Busy busy busy!!! This morning we decided to head for downtown. A lesser visited area of the city to see a bit more of real life than Hollywood offers! On the way to the Metro station we stumbled apon a fresh food and 'artsy bits' market. The road had been blocked off. It had a real community feel. We got some really nice satsumas!! The Metro in Los Angeles is amazing!! There's no barriers and noone checking tickets (or any staff at all). The stations are huge and empty. SOO different to the London Underground. From Union station we walked up to Chinatown. The walk was 'interesting'! We started up the road and there were loads of bail bond shops then criminal lawyers and we started to worry. Then... we rounded the corner and in front of us stood the huge grey presence of the 'Los Angeles County Sherriff Mens Central Jail'!!!!!! Chinatown was lovely, full of little shops and the buildings had oriental style rooves. We had lunch there in a chinese restaurant. The portion was so big it could have fed the whole of China!! From there we walked in a big cirle. W went to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The Cathedral is impossible to describe. It's really not what you expect. But really amazing huge modern building, like an art gallery or something. From there we walked to a monument called El Pueblo de Los Angeles. Where there was a street full of stalls selling Mexican stuff. It had a really lively Mexican atmosphere. We had our picture taken posing on a big fake donkey wearing sombreros and holding mini guitars!!! Very silly! From there we completed our circle back to Uninon station. This time into the main part of the station which is breathtakingly beautiful! It's a HUGE art deco building with leather chairs and fancy lights! In the evening we went to the hostel bar for their comedy night. There were about five stand up comedians and some were funnier than others! Then... bed!
We got the bus to Santa Monica to go to the beach. It was a lovely sunny day and we headed straight for the sand! In true English tourist style we rolled up our trousers, frolicked in the sand and paddled our feet in the freeeeezing cold Pacific Ocean! The after a sandwich on the beach we explored Santa Monica pier (see the blog picture!) where ther are rides and games as well as shops and cafes. When we were leaving the pier there was an enormous marching band from some university in Dakota. They were very American, waving huge flags and playing sousaphones!! We finished the afternoon with a walk round the third street promenade where there are nice shops! We had a bit of an adventure finding the return bus stop. Bus rides in LA are distinctly hair-raising. The traffic is scary and they're really long bendy buses! Back at the hostel we partook in their all you can eat BBQ. Then we went to the hostel bar for their so-called New Years Eve Party with two of our room-mates. The bar was, however, totally dead! We went outside to watch the queue for the nightclub nextdoor which was apparently one of the number 1 parties in Los Angeles. We played a few games of Uno in the bar then gave up and went and got pizza down the road. We ran back at quarter to twelve to see the New Year in in the bar. At last there were more people in there! After another drink and talking to people we went downstairs and phoned home (where is was half 8 in the morning) to wish a Happy New Year!!