to be wearing her beach outfit with her pyjamas sweater on top because of the AC in the restaurant. Come on, it’s only burgers, you still have to eat with your fingers! Anyway, their tagline “we don’t do any substitutions” is clear enough. Every single burger has a gourmet sweet and savoury taste and they are all very unique. If you live nearby a Umami and are open to trying something not even comparable to a cheeseburger, it’s worth the drive! Be aware though, the bill isn’t nearly as low as a fast food chain, expect to spend at least twice as much.

Maeva, fork in hand, ready for the Umami Burger experience!
Maeva, fork in hand, ready for the Umami Burger experience!

Now that we were full, we only had one goal in mind: to have a good sleep! And to enjoy a long night, lazy morning in bed, and even a shower. So we opted for the easy solution: campground. We went to the Crystal Cove State Park campground that was close by, and as always we were shocked to discover it was $50 a night (weekday and off season), and you even have to add a loony for a shower… Welcome to California, where are the hippie times? But our decision was taken and we sure did have a good sleep!
As you can read, whether it comes from Maeva or myself, you will always have stories related to food, enjoy!

Maeva, who’s complaining every single day about our higyene, decided to self-cut her hair
Maeva, who’s complaining every single day about our higyene, decided to self-cut her hair

The city of angels

34°3' 8" N 118°14' 37" W Los Angeles

Nov 7, 2014  –  by Maeva

Welcome to LA!

This city is pretty much a gigantic hub of urban areas and industries. Just arriving on one of the 10 lanes of the highway and 2 minutes of traffic gives an idea of how busy LA is. We were lucky to join Mala at her house, after she kindly offered to host us during our stay here. We arrived at her very nice apartment (boy did it change from our home in the car!) and the three of us headed out for a visit of Santa Monica. Mala showed us the very hipster Abbott Kinney street with its spacious and beautifully designed shops and coffee places. Loved the vibe in this street, as well as the long hair, piercings and round glasses of the people walking around! We then headed to the beach for a stroll towards the Santa Monica Pier. On our way we got impressed by the guys making loops on the rings of the open air gym. Steph was game and proved that the paddling sessions from surfing were well worth it! It was crazy warm so we indulged in some frozen yogurt at Yogurtland – we had never tried this one and we were not disappointed! We were like kids in Disneyland trying all the different flavours and topping our yogurts with caramel, candy, almonds and strawberries!

Afterwards, it was time for a well deserved break back at the apartment before heading out again to join Mala’s super nice friends for tacos at a Mexican Restaurant and a movie at their place. We got some delicious tacos and though they got a few orders wrong (when I ask for “no cilantro” it also means don’t put the green sauce that has cilantro on my taco), it was excellent! Back at their place, we sipped some wine and enjoyed sour keys while watching the indie movie “Frank”. Love watching movies that are a little weird, unique and far-fetched and this was one of them! And with Michael Fassbender as Frank, well you simply can’t go wrong. We then enjoyed a night in the first REAL bed of the trip, it was quite something – thanks again Steve for letting us stay in your room you have no idea how happy it made us!

On the Sunday, we figured it would be better to leave touristy things for the week and we headed to Runyon Canyon for a very hot hike. The sun was so strong as we climbed above the Hollywood hills to find a panoramic view of LA at the top. We get it, it’s the equivalent of the gym for people here! They all come in Nike’s, mini shorts and ponytails to jog or walk to the top while calculating their speed and calories lost. Well, let’s just say around noon was probably the best time for that in this crazy heat. There really is only summer in California. We then took a drive on the iconic Mulholland Drive and opted out of a walk on the Walk of Fame of Hollywood since both of us had already been there. Instead, we headed to Venice Beach! Why? Because one cannot be in LA without checking out people dancing to hip hop on skates! Where else do you get to see that? We cruised around on our longboards and also stopped at the skatepark to watch some skills. Venice was fun for the music and the dancers, but in all honesty it was so crowded that we were happy to sneak out of the busyness to go back to the apartment. In the evening, Steve and his girlfriend came over for dinner. Steph, aka the Chef, cooked some absolutely delicious traditional French crepes for all of us, savoury and sweet – YUM.

Steph and Maeva in Runyon Canyon
Steph and Maeva in Runyon Canyon
Maeva on top of Runyon Canyon, view of LA
Maeva on top of Runyon Canyon, view of LA
Venice Beach
Venice Beach
Venice Beach Wall art
Venice Beach Wall art
Venice beach skatepark
Venice beach skatepark
Venice beach dancers on blades
Venice beach dancers on blades

 

Maeva in front of Charlie Chaplin wall
Maeva in front of Charlie Chaplin wall
Old Rossignol ad
Old Rossignol ad

The next day, we were ready for a day full of adventures at Universal Studios, the ONE thing that we HAD to do in LA. It was a crazy fun day as we ran from one ride to the other, catching shows in between. Our favourites?
- Ride: Transformers! By far the coolest, as it combines roller coaster, real setting and 3D – you really feel like you’re fighting robots in there. The Mummy was awesome sensations-wise but way too short. And well, we have to mention Jurassic Park – because it really freaked us (me) out. Hey, there was a tyrannosaur guys, okay?!
- The Sets:  We obviously took the world famous studio tour in the open air bus to discover the world of movie sets. And we know why this is a must-do. We got to watch a water disaster, say hi to Jaws’s shark, be in an earthquake in the subway, encounter King Kong in the wilderness, drive through the incredible set from War of the Worlds and look at movie iconic cars.
- Shows: The visual effects show was fun to watch for insights on the how-to secrets of some scenes, with a touch of humour. But we finished our day with the Waterworld performance, which basically replays a scene of the movie. Backflips, jet ski freestyle, fights, jumps, fire… Mindblowing! Steph now wants to change jobs and play one of the guys in that show for a living.
- And: back in Santa Cruz, I asked Steph to win a Minion for me and he didn’t succeed; so obviously I put him to the challenge again! He had to shoot basketballs in a net and if he scored twice, he could pick a Minion. Aaaaand….. HE WON!!! Needless to say, I was a little kid with my new toy! We are now road tripping with a minion.
As you might be able to tell, we spent the entire day in Universal Studios. So right after, as we hadn’t eaten anything, we rushed to Taco Bell – typical.
In the evening, it was our last night with Mala and she had a friend over. So Steph put together another delicious meal of pasta, cream and shallots. YUM.

Steph and Maeva at Universal Studios
Steph and Maeva at Universal Studios
Maeva and the minions
Maeva and the minions
Universal studios War of the Worlds set
Universal studios War of the Worlds set
Maeva jumping in front of Krustyland in Universal Studios
Maeva jumping in front of Krustyland in Universal Studios
Steph throwing a basketball
Steph throwing a basketball
Maeva and her minion
Maeva and her minion
Steph and the minion
Steph and the minion
Waterworld set in Universal Studios
Waterworld set in Universal Studios
Steph and Maeva in front of the Universal Studios globe
Steph and Maeva in front of the Universal Studios globe

It was time to continue going further South and say goodbye to Mala. Thanks again Mala for your hospitality, we are so grateful!

We first headed to Beverly Hills because I wanted to see some crazy huge houses. Well that was a stupid idea, they all had immense fences, we only managed to spot a few from afar and the intriguing spots had way too much security. No, we didn’t see Jennifer Lawrence. *Sigh*. To make up for it, we had coffee at a lovely TOMS shop/coffeeplace in Abbott Kinney to enjoy their super chill outdoor patio. And we figured we could leave LA on that mocha coffee note and return to the beach life down the coast.

Toms coffee shop in Abbott Kinney
Toms coffee shop in Abbott Kinney
Patio of Toms coffeeshop
Patio of Toms coffeeshop
Maeva having coffee in the patio
Maeva having coffee in the patio
Wall art in Abbott Kinney
Wall art in Abbott Kinney
Wall art in Los Angeles
Wall art in Los Angeles
More wall art in Abbott Kinney
More wall art in Abbott Kinney