*Going on a journey...*
About five weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have experienced the glamour that is Los Angeles California during my USA adventure. I'd never been to the West Coast before and was somewhat apprehensive about not being cool or pretty or rich enough to fit in with the 'beautiful people' who we see so often on popular television shows such as 90210. Would everyone be searching for an audition opening? Would I spend most of my time trying to dodge out of the way of the paparazzi? How many celebrities was I likely to run into?
Well, before my flight even touched down on US soil, the exciting news that Chad Michael Murray was on my plane after having already seen Jessie J at the airport left me eager to pound the pavements of West Hollywood in search of the next star. Sadly, my third and final celebrity viewing of my stay occurred later that night as on a stroll back to my hostel from the nearest Taco Bell I saw one of the girls from an early season of America's Next Top Model. End of excitement.
Not really though, my stay in Los Angeles was everything and more than I'd expected.
*My bed at the hostel... sharing a room with 15 others I wanted to be able to keep a close eye on all my stuff, so kept it ALL on the end of my bunk bed. Paranoid, much?*
I stayed at the Banana Bungalow hostel in West Hollywood. Although the room was exceptionally cheap, I was quite concerned about meeting my fifteen (!) fellow dorm buddies, but soon after the introductions were made I felt comfortable with almost all of them. The ones I spent the most time with include Jayne from the UK, James from the USA, Dawn from Ireland and Sam from Australia. The hostel was very inviting in its decor, although the bedrooms and bathrooms were in serious need of renovation and the rickety old bunk-beds were death-traps. Nonetheless, Banana Bungalow soon became home and I made there what I hope will become friends for life. Expect to run into many Aussies and Kiwis at this hostel as its packed full of them. As for the staff at the Banana Bungalow, they were often friendly but equally disorganized, ill-advised and occasionally pervy which is manageable unless there's a serious problem. When one of my close friends who had rented a 'private' room had a strange man enter her room at 4am and crawl into bed with her as 'security' had given him a key when he said he was her boyfriend, management didn't handle her very well. In fact, my words were, 'They couldn't organize a p**s-up in a brewery' because they didn't really know what to say or do about her upset. Having said that, I never had a personal problem with the staff or the hostel itself and actually loved Banana Bungalow myself!
*Jayne and James*
*Dawn chillin' on the sightseeing bus.*
*Me and Sam <3*
The hostel is conveniently located a five minute walk in one direction from the Vintage and Alternative Fashion Stores of Melrose Avenue and a five minute walk in the opposite direction from The Grove shopping mall which offers all the big-brand fashion retailers, including Forever21, Abercrombie and Fitch and MAC. Needless to say my wallet was groaning as my budget-brain supported my will-power enough to avoid spending until I was to reach New York.
*Abercrombie and Fitch at The Grove... isn't the building so pretty?*
When I wasn't looking around the shops, I took the City Sightseeing bus in order to hit up the local sights and I was not disappointed. Mann's Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame, the Pantages theatre and more offered tourist locations which are known world-wide. As if that's not enough, I was able to buy a hot-dog at Pink's, the number one fast-food vendor of choice for some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. And it was delicious!
*Mann's Chinese Theatre...*
* ... The Hollywood Walk of Fame ... *
* ... Pantages...*
* ... Pink's Hotdogs ... *
* ... I ATE THIS :)*
Venice Beach is a place I'd heard of so many times before that I absolutely had to see it for myself. After negotiating the public transport of Los Angeles, me and my friends made it to the beach in just under an hour. What looked like miles of sand stretched out in front of us as the tide was out far. Walking to the sea in the comfortable heat with a breeze playing around us, we worried that the water would be full of sharks and other beasties. The water was so clear we could see our own feet and although the odd stray seaweed wound its way around our ankles, we were not savaged by piranhas. The water was slightly nippy though... not that we cared after mindlessly burning under the sun's rays. Be careful at Venice Beach as the breeze will make you forget that the sun can be nasty.
*Look how happy I was before I got burned to a crisp.*
Los Angeles by night was... interesting. Depending on what you're into you can have a really great night. The hostel organized a night out to a local bar called Boulevard 3. The club was very cosmopolitan with beautiful professional dancers, fountains and great music. However, I felt that the drinks were far too expensive ($7 for a bottled beer???) and also I felt like the prize cow at the meat market. Which might well be the least flattering description I've ever used for myself but its true. It was clear that most men in that club were there because they knew that young internationals go clubbing there so they spend most of their night trying to 'woo' you with what I have come to recognize as American sleaze. No, I'm not saying all American men are the same or use the same techniques, only that there are some who do and I've never experienced that kind of forwardness from any other nationality thus far. I'm talking comments like, 'Hey baby, you caught my eye instead of all these girls, you're the most beautiful star in the room' before they hand you a drink they've already bought for you. They grind against you for a maximum of one song before trying to drag you to a sofa, the whole while calling you 'baby' and telling you you're 'incredible'. Then, they try and slobber in your mouth. RANCID. If you're a guy who uses these kind of tactics in a club, take my word for it, IT DOESN'T WASH WITH BRITS. In fact, a friend of mine punched one such guy straight in the nose.
Otherwise the people of Los Angeles were very nice and accommodating, always happy to give directions or recommend a restaurant to tourists. They're great if you don't mind hanging out with aspiring actors as Hollywood really is the land of showbiz, most of the locals I mixed with were trying to take a big bite of the fame-pie. That being said, I felt like their ambition made them even kinder than none fame-chasers as they tend to be friendly to anyone for 'just-in-case' the person they're talking to has connections to someone 'big' in the industry.
I had a fantastic time in Los Angeles and will definitely be heading back again. The weather was hot but not humid, the style cool yet laid-back, and the city has a lot more to offer than the preconceived idea of cookie-cutter Celeb-land. So what do you think, is LA for you? Have you ever visited before? Have you ever written a city review before? If so, I'd love to see it! Please leave your link in the comments box and I'll check it out.
Love and snuggles