Los Angeles did not fail to amuse. Within a day of my arrival, I’ve witnessed the transaction between a movie scout and an aspiring actress in downtown Hollywood, the attempted suicide of a man atop a 40-story building, the numerous homeless folks along the tourist-filled blvds and the massive celebrity mansions in the secured streets of Beverly Hills.
Backpacking California was a treat. Although LA without a car is not suggested, it is possible. I was able to mission through my two-day stay with lots and lots of walking. Needless to say, I was the only one in the streets of LA dragging my luggage around like a complete idiot.
Three days before my arrival, my host canceled my stay at his flat downtown LA. Fortunately, his friend agreed to house me in his condo in Studio City.
Union Station, LA
With its red brick rooftop, beige walls and palm trees, the LA union station is the epitome of Sunny California as seen on 90210.
Since it was a bit ways from the beach side, downtown LA oozed dry heat, the sort that causes breathless heaves and burnt shoulders. I dragged my luggage out of Union, and became instantly thankful for the amount of Starbucks in this town. I’ve never been interested in Starbucks– we’ve got Tim Horton– the cheaper, less classy version in Canada. But Starbucks became a pit stop between all my destinations. With its free WIFI and AC, I was more than willing to spend a few hours in between my walks and just sit and chill. I’ve always said I’m the worst kind of traveler- I’d sleep all day if I could.
Drew’s friend, my host Jamie, was the most interesting person. He lived in the San Fernando Valley, home to (apparently) rich porn stars and an extensive network of adult film producers.
Before the 2008 crash, he was a mortgage broker in LA, riding the big buck and partying night and day. Basically some next level Wolf of Wall Street fiesta.
The crash left him devastated. Within two months, he packed his bags and moved to Alaska to work on a fishing boat. The man went from partying away his 6 figure income to slaving 16 hours a day abroad a sailboat. Talk about dramatic life changes!
After wandering around Hollywood Blvd, I was stopped by one of those ‘2 hour tour bus’ sales people. Since I didn’t have a car, this was undoubtedly the best way to venture around LA. Nonetheless, the given price of $50 was pretty expensive for my liking, so I negotiated for a student discount.
One of the perks of traveling alone is all the benefits. There is always that extra solo spot no one else would want to fill, always that extra conversation with strangers that wouldn’t happen if not by yourself.
I began chatting with Moses, the man at the counter. He ended up giving me the ticket for USD $14, which is really quite a steal for a 2-hour guided tour around the ins-and-outs of LA. He even went out of his way to buy me a water for the trip.
Despite the cheap tour, I wasn’t much of a fan of Beverly Hills, Sunset blvd, Hollywood Hills and all those other fancy celebrity residential areas. In spite of the beautiful mansions, these gated communities were too quiet. They lacked the excitement & glamor I associate with the whole entertainment industry. Incredibly ignorant, but I was kind of hoping to spot some craziness during the mid-day summer noon.
Perhaps I am just a tourist at heart. I can’t keep myself away from the obnoxious scene downtown Hollywood provided. I absolutely loved every second of the buzzing streets and spent the rest of my evening wandering among the buzzing crowds.
Following the celebrity house tour, we were dropped off at Hollywood and Highland, which was the downtown core of Hollywood blvd. The two must-sees in the area are the TCL Chinese Theater and Dolby Theater.
TCL Chinese Theater
The TCL Chinese Theater is a magnificent theater palace in Hollywood. Located at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard, it is just a block down the street from the Hollywood and Highland station. It has the exaggerated features of Chinese architecture and contains the largest IMAX theater in the world. In front of its doors, a select number of celebrities– the “Forecourt of the Stars” graced the cement floors with imprints of their hands and feet.
Hollywood and Highland Center
Dolby Theater is located just beside the TCL Chinese Theater. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to visit the former. I was completely awestruck by the Hollywood and Highland Center. It encompasses the Dolby Theater and various restaurants, bars and stores. If you walk to the back of the complex, you can vaguely see the Hollywood sign atop the hills.
I spent the rest of the night wandering along the rooftop of the Highland Center, watching street performers and vintage cars from the terrace.
Every Friday or Saturday night, Hollywood Blvd would be crowded by night cruisers. It’s neat to see these beauties roaming the streets of LA. The line went on for miles with hundreds of onlookers gathered in the streets cheering them on.
Of course, I couldn’t end the night in Hollywood without chatting up love, drugs & rock n’ roll with a dapper stranger. So in came ?, who egged on the fun with his travels across the country.
LA definitely did not fail to amuse. While there wasn’t a celebrity sighting, people in LA were one of a kind. I met too many fun spirits running around town.
This is one of the days where I went over my $15 budget/day backpacking California.
- Public transit ($1.75/way).
- $2 burger at 7/11,
- $3 ice cap at a coffee shop and,
- $5 meal at McD,
- I spent around $27.5 (including my 2-hour bus tour).
You can also go for a Citypass to explore more attractions! If you have other questions, feel free to shoot me a message!
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Happy Travels xx