I stayed with Melba and Chele at their place in Long Beach for a week, and they were fantastic hosts. Melba in particular, who took a week off work to ferry me around to all the touristy sights, seeing as you really need a car to get around LA. Everything I’ve heard about the freeways is true! It’s mental. I could not live there, I hate driving.
During the week we covered all bases – Beverley Hills, Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, Venice, Hollywood, Downtown LA, Sunset Boulevard… I didn’t feel much of a connection to any of these places. Huntington Beach was probably my favourite – the surf looked fun! Santa Monica was nice enough. Hollywood was surprisingly grimy, reminding me of Kings Cross in Sydney. That wasn’t the image that I had in my head.
Downtown LA was huge and sprawling but had some cool areas, particularly the Plaza Olvera (like little Mexico), Chinatown and Little Tokyo.
Some of the best experiences were less about LA and more about who I was with. Melba and Chele took me to a Honduran restaurant so I could try some of the specialties of their homeland – needless to say it was amazing! I also went to a BBQ at their friends’ place, who happened to make excellent bbq pork ribs and the most delicious, moist pulled pork I have ever tasted. Hmmm, it appears that some of the best experiences I had were less about who I was with and more about what I ate! Typical.
Being in LA also allowed me to reunite with Linda – an LA native and friend for many years who I first met in 2006 in Spain and became closer to when she moved to Sydney in 2011. She had only just returned to LA and was keen to show me some of her favourite places- including, happily, her favourite places to eat. We also took a trip down the the O.C. and checked out Laguna Beach.
On my last day Melba, Chele and I, along with Chele’s sister and a friend, drove up to the Griffith Observatory that looks over LA. It was quite spectacular to see the vastness of it spread out below. We followed that up with a visit to Pasadena, on the eastern edge of LA. It was a picturesque town, with lots of high end shops, but it was really too stinking hot to do much walking around.
Eventually a week was up and it was time for me to move on. I hope it’s not another three years before I see Melba and Chele again – though now that they have moved to New York its a pretty good excuse to go visit!