I apologize in advance for the crappy photos of the Los Angeles area; I didn’t feel comfortable taking out my camera in some of these areas, which is telling coming from an avid New York amateur photographer.
After being in the San Diego area for two whole weeks, we journeyed up the coast a ways to reach Los Angeles, the city where many of my friend’s dream went to die. Staying with another family member in the ‘burbs, our first complaint was, of course, the traffic. If you can do the LA area without a car, I’d highly recommend it. Parking was the next big one, but that goes with the territory as well.
Our first day in the area was spent on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, soaking up the sun and the general air of weird. The boardwalk is famous for its fun and interesting characters, and our trip was no exception. the people-watching is golden here, from street performers to artists to general public that feel at home in this little slice of bizarre heaven.
My favorite part other than my inevitable obsession with the beach itself was the pop-up “weed doctors,” which seemed to be on every street corner. These doctors appeared in tiny holes in the wall, peddling prescriptions to anyone with headaches, loss of appetite, or insomnia. If you could come up with an excuse, you could get a prescription. While I am not an avid smoker, this was a novelty, and entertaining to watch.
Mike and I enjoyed Acai bowls on the boardwalk before soaking in the rays, and all was well in Venice Beach.
Next stop was, of course, Hollywood. We couldn’t be in LA and not stop there. Mike and I hunted around for one of those tour bus deals, but the one we signed up for ended up getting cancelled from lack of interest. People are apparently lame on Wednesdays. Our general impression, however, wasn’t particularly favorable.
First of all, the best attractions are at your feet, literally. We were stopping every five feet or so to take pictures of the famed Hollywood Stars, much to the annoyance of the non-tourists in LA (wait, those exist? Native LA-ers? I’m so sorry for you…)
Next, you have the street graffiti, which is also centered on the ground.
Last you have the beautiful Chinese Theater, with its hand and foot prints on- you guessed it- the floor. This was one of my favorites because it added a personal touch to some of the stars, with their love notes to the famous Sid Grauman. I loved the history encompassed in this portion of our LA discovery since so much of the rest of the city is new and gaudy.
Anyway, all of this culminated in my head pointed at the ground with Mike navigating us through the crowd. Thankfully I didn’t get pick-pocketed, but we saw a woman have her wallet taken right out from her purse in Starbucks, and when we told her, the guy gave it back to her as though it was no big deal. What an odd culture.
After we found out our tour got cancelled, we drove around trying to find the closest view of the Hollywood sign. Another disappointment, of course. For those that don’t know, you can’t simply walk up to it like in the movies. Personally, I was naive before this trip and thought that was the way of things- my mistake. There is a viewing point set up miles away on a hill that you can go and take photos from, but there is literally no parking available… Mike had to circle the car around while I fired off a few measly shots.
All in all, our impression of the Los Angeles area was unfavorable. the commercialism, while definitely more expected than some other places we visited, was rampant and in your face, and no one that you talked to didn’t have a gimmick. Even the gentlemen that we met at this little Irish bar off the strip were struggling actors hoping that we knew people. The best part of this leg of the journey was hanging out with my awesome cousin Brian Taylor, who put us up and let us drink his booze and eat. Thank you for making Los Angeles not a waste of time!
Next Stop: the beautiful drive up the coast to San Francisco!