In LA part 1

Published: August 8th 2015
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It's 11.36 on the 6th August. In this blog I will write about our first 3 full days in Los Angeles. We got up Monday morning fairly early, about 8am, for breakfast. This was mainly due to the local dogs' chorus of barking and howling at that time, but also as we'd gone to bed at a reasonable time the night before. We walked the couple of blocks up to the main mansion house, where one of the staff served us a first course of bacon, eggs, sausages, grits and oatmeal, followed by waffles with cream, chocolate sauce and strawberries. It was the best breakfast we've had from a hostel, and a great way to start the day - sitting out in the garden by the pool in the morning sunshine.
We headed back to our own house and begun getting ready for our day out. Matt and Kieran that day were going to have a look around the USC campus while Rosie, Kate and I were to go into Culver City to get my last tattoo of the trip done. We left at about 12 noon, my appointment being at 1pm and caught the train from our local station down to Culver City Station. From there it was a long, hot walk down Venice Blvd to the tattoo shop. The road was not exactly pretty, lined with fast food chains and intersected at regular intervals by concrete overpasses - the heave of traffic being a constant presence all the way down.
The tattoo took about 2 hours, and was arguably the best I've had so far. From there we walked back up the road to a McDonalds to get a drunk (we were in the full LA heat by now) the headed down South to a Target a few miles away. This road was much prettier. Running through the residential area of Culver City, we wandered down the tree lined street, bordered by myriad small business HQs, schools, houses and even the studios for Sony Entertainment.
Eventually we came to the plaza that contained Target, and spent a little while working out how many more meals we needed. We bought the usual - soup, noodles, pasta boxes and the like, then made our way back to the station. It was getting later by this point, maybe 4pm, and the road we took passed through the city centre. Downtown Culver City was, in fact, really nice. With palm trees lining the boulevards, and a long pedestrian street containing countless stylish bars and restaurants - made to feel even more attractive by the early evening warmth. We even spotted the supermodel Tyra Banks in one of the little bistros, seemingly as you do in LA.
We made it back to the metro station as the light was fading slowly. Our stop was only 3 stops down the line, and before we knew it we were bs n in our little house. As we arrived Juan, Henry and Kevin were just leaving to get some drinks for the evening. Matt and Kieran were already home.
And so, we spent the evening - and well into the night - drinking vodka and fruit juice and playing card games, which eventually lapsed into chatting and music playing as the glasses were emptied and filled over and over. Matt drank to much to fast and was in bed by 11, but the rest of us stayed up until gone 2 - it was the kind of evening you can only get in a hostel. In the end, we all crawled into bed feeling now that our housemates were very much our friends.
We woke up late. There was a period of time between 8 and 10 where one would wake up, attempt movement and assess the pain in the head, decide against any further action and fall back into a half-sleep. By 10am however, we were all started to feel a touch more human (Kieran, who had crashed at ours, headed back to his AirBnB for a shower), and crawled out of bed.
Matt had come of worse from the evening, but the rest of us felt pretty good after a shower and after brushing our teeth - and thus got ourselves ready for another day of exploration. Kieran came back to ours at about 12, and we (bar Matt who favoured a day in bed) stepped out into the heat of the day, and took the train back to Culver City (we had by now purchased a very inexpensive unlimited travelcard for all trains and buses). We paused here to find some fried chicken to cure the hangovers, then caught the 33 bus that took us, albeit stopping at every block, down to Venice Beach.
Venice beach was actually the southern end of the Westside beach that runs all the way up past Santa Monica and to the Northwestern edge of the city's conurbation. The beach itself is beautiful, obviously exceptionally long but also very wide - with yellow sands leading up to the clear blue waters, hemmed in on the north side by a mountainous headland. Bordering the beach on the east is a long promenade, one of pedestrians and another for a whole host of other types of transportation - segways, boards (long and short), bikes, trikes and the like.
The pedestrian prom is filled with vendors and hawkers, and one edge lined with souvenir, smoke and tattoo shops, as well as rather dubious looking 'medicinal marijuana' clinics, with half baked (literally) guys milling around outside in green scrubs. As we walked up the promenade to the north, however, the shops finally melted away into palm tree parks and eventually into the first street of Sabra Monica.
We walked up the famous Santa Monica pier, passed the rides and attractions, passed the buskers and to the end, and looked out to the stretch of beach line Coast filled with sunbathers on both sides. From here, it was a short walk in Santa Monica itself, which was a lovely little town A a little like a coastal Culver City.
We bought some food and walked back down onto the beach to the north of the pier, and sat for an hour or so messing around in the sand, burying me, then watching the sun set over the silhouetted hills, painting the clouds pink, then orange, then red and pulling the heat of the day away with it.
It was getting towards dark as we walked off the beach and up onto the road to catch the bus (luckily the express) to Culver City station. We were stuck in traffic a little while, but before long we were rattling up Venice Blvd and disembarking at the station, then making the few stops to home. Kieran stuck around for a little while as we chatted to Henry about our day and his (Kevin was at work and Juan had left for San Fran that morning), then went upstairs to find Matt still in bed. It must have been gone 11.30 by this point and we were ready for bed too, all feeling a little sunblasted and worn out.
We got up the following morning in time for breakfast. We ate in the sunshine once more, then got ready for 11.30ish for when Kieran was to arrive. It was a blisteringly hot day, the sun beating down on us as we walked to the metro station and followed the blue, then the red line into Hollywood. We came back up into the light to find a horde of shouting fans surrounding something happening on Hollywood blvd, which we quickly found out was Mariah Carey having here star on the walk of place put in. We glimpsed her but had really no interest so carried in North.
Quickly we hit the cooler, shady Hollywood residential area and began to walk up the gentle incline towards the undeveloped Hollywood hills. As we ascended the road became steeper and the houses bigger, until we finally came to the beginning of the hike up to the Hollywood sign.
The hike was long, dusty and unbelievably hot. The path ran along the shoulders of the barren hills, sometimes at steep gradients, in the full glare of the midday sun. It was the kind of weather that brings about sweating without do much as lifting a finger, let alone hiking uphill.
Eventually we reached the viewpoint for the sign. It was a good view too, but a little further away than we had expected, and we all couldn't help feel a little disappointed after such a physical trial to get there. None the less we took our photos and drank our water, then headed down the other side which was mercilessly shaded and paved.
After quite a walk we came back to Central Hollywood, and walked West along the boulevard towards the areas main attractions. The whole way was paved with the stars of the walk of fame, which we read as we went and paused at the most impressive. Before we knew it we were amidst crowds the size of which we hadn't seen since Times Square back in NY. We walked around the area, to the Dolby Theatre and the famous Chinese theatre where we all tried to find our hand matches in the hand prints in the floors concrete slabs (mine was Johnny Depp).
It must have been 4pm by this point, and Matt and Kieran were going that night to try and buy tickets on the door for a comedy show on Sunset blvd, so we parted with them and the three of us remaining walked down the north-South Highland rd to Sabta Monica blvd to catch the bus to Beverly Hills.
It took a little while to get there, buses here always do, but it was worth it. We were all a little tired from the earlier hike, but we spent a good hour wandering through block after block of spectacular houses on the hills, the wide avenues blissfully quiet and mild, only gently sloping up and down over the hills. It was 7 by the time we called it a day, and 9 by the time we arrived back - travelling the way we had come, via bus, foot and two metro trains to rivalry arrive back at the house.
Matt and Kieran were again back before us, the tickets having sold out before they'd got to the front of the queue. They were sitting around with Kevin and Henry and chatting - so we sat down and joined in. A short way through a middle aged lady came in and began talking to us about her day - she had spent the day scattering her mother's ashes off the end of Santa Monica pier. We had then about an hour or so of actually really interesting conversation, lead mainly by her, Henry and myself, but the others chipped in at regular intervals too. By 10.30 we were all getting tired, the sun taking its toll on our energy, so we said goodnight and went off to our rooms for a little reading before bed.
An interesting side note - To give a sense of the scale of this city, I wrote this entire blog, an hour or more of writing, on one trip on the metro through the city - from Pico in downtown to Long Beach - it is such a sprawl. And so, after this there wi be only 2 blogs to come, and one of those to be posted from back in Englsnd.

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