Right, 3 days in LA... Go!!
Following a sad farewell to Phil at San Francisco Airport and a short flight to The City of Angels, it was time to get my skates on and make the most of my 3 days here.
Arriving at LAX early in the morning, I decided to navigate my way to the Hollywood AirBnB I had booked using the metro. Anyone who has visited LA before will know how massive and sprawled out it is, so getting the metro was always going to take a bit of time to get to Hollywood at the other end of time.
After 2 hours, three connections, and delays at a road closure in Downtown where I had to walk to another stop, I still hadn't arrived at my destination when hopping off at the wrong metro station! Ha
Oh, and did you know sexual harassment is forbidden on the metro in LA.. this was announced over the loud-speaker. What a shame!
I began to walk with my heavy backpack but quickly realised what a stupid idea that was when I was blinded by the sweat dripping into my eyes, in what was 30 degree midday heat. Uberrrrrrrrr!! Best $5 I ever spent.
I finally arrived at my house in Hollywood which was run by Russians, and where I'd be sharing a room with a cross-dressing black American fella. What could go wrong?! Ha
The house and area itself was pretty nice to be fair, however, I was told it was dangerous to be walking around at night. Nice one!
I was back out in the sunshine no sooner had I dumped my bags. Being a sucker for an awesome view I caught a shuttle bus and headed straight for Griffith Observatory in the Hollywood Hills where the rich and famous live in their mansions.
It may have been busy up there, but it was definitely worth going.. it's one hell of a view! From various points at the Observatory you're able to see the whole of LA.. only then you come to realise the enormity of the city. The view to Downtown is so far away, yet pretty cool.. and the world famous "Hollywood" sign is the other main attraction which can be clearly seen from here.
I hopped back on the shuttle bus which took me in to the centre of Hollywood, where I strolled along the Walk of Fame checking out all the stars, past and present.. Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Chaplin, Martin Scorcese, Britney Spears, Frank Sinatra, to name a few.
You'd think it would be nice around here, but it isn't, in fact it's quite grotty and tacky. Reams of dirty junkies roaming the sidewalks don't do the place any favours, it creates an odd environment when you've got tourists and young families walking around at the same time.
Police had cordoned off a street by Hollywood Boulevard as I walked passed. Dozens of news crew vans were parked outside so obviously something was going down.. later to find out off a random old woman, who came up to me in the street for no apparent reason, that a man had held two children hostage in a hotel room with a gun to their heads! "Oh really? In a bit love!"
Having not eaten all day and constantly being on the go I grabbed some junk food and got myself back to the house to get plenty of shut-eye for the next day.
I woke early, got myself ready, and was on the metro just after 9.00am heading for Santa Monica. Over an hour later I'd arrived at Santa Monica Pier and its massive beach that stretched for as far as the eye could see.
The famous cycle path along the beachfront was on my "to do" list, so after a short walk along the pier I hired a bike and off I went following the busy track carved between lush green grass, beautiful white sands, and tall palm trees.
I loved the route amongst the other cyclists, skaters, runners, and seeing where all the supposedly "beautiful" people hang out.. obviously I had no problems fitting in ;)
I passed the original location of Muscle Beach in Santa Monica before reaching its current home in Venice Beach where all the meat heads were out in force pumping iron. The whole area was buzzing with people taking part in a variety of sports.
A sudden halt to the cycle route somewhere beyond Venice Beach led me to asking directions off some random old fella on a bike, who said, "Follow me", so I did!
It didn't feel like we were on the right track, but I went with it anyway. Turns out the lycra-clad Russian led me nowhere near where I wanted to go, ending up at a marina where some huge super yachts were docked. "Cheers for that pal, I'm off!" Don't talk to strangers kids.
I headed back to Santa Monica, dropped off the bike, mooched around for a while, then caught the metro back towards Exposition Park where the California Science Center is located. Time to get my inner geek on again!
There's all kinds of things to see here but my main purpose for visiting was to see the retired orbiter - Space Shuttle Endeavour from NASA's Space Shuttle Program. It's first mission to space was in 1992, and it's twenty-fifth and final one was in 2011, before being laid to rest at the Science Center.
It was super interesting learning about the missions it had made, how it was constructed, seeing all the various parts, and then having the opportunity to see the Shuttle in the flesh. Mind blown.. 10 geek stars achieved!
Now into the early evening, I hopped back on the metro to Downtown to grab myself a dose of cinema action.. and where better place to watch a film than in LA. I fancied the newly released film "Dunkirk".
On one of the largest screens I've ever seen, accompanied by an incredible surround-sound system, "Dunkirk" was outstanding, and the most captivating film I've watched for some time. I was completely engrossed! It was nice to be able to switch off for a change in such a chaotic city.
Long day! I made my way back to the house in Hollywood and packed my bags ready for my departure the following day.
It was Saturday, and time for me to checkout, but my flight to Fiji wasn't until 11.30pm so I had a whole day to fill. Fortunately the owner of the house kindly let me store my bags at their home so I didn't have to cart them around with me all day.
I decided to fill my day with another game of baseball, my third within a week.. this time at the Dodger Stadium in LA, where the San Francisco Giants were the visiting team. I was well accustomed with the Giants by now since I caught two of their games in San Fran, and they'd be facing a quality Dodger outfit who were dominating the National League West table standings.
Fortunately I managed to get myself one of few tickets available in the shade as it was an absolute scorcher of a day! My seat was beside a lovely woman named Liz, who was a season ticket holder for the Dodgers. I had a great afternoon talking to her while watching the home side defeat the Giants 2-1. Apparently the rivalry between the two sets of supporters is fierce and it's been known to kick off in the stadium.
I never knew baseball had that tribal mentality you usually associate with football, however, on this occasion it never came to blows. On the other hand, I did see an old granny lift her top up on the big screen when the camera zoomed in on her during a break in play! Ha.
I made my way back to Hollywood again to grab my bags before taking an Uber to LAX.
I wasn't here for long, but I managed to pack in quite a lot in 3 days. I had a great time, yet I can't make up my mind whether I like it or not. It's certainly not as slick or quirky as other cities, nor is it beautiful or welcoming, it's just.. LA!
I now have an 11 hour flight across the Pacific Ocean to the islands of Fiji where I will begin a new chapter of my travels in the Oceania region.