Glamorous and glitzy LA, the city of angels, and the city for the rich and famous. LA is a beacon of hope for aspiring actors, dancers and entertainers who flock here from various small towns and purge its sprawl of streets, hoping for a shot of fame. An air of excitement and mystery drives the city, shrouding every corner.
For locals, the extraordinary is ordinary. A naked couple walking down a main street? A famous celebrity popping into Starbucks? A dog doing tricks on the boulevard? Locals don’t even blink an eye. Here, outrageous behaviour is encouraged rather than shamed. The city continues to feed and nurture the hungry lust of millions around the world for superstars and funky new fashions- skateboarding and gangsta rap was born here for example, however, where there is success, there is also failure. The glossy veneer of perfection and continuous ambition for the status quo that strive to reach their goal, means for most who work here, dejection and rejection is constantly thrown in their faces. Its a dog eat dog city for dreamers, and being the second largest city in the US, there is much competition. Apart from the obvious connotations that come with the city of LA, its ethnic diversity and diverse population makes one of the world’s greatest international cities, filled with authentic cuisines, interesting neighbourhoods and big sweeping side walks.
I came to LA at the same time as visiting San Francisco– which makes both cities seem even more contrasting to each other. Being 17 and on a family vacation, we did as any other holiday maker would do, and ventured to anything Hollywood related.
We managed to organise a personal tour that contained all the major sights of Hollywood all in one excursion, which meant we were able to fully explore individual aspects of the city ourselves, after seeing the infamous sights. Heading to the Walk of Fame at the start of the trip, we walked down the famous street that is paved by fame and glory. With each step, we took in a new fantastic artist that transformed music, film, TV or the stage. Each step was a reminder of the incredible diverse talent that has walked through Hollywood and mustn’t be forgotten.
Another famous sight on this boulevard is The Graumans Chinese Theatre. The theatre is famous because of the vast amount of premiers that have been held here since 1927, Grammy awards and private functions that have filled these doors with A listers. There are a few souvenirs for fans to take a gander at and you can either choose to take a half hour guided tour in the day, or even watch a movie in the evening here.
Then head to Beverly Hills, where you can gaze at the Hollywood sign and take an obligatory photo in front of it, whilst you are then whisked away on a tour of the homes. For most celebrities, they must live in LA to gain major roles, or until they make it big enough in Hollywood for them to have scripts sent to them, wherever they are in the world (away from crazed fans). During that period of middle ground, many celebrities live in lush padded mansions in the expensive and exclusive area of Beverly Hills. Here you are able to be taken around to celebrities houses, looking how each differs in style and luxury and waiting in anticipation if someone decides to pop out to grab a bottle of milk. I found this tour quite drab, and dare I say it, desperate. These people want to be left in peace and live their own lives rather have a car filled with foreign tourists stare at their door in excited eagerness. I would really only recommend this tour if you are in fact a massive fan of the celebrities that live here, or enjoy looking at people’s houses.
A more interesting attraction in the the Beverly Hills area, and where you are more likely to spot a celebrity (if in desperate need to see one), is Rodeo Drive. Rodeo Drive is a 2 mile stretch of boutique opulent stores that exuberate wealth and glamour in every aspect. Don’t be surprised to see certain stores closed to the public, or snazzy fast cars parked in the street- this means someone famous has gone for a bit of shopping.
We also went to Venice Beach, my favourite area of LA due to the fact it was the least pretentious and the most carefree. Here it doesn’t matter what you have been in or what you look like, its filled with people who live life to the full and want to share with others what their incredible (or strange) talent might be. It is a real experience to walk the famous Ocean Front Walk; where the young generation of LA whiz past you on roller blades with toned athletic bodies and healthy glowing skin, where graffiti and street art swamps the walls and where a dread locked rasta invites you to listen to his tight melodies. From here, it is easy to get to Santa Monica, the light at the end of the tunnel for Route 66. The pier has played many a role in films that have made the big time and it is the city’s most compelling landmark. Come here to be taken back to your childhood with a number of arcades to choose from and a spot of glorious sand to bathe on.
Whilst in LA, my brother and I went to an obligatory theme park, Universal Studios. It was my first trip to an amusement park that was known on such a super scale and which had an expanse of wealth backing its attractions. The park was well thought out and I loved the rides and interactive attractions that spurred from certain movies and TV shows. Being an adrenaline junkie, I loved this day out. There are a number of other parks to choose from such as Sony Pictures and Disneyland, and if debating where you should visit a park like this, America is definitely the place to do it. Of course here, everything is larger then average, and the marketing, rides and food, holds this true.
Other sights to see which we didn’t get the opportunity to see are: Griffith park, which is a former ostrich farm and is the second largest park within a city, in the USA- and is a great place for picnics with friends or a hike that offers fantastic views of the city. Another sight is the Griffith Observatory which has a wonderful viewing platform to see the entire sky and boasts an incredible show at the Planetarium.
As I said before, because of the hybrid communities that live in LA, there is a vast amount and choice in dining in Los Angeles. From traditional American diners, fluorescent lighted sticky tabled Chinese eateries, Hispanic kitchen like cafes and exquisite restaurants, the choice is yours and just varies depending on your style and budget. As this trip was a family holiday, and a luxurious trip, we dined at tantalisingly tasty restaurants such as Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood Cafe and the infamous “The Ivy” restaurant (which really isn’t that tasty). Despite this, we did manage to spot two celebrities: Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman, both at separate restaurants (it seems they have a taste for fine dining as well).
We stayed in the incredibly expensive and luxurious hotel: “The Beverly Hills Hotel” which had soft duvets on their comfortable beds- which I could wrap myself up in and lose track of time for days on end, and served sizzling steak and eggs for breakfast. (A little bit different to the 32 dorm room I bunked in Taupo in NZ). Despite the pleasant décor and wonderful breakfasts, the customer service was appalling and one which put my Dad and our family off splashing out for again.