When I landed in LAX the airport I had heard on the news and in all the magazines as the place celebs are seen, I already had a rom com type scenario in my head on what the next 4 days had in store
Ohhhh was I in for a shock when the reality kicked in!
We didn’t end up hailing a taxi or getting directed into a Limo when we arrived but instead got the 1 dollar 75 cent bus to Venice Beach where we are staying the duration of the trip. The hostel we had booked was Sunside Hostel right on the edge of the Venice beach sand , amazing location and a must stay for any solo traveller wanting a break and to make instant friends. With events on every night and breakfast included what more could you ask! With my itchy feet we were straight out to explore this amazing City!
DAY 1 – Intro to Venice Beach and Santa Monica
Fantasy – I thought there would be men on muscle beach big as The Rock, maybe even the Rock!!… Followed by loads of super fit models on rollerskates holding hands along the Venice Broadwalk! Okay muscle beach exists and people are pumped, exercising with friends and even practicing acrobatics with groups. But no one looks like the Rock just remember that! The last fantasy was me looking awesome on a bike pedalling my heart out down the Venice Beach broad walk, I am sure I did look awesome but my butt was killing on those bikes
Fact – Venice got its name from the low key canal streets only 5 minutes walk from the main Broad walk, with beautiful bridges, quirky houses, and a real estates dream I could of wandered round for ages, instead we headed to the up and coming Abbott Kinney Boulevard, full of vegan restaurants, wellness and fair trade shops, where boring food isn’t even in the vocabulary. This is where I found some cute little gifts and the best smoothies I have ever tasted at (finally my LA, The Hills moment) walking down the street smoothie in hand, sun glasses on talking non sense while people watching.
Fantasy – Eating a corn dog isn’t as easy as you think it is on SM pier (que ketchup dribbled round my face), clean streets and glamour around Santa Monica is partly true but be aware there is unfortunately a lot of Homeless people as well all along the beach front to Venice Beach, these are the kindest, friendliest and most humble people we talked to, with so many stories you wanted and they wanted to talk all day…but a few put you on edge, so just be aware especially if you are on your own.
Fact – The less fortunate people I talked about above are also the ones who bring the infectious energy to Venice Beach, there artwork, their music, their carefree way of life all the way along the winding concrete Broadwalk makes you feel relaxed and chilled… Seeing them all cheering on the skateboarders, and welcoming everyone and anyone into their group sitting on the sand just to share a drink. Santa Monica is the same, a great break from the madness of Hollywood and inner LA, the beach immaculate of any garbage and great waves to just watch all day while running or walking down the sea edge.
DAY 2 – Beverley Hills and Hollywood
Fantasy – Driving in a convertible car, listening to some 80’s jamms, while going don the Walk of Fame, bumping into some celebrities, getting autographs and seeing the most beautiful theatres which have been talked about for decades in the movies and news… Isnt exactly what it was cracked up to be…
Fact – Unless you have a car, please just get an escorted tour of Beverley hills and Hollywood, one thing in my crazy film brain was that BH and Hollywood are close to one another when actually they are easy 30 minutes in a car, Not walking distant! This is probably from watching Pretty Woman and 90210 too many times! The next fact is Rodeo Drive, its beautiful and a must go to is……. which will have you drueling out of your eyes from the pretty and delish cakes… Okay they may be quite expensive but hey, your living your best life in LA… Window shopping has never felt so good
Fantasy – Driving through Beverley Hills is great, its not so busy, you get a great view of the hills and a glimpse of the Hollywood sign driving out of BH while having a nosey at the celebrity homes is just what I expected. Even running through the famous Lamp post Installation in the museum quarter of LA was like being in a scene that shouts CUT its a wrap!
Fact – The Hollywood walk of fame, in some ways was amazing! I saw all the stars I have always dreamt of seeing especially Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Jackman and Walt Disney, however to get the pictures you realised how dirty the area was, the floors, the stores next to it, the room you have to move due to it being a main road and not pedestrianised… The Chinese and Dolby Theatres were brought to life too, but due to them being such big tourist attractions it took the magic away a bit. I recommend going in a car to this area, its very far from other parts of LA, and wouldn’t need to spend more than 2 hours walking around… Take a drink break by going into the Roosevelt hotel though, the venue to host the first ever Oscars in 1929… hello facts! 🙂
DAY 3 – Universal and Griffith Observatory
Fantasy – Unfortunately there is no flying around on brooms but the 4D ride with the Hogwarts castle makes up for that, and so does the many other magical details they have brought to Diagon Alley, with its very own Butterbeer and Leakey Cauldron pub! Unfortunately I didn’t see Hagrid or even Ron Weasley around the place! But as you walk out of Harry Potter world you bump into Trolls, Kung Fu Pandas and even Minions roaming the Studios (big kid alert)
Fact – Universal Studios is worth the money, from minions to the Mummy, it has thrills and fun! Most importantly is has every muggles dream of a Harry Potter playground. However if there is on thing you must do if nothing else is the Studio Tour, rain or shine morning or afternoon, this 1 hour long behind the scenes tour of Universal will make even a sceptic happy! I wont say anything else because I want it too be a surprise for anyone going, but my only tip is to sit on the LEFT hand side of the cars you are transported on, you will see so much more of the main sets! Also if you’ve had a full on day this is the best thing to do mid afternoon when your legs need a rest and brain needs to wake up a little.
Fantasy – We lived it going from Universal Studios to Griffin Observatory, it was such a lovely day that we decided to rush to see the sun set at the top of LA. We literally was chasing the sun. With an actual amateur actor at the wheel of the car, he car chased up every direction of the Hollywood hill up to the Observatory at the top, dead end after dead end, then traffic, we were missing it, then suddenly a short cut got up there… The LA Sunset was every tone of red, orange and yellow and so worth the car chase!… Finally seeing the LA sparkle that I imagined!
Fact – We were disappointed with the Hollywood sign and actually how close you can get to it, however the view from the Observatory was closer that I thought and in eye line. After the sun had set we bought tickets to go to the Planetarium with a huge projected ceiling which 1 minute into the presentation is full of stars, constellations and such a calming voice explaining the theories and history of space. It was amazing and such a different side of LA I didn’t think I would of seen, but recommend it to everyone visiting there is one every hour after 6pm.
DAY 4 – Downtown and Chinatown
Fantasy – I didn’t know much about downtown LA only my own thought of it being like NYC, and in someways it is, the Broadway shows, the China town district and even a mini Korea. The sound of the yellow taxis frustratingly honking their horns, and even I am not lying a hot dog stand on the corner of one of the main roads. But still is missing some of the twinkle of NYC and energy of other areas of LA
Fact – The best place to go is the Walt Disney Concert hall, its beautifully designed and will be an amazing night of music and entertainment. Another little gem is the Last Bookstore, I could write a whole post on that place… its Labrynth of books with waves circling the walkway round and cute little framed windows made up of books. Its a bookworms paradise, and the perfect break from the chaos of LA outside (however do take note that they sometimes close during the week for stock take) Also the metro from Downtown to Santa Monica is the quickest and cheapest way to travel from one side of LA to the other
So as you can see, my fantasy of LA was kind of different to what it was in reality, but once you start looking at the bigger, than big LA you start enjoying the querks and real personality of LA