NorCal-SoCal Challenge: A 48-Hour Roadtrip

January 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

1865 may be long gone, but a civil war of sorts still rages in California. Anyone from the Golden State knows that there is a long and bitter rivalry between the North and South, largely between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s Giants vs. Dodgers, Warriors/Kings vs. Lakers/Clippers, the city vs. the sunshine, the culture vs. the entertainment – always an argument and always valid points from either side.

I’m a surfer who grew up in San Diego and moved to Los Angeles, so the SoCal love is in my blood. But my childhood friend, Ross, who moved up to the Bay when he went to Berkeley, traded allegiances, incessantly gloating about “the city”, aka San Francisco (yes, they are so smug as to refer to their city as the city, despite the existence of thousands of others).

And so a few weeks back, after a heated argument over the respective nightlife’s of San Francisco vs. Los Angeles, we agreed on a challenge. A forty-eight hour, two day gauntlet: one night spent in Los Angeles, one night spent in San Francisco, with the host of each city responsible for showing their guest the absolute best of their city. And at the end of the 48 hours, we would reconvene, to see if one of us could convert the other to our city, at least in this category.

It was a picture perfect sunny day when Ross arrived. He stepped out of his car, I gave him a hug, and then noticed that the bastard was wearing a shirt that said, “the city” on it, to let everyone know that even though he was here for now, it was not by choice. My strategy was to give Ross a taste of the things he could rarely get up north: mainly sunshine and girls wearing as little clothing as possible.

After a few beers at my apartment, we headed downtown and arrived at the glamorous Rooftop Bar at the Standard Downtown. Models sunbathed under the cabanas, the drinks were flowing, and as much as he tried, Ross couldn’t hide the stoke from his face. A few hours and a nice tan later, we changed into something more formal and headed into Hollywood. We hit up a hipster bar to make Ross feel at home, moved on to a few ultra-chic lounges, and then I called some promoter friends to get us into some of the premier clubs in Los Angeles. We were pretty sloshed by the time we got to Drai’s Hollywood, and just after stepping off the elevator into the sprawling Vegas-style nightclub, Pretty Lights made his way onto the stage for a special guest performance.

Thanks to our cross-city battle and my need to impress Ross, I ended up having one of my wildest nights in LA myself. Next up was San Francisco, but first we needed to get there. We switched off driving and sleeping, and after passing Monterey, decided to get off the 101 and take highway 1 along the coast from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. For anyone that hasn’t done so before, it’s one of the most beautiful drives on the planet. The winding road meanders high above the rough Pacific Ocean to its left, and dense cloud-forests of Redwood trees to its right.

After some rest and spectacular scenery, we arrived at Ross’s cozy studio in the city. I don’t know if either of us was ready to start the drinking back up again, still recovering from the night before, but when the stake of your city is on the line, you suck it up and start pounding those bottles down.

Ross led me on a bar hop through the Mission District, and I won’t lie, it’s an amazing place. The density of the city and the non-necessity of cars was a wonderful change from the sprawling nature of Los Angeles. It was like being in a miniature Manhattan. Ross ended up taking me to five or six really quirky bars in San Francisco, and then wanted to prove that his city knew how to go all night too. Ross called some of his girlfriends who helped us get our way into Ruby Skye, a raging high-end nightclub that could have been transplanted directly from Hollywood Blvd.

Sunday was a day of recovery and careful meditation. Although neither Ross nor I changed our ultimate opinions, we left that weekend with a newfound respect and admiration for each other’s cities, a new bond in our friendship, and an agreement to make the gauntlet an annual competition.

Daniel Hogan is a writer at Party Earth - a global media and entertainment company that publishes reviews and listings of the best social experiences around the world including: bars in Paris, pubs in London, beaches in Ibiza, plazas in Rome, parks in New York, festivals and concerts everywhere, and more.

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