After spending 3 days in one of my favorite American cities, San Diego, I arrived in Los Angeles. My next stop was Miami so this was my last chance to discover the wonderful American West Coast. A moment I’d been looking forward to since literally forever.
Do NOT trust ratings
Unfortunately traveling is not always puppies and sunshine. One thing I’ve learned lately: you can’t always trust the ratings on booking sites. Via booking.com I booked a hotel with an 8 rate near Hollywood but as soon as I arrived my happiness melt as snow in the sun. I felt like I’d just arrived in prison (rude staff, dark, small rooms,…). I instantly wished I’d only booked one night but I was stuck in here for two nights and the hotel was way too expensive to book another one. At that moment, all I wanted to do was lay down on my bed and cry but then I realized I was in f* fabulous Hollywood so I decided to drive to Arclight Cinemas on Sunset Boulevard and watch a (super girly) feel good movie.
Day 1: Downtown LA
Painted wall and an authentic bookstore
The next day my mental breakdown was gone (I’m an exaggerator) and I jumped in my car to discover Los Angeles. I can’t explain what, but there’s something about painted walls so I couldn’t resist making a detour to see the colorful ‘California Dreaming’ wall and take a (hundred) pictures. Another thing I’m crazy about are books. Therefore, I decided to expand my collection with a few books from The last bookstore, housed in an abandoned bank. Heaven for book lovers and even if you don’t like reading, this place is nice to wander around. Actually, it’s more a museum than a store because of its artful displays and sculptures built from overstocked books.
45 seconds of magical solitude
Close to the bookstore you’ll find the Disney Concert Hall and the Broad museum (known for its famous infinity room). I skipped a visit to the Disney Concert Hall because I’m totally not into Disney but anyways, it’s an architectural marvel that deserves a picture. More interesting for me was the Broad museum (closed on Monday!). The Broad is a contemporary art museum on Grand Avenue in downtown LA with rotating temporary exhibitions and free entrance. But okay, let’s be honest, probably 99% of the tourists visit this museum for the super cool infinity mirrored room. Of course you can’t just walk in to this incredible room to take a few fancy pictures, no that would be too easy. You have to wait in line to enter the museum, then you have to subscribe yourself to visit the room and after approximately 2 hours it’s your turn to enter the room and experience your 45 seconds of magical solitude.
Afterwards I went to see another Instafamous wall. ‘Think about someone you love’ it says. Unfortunately I didn’t have the balls to send this picture to the person I was actually thinking about but I hope you do! Like, seriously, can you imagine someone texting this picture to you? I’d be a very happy person.
Remember I told you I bought a few books earlier today? Indeed, I couldn’t wait to read them so I drove to the nearest park which seemed to be Echo Park Lake where I read my book and watched the sunset. Yes, I do watch the sunset on my own and it makes me intensely happy. To end this beautiful day I went to Sawyer on Sunset Blvd. to have dinner. I strongly recommend this restaurant for its casual food, good service and cozy interior.
Day 2: Hollywood & Glendale
Griffith Observatory is located on the edge of a hill that overlooks Los Angeles. There are a few reasons why you must visit the Griffith Observatory:
- You can see the Hollywood sign from there (from a distance)
- The rooftop and telescopes enable you to see the entire city
- Admission to the Observatory building, grounds, and telescopes is free
- It’s the filming location of the movie La La Land
Old zoo Los Angeles
On the internet I bumped into a few blog posts about The Old Zoo in Griffith Park, an abandoned zoo. It seemed like a nice place so I drove over there. But to be honest, it’s quite disappointing. I wandered around there for about 20 minutes and decided to go for a walk on the world famous Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood Blvd. a disappointment?
When telling my friends about my road trip in America they’re all impressed by the fact I visited Hollywood. Even though lots of people say it’s a disappointment I’m happy I’ve seen it. Come on, who wouldn’t like to visit the place where all their childhood heroes live? I think Hollywood is not a disappointment, I guess people just expect too much of it. Okay, it is less fancy than you should think but hey what do you expect, people walking in their most glamorous clothes on a simple Monday?
I walked up and down the Boulevard, my walk of fame, where I got tempted to see the houses of celebs. So I booked a Star Tour where you get to see the houses of celebs living in Hollywood, Beverly Hills,… and I’m very happy I booked this tour. For me it actually was a nice way to see the famous Rodeo Drive and other famous places without having to drive myself. I mean, a 5 week road trip on your own…believe me when I say you’ll be happy when you don’t have to drive yourself for once. The Star Tour Ticket also included a free admission for Madame Tussauds. I’ve seen Madame T. in several countries so I didn’t want to do it again but it was free so I entered and admired my biggest love, Leonardo Dicaprio, because it will be the closest I’ll ever get to him #heartbroken.
Americana at Brand
An Italian girl living in LA (I met her earlier this vacation) asked me to hang out together and took me to Americana at Brand. You know, that’s the nicest part about traveling alone. You meet people, become friends and they show you places you wouldn’t see without them. Americana at Brand is a shopping, dining, entertainment and residential complex in Glendale, It’s a super cozy place to hang out with friends! Just take a look at my pictures and you’ll know what I mean.
Later that day I had dinner with the girl’s host family and ended up on their couch instead of in my hotel, you know, wine and stuff. I hope everyone who travels through America or any other country in the world meets locals and has the chance to stay with them and hang out together because it’s the only way to really get to know a culture.
Day 3: Venice Beach
Venice Beach sounds as fancy as can be doesn’t it? It’s known for its boardwalk, beaches, shops, and artistic locals. For me, the best way to start exploring Venice Beach was by strolling over the boardwalk and check out the street performers. Thereafter I explored the Venice Canals. A nice quite place to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy beach and boardwalk. Actually, I lost my heart over there. Living in one of the small houses near the canals must be my favorite place to spend the rest of my life.
Day 4: Universal Studios
I bet lots of people dream about visiting Universal Studios in Hollywood and so did I. The park is easy reachable by car but keep in mind that the parking is quite expensive. I bought the entrance ticket online which was 15 dollars cheaper than at the actual gate to the Park. Plus, you don’t have to wait in line to buy tickets. So, I’d say, online all the way!
The nicest thing about the park is the single riders queue. Hooray! Someone out there finally realized that people doing things on their own do exist! Yes, this truly made me happy. When you enter the queue as a single rider, you’re essentially used as fullers in seats of rides which are left open due to odd numbers. I barely had to wait to enter the most popular attractions which saved me a lot of time that day.
Later that day I went to a concert with my friend and her host family. It was a nice evening but not really worth mentioning here.
Day 5: Hollywood sign
Hiking to the Hollywood View Point
Today the host family took me on a hike to the Hollywood sign. I’d seen it from a distance at Griffith Observatory but today I came really close. You can see the famous sign from different spots, depending on what you want to see and how much effort you want to make for it. My best Hollywood Sign-viewing experience can be found at Lake Hollywood Park. We parked the car at Canyon Lake Drive and walked up the street till we came very close.
For me a famous hot dog please!
Pink’s hot dogs has been serving hot dogs in LA since 1939 and is definitely the most famous hot dog stand in LA. Actually it became a Hollywood landmark. They claim to fame is the fact that their hot dogs are not exactly normal. I was pretty excited that David took us there. When seeing a crowd of people I knew we’d reached Pink’s. After staring at the menu for 10 minutes (so much choice!) I decided to choose the (classic) Chili Dog. Another 30 minutes later I could finally taste this delicious hot dog.
Day 6: Farmers market & Santa Monica
The greatest hostel e-ver
Podshare Los Feliz, my all time favorite hostel! With its open space concept and friendly staff the hostel is the place to be to meet other people. After eating in the shared kitchen, the responsible of the hotel suggested spending the day together. We decided to visit the Original Farmers Market, The Grove and Santa Monica.
The Original Farmers Market & the Grove
If you only have time to visit one farmers market, this one should be it. The open-air marketplace exists since 1934. While there are familiar brands, the Market’s true appeal is in the food stalls and specialty shops. The Grove and the Farmers Market are next to each other so after eating at the Market you can cross over into The Grove which is more centered on shopping. I’m not a huge fan of shopping while traveling but I enjoyed the nice atmosphere en the beautiful fountain.
If only I discovered Santa Monica earlier I would’ve spent more time over there. Especially the Santa Monica Pier is a fun trip. I mean what’s not to love about it? Shops, restaurants, a ferris wheel, roller coasters and lots of streets artists. Afterwards we walked into the shopping streets of Santa Monica where we had a few beers and enjoyed the street music.
Unfortunately I needed to go back to the hostel to pack my stuff. God my heart broke by the thought of leaving California. Luckily I’d planned a few more days in Miami before flying back to Belgium.