I’m finding it hard to blog about everything happening here because there’s so much going on, and I’m taking my time exploring everything. The conclusion I did come to however after 8 days in LA is that I love this city. It is the second largest city in the US and one of the 50 largest cities in the world. It’s almost half the size of Lebanon, and that’s minus its suburbs.
But, despite all this, everyone here is very… chill. No one is in a hurry (which is obvious when you get stuck in traffic on the freeway for no apparent reason except people are taking their time). The lunchbreaks here are one whole hour, while in New York for example, they’re usually just 15 minutes. People take their time explaining stuff to each other and make small talk. Waiters and salespersons are genuinely helpful, to the point where they’ll give you the address and directions to the store you actually need to go to instead of trying to rip you off into buying something from them. Even the thousands of homeless on the street are kind and have a sense of humor. You’d here things like “Sir, can I have some of your money to get trashed?” or “Too ugly to prostitue”.
Another recurring theme I came across all over LA is that these people love pitbulls and chihuahuas. It’s rare that you see a different breed, although I did meet two very delightful great danes and a beautiful greyhound.
The laid-back attitude of Angelenos is accompanied by being as healthy as possible. How? Well, there’s a gym/yoga/pilates joint on almost every corner. Most restaurants have a fresh fruits section near the cashier. On the street, apart from the hotdog stands, you find dozens of fresh fruit carts which slice up a fruit salad for you with apples, watermelons, mangos, bananans, etc. that have been laying on ice for a while, creating, honestly, the best cold, refreshing snack in the universe.
I guess that best sums up my impressions of Los Angeles and its people. Now, I’m going to recommend my favorite places to visit:
1- The Griffith Observatory
I loved this place. Apart from being in many movies, this place is a beacon for science and enlightenment for everyone and for all ages. The awe-inspiring and very trippy Planetarium show will have you leave the theater mind-blown and looking at the stars. The view is the best in LA, with all the city sprawled at your feet, a view of the ocean, the mountains and of course the Hollywood sign. It’s also in the middle of the Griffith park, so you’re in the middle of a lot of greenery, birds and much cooler and cleaner air.
2- Hollywood Boulevard
I spent several nights on this street and I can guarantee you no one you see is “normal”. The way people dress, their hairdos, what they’re up to is something you’d probably find unacceptable anywhere else, but in Hollywood, it’s all good. There are also a lot of landmarks to see, all in close proximity to each other such as of course the walk of fame, the Grauman Chinese Theater and the Kodak Center. If you like tattoos, piercings, bongs and sex toys, you’ll find plenty of those on Hollywood Boulevard too, making it somewhat the trashiest, but most interesting place I visited in LA.
3- Venice Beach
It’s where some of the scenes in Baywatch were shot. Nuff said. But seriously, Venice beach is a lot of fun, for cheaper than everywhere else. Kiosks and street performers doing anything from pogo-stick shows, to electric guitars on rollerblades line the long strip of golden sands and blue waters. If you want funky pieces of art, henna tattoos, hipster glasses or funny t-shirts, that’s where you wanna go. You can also go in for a dip if the weather is good, although the water is freeeeezing. It’s also fun trying to hunt down the many hidden nice restaurants there, and looking at the very creatively designed beach houses and ornaments.
The rest of LA is just as awesome, but these are the places I found funnest and sort of unique to LA. There are malls and clubs and pubs and shopping streets everywhere in the world, but I doubt you will find a Venice Beach, Hollywood Boulevard or Griffith Observatory anywhere else in the world. Also, to balance out the science of the Observatory, make sure you go to LACMA (LA County Museum of Art) which houses thousands of masterpieces from giants like Picasso and Andy Warhol, as well as the awesome temporary exhibition of female surrealist work (which I highly recommend).
I really advise you guys don’t use public transportation here. Buses and metro stations are not up to the standards of a city as great as LA. You also waste a LOT of time switching buses and waiting for them. I’d advice you get an international driving license and rent a car for as little as 30-40USD a day. Also, stay away from the Natural History museum, unless you’ve never seen dinosaur bones before.
That’s about it! Next in line is San Francisco.
I’d also like to thank Sarine, Armen, Base, Dario, Edwin, Amber, Steffen and Andrew for making my stay all the more awesome in LA.