We are busy in the Inn at the Spanish Garden Hotel. We fill the tub, relax on the huge bed, ask room service for a movie and some popcorn, skip the swimming pool today and enjoy the good life. BikeTravelling is not so bad after all…
Oh, I am sorry, I did not notice you reading this! Of course I meant to say: we battled against the wind, pitched our tent on a muddy slope and cooked up some salty pasta! But that would have been a lie:
So what happened with our budget? Well actually we did not pay a dime for these rooms. Last year I was approached my Matt from the Broughton Hospitality Magazine, a glossy magazine used in a small hotel company.
He had seen my photos on ExposedPlanet.com and wanted to use one in the magazine for the ‘1000 Words’ section, highlighting photojournalism (you can see the issue here, check page 10-11). My images can be used freely for educational and non-commercial purposes (Creative Commons license) but as this is a commercial magazine, a license/payment is required.
So I proposed to trade it for 2 nights in one of their hotels
And as matt was impressed with my other images, we agreed that after the USA part of the trip, I would write another article with images in exchange for a few more nights. I had kept it a bit secret for Ivana, and thought it would be a nice valentine surprise!
12 Feb 2009: Buellton – Santa Barbara, 73km
Santa Barbara is a great place to spend a few days and the arrangements with the hotel worked out perfectly. Our first night would be in the most luxurious hotel, The Inn at the Spanish Garden, which turned out to be a beautiful small boutique hotel with very friendly staff and a great included breakfast
To maximize the time in the hotel, we had left early and made it into Santa Barbara just after 13.00, 73km, not bad! We were helped by one hill with a giant descent, good wind in the back, busy roads and the thought of our big bed…
13 Feb 2009: Santa Barbara: from the Inn at the Spanish Garden – The Inn at East Beach, 3km
It was a tough day, riding 2 miles from one hotel to the other. Actually we got stuck in a giant downpour and arrived soaking wet! The next hotel was a lot more basic, but the friendly general Manager Frank made up for it (upon arrival he already brought us the remaining muffins from the breakfast) and the room was nice.
In the afternoon it cleared up and we went to explore the town on our bikes. SB is very touristy, but has a really nice old historic centre and the beach is lined with nice palm. It definitely is a nice place to visit for a few days.
14/15 Feb 2009: Santa Barbara – Santa Monica via a field past Oxnard.. 73+68km
We enjoyed another nice breakfast and then headed out through the nice outskirts of Santa Barbara. The route 101 was very busy, and there were huge traffic jams, but of course, on a bike you just cruise along. We passed Ventura, where we talked with a nice cyclist and continued along the coast. The wind was still friendly, which helped my knees a lot and they did not hurt much.
There are many military zones here and it would be difficult to find a place to pitch our tent. We found a place in a field close to the highway and so after 2 nights in a hotel, we were back on our comfortable mats!
The next morning the wind had turned on us and we had to pound the pedals hard; it only took us about 5 hours to get to the next hotel, in Santa Monica!
On our way we passed some of the rich areas like Malibu. It is actually quite ugly and the oversized houses are all built on places where they will slide of sooner or later, we could not quite see the point. It seemed more like a place to show off than actually enjoy, which was enforced by the 5 Ferraris that were parked near the beach.
Some guy saw me taking these photos and asked if I would want to trade Kowalski for one of these race monsters. I said no.
15-18 Feb 2009: Chillin’ in Santa Monica
We stayed 3 nights in the restored Georgian Hotel. We rode our bikes up to our room as it was the easies way to carry 6 panniers/bags per person, but then just left them there as we could see the place on foot.
We had a view of the beach and could see the sunset from our room on the 7th floor. It was a perfect place to check out the famous pier, the Boulevard and the pedestrian zone with musicians and street artists and doing some work on Lenny in the room.
We found an all you can eat Sushi buffet which -unlike the online reviews would make you believe- was actually pretty good
18-22 February: Into the heart of Los Angeles.
We had been invited by another Argentinean to stay with his family for a few days. Diego picked us up in the front of the hotel and took us over a concrete maze to his ‘hood. We were definitely in a poorer part of LA, but as Ivana remarked, it looked better and richer than many ‘good’ parts in Argentina.
We spent several days in LA and I even went to see Dr Man Tran, a Chinese Chiropractor/Acupuncturist; but like every other doctor so far, the treament he gave me felt good, but the inflammation in my knee never goes away.
Diego and his wife Claudia took great care of us. They refused to let us sleep on the ground and made us sleep in their bedroom. We had some great meals together and enjoyed the work he was doing for the local soccer teams. Small kids like these were putting their hearts and soul into becoming great at their sports, something what might give them enough self-esteem to keep them out of the gang-scene..
22 Feb 2009: Oscar night in Hollywood!
We did not care much for the expensive theme parks, but as an avid movie lover I was excited to find out we would be in town for the Academy Awards, better knows as Oscars. We went to take a look with the Sarraseca family and though we could not see any ‘star’ up close, we enjoyed the atmosphere and just the feeling of ‘being there’ as well as the giant pizza that Diego treated us to…
Next steps: back in a car to do some ‘parking’
We decided that it would be a shame to miss out on the South Western USA treasures and as time was limited, we decided to rent a car for a week to see the national parks… More photo’s and stories about horse racing and Horseshoe- and other canyons, snow and old friends, stay tuned, as we slowly catch up with reality
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