Los Angeles: a little underrated as a tourist destination in my opinion, that I can say now. I had a great time there. Celebrating my birthday there and having some true Californian friends to show me around and take me places certainly helped though!
Los Angeles is a huge city, and it doesn't have a lot of romantic charm like Paris, that much is true. But it's a collection of cities and each city has it's own places of interest. LA is modern, a city with lots of beaches and outdoor life, and of course, the famous movie and music industries.
Because it's so big, you need a car to navigate around. It's a must, public transport is horrible and the city is just made to drive in: lots of highways and broad boulevards that cross the city. I'm in America now, so better drive an American car I thought, so I rented a brand new cool golden coloured Chevrolet Malibu.
I checked into a nice motelstyle "inn" in Hollywood, from where it was easy to get "downtown" and see Hollywood and Beverly Hills as well.
On my first day exploring, I met up with Tamara, whom I
met in Malaysia before (while climbing Mt Kinabalu), and again in Bali. So this was the third time I met her on this trip around the world. Her boyfriend lives in LA and we share the same birthday so we were going to celebrate together later in the week!
Her boyfriend has a really nice flat overlooking the sea in Santa Monica, one of the nicest areas in LA. Santa Monica has a big wide beach, a cool shopping centre, and a pier with all sorts of activities. It is here that the famous Route66 ends, a former highway crossing all the way through the US.
We had lunch on 3rd street Promenade, a nice shopping area where a cool Blues singer was performing his songs. After a coffee with nice views of the sun going down on the pacific ocean, we went our own ways again and I went on to Venice Beach.
Venice Beach used to be a really cool place to be, so I heard, but now it's kind of becoming a dump, although it still has some charm. There are a lot of homeless people walking around here and it's still quite touristy with shops everywhere
and wanna-be rap stars handing out CDs to anyone who wants one. There's also a skatepark, which was kind of interesting to me, as I used to skate when I was in high school. As the sun was setting, the skaters were doing there tricks in the pool-shaped bowls.
The next day, me and Tamara went to the Getty Center. Perched on a hill overlooking LA, this is the location of the J.Paul Getty museum, part of the Getty Trust, supposedly the world's wealthiest art institution. Jean Paul Getty was a wealthy oil magnate and a collector of art. On display here are a Van Gogh, Rembrandt's and more. There was also a temporary exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci. The Getty Center also has gardens, but since it was raining that day, it wasn't the best time to visit any gardens.
Hollywood is a neighbourhood in LA, but has since become a concept where everyone refers to whenever they talk about the movie industry and all its glitz and glamour. All the big movie studios used to be here, but they all left, except for Paramount. Besides that, Hollywood is not a great neighbourhood to live in. The
sights are concentrated around Hollywood Boulevard, where the famous Walk of Fame is and some famous movie theatres. And, of course, the famous letters of HOLLYWOOD, on the Hollywood Hills above. Just recently, these letters had to be saved from property developers turning them into expensive homes. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was the most generous to make sure the Hollywood sign could stay.
On the 21st of April it was me and Tamara's birthday and in the afternoon we celebrated with a big lunch at a cool 1950's diner on Sunset Strip, called Mel's Diner. Tamara spent the evening with her boyfriend and I met up with Lauren, whom I met in Malaysia as well. Lauren is a true Californian and has lived in several places around LA. We met up in a bar called The Edison
, located in Los Angeles' first powerplant converted into a bar! She brought along her dad, Philip, her brother Nelson and Zack, the brother of Lauren's friend Tiana, whom I also met in Malaysia. The bar had a really nice atmosphere and after a few drinks we went to have some dinner in a place called Coles. In the back of Coles, there was
some sort of a secret door (not really secret, but you had to know what was behind it before you went in) that led to a small cocktail bar. The barman was a cocktail guru and knew everything about the original cocktails that are local favorites for a long time. He made me a cocktail of Overholt Straight eye whisky, Angostura and Benedictine. It tasted great!
After the cocktails, it was time to go home and Lauren and her dad dropped me off at my hotel! All in all, it was a great and special birthday party in a city far far away from home!
(note: pictures continue further down and on the next page as well)
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