' life is a whirlwind. She was crowned Miss Universe 2004 in Ecuador
, the first time she had travelled out of Australia. Since then she has travelled the world, not just modelling but in her role as ambassador for organisations focusing on HIV and AIDS awareness. Between all that and launching her own swimwear range, she found time to join Getaway
in Los Angeles
The first visit to the sprawling city can be a bit overwhelming. It spreads in all directions and it's really a place you need to do some homework on.
Jen knows very well that Australians like to be near a beach so she headed for the Pacific coast between Santa Monica and Venice Beach. The stretch has beaches, canals and a circus-like Ocean Front Walk with performers, fortune tellers, artists and vendors.
Her first guide for 4km of the path was London-trained Aussie chef Curtis Stone, who is enjoying phenomenal success in the US. He's a regular guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and that speaks volumes!
They rented a couple of electric bikes from Pedal or Not. As the name suggests you can pedal or use the electric motor or switch between the two. The easy-ride beach cruisers have comfortable seats and full suspension. Once you get the hang of it, riding along is great fun. They provide water and a helmet and the bikes have baskets for your belongings.
They chatted about their careers over icy cold old-fashioned lemonade. If you see a stand selling it, give it a go. It's made from freshly crushed lemons and is delicious.
On the next leg of her journey to Venice Beach, Jen was joined by former Home and Away star, Tammin Sursok. She won Best New Female Talent Logie in 2001 and is furthering her career in Los Angeles and like Jen, has recently become engaged, so they had lots to talk about.
Tammin runs along Santa Monica Beach most days and knows the local landmarks and to take it all in they visited Perry's Café & Rentals. They have eight locations in Santa Monica and Venice and rent inline skates, bicycles, boogie boards, storage lockers, chairs and umbrellas, mats and everything you could want for a day at the beach.
Not only that they serve breakfast and lunch in open air settings at four of the locations. Cold salads, hot soups, sandwiches, fresh juices, pastries and coffee a huge range to enjoy as you run your toes through the sand.
Jen and Tammin rented inline skates and saw works of art that sound like pipe organs when the wind blows, and the 100-year-old Santa Monica Pier.
Jen joined forces with our own Jason Dundas for her introduction to Venice Beach. He's based in LA these days, and being fit and outdoorsy person takes every chance he can to get to the beach.
They rented a couple of Segways from Segway Los Angeles. The contraptions were once considered to be mysterious inventions, but they've taken the world by storm. Now known as the Segway Human Transporter, they are a sought-after self-balancing, electric-powered transportation machine. They have five gyroscopes and a built-in computer in their base ensuring they remain upright.
Riders lean forward to go forward, back to go backward and turn by using a lean steer handlebar. Pretty simple, but before your first attempt you must complete a thorough training course. It includes a hands-on riding session in the store and a brief safety video.
As they whizzed along, it soon became evident that Venice Beach is filled with colourful and eccentric people. It's great for people-watching!
Between Santa Monica and Venice Beach on the California coast of the US.
Pedal or Not electric bicycle guided tours cost $49. A guided tour of Santa Monica and Venice, helmets and water are included. Participants must be 14 years of age or older. They open every day between 9am and 5pm.
Perry's Café & Rentals inline skate rentals are $10 an hour, $17 for two hours and $25 all day. They have eight locations throughout Santa Monica and Venice.
Segway Los Angeles rentals are $79. Helmet, training and escort to beach are included. Participants must be 12 years of age or older.
V Australia has flights to Los Angeles from:
- Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane $1289
- Adelaide $1589
- Perth $1889
The fares are available for a limited time only so log on to www.vaustralia.com.au for further details.
Prices correct at February 10, 2011.
For further information
Pedal or Not
1515 7th Street
Santa Monica, California 90401
Ph: +1 310 917 1111
Perry's Café & Rentals
1200 Palisades Beach Road
Santa Monica, California 90401-1014
Ph: + 310 458 3975
Segway Los Angeles
1660 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, California 90401
Ph: + 1 310 395 1395
Visas: Most Australians do not need a visa, providing they have a machine-readable passport with at least six months' validity after the departure day, have a round-trip non-refundable ticket and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days. Australians need to complete a pre-travel authorisation at www.cbp.gov/esta.
Electricity: 110V to 115V at 60Hz. Outlets take two parallel, flat prongs. Australian visitors will need a US adapter and converter.
Time zone: California is GMT -8.
Currency: The American dollar.
International dialling code: +1.