After a very frantic rush for our flight (no thanks to Hawaii’s slowest and grumpiest uber driver) we were on route to LA. Our arrival was sleepy and hilarious: We landed just after 5am, and even though our air bnb host hadn’t replied about checking in early we decided to head over and let ourselves in – and found a mess. There were open bottles of wine, teddy bears, mussed sheets -but no people – so we tucked up four across, on the unused sofa bed and quickly fell asleep. Waking up at around 9:30am we had a message from our host informing us we actually couldn’t early check in because the booking before us wasn’t due to check out until 10am that morning.
We still don’t know why the guests before us left early but we are still #blessed that they did.
Ok, so despite everyone telling me to greatly lower my expectations for LA I just couldn’t, and I have to admit that it clouded my trip a little just because the city wasn’t really everything I envisioned. It was definitely surreal to be in such an expansive and diverse place. There were definitely many pockets of insane beauty that I will treasure forever, but I also pictured L.A. as somewhere to live, so easy to be in – and in that regard I was very wrong.
My favourite things:
Santa Monica Pier + Venice Beach. There is something so magical about seeing a place you recognise from photos pop up into reality. Santa Monica was SO satisfying because it looked just as picturesque as it does in all the movies. There were definitely a few more strange characters and weed sellers than I had imagined, but seeing the sun set behind the Ferris wheel was one of the most special moments I had in L.A.
Disneyland. I WENT TO DISNEYLAND. The most classic of childhood dreams?? Our Disney day was perfect. I personally fiend theme parks, but only in that really classic New Zealand way where I have actually only ever been to Rainbows End – and so this was a big step up. Disney is bright and flashy and loud and so fun. The park itself is really beautiful and well maintained and the big rides are so much better than Rainbows End corkscrew rollercoaster. We got a park hopper ticket (which is a really good idea as a group of adults going because otherwise you would run out of fun rides) and so walked over to California Adventure Park as well. I ended my day with a sweet Starbucks hot chocolate and a very fresh and comfortable bed – the best day from start to end.
Views. Over the duration of our trip we had a night visit to Griffith Observatory and did a morning walk of Runyon Canyon so got to see best of LA’s unbelievable views. The landscape of L.A is startling different to anything we have back home. The city is expansive, masses of streets and suburbs stretching out for miles in front until they disappear into the golden, dusty haze of the distance. The Hollywood sign perched into the dry, rocky mountains was also pretty amazing to see in person. L.A is cool to be in, but it’s not until you get up high that you can really appreciate how magic it is. And it was nice, in a city so huge and so flat that there are still a few good places you can escape up to get a bit of perspective on it all.
also we went a taping of James Corden and then we were on TV so that was v fun.
My least favourite things:
The poverty in L.A. is next level. There are homeless people on every single street and thousands of them in the slopes on either side of the highway. It’s the kind of poverty that you can’t (and honestly, shouldn’t) ignore and it’s something that gets left out every time someone tries to tell you about their lovely L.A. lifestyle.
It’s important to feel discomforted by poverty (or you might forget its an issue that really needs addressing) but it’s also really hard to be in a city that seems to ignore the issue because you feel complacent and you feel helpless.
I know I don’t live in L.A so maybe I don’t know about all the cool initiatives that people have created to help out the homeless, but when every fifth person you walk past is asking for food it’s kind of like – how can celebrities live it up here with their billions of dollars in good faith? I couldn’t even eat my Taco in good faith. The stark comparison between rich and poor taints the whole idealistic dreaminess of the landscape and makes L.A somewhere way more real and way more difficult to encounter.
I know, why did we go to the zoo?
I like zoo’s (controversial as, sorry) and it was a delayed birthday outing but honestly L.A. zoo was the kind of zoo that makes you hate zoo’s. The enclosures were too small (and why? When the city is so big?????) and so many of the animals felt stunted and sad. I felt bad that I paid money to support such a shitty institution.
I think the main issue I had with LA is I never felt like we broke into the real city that people love and live in. There was no time during the visit that I felt local, familiar and easy going. I also didn’t really see many people who seemed local, familiar or easy going and that’s a weird thing as a traveller. I know that in a place so big the tourist areas are obviously going to be teeming with people visiting and merchandisers, but it was still an off-putting feeling.
Overall this was a fun stopover in our trip and really good in-between for Hawaii and New York. Even though I would rate it the lowest out of our three spots I really did appreciate being there and it is somewhere I would love to go again with a bit more time to spend.
–> Onwards to New York