Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

Los Angeles - Walt Disney Concert Hall - Krista photo


“As for so many people, I think my favorite thing about LA is the weather. The sun is almost always shining, and the temperature is usually between 20-25°C. June might be my least favorite month, on account of the ‘June Gloom’ (cloudy and cool). I also like that within two hours’ drive you can go from surfing to skiing, or vice versa. And people here smile. I don’t care whether it’s genuine or fake – it’s just nice to see cheerful faces in the morning.

Here are some of the things I don’t like: One is the sheer size of the city; you can’t get around town without a car. It’s also a city with an ugly exterior, and the good and beautiful things are well hidden, so you really need to look hard to find them. LA is not an easy place for tourists, as it’s more interested in the comfort of its rich inhabitants than with tourist visitors. Before you travel you should prepare in advance a list of the things you want to see.

Public safety generally depends on the area – these can range from very safe to extremely dangerous.

For someone traveling to LA for the first time, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Malibu are probably the most interesting and safest districts. Hollywood can be a little more dangerous at night.

Visiting Los Angeles with children is very easy, as everything is ‘child friendly’. Before my first child was born I considered ‘drive-thru’ shops to be the enemy of sociable shopping. When my two kids were sleeping in the back seat, however, and I wanted something from the pharmacy, it was so convenient not to have to drag them out of the car and into the shop – I just had to roll down my car window and tell the cashier what I needed.

There are plenty of children’s activities, and most museums also have things for kids to do. It’s worth checking this out online in advance if it’s going to be relevant for you.

Malibu has some of my favorite beaches, but I also like Zuma Beach and El Matador Beach.

I know it’s a stereotype, but I found that whenever I asked for help in a shop, black members of staff were less helpful. It’s not that they weren’t friendly, it’s just that they always wanted to get the task over and done with as soon as possible. There are many exceptions, of course.

You can buy expensive goods and cheap goods in LA, but in general, the quality seems to be high. I buy good quality food at Trader Joe’s, and there are fantastic outlet clothing stores in the area. It’s never worth paying full price for anything. (I speak from experience)

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“With hindsight, I think it would have been spending more than a week in LA. That’s about how long it takes to adjust to the size, mood, and energy of the city. You’ll also have to get used to spending a lot of time in your car, and navigation will slowly begin to make sense (GPS is essential, and even with it, getting around isn’t straightforward!) It’s important to plan your day’s activities in advance, so you don’t end up spending all day in your car.

As with all big cities, it’s worthwhile familiarizing yourself with the sights before you travel, to plan what you want to see, and this is true ten times over for LA.

Driving is great, especially in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica… These are charming areas, with beautiful houses, huge palm trees, and almost always perfect weather.


Likes:
1.    People are very friendly, helpful and direct
2.    The weather is almost always fantastic (we were there in December)
3.    Going to the In-N-Out burger bar by LAX just after landing, and ordering a shake while huge planes take off and land just a few meters above us.
4.    Walking and eating breakfast on Rodeo Drive, where some scenes from the film Pretty Woman were filmed
5.    Shopping on Melrose Avenue, and driving down Sunset Boulevard
6.    Going up to the Griffith Observatory before sunset, then watching as night fell and the lights of the city came on.
7.    Going up to the sky bar at SOHO HOUSE for a cocktail in the evening, with its beautiful views over the city
8.    A tour of Universal Studios is a must
9.    The Christmas fireworks at Manhattan Beach (we were there on December 9th, 2013)
10.    Santa Monica Pier and the surrounding area. Also, walking on Abbot Kinney Blvd.
11.    Walking the length of Venice Beach, walking the skaters, sitting on a bench, and strolling in the Venice Canal district.
12.    Eating lunch in Silver Lake with a Mexican friend of ours, who took us to one of the best local Mexican restaurants – Casita del Campo (www.casitadelcampo.net)
13.    Eating dinner at Mr. Chow’s, surrounded by Hollywood actors
14.    Driving in the city at any time of day (except when there are traffic jams, of course)

Dislikes
1.    It takes a long time to get anywhere by car, and there are lots of traffic jams
2.    It’s almost impossible to find a parking space, and when you do it’s expensive
3.    The Walk of Fame and the Kodak Theater were disappointments
4.    Without a car it’s almost impossible to get the most out of the city
5.    Because there’s no center, there isn’t really a party district either, just bars and clubs scattered throughout the city
6.    The public transport system isn’t great, so if you’re out partying a taxi is really your only option.
(Petra, 2017)

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“For me, Los Angeles was a total disappointment. The Walk of Fame was extremely long, and 95% of the names meant nothing to me. It’s close to the studios, but most of them are off-limits to tourists since they are company headquarters too. The tours were funny, because they always point out the houses of famous people, even though you usually can’t see the house at all – just a high wall or fence. It is possible to buy a tourist map if you’re in the mood for walking.

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“Personally, I’m dubious about Los Angles – it seemed to have a bigger reputation than was justified by the reality. It’s true, though, that the city has a lot of luck: the weather conditions are extremely pleasant, and the sunshine made it an ideal place to make films without artificial lighting. It is sunny at least 330 days a year, meaning almost constant blue skies, and even in winter the minimum temperature is about 10°C, while it is warm in summer. Who wouldn’t want to live in constant warmth and sunshine? It’s no accident that movie stars love LA.

And then there are the beaches – who wouldn’t want a long stretch of oceanfront?

The stars will live in LA so long as LA lives off the stars. If I ask myself, what comes to mind when I think of Los Angeles? What’s the first thing that pops into my head? Cool, and full of movie stars? Something like that.
So, yes. Sure. During my stay, everyone said about five times over that you really have to keep your eyes open in this city. “You never know when you’ll bump into a celebrity.” This is the place where you have the most chance of that happening. Ever since I’ve been scanning everyone I pass on the street, seeing every stranger as a potential Tom Cruise. No luck so far, but maybe next time.”


Practicals

Los Angeles - Metro Rail - kr ph

Los Angeles - bus - kr ph

Los Angeles - Beverly Hills - z.m. photo

Transport

Metro

,, The Metro is a haven for all types of people, including druggies, lunatics, and the homeless. It’s not rare for you to see some lunatic screams in the Metro and other weird types of people. Here are some of the characters I’ve seen on the Metro system:

  • Two people decided to roll a blunt of marijuana and begin smoking on the train.
  • A lady was screaming her head off saying, “they’ll never take me alive!”
  • Some guy who stepped into the train and put his fist in the air and shouted: “Death to America!”
  • Countless idiots who blast music on their speakers for everyone else to enjoy :)
  • Homeless people literally bring their shopping carts onboard full of trash bags and dirty blankets and take forever to stop.
  • People who fall asleep on entire rows and stretch their legs into the walkway.
  • Lastly, some crazy indigenous Latin American lady would stand in the central hallway of Union Station and chant very loudly in some Native American language. It sounded almost demonic, and her eyes never failed to move in their gaze. One time she made it onto the train, and no one noticed until the train got moving where she did her thing again." (j.b., 2019)


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Public transport in Los Angeles is considered among the worst in America! One of the reasons is that in other cities – New York, for instance – you have a large number of people crammed into a relatively small area, where it would be crazy to have everyone getting around by car, meaning that many people use the public transport system, which is extensive and well built. In contrast, LA covers a huge area, and everyone has a car. In fact, in most families, every family member has their own car! Public transport is used almost exclusively by the city’s poorest inhabitants, precisely because they can’t afford to buy or run a car. The subway is never crowded, just a few people hanging out! Even in the downtown area, where the skyscrapers are, there are never many people on the street – normally no more than a handful.

Hire Car


“You could try to get by without a car, but it really isn’t worth it. Of course, if you really want to spend have the day getting somewhere, waiting for hours to transfer between poorly-organized bus lines, or in the evening seeing the bus start from the underpass which doubles as a homeless shelter, and immediately deciding to take a taxi, then, by all means, go for it. If you follow our advice, however, you’ll hire a car. In a quieter time of year, you could probably get a car for a couple of weeks, including insurance, for under 300 dollars. Gas costs half as much as in Europe, so you don’t need to keep too close an eye on the mileage clock.


GPS: Without this, you’re lost. At the rental agency, they’ll be happy to give you a totally road-ready GPS for about $10 a day, but if you’re smart you’ll download a California-Nevada-Arizona extension to the device you use at home, which will solve the problem without too much expense.
Or you can avoid bringing a GPS device altogether if you use your smartphone. Google Maps is the best tool available today, and any map can be downloaded for free for 30 days


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When it comes to driving, there are a few rules which are hard to get used to in the first few days. Among others, these include:

•    If there is no sign indicating otherwise, you can turn right even at a red light.
•    On left turns (if there is also traffic coming from straight ahead) two more cars can turn left after the light turns yellow
•    At larger intersections everyone always stops, and the driver who gets there first has an advantage, as the other tend to merge behind in an alternating manner.
•    The car-pool lane (the innermost) can only be used by cars with two or more occupants. You have to be careful, though, because it’s easy to drift from this lane into the fast lane, which you have to pay for even if your car has more than one person in it (we got a fine for this later).

Unfortunately, exploring the city on foot isn’t really practical. You could be walking for hours, and nothing would really change as you went from one end of the city to the other. (We didn’t even try public transport). What’s strangest of all, though, is that there isn’t really a center. True, LA doesn’t have the energy and bustle of New York, but it does have a certain something that gives it an interesting atmosphere.

Accomodation

•    Hollywood: If you’re planning to have dinner or go out at night in Hollywood, then it’s worth getting a hotel either in Hollywood itself or in the immediate vicinity. There are plenty of options, from youth hostels up to three-star hotels. Four-star hotels and up are a bit more complicated to arrange.

From a security point of view, it’s better to choose hotels to the right of Vine Street, since East Hollywood is a bit riskier (though it is improving). Though there aren’t so many real sights to see in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, it’s still a popular area with tourists. As luck would have it the area is also full of accommodation, especially high-quality boutique, and luxury hotels. If you stay in this area it will be easy to get back after a late dinner or a night out in Hollywood.

•    Downtown Los Angeles: It would be worth looking for a hotel in this area if you’re most interested in the cultural, business, or sports activities which are to be found here. If Disneyland is your number one destination, then, of course, you should look for a hotel nearby. Some of the hotels in Hollywood and Santa Monica also arrange guest transfers to Disneyland, but this does mean wasting time. If you stay close to Disneyland, on the other hand, you’ll have the opportunity to arrive and avoid the crowds, which also means you don’t have to stay late. If it’s important to be close to the beach, you’ll have to consider a large area – The beaches around LA add up to around 130km in total. The most popular is undoubtedly Santa Monica, which also has the widest selection of accommodation. From there, it is not difficult to get to Venice Beach or the spectacular beaches at Malibu. If you don’t want anywhere quite so upscale, and with so many tourists and vacationers, we would recommend Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, or Redondo Beach (collectively known as South Bay Beach). Pasadena is northeast of LA and thus closer to downtown.

Food

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Los Angeles - all kind of chicken breasts - kr

Los Angeles - hamburger - kr ph

Shopping

Farmers Markets:
Nearly all neighborhoods have a weekly farmers market. Prices are higher than in Whole Foods. The farmers are usually white people, they are typically the sellers, and in the background, some Mexicans are doing the physical work. Our recommendation is to buy fresh fruits at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, or the Hollywood Sunday Farmers Market, both open year-round.

Los Angeles - Melrose Avenue - Sunday market - t.p. photo

Los Angeles - WholeFoods - The Organic Zone - m.h. photo

Fun

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Los Angeles - Los Angeles - she may want something - Krista photo

Los Angeles - Venice Beach - Botox on th Beach - z.m. photo

Public safety

“Los Angeles is basically not a city you could call dangerous. Crime does exist, of course – this is an enormous city – but unless you flaunt valuables conspicuously, or otherwise act stupidly, the chances of falling victim to it are low. This is also why many prefer to drive – it lowers the chances of coming into contact with unpleasant characters on the street.

Public transport is also safe: buses are full of cameras, and drivers are very attentive. What really tickled me is that they show footage from these bus cameras on local TV, so that if someone decided to do something stupid, it’s quite likely to be seen by a lot of their friends and neighbors. Good psychological thinking, that!

Another good idea is the ‘see something, say something’ initiative. The aim of this is to encourage the public to report a crime or suspected crime, to the authorities as soon as they see it. This is drilled home with announcements on the subway speaker system and posters on the street. Let’s be clear, this absolutely isn’t the sort of big-brother surveillance you might find in a communist country, it’s just aiming to cut down on the rates of racial or sexual harassment, assault, graffiti, and crimes of that nature.

At almost every subway station, for instance, there are announcements in both English and Spanish that sexual harassment is not tolerated at any level, and that if anyone witnesses it, they should call 911, say the name of the nearest stop and the carriage number at the top corner of the train carriage. People are asked not to intervene directly, it is enough to give the relevant information and let the security services handle it – they will board the train at the next stop. (2017)

Los Angeles - Dodgers Stadium - LAPD

Health

“The toad story: It seems absurd that Los Angeles should have a law banning the appearance of toads, but it’s quite understandable when you realize that this law falls under wider anti-drug legislation. They harbor a chemical known as bufotoxin, which is extremely dangerous to our pets (larger dogs can die from eating one of these toads).

Bufotoxin is not life-threatening to humans, of course, but it is a powerful hallucinogen. In the 1970s, when drug abuse was common, people often tried to extract the bufotoxin and consume it. It might still appeal to anyone looking for a quick hit of a free drug, but let’s be clear: the effects of bufotoxin are extremely unpleasant. It can cause anxiety attacks, fear of death, nausea, and vomiting. As such, it is neither a liberating nor an intoxicating experience.

Los Angeles - yoga - s.f. photo

Others

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Los Angeles - confession - Krista photo

Los Angeles - message - kr photo

Background

Los Angeles - You are a goddess living in a city of angels - kr ph

Destination in brief

City of LA population (in 2020): 4 million - second largest city in the United States - 49% Hispanic/Latino

Ten million live in Los Angeles County.

The city extends for 71 km (44 mi) north-south and for 47 km (29 mi) east-west.

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 4300 USD 

Los Angeles has the second-highest number of the homeless population (after New York): about 50,000 people in the City and the County. 75% of them are unsheltered, 

If Los Angeles were its own country, its economy would be bigger than Saudi Arabia or Sweden or Switzerland.

LA's highway systems, unfortunately, split neighborhoods from each other. Whereas many cities around the world have their communities intertwined with another, LA's are separated by a sizeable controlling highway system. Entire areas of the cities are separated from each other by the highways. The spaces between them that aren't highways are usually either: mountains, industrial areas, or impoverished neighborhoods.

When LA was founded, the city’s full name was “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles sobre el Rio Porciuncula.” In English: “The town of our lady queen of the angels on the Porciuncula River.”

Geography

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Los Angeles - Mexican fan palms (Washingtonia robusta) - b.a. photo

Nowadays

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Los Angeles - downtown - Krista photo

Los Angeles - smile - Krista photo

Los Angeles - palm trees - Krista photo

Attractions

Getty Center

Los Angeles - The Getty Center - visitors watching James Ensor's spectacular painting, ,,Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889"- Krista photo

Venice Beach

Los Angeles - Venice Beach - Krista photo

Los Angeles - Venice Beach - mural titled “Luminaries of Pantheism” - Krista photo

Los Angeles - Venice Beach - street art - Krista photo

Broad, a contemporary art museum on Grand Avenue in Downtown

Los Angeles - The Broad, a contemporary art museum on Grand Avenue in Downtown - Krista photo

Los Angeles - Broad museum - Krista photo

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