Jun 182013
 

After 8 days in Los Angeles, I was ready to move to my next destination. Staying in Hollywood, I was right in the thick of the action – metres away from Hollywood Boulevard.  Walking along this famous strip, I quickly learned it is a huge tourist trap whilst I avoided tripping over every 2nd person getting their photo taken next to one of the stars on the footpath and dodging the multiple tour operators and emerging rap artists trying to sell their demo.  It was kinda like Bourke St on steroids.

LA is full on. It’s fast, often pretentious and diverse. It has multiple scenes and I understand why it appeals to so many.  But for me, I guess its not my cup of tea.

My LA highlights include:

1. Venice Beach / Santa Monica – Venice is the USA’ number 1 tourist attraction (I would have thought Disneyland personally). The beach is awesome and the walk between Venice and Santa Monica is a must. I was so excited to see Muscle Beach but it was practically empty when I was there 🙁

Cupcake???

Cupcake???

2. LA Farmers Market has some great food and produce. I had some quality eats and then walked it off around The Grove which has some great stores. I then checked out some of my all time fav’s such as Undefeated and Supreme

3. The Griffith Observatory has some great views of LA and if you like science you would definitely want to visit this place and even catch one of the shows they have.

4. Food. Really this should be number one. One of the guys working at the hostel I stayed at recommended an awesome place called Tendergreens. This concept would absolutely kill it in Australia, kind of like a custom salad/vegetable bar with ethical protein sources and brilliant soups amongst so much other daily specials. Korean BBQ in K-Town was off the hook, late night Tacos from various food trucks, California’s famous In and Out Burgers and quality coffee. I could write a whole post on food. By the way, most of the food I’m eating is featured on my Instagram Page for which I have also created a direct feed on my website.

5. Venturing down to Crenshaw a couple of times was brilliant. Some of the rides I saw were crazy and it was definitely the ‘real deal’ in terms of getting a feel for what LA is really like. I spoke to a few people and really just hung out. First time I saw fast food chains with bullet proof glass protecting the staff – more security than most banks in Australia.

I felt guilty for not really doing anything on most tourist itineraries like Universal Studios, Disneyland, Six Flags etc – but this trip is less about that and more about trying to get a feel for the culture.

Bushwick Bill

Bushwick Bill

Finally, on my way out of LA I popped back down to see the Geto Boys live at The Observatory in Santa Ana. They didn’t disappoint putting on a great show for all the real hip hop fans.  I stayed with a great couple, Phylline and James whom I found via AirBnB.  They were awesome and gave me some great local advice and took me out to dinner which was brilliant. The train out of Santa Ana to San Diego was also spectacular, with most of the 2 hour journey along pristine coastline – I really wanted to jump off and have a surf.

So now, I’m in San Diego. Moving forward I think I’ll need to do a few more regular blog posts to cut down on the length – if you have made it this far I give you some big props!

Peace out.

 

Jun 122013
 

So I have been in the USA for nearly 4 days and it’s definitely time for an update.

As much as I enjoy Fiji, I’m so glad I made the call to leave early. This is my third visit to the USA and I love this country more and more with each visit.

So where do I start??? Accommodation maybe… My first 2 nights I stayed in a place called StayONBeverly which is a hostel “of sorts”. It has about 10 individual rooms, with 3 shared bathrooms. Its run by a guy called Bo and is located on Beverly/Western near Koreatown. For $55 per night (plus tax) it’s a bargain but what holds it back is the location which is about 30 mins from all the action of Hollywood.

Today, I checked into a boutique hostel called Podshare in Hollywood which so far has been really good but I’ll update more on this later during my stay. This is my first ever hostel stay thanks to some motivation from a friend and I’m glad I made the decision, it definitely adds to the social element of solo travel.

GZA

GZA

Last night I stayed in Santa Ana (part of Orange County) which is about 2 hours travel via public transport or a 45 min drive from Hollywood. I went there to see the GZA – original member of the Wu-Tang Clan which is one of my all-time favourite bands. I have seen the Wu perform twice before but this show could not be beaten for the intimacy of the venue – Constellation Room (part of The Observatory). I was right up front for the entire show which lasted over 4 hours including the support acts.  The quality of some of the support acts was outstanding, particularly the rapper that was on right before GZA – definitely some talent there. (Check out my pics in the gallery as well)

GZA arrived late and didn’t get on stage until after midnight. The wait was definitely worth it. He has much love for his fans and was constantly shaking hands and interacting with the crowd.  He even walked into the crowd and performed during the end of his set – you can see the video in the Tour Videos section. It was well worth all the travel to Santa Ana to see the show, definitely a highlight of my short trip thus far.  I enjoyed it so much that I’m heading back to Santa Ana this Sunday to see the Geto Boys.

My Top 5 observations of LA in 3 days:

1. Public transport absolutely sucks here. Car is KING! Unlike NYC and many other capital cities, there is no substantial metro system and buses service most areas. Travel time on PT is usually double what it takes by car. Tip: If you are getting PT and are here for a week buy a weekly unlimited pass for $20 (Individual fares each cost $1.50 so unlimited is the way to go).

Killa Priest

Killa Priest

2. Marijuana is basically legal here. People are lighting up basically everywhere and I hear it is decriminalised in California. In addition, it is legal for medical use.  Killa Priest’ t-shirt (picture left) sums it up quite nicely.

3. Everything just works in the USA. Google Maps (with Public Transport directions and times), Yelp, Craigslist and the list go on and on. There is a huge amount of content on these sites and everything just links so seamlessly and without effort.

4. There is definitely some ‘No Go Zones’ especially after dark. South LA, East LA especially and even the Motel 6 I stayed at in Santa Ana. You need to be careful I guess, especially if you are female. But my philosophy is if you don’t mess with people, they generally don’t mess with you.

5. The food here is truly awesome with so much variety due to the huge multicultural influence. Obviously being so close to Mexico, I have had some of the best tacos ever. Korean is also popular with a huge Korean population in Koreatown. But really, like Melbourne you can get whatever you want, ANYTIME you want. Apps like Yelp just make it so easy.

I’m in Hollywood for another week so will add another post before I’m out.  Peace.

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