I was up too early this morning: breakfast hadn’t started. Gave me more than enough time to get my stuff downstairs. Had breakfast and checked out by 8am, then walked three blocks to the bus stop, and waited for the #10 bus to take me to Union Station to get my train.

It was a fairly uneventful journey, but it did get me thinking. I didn’t venture into Hollywood or downtown LA, partly because I didn’t really have time and partly because I was kinda scared. But now I’m not sure why: London and New York are both bigger, and they don’t scare me, and I think it’s about the same size as Sydney, which didn’t scare me. So I probably would’ve coped fine. But I didn’t have much time, and I’m not that bothered about missing it.

Union Station is very grand though. They might not do much rail travel over here compared to flights and cars, but they do it well. The train left LA at 10.15an, and I was lulled into a sleep almost straight away. I woke up before we reached Santa Barbara, which was the only vaguely interesting part of the trip. That was a very pretty stretch of coastline. The rest of the scenery seemed arid. I spent the journey reading (onto Da Vinci Code now), sleeping, and wandering back and forth to the dining/sightseeing carriage.

We reached Salinas at 6.40pm and got the bus to Monterey from there. The driver very kindly dropped me off outside the hostel. After a quick walk down to the drugstore for a new toothbrush, I spent the rest of the evening on the internet and planning tomorrow.

So Santa Monica looks good. It’s all tree-lined avenues, brightly painted attractive buildings, a gorgeous beach and fabulous weather. But, unfortunately it is still a city. There is a lot of noisy traffic, and loads of homeless people. I’m struggling to find hospitality staff who are earning the tips they so desperately need: not too friendly. And like I said, the pier reminds me of Blackpool.

The stereotypes are all there too. Girls really do rollerblade along the promenade (recreation trail over here) in their bikinis, and girls wander around the shops with their bags draped over one arm, and chatting on their “cell phone”. And all the people exercising for fun in the heat, sweat pouring off them…

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