I dislike LA a lot. I’m travelling with my best friend and we’ve compromised our differing tastes to spend three days in LA (her choice) then 3 days in Santa Fe (my choice). We are staying on Hollywood BLVD which turns out to be dirty and sketchy and a little bit scary. We want to get away from it and all the people dressed as superheroes but can’t seem to figure out how, so in desperation buy tickets to the ‘Hop On Hop Off’ bus.
The traffic is awful and the Hollywood sign is tiny. We’re not rich enough for Rodeo Drive and not cool enough for Melrose Avenue. On day 1 I remember that I have absolutely no interest in Hollywood actors past, present or future which becomes a little awkward after a while. It’s hot and gritty and I get up on my high-horse about the city’s fixation with the superficial. All I really like is the abundance of salads available at every eating establishment. It’s safe to say by our last day I’m ready to get the hell outta dodge and catch the fast train to Santa Fe.
But then we meet up with my friend Shayne. I’d met Shayne while working in Hawaii and she’s an LA native, born and raised. She pulls up in her cute little car, ushers us inside then proceeds to rallydrive us across numerous 6-lane freeways despite them being filled with seemingly stagnant traffic. After a few near-misses, we pull up at Venice Beach. Maybe it’s because we’re there in October, but Venice Beach is pretty chill (or that could be all the ‘medical’ marijuana for sale) not the poser-ish nightmare I’d imagined. I really liked it and wished we’d booked a hostel there instead.
We stop for coffee and I tell Shayne I’m ready to get out of the city and head somewhere more rural.
Oh, she says, I wish you were here longer. I know some great hikes I could take you on! LA is great base for hiking.
Before I can get more details we’re back in the car again and heading to Little Tokyo. That’s right, we’re bypassing Chinatown and heading straight to Japantown. We get great sushi and I buy some Japanese sweets which I LOVE in a legit convenience store. There’s a cool museum I would really like to go to but it’s time for us to head to the station and catch our train.
Oh, says Shayne again, if only you could stay! I’m going to this LGBTQ film festival tonight to see the premier of my friend’s movie. You could’ve come with me.
I leave LA in a state of bemusement. I’m still glad to be leaving and can safely say I won’t be making plans to move to LA LA Land anytime soon, but through Shayne I got a teensy little snapshot of another LA, one I definitely liked the sound of.
It made me realise maybe I was the one being superficial and just because I was travelling with a friend rather than solo, it didn’t mean I should stop looking for the weird little cool things to do as I usually would. Hanging out with Shayne was a bit of a wake-up call for me to start travelling pro-actively again and stop expecting to find off-the-beaten-track gems while riding the Hop On Hop Off bus…!