swimming pools, movie stars
dirty streets and dirty cars.
My first trip to La was a bit hectic. Within 24 hours, I'd bought a car , drunk a pile of beer, and ended up outside a bar at 2am talking to a Nam vet who was smoking some killer hooch and, talking about flying through the jungle at night while someone shot tracers the size of basket balls at him. Twenty Four hours after that, I had been to Disney land (closed for winter), the Pinto had blown up, spraying the windscreen with greasy anti freeze, whilst refusing to run when stopped at the lights, and I was, in a hot pool In the Sera Nevadas with a girl I had picked up at the airport.
I've been here plenty of times since then but nothing has lived up to those first couple of crazy days here more than thirty years ago. I declare right here I like Los Angles, but it can be a bit daunting for the new comer. My very first impression of LA was this place is an absolute dump. Sure everything is covered with a fine dust, the houses all look the same, every where is a 3 hour bus ride away. Hay, there is still some great things to do here.
I left Melbourne at 11.am on a Monday and arrived in LA about five hours before I left. This meant I had to stay awake after a sixteen hour flight for another nine hours at least, until my hostel opened at three. Fortunately there are plenty of low stress things to do here. I heeded to the Pantry café in downtown La for a classic breakfast. Five bucks gets you scrambled eggs, toast coffee and grits 24 hours a day the same as it has the last 90 years. A bit of a wander around downtown to pick up a few things I'd forgotten then off to the bright lights of Hollywood and Vine. Hollywood used to be a dump for the down and outs when I first came here, now its just a tourist trap. Still worth seeing, try your foot prints in Fred Astair's, Check out Marlin's star on the sidewalk, catch a latest release at the chinese cinema where they hold the Oscars.
LA is the land of cars. It's criss-crossed by huge freeways that seem to crawl along 24 hours a day. Never driven in the US. LA is not the place to learn. Fortunately there is now an alternative, there is a great metro system here. Don't worry, LA is huge, but you can relax on the subway while you cruse around. Buy a TAP pass ( $1 take note Myki) stick in some extra cash and you can jump on and off the Metro all day long. There are now trains from the airport to downtown and plenty of other places you don't want to go, Buses take you everywhere else. Your never lonely as there are always plenty of people talking to themselves. The bloke behind me at breakfast was having a loud conversation on his phone for half an hour. It was only when I went to leave I realised he did not have a phone. Don't want to talk to your self, most people are quite happy to have a chat. Spanish seems to work most of the time, occasionally English too. WASP,s don't take the bus.
From Hollywood it's the 704 bus to Santa Monica through Beverly Hills. This is where the mythical Californian's live. Unfortunately you, I, and most of the rest of LA can't afford it. Fortunately the express bus whisks you past Rodeo Drive in a flash so you don't realise what you are missing. Once your at the beach you can stare down at the stars houses beside the Santa Monica pier. Walk south to Venice beach. I don't recommend swimming as the water is about 10 deg all year long. Grab a cheese steak/ beer combo, then watch the roller blader's /gym junkies watch themselves.
By now it,s 6PM and being winter here dark. I've just missed the 33 bus so it's a twenty minuet wait, freezing my arse off out side a 7-11. My new home is in Crenshaw South Central. LA. Home of rappers and Drive by's. “What was I thinking when I booked this” . I get off the bus, grab a burrito, and walk down a relatively quite street to the hostel. No cruising dudes in lowered caddies, no tooled up 13 year old's in hoodies on street corners. The hostel looks like an old southern mansion, it has two huge Fan palm trees with there tops lit up in the front yard. It's fairly new and purposely built by the owner an older black gentleman who greets me with “James Bond we've been waiting for you”. Being two stories it's out of character with the surrounding neighbour hood of small low rise bungalows. It even has a swimming pool, and my favourite part a full breakfast. I find out the lit palms help you find the place at night, you can see them from a mile away. I crash and sleep soundly.
I'm actually on my way to Mexico, so LA is just a rest break in the flight. The next day I check out the La Brea Tar pits, and the farmers markets. The pits provide a lot of the fossils world wide to museums with the best on display there. You can watch while they dig them out “very slowly”. The Market is LA's top tourist destination apparently. I can tell you they have a happy hour and good food. Mean while gotta fly. Voy a Mexico. Click for more.