The next leg of our journey was to head from San Francisco (read the previous post here) down to Palm Springs where we had a night booked at the Ace Hotel. We would meet our Canadian Coachella camping buddies (who we found through Reddit, hooray for the powers of the internet) the following day and go and set up our camp at the festival.
HOW WE GOT THERE:
We flew with Alaska Airlines from San Francisco Airport to Palm Springs Municipal Airport.
It was a little tricky finding the right place to check in in SFO but a helpful member of staff ensured we found the right place. The gate was pretty easy to find afterward and the flight was about an hour to get to Palm Springs.
COACHELLA VALLEY MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL:
I thought it might be helpful to do a brief section on this. I’ve been twice now, the first time was in 2011 with my gig buddy and University comrade Christina Marie Jager and this being the second time. Both were very unique experiences but also great.
In 2011 Christina and I got our tickets in January on a spur of the moment decision. It seemed quite easy then, this was when there was only one weekend. We didn’t manage to get camping tickets on time but found a lovely couple through Facebook to camp with.
This time I bought the tickets in the pre-sale, which took me about two hours of waiting at my computer after work. I went for weekend two having heard that the kinks from weekend one would have been refined. Also knowing it would probably be hotter. We bought car camping tickets at the same time as our weekend passes and found another lovely couple on the Reddit Coachella forum to camp with in exchange for a ride.
The first time I went we didn’t even think about jet-lag and spent most of it feeling pretty tired. This time we prepped by going to San Francisco first and were on the right body clock by the time we got there. I’d give it five days to get used to the time difference.
The tickets I think are around $375 (£245), while car camping is $85 (£55).
Coachella in comparison to Bonnaroo: In my opinion Coachella is nicer, it’s the one to go for… The people are friendly, it’s clean, the grass is easy to walk on without having hay jab your feet, the showers were free and the stages are easier to figure out…
If you’re planning on going be prepared to drink a lot of water, and don’t forget a canopy and sun screen. I can go into more detail if someone wants me to – just let me know.
HOW WE GOT AROUND:
Taxi – From the airport to the Ace Hotel. It cost approximately $15
Cruisers – From the Ace Hotel to the local Ralphs for free.
The Coachella Mobile – A lovely car hired by our lovely Canadian camper buddies. We exchanged our ride for the pleasure of camping with us. We met our camping buddies through Reddit.
WHERE WE STAYED:
THE ACE HOTEL
I read Designlovefest and I had seen that the Ace Hotel was one of the places that was highly recommended from the numerous trips to Palm Springs that had been taken. This was the one night we would be spending in Palm Springs before camping for four nights and then going onto another AirBnB, so we figured we’d splurge a bit and make sure we could relax and feel genuinely clean just one last time before being constantly covered in a layer of sweat and dust. It was a beautiful hotel, very hip. The staff were super friendly and we stayed in a room with a patio. The bed was huuuuuuge. The shower had good pressure and the toiletries that were provided were beautiful. I loved the little details in the rooms and communal facilities were awesome. The pool, the bar, the food, the bikes. I’ll go into more detail but I certainly would recommend the hotel if you wanted to stay. We booked through booking.com.
Coachella car camping (pre-sale tickets for 2016 go on sale tomorrow) is not for the weak minded. Though if you ask me, I’d rather be there than stuck in a muddy rainy British festival campsite. It cost $85 for the ticket on top of our Coachella tickets. The whole concept is you get to camp next to your car. The last time I went Christina and I hired a car and camped with some people who had bought the car camping ticket. This time, although neither of us can drive we bought the car camping ticket and met up with some lovely folks who offered us a ride to and from the festival in exchange for camping with us.
The camping space is pretty large, it’s certainly big enough for four if a bit of a squash. I would personally recommend getting two small two man tents, keeping your possessions in the car, nice and safe :). You will also need a canopy to provide shade. Don’t even consider camping without a canopy. It will make you feel so happy when it’s 1pm and you’re melting into less of a sweaty mess in the heat than the poor souls who went without. It’s certainly worth doing once if you’re going to go to Coachella, but I think if we go again, it would be worth staying in a house close by and getting the shuttle buses in. Just so you don’t have to get sunburned waiting to have a wash in a rather dirty shower, or have to go and relieve yourself in a hot porta-potty. Though kudos to the organisers for ensuring the toilets were cleaned very frequently, I think I only had a couple of unpleasant experiences for the four days we were there.
DAY SIX: SAN FRANCISCO TO PALM SPRINGS AND THE ACE HOTEL
Breakfast was food at our Airbnb in San Francisco.
Lunch was chocolate cake at the airport plus a funny little snack on the plane.
Dinner were tacos from the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs
We flew with Alaska Airlines from San Francisco to Palm Springs Municipal Airport, after grabbing a snack of chocolate cake quickly before boarding. We sat next to a lovely gentleman, I think his name was Victor, and he spoke to us for most of the journey there. He was very interested in cars, told us about his grandsons, and told us that he’d been in a car accident which could have killed him a few months earlier – which was sad to hear. He was on his way to Palm Springs to spend time at his house and relax in order to recover some more from his injuries. Turns out he was half Filipino so Mikee chatted to him quite a bit about the delicious food that comes from there.
Once we landed, surprisingly smoothing (last time I thought I was going to die) we exited the plane into the wonderful warm heat of Palm Springs. We walked through Palm Springs airport which is beautiful. My favourite thing about it is that it’s mostly outside with white canopies for shade and grass to sit on.
We collected our luggage and then caught a taxi to the Ace Hotel. I was wearing leggings and couldn’t wait to take them off. Hello warm weather!! The journey probably took about ten mins from the airport to the hotel.
We made our way to the lobby and checked in with the very friendly girl who was behind reception. After making our way to our room, we looked around in awe and got changed into warm weather appropriate clothes (hello shorts) and then decided to hire some bikes and go and get some snacks for the evening as well as some cash for Coachella and find batteries for cameras and camping things. The bikes are free to hire from the hotel and we only needed to cycle up one or two blocks to get to the place where our dreams would be answered… The roads were super big, flat and straight, they were a bit scarier than the roads in San Francisco but still not as terrifying as London. Plus I really want a cruiser now, they’re so much fun to ride.
When we got back to the Ace Hotel, we dropped off the bikes and noticed a van outside with musical equipment being moved to and fro. Being musically motivated people I was curious but couldn’t quite tell what was going on. When we walked past to go back in we realised it was Best Coast who were checking in. I’ve designed a t-shirt for them for Yellow Bird Project and I love their music but I couldn’t muster up the confidence to go and chat to them despite Mikee’s best efforts to get me to. Still too shy for that kind of situation, plus I didn’t think they’d appreciate me going ‘OH HAAAI, I know you but not ‘cause you’re famous lolz’ *awkward smile*. Any who we went back in and decided to go and chill by the pool for the evening as the hotel had an acoustic night going on. We ordered some tacos and some drinks which were very tasty indeed. All the food looked delicious, but eventually we went back to our room to finish our wine in our patio and nom on some of the food we’d brought back with us from Ralphs.
It was late but we got pretty tempted by the pool and decided to go have a little swim under the stars. There was a hot pool and a regular temperature pool and we alternated between both until about 2am which was fun :). We didn’t have to get up especially early as our Coachella buddies weren’t going to arrive until later on the following day.
Breakfast and lunch we got from the Ace Hotel, trying out the Amigo Room again and then the Kings Highway Diner.
Dinner was a rather late night burger very kindly cooked for us by our camping buddies family friend.
This day turned out longer than anyone anticipated. We woke up and I’d been feeling a little bit of a cold coming on for the last few days so I wanted to blast it with whatever I could. We decided to go and use the steam room and sauna quickly before having some breakfast and checking out of our room. The steam room was soooooo steamy! I couldn’t see a foot infront of my own face and I luckily didn’t sit on anyones lap when we managed to find the seat in there. Both of them were pretty good but you can not beat a proper Finnish Sauna. Once we’d showered and dressed we grabbed some food. Thinking off my cold I decided to get a smoothie, and avocado toast which was very delicious, I want to eat it all the time now. Mikee got the scrambled egg sandwich which he also highly approved off.
We checked out of our room at midday and left our luggage at the front desk expecting to wait about four hours before we met our camping buddies. We sat by the pool and swam a few times, running out of sunscreen pretty quickly and having to fork out some dollah on their lovely but expensive sun bum products. I was wearing 50spf and I didn’t get burned thank goodness. We had some lunch in the Kings Highway Diner, I had a delicious grilled cheese with tomato soup and fries which was well worth it, alongside a pot of tea and almond milk. Mikee had a moroccan scramble which he wasn’t too impressed with… You’re safe if you get the grilled cheese.
While we had been waiting we’d heard from our camping buddies that their flight from Canada had had some problems. Christina had warned me before how much the Air Canada sucks so it wasn’t that surprising to hear that they were delayed and we’d have to wait longer, which for us wasn’t a problem at all because we were basically sitting by the pool all day. It was about 8:30 in the evening by the time we managed to finally meet them, after their delayed flights and getting stuck in Los Angeles rush hour traffic. We were really grateful to see them and soon realised we would be pitching our tents in the dark. Good job I’d had some experience in that at Bestival last year and we’d come prepared.
We stopped off at the local Ralphs again to pick up some extra supplies – bagels, fruit, fillings etc and then made our way to pick up the final pieces of the camping puzzle from their lovely family friend. When we arrived he very kindly made us some burgers as we hadn’t eaten since lunch, and we made the best use of the last real clean toilet we’d see in a good few days. We were only around the corner from the Coachella festival grounds and could see the lights dancing in the sky. We were getting super excited on the way. Once we managed to join the queue to get in it was midnight; we ended up waiting around an hour to get through security checks and to our camp space. As soon as we reached the camping spot it was all hands on deck, getting the canopy up, the tents up, the mattresses pumped and the area somewhat organised before finding somewhere to wash faces, brush teeth and finally crash for the night in our temporary home.
DAYS EIGHT, NINE AND TEN: COACHELLLLAAAAAAAA – SUN, SWEAT AND SACRED MUSIC
I could write a lot about Coachella, it’s been my favourite festival experience out of all of the ones I’ve been to and I fell in love the first time I went. It was still just as good this time, so I think I’m just going to run through the pros and cons and the memorable bits.
Camp ground bagels, spicy spicy pie, crab fries!!! Ice cream and water water water… Mikee also enjoyed the paella.
- Waking up at 8am because the tent became a furnace.
- Shower queues and gross cubicles
- Some expensive food that wasn’t very good
- Melting in the midday heat
- The sunsets over the mountains are some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world
- The weather (despite melting)
- Glass Animals
- Brand New
- Jenny Lewis
- Conor Oberst
- St Vincent
- Jack White compelling us to remember the reason we were all there: the music is sacred and it needs to be looked after – I loved this
- Agua Frescas
- Home made ice lollies
- The Ferris Wheel
- The butterfly and caterpillar
- David Gelatto (Guetta) lights
- The giant monkey swing
- The Corporate HQ
- Camping Neighbours
- Chips Ahoy cookies
- Afternoon naps
- Hair drying in the heat within 30mins
- Coachella balloons
- Strange real toilets in the middle of the festival
- Shower queue friends
- Spicy pie (my love)
- Crab fries (oh my god they were delicious)
- Getting to know our Canadian Camping Buddies
- I love Coachella. I will deffo try to go again one day but I might not camp next time hah. You have to do it once though.
Breakfast was bacon and eggs very kindly made by our Canadians family friend
Lunch was a date shake from the world famous Shields Date Garden
The night before we left me and Mikee decided to skip Drake (he’s just not our thing) to organise our suitcases etc ready for LA and see if there was anything we could do to break down the camp a little before the morning.
We had one last night asleep in our little orange tent and in the morning we donated it and our air mattress to the donations centre to lighten our luggage. We packed up the car and went on our way.
We dropped off the borrowed tarps, chairs and canopy back at our camping buddies family friend. He was so lovely and made us some breakfast as well as showing us the baby hummingbirds in the nest in his garden. Once we felt a little more human we decided to set off on our way to LA. Stopping at the world famous Shields Date Garden to try out the date milkshakes and look at the strange merchandise they had in their shop. The milkshake was surprisingly delicious and filling and kept me amused for part of the drive to LA.
We got caught in some Coachella traffic out of Palm Springs and drove past the wind farm Christina and I accidentally came across last time. It went on for miles and miles and it was amazing to see the turbines again. It is really one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen. The rest of the drive was actually really nice, especially when we got to drive through the hilly regions. It was clear once we hit LA; there were so many cars, so many roads and it went on forever. One thing that grew quite clear when we got there was getting around without a car would be a hurdle…