Friday 22/06 (2/2)
The 3 first flights (out of 4) are ok. We buy a large pack of m&m’s and 2 boxes of dark Kitkat (a box contains 16 bars) – by the way, the second one came free – at the duty-free shop in Quito.
I continue preparing the LA trip, until Lima. It’s strange to come back to Lima, which we left 2 weeks ago. But it was the “best” (i.e. the cheapest) flight hat Isabelle could find.
We have 2-hour waiting time in Lima. The flight to LA leaves a bit after 1am. The 3 girls sleep a bit before the flight (see picture).
We are all very excited to go to the US, each of us for very different reasons: Isabelle for the national parks, me for the cities of the West Coast (LA and SF) and the kids to discover the country, its mentality and its citizens since they’ve always studied in American schools until now. Ludivine is excited about Vidcon (the convention where online video viewers and creators meet), LA and SF and also (mainly) to spend a week with her friend Sofia. Florence is also excited about Vidcon (she wants to see her favourite Youtubers) and her summer camp. Jules is excited about the night we’ll spend in a teepee (near the Yellowstone NP) and about his summer camp. And the 3 of them are keen to go to Universal Studios; we’ll indeed go to this entertainment park (and studio tour) rather than to Disneyland. Ludivine will unfortunately miss New York (but she’s already been there) since she’s going back to Belgium 2 weeks before us (to study).
Vidcon experience by Florence:
Today Ludivine and I went to vidcon. Vidcon is a place where a bunch of youtubers meet their fans. You can either meet them around the place or in a panel. A panel is a place where they talk about a lot of different things to their fans. Ludivine and I went to 2 panels and we met people we loved. It was amazing. We also met people out of the panels and we were super happy because there was nobody around them. We got many autographs and it was an overall great experience. At the end of the day there was a Twix prom and it was like a huge dance party. Everyone was dancing and there was even a dj on the stage. It was awesome! When it was time to start the Twix prom, there were two hosts that came on stage and one of them is one of my favourite YouTuber. They hosted a dance battle, a lip singing battle, and a fashion show. It was AMAZING!!! We danced till 11:20pm and then we went out and we went to the hotel. In general vidcon was AMAZING and we have to come back!!!
We arrive at 8am local time in LA. The night was, as foreseen, not great.
As soon as we land, I try to know the result of Belgium vs Tunisia, which just finished. One of the officers at the arrival gives me the result: 5-2! Great news! “Ole, ole, ole, ole”, we are (practically) in the knock-out round. I can’t wait to watch the next games live. As I said previously, it’s really a pity the US didn’t qualify but on the West Coast the Hispanic community is huge and I’m sure the Mexicans and others will follow the games of their national team with fervour.
Going through the immigration is surprisingly easy and fast.
We take a shuttle to the Thrifty office to get the rental car that we rent for the next 6 weeks (until Chicago). We upgrade our booking to a nice Ford Discovery 4×4.
We try to go as fast as possible to Anaheim, where the Vidcon is taking place. The 2 girls are indeed attending this YouTubers conference / gathering and are pretty much excited about it (to say the least).
We finally arrive there at 11am; not too bad (we landed 3 hours ago). It’s the last day of the 3 days.
Isabelle, Jules and I go to our nearby hotel to take a shower and relax a bit; the wi-fi connection is good, which is highly appreciated after 2 weeks in the Galapagos…
We then go to a Verizon shop to buy sim cards. We will take 3 sim cards this time to give one to Ludivine, who is going to spend a week at her friend’s house alone. We are quickly convinced to take 3 subscriptions with unlimited internet data package (for 75 USD per month). We could see how difficult and upsetting a bad / lack of connection could be…
We then go and eat at Wendy’s (upon Jules’ insistence). It’s already 3pm; we want to eat quickly since we want to be around 4pm at the visitors centre of the Agrihood (short for “agricultural neighborhood”) community, which is located 45’ from here. Jules takes a burger and we take a salad; not bad. I’m impressed by the options of soft drinks that Jules can choose with his combo menu. There are so many different tastes such as Fanta Limon, Fanta Vanilla, Fanta Raspberry… and the same goes for the Sprite and for the Coca Cola… And he can fill in his cup as many times as he wants… And you wonder why the average Americans are not in top shape…
We arrive around 4:15pm at the Agrihood. We wanted to visit this new type of housing community since firstly it is very appealing to us and secondly because it is one of the latest real-estate trends gaining popularity across the US. Agrihood developers aim to combine the amenities of a rural farming community, like fresh produce and ample outdoor space, with the convenience of a modern, metropolitan neighborhood. The homes are typically built to high environmental standards, too – think solar panels and composting. Millennials and active retirees alike are flocking to this huge agrihood at Rancho Mission Viejo, one hour from LA. It’s much more commercial than we thought; the ‘farm’ part seems more a sale argument than a real community activity. The location of the whole “complex” is great.
We go back to the hotel around 7pm, after some shopping at the 7-Eleven. We’ve missed these shops… We buy, among others, soups for tonight. We are amazed by the many different flavours they have for m&m’s for example; and for Coca Cola as well… We don’t see them anywhere else.
We work a bit on the blog. We eat around 9pm. Jules goes to bed and Isabelle and I wait for the girls who come back at midnight. They are super excited; they enjoyed so much their day at Vidcon! We are all super tired (after this bad and short night in the plane). We go to bed.
A quick first observation after a few hours in the US: It’s not the first time I come here (on the West Coast yes though) but it’s still each time impressive to see the ‘gigantism’ of the US. Everything is large, from the highways to the people themselves, passing through the size of the drinks in the fast foods…
It’s also surprising to me how much Spanish you can hear and see everywhere. The Hispanic community is big here.