Published: September 26th 2006August 28th 2006
Well, considering LA wasn't even supposed to be a part of our trip and was in fact something of a "have to do", rather than a "must-do" we should stress how blown away we have been by this city and its people!!! It's the coolest place ever...
We arrived into Venice Beach completely and utterly shattered after a 48hr journey from BA. Our flight to the US had taken us via Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico and FINALLY Los Angeles, where we disembarked, with some relief, to a beautiful sunny day and huge hospitality...Venice Beach is the beach where anything goes. You can be tall, short, white, black, fat, thin but as long as you want to have fun, Venice Beach is your place...We were so tired but still ventured out onto the sand and took in the atmosphere. We had been relaxing for maybe 10 mins, in what looks like a Baywatch set (minus the perfect plastic people) and a group of bladers "roll" up with their own sound system and literally dance around on their skates for ages! It was such fun to watch them and a real revelation. Everything is about having fun. You can hire bikes and
ride along the ocean, blade around, skateboard everywhere and just enjoy...We actually ended up talking to some of the skaters in the end who offered to show us around LA if we needed guidance. This was our first glimpse into LA hospitality...Venice Beach is best described as the 'quirky' LA. It has 2 walls competely free for street artists which are a local attraction and the area reminded us both of Shoreditch with its arty goings-on and street entertainment etc...(albeit a LOT cleaner!)
Later on our second day in Venice we met some locals, while playing volleyball, who took us around the nightlife and invited us to a BBQ on Labour Day. We took up their offer and the next day enjoyed a hearty BBQ in one of the poshest pads we have ever seen with views of the ocean!
Next we headed to Santa Monica which is joined to Venice Beach. This is a very middle class area and more upmarket than Venice. It has boutiques, again, beautiful beaches and a 3rd street promenade with tempting shops and eateries. We enjoyed staying here the most as we liked the smoothies and got into a little "go to the
beach, walk to Venice Beach and back" routine which left us feeling a bit fitter and healthier for a few days! Every day here the weather is perfect and the surroundings gleam...On one of our walks to Venice we met a couple who were later kind enough to take us to the filming of "The Young and the Restless"; US's no.1 Daytime television soap no less! ha ha. It was a great day.
One evening we frequented a few bars suggested to us by some locals and got talking to another group that invited us along to party in the Viceroy, a trendy hotel...It wasn't too far from the bar so we went along and ended up at this pool-side party that we can only describe as something similar to that which you might see in Miami Vice!! Everyone sipped cocktails and we hung out in this huge marquee in the middle of the hotel grounds by a swimming pool...Yet again, we were so grateful for all these wonderful people that were making our stay in LA so much fun...
Next step we visited San Diego which was also fun. We took the Amtrak and enjoyed a few
nights and days by the sea (nothing changes!). As you ride into the station you ride along beside the ocean on this double decker train (quite a revelation) and the sea looks the bluest and clearest...The only thing that was annoying about our trip to San Diego was that the hostel we had picked was very near to Ocean Beach but nothing much else. It was a real chore getting around as without a car in both LA and San Diego, you are almost stranded!
After visiting San Diego we headed back to Santa Monica and checked in with some friends we had met at the party in the Viceroy. They had promised to take us to the Sky Bar for Sarah's birthday (17th Sep) and we enjoyed a very nice meal in Asia de Cuba on Sunset Strip! We were clearly meeting the right people! ha ha...For those of you that know Asia de Cuba in London, the one in LA is part of the same group. It was VERY nice. A friend that we met had also offered for us to stay the night in one of their many spare houses, which happens to be next door
to the actor Owen Wilson's (of Zoolander fame!)...We even saw him coming home from dinner with a friend with a doggy bag...ha ha
From Santa Monica we also visited the Hammer Museum and enjoyed some of the free jazz. This was a fun evening too. It was quite a busy event and we were surprised by the quality of the music and venue, considering it was free! The Hammer Museum is part of the UCLA campus.
On Sarah's actual birthday we decided we would go to see the end of season show at the Hollywood Bowl. This performance included the LA Philharmonic, The Joffrey Balley, Miss Piggy and Kermit (erm....) and some very amazing operah singer (sorry, we forgot her name)...It was a great show as the Hollywood Bowl is an outside theatre and we took a really nice picnic and sushi selection to nibble on. Everyone had their own drink and food and it was much like the concerts held in Regents Park etc, except it had proper seating, rather than everyone sitting on blankets and the grass. We were actually amazed we got to see the performance as we did not pre-book tickets...this worked in our
favour and yet again we were astounded by the generosity of the LA folk...upon arriving at "information" and after asking if there were any places left, the lady handed us two tickets, in really GOOD seats and said we could just have them, FOR FREE!! We had such a good night...
We had always planned to see Vegas whilst we stayed in LA as its not too far away so we took the Greyhound (an experience!) and stayed at the Sahara Hotel for 2 nights. We actually found Vegas a bit of a let-down which was a shame. We can only describe it as a posh Blackpool. Perhaps if you have heaps of money to burn it is more fun as you can afford to see some of the really good shows etc but we were limited and spent most of our time just walking around the huge hotels and having some nice food. For us, it just didnt have much of interest. Still very cool to have seen it though and the Bellagio was very nice indeed, especially the musical water fountain!
What we will say though is LA wasn't quite what its hyped up to be
in terms of 'overly pretentious plastic people demandng the earth and wanting to get into acting'...We found the Americans naturally very friendly and generous and enjoyed our time here very much...
Because we had had so much fun in LA (and due to the cost of everything - LA is very expensive) we had overspent here so we headed to Fiji a week early in order to spend less and do little...Fiji here we come!
There are more photos below