A Travellerspoint blog

USA - part 1

City of Angels? Los Angeles

semi-overcast 25 °C
View Around the world in a few months! on Labgirluk's travel map.

Landed at LAX ahead of schedule (about 20 min) which meant our gate wasn’t ready.. We then sat on the tarmac waiting for the captain to be told which gate, and then waited some more after getting to the gate only to be told it was the wrong one! Then it was the hell of immigration and passport control at a large international American airport.. Lots of queuing, question answering (business/pleasure, what food, when last in USA, how long for etc) and waiting… Eventually got through, had the passport stamped and through to baggage claim. My bag appeared to be one of last still on the conveyor so I must have been in longest queue ever… once the bag was collected there was another queue to go past the sniffer dogs to get out of the controlled area.
Finally through and met up with one of girls who’d also flown from Fiji and had been at one of the resorts the same time as me. We found out about the supershuttle and headed for their stand – cheaper than a taxi, easier than the bus – and then booked on to the next bus going our way. She was staying in santa monica and I was in Venice. Another hostel without a lift and the reception on the 1st floor! OK for those with backpacks, less OK for those with cases… Thankfully someone kindly helped me with my bag but I still had another floor after that up to my room. Nice room with good sturdy beds and a decent en suite. Even the ocean view was a good one as we were just behind the shops and above them so could see straight on to the beach and the sea beyond. Went for a little wander to get some fresh air and orientate myself slightly. Surprised at the sheer number of homeless people on the benches or the beach but they didn’t harass in any way. All the shops were open late too and people going around on skateboards (normal or motorised), e-bikes, push bikes, e-scooters etc. Jet lag didn’t seem to affect me (slept ok on the plane and going over date line and going back in time didn’t seem to cause me any problems either) but headed to bed reasonably early to make sure… Glad I did as I was woken up in the night by the girls from the lower bunks arriving back and having a shower in the middle of the night. Found out they’d been to a rock concert so were a tad sweaty from that…
After breakfast (free at hostel but limited options – waffles and syrup was better than nothing) I headed to the ocean walk and walked towards santa monica, with a detour to a verizon shop to enquire about a sim card. Bizarrely their sim cards don’t work in Sony phones but I did have both the shop assistants admire my phone asking questions on camera and cost. Have found that apple and Samsung have the monopoly everywhere (oz, nz and usa at least) so a new phone case hasn’t been able to be found either – this one was mostly dead at this point and being held together in places by just the edging thread…. From there went back to the beach and continued to santa monica. Got to the starline ticket desk only to be told that I needed to get my vouchers/tickets sorted at the main terminal – in Hollywood! As a result I got to experience the LA subway system and realised just how expensive everything transport related is in the UK! After paying $2 for a tap card the single trip cost me all of $1.75. For an hour’s ride on the subway….. It costs me more than that to do a 15 min bus ride back home…..
Arriving at the hollywood/Highland Station I found the main terminal eventually and exchanged a copy of my ID for both bus tickets (4 days in total) and went off to find some lunch… after that I found a sim card so I was back in contact with the world and headed to the hop on hop off bus. Decided to take a full red route (hollywood) tour before heading back to the swap over stop to get a yellow route bus back to santa monica. Saw lots of stuff and was told loads of typically cheesy tourist facts. Back in Hollywood got off at stop before last and walked along Hollywood and one side of the star walk (they’re on both sides of the road and there are hundreds of them!) back to the start point before jumping back on a red bus to take me to stop 7 and on to the yellow bus – decided that I might as well use them since I’d already paid for them…
Yellow bus dropped us off near the pier so headed back that way, found some over priced food (too hungry by that point) on the pier and then headed back to Venice beach along the ocean front walk. Plenty of people still out walking so didn’t feel unsafe despite the number of homeless around. They kept themselves to themselves most of the time.
After breakfast (yep waffles and syrup again!) I headed back out to the beach, walking along the shoreline this time, and back to santa monica to catch the yellow bus to Beverly Hills – today’s destination – and the sights on the other half of the yellow bus route tour! This route took us through Westwood and past ucla before stopping in Beverly hills.
First thing to do – Rodeo Drive, baby! A must see even if no chance of going in any of the shops – was definitely not dressed for visiting any of those shops! A wide road with posh shops on either side and palm trees growing between pavement/road and central reservation. And some of the cars driving/parked there were obviously expensive…. Definitely a well off area! ???? Then walked onto Wiltshire Boulevard and saw the hotel used in Pretty Woman (where she breaks in to his room and then has to climb out onto the ledge when he comes back) before heading for Beverly Drive and lunch - The Cheesecake Factory. A Chicken Caesar salad (ginormous) and diet coke was followed by the biggest slice of cheesecake I’ve ever seen – cinnabon cinnamon swirl cheesecake was my dessert of choice. When it mentions layerS of cheesecake they’re not wrong. It actually had 2 or 3 layers of cheesecake (cake base plus topping) to make the one big cheesecake. It beat me so was packed up, along with a plastic spoon, for me to eat later.... From there I headed to the Beverly hills sign and generally admired the buildings, some of which have been used in various films based in the area, before heading back to the bus to go back to the beach and the hostel. After eating the rest of the cheesecake I headed on to the beach to get some sunset photos. Due to the permanent haze (well it seemed permanent to me) the sunset was a bit wishy washy and nothing like I’d experienced to date. Still more to add to the collection...
My final full day in LA day saw me heading back to santa monica after stopping to watch the skate boarding at the purpose built park near my hostel. Was pretty amazing watching what some could do with 4 wheels and a bit of wood..... I picked up the yellow bus and then the red bus as I wanted to visit the farmers market at fairfax and then Melrose avenue. Got off at the farmer’s Market, bought an ice cream and then pretty much decided I didn’t want to do shops so got the next red bus so I could get back to Beverly hills without walking, as originally planned, as it was just too hot and sticky. Once back at santa monica I decided to walk the shoreline one last time. I still had no desire to go in the sea more than getting my feet wet as I walked along. The water was relatively cold, murky and had a yellow tinge to the edge as it hit the shore – probably from the seaweed but it did put me off swimming in it. Think I’d been spoilt with all my previous experiences in oz, nz and Fiji...
Back at the hostel I had dinner at the surfside restaurant linked with the hostel. V tasty and not a bad price with the hostel discount. While I was there a band set up and started playing – Tommy peacock. Good music but rather loud as I was right by where the band was set up. From there it was back to my room and repack – having to add more stuff to my carry on as the check in luggage was 50lb for the next flight, which equates to less than the 23kg for all the other flights!
My final day in la.... No need to get up and out early as my flight wasn’t until 10.30pm and thankfully check out wasn’t until 11am. Missed brekkie though... Checked out at 11am on the dot and put my bags into storage before heading towards the canals... Not quite as big or grand as the Italian Venice but still quite pretty and a nice walk. Also these canals are tidal so, as it was lowish tide when I was there, the canoes tied up were all half out of the water, and floating platforms were looking decidedly drunk... Met a local walking his dog and had a nice chat about the area – the history of the canals, how the houses have changed with non locals buying up the houses and building bigger ones in place of the original single storey houses, etc – before heading to the Venice fishing pier (apparently it’s actually Washington pier as that’s the area it’s in and continues on from w Washington blvd). Just a piece of concrete sticking out to sea designed for people to fish from but there were some homeless sat on the benches at the end and I didn’t feel comfortable staying around that area so head back to the beach straight away. From there I found a comfy spot on the beach, near the hostel, and camped out for the rest of the day till it was time to head back and figure out the best way to the airport.... My luck was in as there was someone else collecting luggage and heading to the airport as I collected mine so we shared an uber to the airport. Saved me a few dollars... Checked in and through security much quicker than expected so had plenty of time to chill... What I hadn’t realised is that as I hadn’t had my seat assigned at check in I needed to get it done in advance of boarding... Apparently being a supersaver fare seats are allocated after everyone else! I went to get it sorted about 10 mins before boarding – oops! As it happens I was lucky and ended up being assigned a priority seat, more leg room, nearer the front of the plane etc. And thankfully there were charging ports as my phone needed to be fully charged for sat nav use the following day....
Soon I’d be back in the lovely New England area... Can safely say I don’t feel the need to go back to LA but also glad I did visit it so that I know I don’t need to go back and don’t have any ‘what if’s’ going around my brain... There are others places I’d prefer to visit again. I also know I’m not a City girl in the slightest...

Posted by Labgirluk 18:57 Archived in USA Tagged los_angeles hollywood venice_beach santa_monica_pier beverly_hills starline

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