Before going to Los Angeles people had warned me that it would not be the same glossy place that was shown on TV, but was actually a dirty city filled with fakery and crime. Though thankful for the advice I was sceptical that a city so wide spanning could be all bad and was hoping to experience a mix of The Kardashians and Sons of Anarchy.
Staying in Venice was the perfect location for me; shacked up in a cozy house within walking distance to the beach, skatepark, shops, bars, restaurants and a Wholefoods there wasn’t much more that I could have asked for. Though arriving in the dark to an unknown city can sometimes be daunting we felt comfortable enough to walk around the quiet streets to grab a bite to eat at La Cabaña. After a long flight, and stomach ready to burst with delicious Mexican food, we didn’t make it out but instead fell into a food coma.
Rising early we headed down to the beach for breakfast at Figtree’s Cafe, sitting outside wearing shorts, sipping on a smoothie with postcard views I was in an urban paradise.
There was such a huge variety of people to watch: from fitness freaks to homeless; I could have stayed there all day! However, we had limited time, a hire car to collect and the rest of the sprawling city to discover.
Picking up the hire car was similar to self service at Tesco. Putting the information into the machine was simple enough but waiting on the staff took what seemed like hours. After almost melting in the sun we took solace in our air conditioned SUV and hit the road to Hollywood.
As we turned the corner onto Hollywood Boulevard we discovered the pandemonium of tourist town, this was the LA that was described to me. It was crowded and tacky with people trying to sell tours at every corner. Feeling mentally drained from our surroundings we tried to salvage some food that was not a grease-fest, a crappy chain or both. Eventually we found 25 Degrees, a calm oasis compared to our other options. After almost 2 hours in Hollywood hell we made our escape back to a more relaxed Venice.
Surviving day one of driving the crazy crowded city roads (with only a few mishaps) we were ready for some further exploration, but before heading out into the big bad city we had to grab our last piece of morning zen at the beach.
This time we ventured to the skatepark side which was a little more rough around the edges with, skaters, surfers, bodybuilders, graffiti, food trucks and shack style shops instead of the yummy mummies with prams and yoga buffs that we had seen the morning before.
Though still beautiful there was a certain grittiness to this side of the shore that made it even more captivating. I was ready to pack up my bags and become a beach bum, a complete reverse to my usual attitude towards beach holidays.
Dragging myself away from the delights of Venice we headed for some lunch at the Farmers Market; a large food court with a varied mix of vendors and sit down eateries, despite the large choice of delicacies all 4 of us opted for healthy fare from Singapore’s Banana Leaf . Feeling sufficiently full we were ready to be tourists again and go in search of the Hollywood sign.
We set out along winding Mulholland Drive, taking in the views as the sky began to change colour then, as it began to darken the casual trip turned unto a panicked race as we realised that we had driven in completely the opposite direction of the famous sign.
A quick U-turn we hastily chased the sun through the hills before it disappeared completely managing to arrive at a brimming viewing point as the last moments of light flickered over LA.
Ditching the car vertically on a dusty pile at the side of the road we ran past the crowds to see the teeny tiny Hollywood sign just as the sky darkened.
Once again feeling slightly frazzled after venturing out into Hollywood we returned to the peace of Abbot Kinney for a final meal at Salt Air. Though I was super excited to get on the road for our next adventure I felt sad to be leaving LA, it had been the mixture of rough and refinement that I had hoped for and more.
(There are individual posts to come but I haven’t had the time to trawl through the millions of picture yet so watch this space for further info!)