City of Angels – Los Angeles
Spent only 6 days in Los Angeles but in reality I did so much that I actually might have to split this into 2 posts. Los Angeles wasn’t really on the planning either just like Colorado. Mainly wanted to visit LA to meet up with some old friends from online (again). And since I’m here, I might as well take a few days to check out the city itself and all that has to offer and boy did it have a lot to offer. Before arriving in LA, I thought it was just another big city but DAYUM LA is huge! You actually need a car to get from one place to the other and even with public transport you’ll be spending a lot of time on the bus/tram/subway. A lot of the major attractions are spread out over the different areas in Los Angeles itself. I’ll try to divide it into the places I’ve been to.
Venice BeachVenice beach was the first place I headed to, well mainly because my hostel was right at Venice beach. The Californian weather was great, compared to the cold from Colorado. People walking around in shorts and tank tops and people on longboards and bikes shows just how relaxed the atmosphere is here. I did notice a lot of hipsters though on the way to the beach itself, but hey, that’s Cali baby! The beach and boardwalk itself were impressive and their own attraction. There is so much to see and so many different kind of people there. Small art and crafts shops on the boardwalk combined with the dozens of souvenir and print-your-own-t-shirt shops are plenty on Venice Beach. First thing I noticed was that there was a strong marihuana smell around the beginning, after carefully following my nose and eyes, I realised that there are tons of “medical marihuana” shops on the boardwalk. Medical marihuana may be used for several illnesses with prescription of a doctor. But these days it is so easy to get a prescription that they might as well legalise the use of weed in general. Heck I had a friend even telling me that they even have people delivering weed to your doorstep just with a simple telephone call. Talk about “fast-food”! Anyway, Venice Beach to me was famous for their legendary basketball courts, so I went to take a look. Not exactly the high level streetball players I expected but there were some decent players there too. In case you wondered, no, I didn’t join. I didn’t wanna show em off too much. 😉 Actually as I got closer to the courts, I happened to bump into another a tourist attraction, Muscle Beach. This is in fact an outdoor gym with complete workout machines for people to use. Now I didn’t check if it was free since they had all fences around but I’d think it wasn’t. Good thing about an outdoor gym is that everyone can show off their body for everyone to see and instead of flexing your muscles in the mirror you can flex em in front of the whole boardwalk. Even saw a 50 year old muscled to the bone guy flexing and smiling at me. I made a run for it to the courts.
Hollywood boulevard & Little Tokyo
The infamous Hollywood Boulevard with the names and stars of the most celebrated people in the showbizz industry. Eventhough I usually tend to shy away from really touristic places, I guess in Hollywood you can’t escape it. The boulevard was rather interesting to walk through, looking at the stars, checking if your favorites are anywhere to be found. But besides that, there were tons of shops selling Hollywood extravagance, I even noticed that there were tons of tattoo parlors towards the end of boardwalk. I wonder if a lot of people would actually get a tattoo there on the spur….Besides the named stars, there are several other buildings worth visiting and checking out. The Chinese theatre where every blockbuster and mega budget movie had a premiere showing, the Kodak theatre where the Oscars are held and the location where Jimmy Kimmel Live is filmed. I bet a lot of people don’t know who Jimmy Kimmel is and wonder why I would mention him. Well because I do know him and the reason is that I actually got picked off the street to attend a live recording! He’s not nearly as famous as Conan O’Brian or Jay Leno but still one of the great late night talkshow hosts around. The reason why we got picked was mainly because one of their acts had canceled and therefor their fans didn’t show up either. Coldplay was supposed to play! Would’ve been awesome to have witnessed a free show of them, but I guess the rest of the guests weren’t too bad either (Antonio Banderas & Damon Wayans Jr.). Heck it was just fun to attend a live recording. Talk about experiencing Hollywood! Woop WOOP! Little Tokyo wasn’t that spectacular though. It consisted of just 1 block or 2 of stores and restaurants. Still worth to go take a look though, maybe it was because I was there on a sunday during Superbowl but in general I didn’t get the feel that I missed a lot. Same with Chinatown in fact, I visited Chinatown afterwards when it actually started to get dark. Most shops and stores were closing down. They did have a small Chinatown part where they lit up the lights on the traditional buildings. Great for pictures and a nice stroll after dinner if you happen to be around there.
Out of all the studios you could visit, many people said that Universal Studios were the one you should definitely visit. What the people don’t tell you though is that you can’t just visit the studios where you can visit the sets where movies were actually shot. You have to pay for a $60-$70 ticket that includes the themepark and the actually studio tour. The actual studio tour only takes about half an hour or so apparently and since me and my buddy didn’t really feel like “wasting” our time at the themepark we decided to skip it. I figured I can always come back here when I have kids and stuff.
After checking out Universal Studios we decided we wanted some more outdoor activity and we hear aboud this stellar observatory on top of a hill where you can hike up to. This is actually the observatory you can see in the first Transformer movie where Optimus was projecting the classes at/on. That’s probably also one of the reason why I wanted to go up there I guess and you can get a really nice view of the Hollywood sign from up there. The hike itself was a bit challenging, probably because we took the hard route to go up. Some old lady told us we could get up there faster by taking steeper shortcuts and so we did. Normally it takes people like half an hour or an hour to get up there, but we did it in like 20 minutes. Quite intensive but so worth it when you reach the top.The view is just amazing and the observatory has a lot if interesting stuff on show, most/some of it for free. If you have kids or if you just love to learn about the universe and planets, this is the place for you to go.