USA Hostels – Hollywood

Stayed: August 2015 for 4 Nights
Room: 6 Bed Female Dorm with Ensuite Bathroom
Overall Rating: 9/10

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Everyone has to experience Hollywood at least once in their lifetime right!?
I knew I wanted to check out Hollywood Boulevard and do the Hollywood Sign when I was in the city of Los Angeles so I chose this Hostel as it was really central and had great reviews!

I read online that this hostel in Hollywood had won the ‘Most Popular Hostel Award’ from LA- Hostelworld.com for 2015 and also the 2014 ‘Certificate of Excellence’ on Trip Advisor so it really is quite a popular hostel for people staying in LA. USA Hostel’s also have hostel’s in San Diego (Downtown & Ocean Beach) as well as San Francisco but I haven’t stayed in them before.

My experience:
When I arrived in California I took a Shuttle from LAX airport to get to the hostel which took about 50 minutes. (Less without traffic but when does that ever happen in LA) Check in didn’t start until 2pm which is usually the norm but I think I arrived in the afternoon so I checked in right away. All rooms have a swipe card so it’s pretty safe, plus you have to show your swipe card before you’re even let past reception into the building so no random people can walk in.

I stayed in a room with 5 other girls and we had our own bathroom which was great. It had a toilet, sink & mirror and shower/bath combo. The only annoy thing was having to wait in the morning if a girl was taking too long (I admit on hair washing day I was that girl) Otherwise there is 2 other common bathrooms in the hostel you can go and use.

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Picture off their website, but this is exactly what the bathrooms were like

There are also rooms you can book out for yourself if you have the extra cash. They’re a bit small but you get your own space and they have either one twin bunk bed or one double bed along with cable TV, a mini fridge, air conditioning and a private bathroom.

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Private Room in Hollywood

I enjoyed staying in my room, the Hostel provided me with a fresh duvet & sheets when I arrived so I knew my bed was all clean. I was on a lower bunk next to the window and had my own little shelf, reading light and power outlet to charge my phone. The lockers they have also have power outlets in them so you can go out for the day and leave your electronics charging if you need to which was handy. You just have to provide your own lock.
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All the room rates included breakfast (With make-your-own-pancakes), free WI-FI, laundry soap and free storage of your things on the day that you check out.

What I really enjoyed about this hostel was all the activities that they had available. In the reception area they had boards where you could write down your name on anything you wanted to do for that week. They also had Comedy nights upstairs in the ‘lounge’ area, Family dinners, BBQ nights and Pub crawls.
20150819_145909.jpgI’m kicking myself now that I didn’t join in on more stuff!
They do things on certain nights so maybe that’s why I missed out on some stuff. If you wanted to see Magic Mountain they have a free shuttle that goes there at 9.30am on certain days and provide you with discounted tickets from reception.
They also do a Runyon Canon Hike in the morning which is free and something I wish I did! I think it must have been too hot for me so I never did end up seeing the Hollywood Sign 😦
Check out this link on their website and you’ll find a monthly list of all the stuff they have planned so you can always book your trip based around those days.
20150818_123702.jpgI did sign up for one of the free Beach Shuttles to Venice Beach but unfortunately I was one of the last people to sign up so I missed out as the van was full. A few others and myself ended up getting an Uber instead and splitting the fare 4 ways.
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There’s actually quite alot to see in LA, you can read what I did here for my 5 days in the Sun 🙂
As this Hostel was right off Hollywood Boulevard I walked down the Hollywood walk of fame pretty much every day. It’s super close to the Chinese Theatre, Madame Tussaud’s and food places so I ate a lot of Pizza! Haha.
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Pros:

  • En-suite Bathroom in the Dorm Rooms
  • Option of Private Room
  • So many activities to choose from
  • Breakfast included in the price
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • ‘Chill out area’ upstairs with couches and DVD’s
  • Family Dinner Nights (Good if you’re saving money)
  • Well equipped Kitchen
  • Towels & Bedding Provided
  • Right around the corner from Hollywood Boulevard
  • Has a beer pong table outside to set up
  • Great privacy fence from the street
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Cons:

  • I actually can’t think of any major faults with this hostel. Maybe it was a bit noisy when I was trying to sleep as my room was right next door to a car park where homeless people would yell and get drunk some nights but I never felt un-safe or uncomfortable. The only annoying thing about my LA stay was the annoying people on Hollywood Boulevard haha. But I hardly think that’s the hostels fault.
    If you’re ever in Hollywood, I’d really recommend this hostel!!
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Stand-Under-Hollywood-Sign

Day 72 – Rome to Dubai

Thursday 22nd October 2015

I got up really early this morning so I could be at the airport on time for my 10.20am flight.
My hostel room mates were probably thinking wtf is this girl doing, she’s up at 6am but has been sleeping in until 10am for the past two days haha.

Anyways, my alarm went off and I got myself up and out of bed.
I had a shower, cleaned my teeth and moisturised my skin in preperation for that very air conditioned flight I was about to embark on.
Being in a metal tube dries your skin our guys! You have no idea how dehydrated I get. Everything from my eyes, lips and legs get dry from flying. 😣
I’ve been using this Johnson baby moisturiser (don’t even ask why, I think it was the only thing they had at a store in Croatia) but it’s really not doing the job so I’ll have to go and invest in another one.

I was all ready by 7am so loaded my bag onto my back without falling over. Grabbed my smaller backpack and my Victoria Secrets duffel bag and was on my way to check out at the hostel reception. I got my €5 deposit back (I borrowed a towel as I left mine in croatia) and proceeded to walk to the Termini (the train station in Rome)

I bought my ticket from one of the self -ticket kiosks and then kind of wandered around looking at the boards trying to figure out what train I was meant to be on. I’m not gonna lie, it was a bit confusing for me!
After confirming with someone, I found my plat form and stuck my ticket in a machine so it could get ‘validated’
I didn’t even know you had to do that, I just saw like 5 machines at the platform and stuck my ticket in which then put a stamp on it.  I didn’t see anyone else do it so I hoped I hadn’t cancelled it or something.

Funnily enough, when I got on the train and the ticket guy came round clipping everyone’s tickets. He told off half of the carriage for “NOT VALIDATING YOUR TICKET!!”
Phew. 😥
But in their defense, they don’t make it very obvious to know what to do.
So just a heads up when you go on the train in Rome, if there’s these green ticket readers on your platform when you’re waiting, stick the bar-code bit of your ticket in there 😉 and you’ll be just like a local!

The train took about half an hour to the Airport.
When I arrived, I got out and found my check- in terminal easy enough. As I’d already checked in online I just had to drop my 2x bags off and collect my boarding pass.

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I went quickly through customs, (they seemed very laid back in Rome). And then I had a look around duty free but didn’t buy anything.
I’m kind of waiting to buy some perfume at the duty free when I leave Dubai as I hope it’s a bit cheaper.
I did get this yummy croissant for breakfast though 🙂

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I boarded about 10.20am and left Rome about 11am.
I’d never flown Emirates before but even before I flew with them they’ve been one of my favorite airlines haha. (I read too many blogs of girls working for Emirates doing flight attending I think)
We got hot towels at the beginning and end of the flight. The movie choices were great and the cabin crew were really nice and friendly.
The only downfall was whenever they had a PA announcement it’d cut into whatever you were watching and it was SOOOO FREAKIN LOUD.
I got a fright every single time and had to quickly pull my earphones out when I was watching a movie.

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I decided to watch the Disney Movie ‘Inside Out’ which didn’t capture my attention too much.
I got half way through it and then switched it over to The Notebook for something more serious. I swear will never get sick of that movie 😍😍
Even if it does make me cry I love it.

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We got served this roast chicken and broccoli dish for lunch which was all good. Also some little crackers and cream cheese and peri dip stuff along with some pesto pasta and a chocolate mousse for dessert 🍪 all very edible!!

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We didn’t land until 6.40pm Dubai time but we all got off the plane pretty quickly.
I’m so dumb, i assumed I’d have to find my way to my hotel and was wondering how much a taxi would cost when I hear “Miss Horner!” And saw some lady holding a sign with my name on it.
I was like “um yes, that’s me!” Thinking I was in trouble for something.
She then proceeded to take me to this desk and gave me this welcome booklet along with directions on where to get my luggage and where to meet afterwards for my car to take me to my hotel. I completely forgot I had organised this with the travel company Student Flights before I left. Hahaha. I’m such an idiot.

Oh well, It took some stress off me! I should have done that with all the countries I’ve been to but I guess it’s a good experience taking public transport in new cities. Because it’s nearing the end of my trip, my bag is getting a touch too heavy so I appreciate these taxi’s.

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I was dropped off at my hotel which is really close to the Mall Of Emirates. I thought that was the main mall but it turns out it’s not, The Dubai Mall is the MAIN one and The Mall Of Emirates is the second largest one in Dubai. 😯 so much shopping to do!

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Mall of the Emirates – Dubai

As soon as I’d checked in, I put all my stuff on the floor in my hotel room, spritzed myself up a bit after my 6 hour flight and headed over to the mall. It was around 8.30pm by this stage but apparently the malls don’t shut until midnight here. (Apart from on Friday’s, that’s like their Sunday so they shut early I think)
When I went outside, phew it was humid. I think it was about 29° degrees here and that was at night time. The heat kind of reminds me of Thailand.

The mall was actually really close so in about 5 minutes I was inside and away from the heat.

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I went and grabbed some dinner first, I was going to go to The Cheesecake Factory as I never went when I was in America! But decided that was more of a ‘don’t eat much during the day to prepare’ type of meal so headed upstairs instead to the food court.
I then had the hard decision of eating at the good ole’ American Shake Shack for the first time (as I missed then when I was in the USA as well) orrrr…. head to Burger Fuel where I know their burgers are just great as we have it in New Zealand.
I decided on Shake Shack haha. I can wait until I get back home for Burger fuel though.

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I ordered a Shack Burger – which is basically their most basic cheeseburger and some crinkle cut fries.
Along with a black and white shake for my drink (and mixture of vanilla custard and chocolate fudge)
So good!
The burger was tasty, nothing to rave about but I’m glad I can say I’ve had it now! The fries were really good too.

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When I was finished, I decided to explore the stores. I had a look at the new Samsung Note 5’s they have out at the moment. I’m tempted to buy one even though there isn’t anything wrong with my phone right now. I just think it’s time for a little bit of an upgrade… haha. Plus the camera on my phone is terrible at night time that it’d be nice to have a better 18 mega pixel one 😉

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I went to the Nike store as well and bought 2 new gym tops. I need some motivation for when I get back home to hit the gym hard! Even though I think looking in the mirror will be enough motivation 😣

I also checked out their big supermarket/tech store/warehouse type store they had. I think it was like a Dubai Walmart really haha.
I bought some chocolate for some gifts back home and then went off to Sephora to have a browse. I actually ended up getting my eyebrows done at the Benefit Brow Bar as the hairs were in desperate need o being waxed off. I also bought a Sephora Branded eye mask.
I really really want to buy the Glam glow mask Sephora sells, it’s just so expensive! But it plays on my mind every single time I’m in Sephora. I’ve just read lots of great reviews that I really want to try it 😍

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By midnight, I was still at the mall trying on bras in Victoria Secrets. (which I didn’t end up buying as they didn’t have the colour I wanted)
I decided to leave after that but couldn’t really find the entrance I came in at. 😕 I walked around the mall for ages and left out one entrance then realised it was the wrong one. I had to ask 3 different people to point me in the right direction to my hotel. It was all just so confusing!
Eventually I made it back just before 1am haha. Apparantly I was on the opposite side of the mall in comparison to where my hotel was located. Silly meee.

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Now I’m in bed, I’ve had a shower, scrubbed my face with my wonderful MAC exfoliating ash and I’ve got my Origins overnight masque on with my Sephora Eye Mask around my eyes haha.
Feeling very hydrated right now!

Tomorrow, I’m gonna set my alarm and try and make the hotels free shuttle at 11am for the beach!
Xx

Day 66 & 67 – Split (Croatia)

Friday 16th October & Saturday 17th

This is the first time that ive done 2 days in 1 post, but the Friday when we got back to Split wasnt super interesting.
We arrived in the afternoon and then all went out for dinner at this Italian resturant.

imageimageI had a really yummy lasagna (I don’t think I’ve eaten this much lasagna in a month haha) One of the guys on our Sail Croatia trip lost a game of ‘chances’ so he had to go and get a tattoo done. He got ‘Hakuna Matata’ on his wrists which actually turned out looking quite cool. Plus I love the lion king haha.

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We all went out to a cocktail bar afterwards and had some yarns and some drinks but as lots of people had flights to catch in the morning it ended up kind of being an early night for a few of us.

The next morning we had to be off the boat by 8.30am.
I’d already packed some of my stuff the night before so when I woke up I had a shower and packed the last of my things into my already overflowing bag 😑
I’d organized to stay in Split for the next 2 nights at an Air B’n’B
If you’ve never used Air B’n’b before I highly recommend it (especially if you’re travelling as a couple)
It’s a website for people around the world to list their home, holiday house or apartment for people to stay in. So if you go onto their website, you can scroll through and find somewhere pretty much anywhere in the world to stay.
I Googled it and it has over 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.

If you look on Airbnb there’s some awesome places that people rent out. Like homes underground, penthouse apartments and cool caravans.
You can either opt to have the whole place to yourself (some people own apartments or holiday homes) or you can share the house with the owners which is always a good way to meet people.

I got a studio apartment to myself in the center of Split. I organised to meet up with one of the owners at 9.30am so I had some time to kill. When I left the boat, I went to a cafe and had a croissant for breakfast and waited in the shelter while it absolutely poured down with rain.

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When the owner Jure came and met me, the weather had cleared up and the sun was out yay! 🌞
He carried my heavy backpack for me all the way to the apartment which was nice of him. Along the way, he told me a little bit about the city and places to see. He worked at a restaurant just around the corner from where I was staying so I knew of somewhere to eat.

The apartment was up 4 flights of stairs so I was happy he was carrying my bag haha. I swear Croatia just doesn’t use elevators anywhere! They’re very behind with a lot of things.
The apartment was exactly what it looked like in the pictures. It was so cute! And so close to the local shops and restaurants.

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I can’t crop the black boxes out of these pictures unfortunately 

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When Jure left me, I went for a walk to Diocletians Palace which is an ancient palace built by the Roman emperor Diocletian. It’s right in the center of Split and even though it’s referred to as a “palace” because of its intended use as the retirement residence of Diocletian, the term can be misleading as the structure is massive and more resembles a large fortress: about half of it was for Diocletian’s personal use, and the rest housed the military garrison.

imageimageThere’s lots of places to eat in the palace, along with souvenir shops and places to buy bags and jewelry etc.
I stopped and listened to this really good Capella group which was nice and took lots of pictures.

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I also went and bought a new SD card for my phone because I’d run out of room from all the pictures I’ve been taking lately!

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Eventually after my exploring, I went to the local grocery store and bought an apple and a yogurt. Along with a couple of ciders and some corn chips with salsa haha.
The next 2 days I’d planned at the apartment just to chill out and relax a bit so that’s exactly what I did.
I ate my corn chips and watched some Orange Is The New Black on my tablet. I read some of my book and then got ready to head out and watch the rugby.

In New Zealand, Rugby is obviously a big deal because we’re so great at it and all. 😜
That night they were playing France in the quarter finals and seeing as I thought it was a big deal, I assumed some bar in Croatia would be playing it live on TV.
I got changed and headed out to the local sports bar but they were only playing Football (soccer) that night.
Turns out every bar was only playing football!
I’d seen a sign at a restaurant saying “rugby live tonight” so I went there and they were closed!! 😳
I was so annoyed.

So I went back to the apartment and tried about 10 different live streaming sites to try and watch it online but none of them worked.
Eventually, I ended up Skyping my friend Ben from Contiki who lives in Australia and was watching it on his TV. He set up the Skype on his iPad facing the TV so I could watch it. I only got to watch the last 40 minutes but it was better than nothing and it was such a good game!
We won against France

I ended up going to sleep about 2am after I’d Skyped Ben for like 3 bloody hours and had eaten my apple and yogurt. (Probably my first healthy thing I’d had all month)
🍎🍎