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Orange County

Still staying in Venice, we’ve managed to broaden our horizons and see a little more than just the streets of Venice and Santa Monica by way of a friendly Pennsylvanian named Becky we picked up at a club. You’d be inclined to believe, at that junction, that either she or we were dangerously naïve to jump right into an unidentified stranger’s car —or to let unidentified strangers jump into her car— at such short notice, but given everyone’s incredible friendliness thus far we’ve almost come to expect such things. Actual conversation extract:

Random girl
Hey guys, you havin’ a good time?
Chris
Yeah, great. This is a pretty cool place.
Random girl
Where you from?
Chris
Australia. Well, Western Australia.
Random girl
Oh my god, you’re from Australia? I love Australia!

Come to think of it, there’s barely been a person we’ve spoken to in a bar that doesn’t say “I love Australia”… which is a little freaky, but it also gives us the impression that Americans are way friendlier than the silver screen would indicate. Even the bums have been friendly, though I would proffer that is because they’re living in a tourist district; the nicer you are to tourists, the more likely you are to get some change.

So, after organizing for Becky to pick us up the following afternoon and drive us down to Orange County, we finally got away from LA for a day. The bars on Huntington Beach are easy to recommend (atmosphere, price, company), as are the sights around Laguna Beach and Newport, though we were mostly stuck in the car because of rain (rain!) and our distinct failure to pack umbrellas for this trip.

Monday morn saw Dave and Titty burst into our room —fresh from the airport— which means our awesome foursome of Australians is now fully assembled for the next two months of North American travel. A short orientation later, and we settled in to a night of heavy drinking to mark their arrival. By far one of the most remarkable things about the nightlife in California is the liquor licensing: drinks can’t be served after 2:00am. Admittedly, I’m not familiar with how the rest of the country works, but being from a nation of beer lovers and hearty partiers I’m dumbfounded by this legislation. Clubs can stay open after two o’clock… they just can’t serve alcohol. In the end, it means that everyone just heads on home at 2 and readies themselves for another day. In Australia (and, I’m sure, many many many other parts of the world) if a bar closes at 1:00am or 2:00am and you still feel like partying, you just head for a club that is licensed until 6 o’clock. If dawn comes and you still feel like partying, then you’re probably out of luck; but if you feel like waiting it’s only three hours ‘til the bars re–open.