28 Oct 2016

My favourite place in LA

In my vlog (below) I rented a cruiser bike in Venice Beach and I had the BEST day exploring.
In the perpetually sunny bright day, I went film location hunting.

The movie Valentine's Day is one of my favorite movies because it is so light-hearted and Taylor Swift was brilliant in it.
Thanks to Google, I found out the beautiful location they used as Ashton Kutcher's home is Venice Canals.
When I came across the place, it took my breath away. It was more beautiful than I expected.
I quickly locked up my bike before exploring by foot because I knew I'd be taking a billion photos for Instagram, Facebook cover photo and desktop background.
I found it tranquil and inspiring.
I wanted to sit in a gondola under the shade and read all day long...
Set up an easel in the backyard overlooking the canals and paint the colors that evoke a daydream. Capturing the ripples and reflection.

In the end, I did find the house and bridge in the movie!
Movie still



26 Oct 2016

The LA sunset

I stayed in an Airbnb near Culver City, not far from Venice Beach. I would stay there again if I ever return to LA. The small room was as described, the house was very clean and tidy and the hosts were nice. They helped me carry my luggage up and down the stairs.

I couldn't handle the heat on the first couple of days. It was the hottest place I've ever been to. But I rested well and thanks to my jetlag remedies, I was able to have a long productive day.
My jetlag remedies are natural jetlag pills from the pharmacy, that special water they sell at the airport and peppermint essential oils. I kid you not, I didn't get jet lag at all for the entire three weeks! My cousin says it's placebo but he flew three hours without anything and was jet lagged. Point proven.

In the morning, using my newly acquired Tap card, I took the metro train to downtown LA. I bought a ticket to the OUE Skyspace in the US Bank Tower, the tallest building in LA. It is an open air observatory deck on the 70th floor, boasting spectacular views of the city and a glass slide one floor high.
I got the Sun & Stars ticket that granted me entry twice in 24 hours. So I came back for the sunset and the city lights. Unfortunately no tripods were allowed and the 2m glass ballustrade reflected light from behind, so my photos weren't as great as expected.
My thoughts: skip the Skyspace, go to The Getty Centre and Griffiths Observatory for the views instead; they're free.
There were more people there in the evening, taking OOTDs with the billion lights in the background. The photographer in me turned trigger happy. The place would be a great evening cocktail party venue.
The city lights are inspiring and romantic. They narrated a story of their own. 
I tell you though, LA sunsets are beautiful.
Not just that night, but for the 13 nights I was there, the sky was kissed with orange, dipped in tropical hues. And for 20 minutes, between the skyscrapers, the light was ethereal. 



23 Oct 2016

Pack with me!

In my last post, I wrote about how excited I am to go to California for three weeks! So let's start off the travel blog series with packing.

First, the cameras...
I will be vlogging my entire trip! I want to remember everything. The heat, the roads, the sounds, the food... For that I use my iPhone 6s. The back camera is also fantastic for point and shoot photography. I am taking my 5000mAh powerbank as well.
My Canon 600D is for HD shots and my new tripod is coming with me too.
For the bike rides along Santa Monica beach and across the Golden Gate Bridge, I am taking my GoPro Hero.

My makeup!
Because I will be vlogging, I need to be camera ready at all times (hahaha).
Finding the right makeup to travel with can be tricky. You need products that are versatile, in sturdy but lightweight packaging and compact.
Then you have to find a makeup bag that fits it all and will protect them. I actually use a pencil case from Smiggle! The pencil pockets are perfect for small brushes, mascara and eyeliner.

American Airlines allows me to take two luggages to be checked in, each 23kg. That's a lot!
I packed my summer clothes for the 30 degree heat in LA and a jacket for the 18C, potentially windy and unpredictable San Fran bay climate.
This only filled up a quarter of one suitcase. The other empty suitcase is for the hauls over there ;)
Travelling to USA also requires a TSA approved lock. It means that they have a master key to open your suitcases and won't need to break open any locks.

Perhaps the most important is the carry-on items. If you were isolated for 12 hours, what would you take with you?
Me: a jacket, socks, lipbalm, nasal spray, headphones, jetlag pills, iPhone charger...
It's a good idea to carry the valuables in the carry on, just in case your other luggage is lost or late. I packed a change of clothes too.

Let me know, what are your travel must-haves?
My no.1 is definitely my powerbank! Just don't forget the charging cable.


ps. you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/elisahardijanto

19 Oct 2016

My upcoming lone adventure to California!

Last year I planned the LA leg of our family holiday to USA but it had to be cancelled. But the thought of going to the Getty and to be surrounded by Monet and Degas still lingered in my mind. Then I thought, why not just go by myself?

I booked my flights three months ago during American Airlines sale. It was around $1.3k NZD to LA and SF including return. Which is a very good deal. Because of my choleric-melancholy personality, I booked my accomodation and planned my 3 week itinerary all in the same week. Then I waited impatiently for the next 3 months for my flight.

Why I'm going by myself I have travelled by myself to Thailand, in between the conference schedules during my spare time I found my way around the city and I loved it. I thrive in lone adventures, finding my own way, taking my time to capture the perfect shot in one spot... Doing a lot of things that I feel would be a hassle to someone if they were with me. That's why I want to travel by myself.

How long I'll be there for I originally wanted to spend a week in LA, but because San Francisco is known for its efficient public transport and solution to urban intensification (my kind of thing) I added the fog city to the journey. Then I searched for all the good art galleries in LA and it looked like I'll be needing to extend my stay to two weeks! So, three weeks in total.

Accommodation I opted for a tiny AirBnB room, a bed in the lounge and a top bunk bed (my accomodation is split into three locations between the two cities).

Contacts I don't know anyone in LA or SF. But my relatives who live in California will meet me on the last day. They are going to take me to Silicon Valley and Monterey, where there is a permanent Dali collection because he used to reside there.

How I'll be getting around the cities I want to prove that LA is doable by public transport. I have heard a lot about LA being a car-only city but I feel the experience will be beneficial in my transport engineering career. SF is known for its efficient public transport and it is common knowledge to not drive there. So I am excited to see how efficient ground public transport is in a city that is densely populated with steep roads!

The places I'll be visiting I will be checking out all the major art galleries, the science centres and museums.

On my shopping list A pair of Skechers because they look so comfortable. I want to go to Michaels and buy some arts and crafts supplies for my cardmaking kit. And Wholefoods for snacks. Aside from those, nothing in particular, surprisingly!

What I'm excited for in LA (Aside from art) They have recently opened Skyspace on the 70th floor of the US Bank Tower in downtown LA. It is an observatory deck, with a GLASS SLIDE to one floor below. I am planning on getting the Sun & Stars ticket, which will grant me entry twice in one day, allowing me to take photos of the city both day and dusk. I took an evening photography course just for this. I'm not sure about the glass slide though, I have a fear of heights!!

And I will be taking a bike ride along the Santa Monica boardwalk. Because you know what else is in Santa Monica? A pier!!

What I'm excited for in San Francisco I am most excited to bike accross the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito. This is why I've been riding a lot the past month; to get fit! Because it might take 3 hours.

I have also bought a ticket to Alcatraz, the historical prison that was known to be inescapable because of its location on an island. My only chance to go to prison (hopefully).

I will turn 24 in LA. I bought a ticket to see an LA Philharmonic concert (Ravel & Stravinsky) at the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall. It is an iconic building designed by Frank Gehry, whom I studied in Graphics class in high school. I'm mostly there for the architecture and to check out the acoustics though... I can't say I know the music very well but I do love classical music.

Celebrity spotting What would be amazing is if I get to see a celebrity, but I doubt I'll recognise them in real life. I will go to Hollywood to see the Walk of Fame.

Yes, I will be vlogging!  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel for all the videos of my trip. I will also be blogging here, for those of you who prefer reading and photos, and you can subscribe by email on the panel on the right hand side.

Safety I am well aware that NZ is a very safe and friendly place, unlike a lot of other countries. If you are concerned, I am afraid it is too late; if you're reading this it means I have already returned to NZ! My Snapchats are the only 'live' photos because I can control who sees those. Those are my safety pre-cautions; I don't want anyone to track me down and know I have valuables!

Nervous about where am I going to find flat white and lattes like they do them in New Zealand?? And don't say Starbucks.

My 12 hour flight is coming up. I don't know what I'm more nervous about- the long haul flight or the airport security when I land!



ps. For safety reasons my travel blog and vlogs will be posted after I return.