LA, a city it seems that few people are fans of. We were warned of the terrible traffic and constant pollution but we headed there open minded to check it out for ourselves.
After negotiating crazy midday traffic (on highways up to 9 lanes in each direction) we settled into our cheap and cheerful hotel in Chinatown and left the car behind to walk into downtown LA. Arriving at the Civic Centre building we headed up for an open-top view of LA. Although a relatively clear day, the haze of pollution meant we could just see the Hollywood sign in the distance. But this spot did provide a good sense of how large and sprawled the city is - something similar to its’ sister city, Auckland.
We found the majority of downtown to be incredibly dirty and dodgy but we still wandered around for couple of hours and then headed home for an early night, excited to explore Hollywood the next day.
We had been told that public transport is very limited in LA and that we should join the majority and drive everywhere. But we decided to leave the car at home and not bother with parking (or an overheating car) and took the metro to Hollywood. We soon discovered why this is not a popular mode of transport and decided we would never be riding the metro at night!
We covered all the main sights including the Kodak Theatre (where the Academy Awards are held), the celebrity stars of Hollywood Boulevard and other such famous theatres and bright lights. We were very fortunate to stumble across the unveiling of the star of Walt Disney’s Tinkerbell, a speech from the director a poof of confetti and a new star was born – just like that!
We headed to the Farmers Market for lunch, a produce market which has been operating for 75 years, combined with an open shopping mall. We indulged in a lunch of savoury French waffles and delicious old fashioned sweet treats.
Walking the all familiar Melrose Ave, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills Boulevards we again noticed how scummy the area is. As with all big cities there are the more run-down or less than savoury areas, but we found the majority of LA to be like this as well as lacking in any sort of character or community. There are however small pockets of greatness in LA, whether it’s the boutique designer shops scattered amongst the vacated buildings or the numerous filming sessions that constantly take place over the city.
Later that evening we met a friend for a drink at Universal Studios, this was more bright lights and fun stuff reminding us of Times Square, minus the crowds.
The following day we took the train out to Long Beach, the journey took us through some of the worst poverty we have seen in this country yet. Long Beach was pleasant enough though aside from the Queen Mary docked there permanently there was not a lot to see and do.
Thursday we packed up and headed to Anaheim to spend the day with Mickey at Disneyland. Our hotel was next door so early that morning we joined the hundreds of strollers and made the pilgrimage to the land of happiness. Although we may have been some of the only people without kids we still had a blast; the rides were more adventurous than we had thought and Mickey’s house was just a delights to explore through. When the nightly parade was over we were shattered, grabbed some dinner and headed home like two tired but excited kids. Perhaps LA had redeemed itself slightly.
After a jammed packed few days and many weeks of constantly moving around the country we decided it was time for a holiday from our holiday. Yep it’s a hard life. We packed up and headed south toward San Diego with intentions of visiting the Zoo. Along the way we found a cliff top campground and despite the fact that it was located next to a railway, state highway, and nuclear power plant, the beach was just beautiful and we decided to stay for 3 nights. Enjoying some hot weather again (the area has had the coldest Summer since 1944) we did nothing but read, eat and swim.
Feeling very sun kissed and ready to crank the last league of our US trip we head back in-land. Next stop, VEGAS baby!