California road trip, part one: The LA bit

California road trip Arts End of NowhereAs all people unburdened by sense and financial responsibility know, the best way to alleviate post-holiday blues is to book your next one. When I returned from a few months in Korea in November, one of the first things I did was scour Skyscanner while WhatsApping my dear pal, Ally T. He mentioned he was going to LA so guess what? I’M COMING WITH. If I recall correctly, I don’t think I even asked if it was ok to crash his holiday, but there we have it. If you’re going west (or indeed any which way), you’re taking me with you.

So hello from the sky, ladies and gents: I’m writing this two G&Ts down and 51,000 feet up on Virgin Atlantic’s LAX-LHR route. Incidentally, Virgin have got this whole ‘brand experience’ lark nailed. I’m in economy right now (heaven FORBID the lady travels in such conditions) but the bog standard Virgin experience easily beats the first class leg of my trip (San Francisco to LA, American Airlines). Keep the Bombay Sapphire flowing, Dario; I’ll require more than one consolatory tipple as my Californian road trip comes to a close.

California road trip Arts End of Nowhere

And what a bloody road trip. Hardly the most original contribution to my bucket list but certainly one of the most long-standing, driving along the Californian coastline has been on my mind ever since I paid a fleeting visit to San Francisco as a teen. I’ve always said SF is the only place I would want to live ‘permanently’ (whatever that means) outside the UK but after the past two weeks, I’ll extend that statewide.

California road trip Arts End of Nowhere

If my surroundings and travel buddies weren’t quite so photogenic, perhaps I wouldn’t have had to sift through well over 1,000 photos and hours of video footage. With so much to show and tell, I’m going to split this blog into three parts: LA, the bit in the middle, and San Francisco.

A little extra:  California road trip, part two: the Malibu, Santa Barbara, Cambria & Carmel-by-the-sea bit

California road trip Arts End of Nowhere

Also, here I am with ‘vodka sauce’. Which is about as tempting as my facial expression.

Two days in LA: the essentials and a couple of extras

My Los Angeles diary deserves a preamble.

I’ve heard LA is ballachingly widespread. I’ve assumed it’s vacuously obsessed with celebrity culture. I’ve been told it is, for want of a better phrase, a bit of a shit hole. To be honest, I approached it as a sort of layover on my way to Big Sur, the jagged coastline that’s more ‘my scene’. I’m a coastal, country girl at heart, you see, and no amount of Kardashian bullshit will change that.

As with so many prejudgements, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I loved LA. It was my favourite destination on this little trip and now, it’s second only to London on cities I’d like to call ‘home’. It’s got sunshine, avocados and so many beautiful places to go hiking. Everyone I met was relaxed and friendly (without the obligatory smell of weed that came with San Francisco’s friendliest inhabitants). It has all the buzz and none of the stress of a world city. Permanently or for a holiday, I’d go back in a heartbeat. And so the quest for a visa begins.

I jest. I think.

California road trip Arts End of Nowhere

I was only there for two days, so forgive my cheesy, touristy agenda. You know the drill: day one, walk of fame. Day two, Hollywood sign. All the former served to do was highlight how few icons and celebrities I give a monkeys’ about (only David Bowie was enough to get me excited about a star on the floor. You can read more about my love for Ziggy Stardust here). The latter was a big sign.

California road trip Arts End of Nowhere

When I’m new to a city, one of my favourite things to do is choose a neighbourhood, wander around it with my camera, and sit in a coffee shop for hours. I’d say that people-watching gives me more than a Lonely Planet guide ever could. I did a tiny bit of that in LA; first in La Brea and second, near our hostel in Hollywood. Incidentally, it was perfectly adequate and I’d recommend it, as long as you’re happy in shared rooms.

A little extra:  Creative curation: Stamp Out Photographie at Whitechapel Gallery

California road trip Arts End of Nowhere

California road trip Arts End of Nowhere

While in La Brea, we came across a large farmers’ market. I’d definitely go back. Ally wasn’t a fan of my carrot crisps but yay, all the more pretentious foodstuffs for me! And in Hollywood, we stumbled across a very newly-opened coffee shop and bar, Demitasse. So new, in fact, it was but three days old when I first wrapped my lips around its unforgettable Kyoto Iced Coffee. That place was so good it deserves its own blogpost, so eyes peeled for that.

California road trip Arts End of Nowhere

California road trip Arts End of Nowhere

I always struggle to articulate what it is that draws me to certain cities and pushes me from others. Seoul is my spirit city (as I ramble on about here); but I think LA could be a second home. It can’t be the sunshine; everywhere outside London has good weather. It’s not the iconography; I could take it or leave it. I think it’s more to do with the juxtapositions. The downtown buzz and the hillside hiking; the burger subculture* and the healthy-healthy lifestyle; the creativity and the ruthless ambition.

*for which Umami Burger is at the helm. It’s a delight.

To borrow words from Billy Connolly, “I love Los Angeles. It reinvents itself every two days.” Well, I’m non-committal and a walking contradiction, so my hometown needs to have multiple personalities. LA, when it’s over between London and me*, you could well be The One.

*Not for a long while. This shit’s serious.

Next up: part 1a, all about the delectable Demitasse Coffee, Hollywood!

California road trip Arts End of Nowhere

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10 comments so far.

10 responses to “California road trip, part one: The LA bit”

  1. I am so with you – people watching is the absolute best way to immerse yourself in a new town / city / alleyway whatevs 😉

  2. Ayla says:

    Sounds like you had such a fun trip! I’m visiting most of these places at the end of March and I can’t wait. Fingers crossed I’ll enjoy LA as much as you clearly did 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Oh it was SO much fun! I’m about to publish a bunch of other posts on California so if you’re interested in other places along the coast, they may be handy 🙂 Can’t wait to read about your trip too! x

  3. Wow how cool – I SO want to visit LA one day! Thanks for joining Travel Linkup!

  4. We were the same as you – stopped in LA expecting to hate it, but loved it! Maybe it’s one of those cities you have to go with low expectations…
    Ps. never apologise for touristing, there’s a reason the places are iconic (except if you’re stood right in front of people trying to get off an escalator #pettouristpeeve

  5. […] After a brief dalliance with Los Angeles on the first step of our California road trip, the three of us bundled ourselves up in the Toyota Yaris (RIP, dreams of winding around California’s snake-like coastline in a stretch Hummer) and started to make the long, slow journey up to San Francisco. Except it wasn’t long and slow; we didn’t stay anywhere longer than 36 hours and by Californian standards*, that’s lightning speed. So to amend, off we hurried to Malibu, after hearing tales of its tasty, tasty seafood. […]

  6. […] to find the best coffee houses just outside the central hubs. Clerkenwell, Bermondsey, Peckham. Staying in Hollywood like three little basic bitches, I don’t imagine that Alex, Carl and I were in Los Angeles’ hippest ends; so it was a […]

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