Friday, 24 June 2011

Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Westwood

Back in LA I met two friends from home who had come out for a holiday. I'd already walked down the well-trodden Hollywood Boulevard on a previous trip; it's trashy, dirty and yet oddly fascinating for the types of people you see there. They generally fall into three categories: bums, tourists and worn-out "older" types (please note I fall into the second group, not the third) who you suspect moved to Hollywood years ago in the hope of making it and... never did. It is not uncommon to see women with huge sunglasses and plumper-than-average lips with full make-up on at 9am. Nor is it uncommon to see a movie premiere taking place - back in 2007 when I visited with a friend, we got caught up in the hustle and bustle of the crowds waiting to catch a glimpse of celebrities outside the El Capitan Theatre, where the red carpet was laid out and the streets were closed off. We actually ended up seeing Patrick Swayze, who was a) smoking hot in real life and b) still looking as young as he did in Dirty Dancing (sidenote: Point Break is my favourite Patrick Swayze film). This time there was no such drama and I resisted going into the epic record store Amoeba Music, because once you go in, you come out hours later and lots of $$$ lighter.

So, back to meeting my friends. They had rented a car and badly wanted a convertible Mustang. Guess what they actually got.


Yes ladies and gentlemen, I bring you... a Chrysler Sebring. Gutted. From then on, Mustangs haunted us. We saw at least two or three a day but resisted the urge to slash their tyres. It WAS a convertible, but the novelty of this wore off when we went over 20 mph and the wind made my hair twice as big as it is already.

If you have a look at this review, it sums the experience up nicely.

The morning after we met up, we drove to Santa Monica and had a little walk around, taking in the beach, the pier and some yummy lunch. We then had a look around Venice Beach, which is chock full of vendors on the boardwalk selling all kinds of rubbish and advertising for free medical marijuana evaluations (it's legal to smoke it in LA, as long as you have a permit-type-thing saying you need it for health reasons). Suffice to say we didn't partake in either of these exciting retail opportunities and instead saw some amazing skateboarders nearly killing themselves. Venice is one of those places that looks pretty low-rent, but actually it's anything but.

Later on, we drove our other friend (who had recently moved to LA) back to where she was temporarily staying - in a place called Westwood, which is where the University of California at Los Angeles is based. The thing about LA is it's basically impossible to get anywhere without a car. The city sprawls in every direction for miles, and when people say "I'm going to LA" what they actually/probably mean is "I'm going to a certain city within LA which is miles away from downtown and that's not even a place many tourists go". So, once we were in Westwood, we decided to stay there for the night. It's a really nice area and you can walk (shock horror! Nobody walks in LA) to some cool restaurants and bars.



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