Jonny the Pilot

Commercial Airline Pilot. Vlogging Europe. Loving life. Ironman. Feminist.

Tag: winter sun

6 days in Los Angeles 🇺🇸 ☀️ 🌴 🏄🏽‍♂️

Cue packing, taxi, airport lounge,  the almighty British Airways Airbus 380, and a seat that transformed into a bed on the upper deck of this contravercial (when it comes to looks) aircraft bound for California. I was fortunate enough to have a week’s holiday in LA – the city of stars, surfers and sunshine!

Cue packing, taxi, airport lounge,  the almighty British Airways Airbus 380, and a seat that transformed into a bed on the upper deck of this controversial (when it comes to looks) aircraft bound for California. I was fortunate enough to have a week’s holiday in LA – the city of stars, surfers and sunshine!

Picking up the rental, I couldn’t help bargaining for an upgrade (if you’ve read some of my previous posts you’ll know I’m not adverse to the odd sports car!). Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a Corvette – that was it. Papers sorted, over to the Corvette we went…to discover the boot (AKA trunk if you’re American!) isn’t really designed for two  bulky suitcases plus hand luggage 🙈

After masterfully rejigging the luggage, we were off in the tightly packed Corvette, the ride that got us around LA and the surrounding area for the next 6 days – what a holiday!

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3, 2, 1… GO!

From strolling along the beautiful Crystal Cove beach in the south to a luxurious stay in the West London Hollywood Hotel in Beverly Hills to a rather eventful mountain biking session in nearby national park, Big Bear Mountain resort, it really is the city with it all.

Some of our adventure was caught on film by British Airways – check it out on YouTube.

Otherwise read on for some of the best places we came across during our adventure. In no particular order…

Huntington Beach – get that quintessential California lifeguard pic 🏄‍♀️🏄‍♂️

It’s not necessarily beautiful but it was the first beach we visited and, given it’s pretty iconic life guard huts and live video feed in every Holister store, the huge expanse of soft sand under our feet got us off on the right foot of our adventure; this beach is quintessential California.

A shamelessly big, long beach, you’ll find a long concrete pavement winding along the coastline (otherwise known as the Ocean Strand) with people of all ages cycling, jogging, walking and occasionally rollerblading along. On the beach itself groups of people of all ages congregate around big fire pits while in the sea you get a view of surfers ripping up the waves around the Huntington Beach pier.

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Crystal Cove – 🌊 

A beautiful beach in an upmarket part of the city. If you head there you might be sat next to the odd BA pilot or cabin crew – it’s a firm favourite!

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Head here for a more peaceful and beautiful beach experience compared to Huntington – it feels less like mankind has intruded although there are a few buildings along the beach edge including The Beachcomber café at Crystal Cove which is worth a visit. This place serves its food with a view! We visited during the week and even then this little café was busy serving brunchtime food to tourists and locals. Apparently it’s also a beautiful place to visit in the evening for dinner whilst listening to the ocean.

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The Beachcomber Cafe at Crystal Cove 👌


Big Bear – exploring the great outdoors!
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On our first full day in LA we awoke to a cloudy sky – not the weather we’d expected in California! (June gloom) Subsequently we decided to jump in the Corvette (did I really need an excuse?!) and head two hours north winding up through forest-covered hills to break through the clouds surrounding Big Bear mountain.

2000m above sea level, we weren’t disappointed – the valley views were SPECTACULAR as we broke through the clouds and the sun beamed down on us.

We grabbed some food before considering how to make the most of our afternoon in this year-round holiday (I should say ‘vacation’) resort.

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If you like the outdoors then you’ll love Big Bear. In the winter you can hit the slopes on your skis or snowboard. We were there in spring and had so much choice – kayaking or boating on Big Bear lake, horse riding, hiking…

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In the end we plumped for a couple of hours of adrenaline-fuelled downhill mountain biking. Gear sorted, we headed up in a chair lift to then wind down the wooded mountain trails on two wheels, hanging on for dear life.

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Claire got a bit over-excited on the final run and ended up displaying her acrobatics before coming to rest on the far side of a bend, splayed across the bike trail…! 🤦‍♀️ But after a quick dusting off, we both agreed it was such an awesome place! We only wished that we could’ve stayed for a few more days of fresh mountain air to get our adventure on!

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Oooouch

El Matador State Beach – hidden gem 🏖 

This Malibu beach was a gem of a find and topped our list as the favourite sandy strip we visited!

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Beautiful El Matador State Beach

We came across it by chance, parking on a busy highway and following a trickle of people down some steep steps to a beautiful, sandy and quiet beach dotted with huge rocks.

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It felt personal, exclusive and like a well-kept secret! There were also some modest waves to play about in if you fancy a dip.

Venice Beach – California on steroids 💪

If you love people watching then this is the beach for you. It’s such an eclectic mix of people and just stuff going on – from people working out at Muscle Beach to people blasting out music as they rollerblade to music Mr Motivator used to play to quirky shops selling merchandise along the edge of the beach.

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The long stretches of concrete pavements make it an ideal place to skateboard. After all, this is where it all began… We were also lucky enough to see Sky Brown hitting the main skate park – there’s a reason why she drew the crowds, she’s incredible and only 10!!

Pink’s hotdogs – you’d better like big sausages 🥪 🐶

Watch the British Airways ‘Inside Los Angeles’ YouTube video and you’ll spot Claire and I stuffing our faces with some enormous hotdogs…seriously tasty! We even met the owners – what an awesome family! We were plied with every merchandise imaginable…

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This place has been around since 1939 and always in the same family. There’s always a queue – if you’re hungry this is the place for you!

Santa Monica 🎣 🎡 

This place is probably most famous for its pier and being officially the last stop on the famous Route 66 – aka the metaphor for the American Dream! If you’re road tripping then this beach is a must visit – gaze out at the beach views from the pier, chat to the locals doing their best to catch some fish and jump on a fairground ride for some old-fashioned fun.

Runyon Canyon – get your sweat on with the stars

Your in the foothills over LA alongside the infamous Hollywood sign. If you’re looking to get your sweat on with a jog/walk then get yourself over to Runyon Canyon.

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We were in LA in June and it was HOT. Don’t go around lunchtime when we did – the hottest part of the day.

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Downtown LA in the distance. Exploring the canyons in the hot summer haze

Clearly the weather doesn’t deter locals from pelting up and down these canyons – sturdy trainers needed!

I like to think I’d be as fit as the locals if I lived in LA…truth is I think I’d be splashing around in the sea and cooling off!

Still, definitely worth a visit for that view over LA – awesome!

GET YOUR ADVENTURE ON…

So this was pretty much a long list of some of the things we got up to. But in short LA was FANTASTIC. If you’ve got bundles of energy then there’s just so much to do here and we barely scratched the surface!

Let me know what you think and if you’ve been to LA. I genuinely can’t wait to go back!

@TheKevinGreene – Epic capture

I also recently came across a handy blog I wish we’d looked at before we went – a genuine abundance of tips and ideas for your visit from a Californian local: California through my lens. Check it out and let me know how you get on!

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Top 10 Tips for Marrakech 🇲🇦 🌴

Marrakesh, where East meets West in an assault on the senses that will leave you totally spellbound by its Moroccan magic. Here are my top 10 tips for enjoying Marrakesh…

Marrakesh, where East meets West in an assault on the senses that will leave you totally spellbound by its Moroccan magic. Here are my top 10 tips for enjoying Marrakesh to the max.

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1. Getting around  🚗 🐪 🚶

From the airport, take the No19 bus into central Marrakesh or jump in a taxi.  Be sure to agree the fare with one of the hoard of drivers swarming around the exit before you start your journey.  To get to the Medina pay around 70 Dirham. An organised transfer is likely to be around double the cost.

Travelling around the Medina:  When you first arrive finding your Riad can be a challenge. Locals will happily help – for a price.  Set your price and don’t be a pushover 😉  If all you need are directions, then I found market stall owners to be very happy to steer you the right way.

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2. 

Stay in a Riad! 🏠

Staying in a Riad in the centre of Marrakesh is more like a home than a hotel.  Outside the front door its all hustle and bustle but inside you’re enveloped by an oasis of tranquility and calm.

Riads are a traditional Moroccan house centred around a courtyard. Originally home to the Medina’s wealthiest residents, today they’re provide comfortable and classy accommodation for the likes of you and I.

They’re easy to book online ahead of your trip with sites like Booking.com.  Or just rock up and knock on some rather ornate doors to find yourself a room.

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3. Get lost 😳 🗺 

At some point as you meander through the Medina, you’ll realise you’re completely and utterly lost. Don’t panic, it’s part of the experience!  Just remember you’re never far from the main square (Jemaa el-Fnaa) or a helpful local to point you in the right direction.  The Medina is full of others like you and I – tourists desperately trying to look like locals yet failing miserably…all part of the fun! 😆

4. Know your price 💰

Exploring the souks, the labyrinth of market stalls in the Medina, is a must.  From carpets to camels, you’d be amazed what’s on offer for sale, but you’ll have to barter hard for everything!

Three top tips are: Know the conversion rate, what you’re willing to pay and be prepared to walk away.  If there’s profit in it for the stallholder they won’t let you, trust me. Don’t feel embarrassed to go in at 10% of the asking price – they can be very brazen.

5. Don’t fold under pressure ✌️

We all like a bargain but, don’t feel as though you must buy something.  Be respectful of locals’ time and upfront with your intentions. Good manners cost nothing.  Just be polite.

‘Just looking’, ‘no more money’, ‘the suitcase is full’… you get the idea.

6. Feeling hot, hot hot 🐪 ☀️

Marrakesh is sweltering in the heat of the day so its best to explore early morning and later in the evening. Suncream is an absolute must. A hat and sunglasses are also a good idea.  Donning these will also deter at least a few of the mobile salesmen from trying to flog you ‘genuine’ Gucci glasses and a Rolex to match. 😉 😎

7. What to wear 👖 👚 👟

Western dress is widely accepted but do respect the muslim culture. Female tourists, don’t need to cover their hair and you can dress casually including jeans. Be sure to cover your legs, midriff and cleavage though if you want to visit the many mosques or museums.

More generally, loose clothing will help with the heat and don’t be too flashy.  Dressing modestly is a smart idea when it comes to bartering for a bargain. 💪  You’ll be navigating tiny alleyways and uneven streets so I’d also recommend  flip flops, sandals or trainers, you get the gist.

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8. Pap with permission 📷 💥

Every turn offers a perfect photo op in Marrakesh, but make sure you know the rules. Everything is a transaction and if you want photos of locals and their merchandise, it’s likely they’ll want money for the privilege. In my experience, buying something first keeps everyone happy.

Performers are more than happy to pose but will rightly ask for a couple of Dirham (dh) in their hat – remember this is their main source of income!

9. Beware of pickpockets 👀

It’s easy to be mesmerised by the sights and sounds of a bustling backstreet.  Always be aware of your belongings.  Open pockets, mobile phones and expensive sunglasses are an easy target.

10. Tipping 🤝 💵

Having asked a number of locals on my trips, I’ve come to a rough guideline on tipping:

  • Waiters in cafes/restaurants – 5dh
  • Upmarket restaurants – 10-15%
  • Porters – 20 dh
  • Taxi drivers – feel free to top up the agreed price as an extra thank you!

BONUS TIP: smile 😁

Moroccans have a fantastic sense of humour, are warm and friendly and are always happy to help.  If you are not interested in what they’re offering a smile and a “non merci” goes a long way (even if you have to say it 5 times 😉).

Speak to the locals, engage with them and ask for their advice. At the eating places and Riads I’ve visited and stayed in, the best advice has always come from the insiders…the locals!

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HAVE A FAB TRIP!!

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