Palm trees soaring into the cerulean skies, that was how I knew I was in California. Well, that and the fact that I also bought a ticket to Los Angeles.
It was all a blur at first, stepping out of the airport, and trying to make my way to my host’s place without the use of my phone. I never had a chance to stop and take it all in, until I finally settled down and put my bags away. That’s when I began to see the familiar sights I had seen on TV shows. Towering palm trees along the sides of the road, clear blue skies that seem almost unreal, amazing weather that’s just perfect. I was in California. I was finally there.
Throughout my stay in California, I took the train a lot. I took the train almost everywhere I went. The train, much like everywhere else’s, saw many different people. It was pretty eye-opening to see the kinds of people who rides the train. The tap card, is what they use to get around. It’s $1.50 per ride, no matter where your destination is. For some people, train rides are free – they just tag behind the person in front who, tapped to enter the station. I’ve tried it once or twice, it’s almost effortless. There’s no one there to check your entry, so you can just follow behind someone else, and no one would know.
At first glance, the map of LA’s rail system can be overwhelming. The trick to getting around LA is to google your directions and then follow it to the tee.
Truth be told, I have never done anything like that before. I have never travelled so far on my own, I have never stayed at a stranger’s place and to be honest, I wasn’t the least bit afraid. I was more stoked than anything. LA was the first time I’ve ever couchsurfed, and it was amazing. I made new friends and met different people who are in the same place as I am because of the same reasons. Yes, I had to sleep on the ground with only some sheets as my cushion, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. That is also the price to pay if you want to travel cheap.
The skies in California never fail to take my breath away. Every single dusk and dawn, the colors in the sky is so vibrant, it is like a painting but better. It’s real, this is all nature. There were days where I tried to capture it on camera, but my camera could not even do it enough justice.
On this trip, it was like every where you turn, there’s a picture worthy moment. Whether if it’s the sky, or an incredibly pretty park. This is just a regular bench in a church and a willow tree with its sweeping canopy of leaves. But I guess if you look hard enough, there is beauty in everything you see. Try a different angle, look at it with a whole new perspective, maybe you’ll find treasure right beneath your nose.
This was my first time in LA, and I had absolutely no idea where to go other than Hollywood Blvd. So I googled places to visit in LA and Olvera Street came up. It was pretty far away from where I was staying, but I thought it would be an adventure to go out and walk about. So I did, I followed the instructions on google maps and took a train downtown, and then started walking. And walking. I am pretty sure that at some point I started doubting google maps, but I had already walked so far, I just continued on the route that was given. True enough, I saw the little marketplace. It wasn’t very fancy, considering that it is the oldest part of downtown LA. But it was filled with so much color and people, it reminded me of Mexico – or at least what I think Mexico would look like. True enough, this place has Mexican roots.
On Olvera Street, there’s a really old house that is turned into a museum. It’s called the Avila Adobe and was built in 1818 by Francisco Avila. It has the distinction of being the oldest standing residence in Los Angeles, California. True to it’s name, the rooms were old and it creeped me out. The floors creaked as you take a step, and the rooms were so well preserved that it seemed like it could come to life any time.
After a fulfilling Mexican dinner and a day of exploring the oldest town in LA. I walked back where I came from, only to find sights I’ve missed on the way to Olvera Street. The mountains in the background were so faint, that if you don’t look hard enough, you just might miss it. I come from a small city-state, I have never seen mountains as a backdrop for roads in my country. This sight was amazing, it took my breath away. The setting sun made it even more magnificent.
The streets of LA were filled up by many different sights. Hobos, for one, fill up the streets pretty well. Food vendors are everywhere, I hardly think that they have a valid license for selling these food but boy, are they delicious.
Hollywood Blvd was quite a disappointment. It was extremely overrated, but I cannot not go and see it for myself. After all, I was in LA. The Hollywood Walk of Fame was not as glamorous as it seems. The entire street was pretty empty and it was too quiet for my liking. I expected more… life. But hey, I got to see the hall of fame. If you’re in LA, I wouldn’t recommend you to go there, but then again, you’re in LA. You have to see it, no matter how overrated it is.
If there is one thing that I regret, it was that I never got to see Santa Monica Beach during the day. This is Santa Monica at dusk, can you believe how amazing this looked in real life, while I was standing on the board walk, watching the sun set? I cannot repeat enough, how many times California took my breath away. By the time I got to Santa Monica, the sun was already half way down. I failed to take into consideration how early it gets dark in winter, and how long the bus ride was. I was however, extremely thankful that I still made it in time to catch the last glimpse of the setting sun. It was magical.
After all that glorious sun had set, I made my way down to Santa Monica Pier. There wasn’t a lot of people, maybe because it was a weekday. I did wish that Derek was there with me though, it would have been so much better and magical if he was.
LA wasn’t just all fun and sights. It showed me many things. Yes, there are many hobos sleeping on the streets while it’s cold out, but there are also many kind souls who leave food by these hobos. There was not a single homeless person without packets of food by their “bed”. My new friends and I did the same thing with our leftovers, I know, leftovers aren’t the best thing to give, but hey, it was better than not having anything at all. LA was also not how most TV shows portrayed it to be. My friend lost her entire purse and some kind soul returned it to her with all her belongings intact. I guess there is good everywhere we go.
LA you have been wonderful. I will definitely be seeing you again, and if I could, I will want to stay there for a little while.