Chasing America – Los Angeles, California

“Drop everything now
Meet me in the pouring rain
Kiss me on the sidewalk
Take away the pain
‘Cause I see, sparks fly, whenever you smile…”

Sparks Fly by Taylor Swift

This song will always remind me of Los Angeles, the city where dreams can actually come true. There was that spark that hit me. Maybe because of the California sunset or the Hollywood sign, or meeting with my good friends or just because it’s California, as simple as that.

The famous HOLLYWOOD sign (Los Angeles, California)

I have to start this post by saying thank you to good friends of mine who took the time to meet me while I was visiting for a short period time. It has been fun and memorable.

Instead of taking the long 6-hour drive to Los Angeles (not that I can drive), I booked my flight via Virgin America from SFO to LAX (By the way, the VA airline safety video was the coolest ever!), reached the destination not long after and spent 3 days to visit friends. I don’t always take window seat but this is a once in a lifetime experience to see San Francisco from the top and was hopeful to see the aerial view of the Golden Gate bridge. And few minutes after the plane took off, the most awaited moment came – the distant aerial view and not so clear resolution of the Golden Gate.

Golden Gate under the VA wing!

My friend living in LA insisted on picking me up from the airport, and who am I to decline. The most awaited journey began!

I see Downtown LA

Los Angeles – aside from being the center of film and television industry, the city gives you something more! The city’s vibrant vibe and multicultural sense really captivated my curiosity of what the city has to offer. I got the chance to comfortably visit the “tourist” destinations and I would generally say it was not that bad after all. Besides, I am having fun catching up with a good friend who drove the whole day just to bring me to places and paid for everything (Lucky me!).

After the sumptuous lunch from a market (I forgot the name and location), we headed to our first stop – The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Uncaptured Dolby Theater (Great!)

The whole stretch of Hollywood Blvd and Vine St comprises of more than 2 thousand brass embedded stars which attracted tourists from different places to take a photo of their favorite actors, singers, directors and also TV personalities and fictional characters, you name it they have it. You can also find the famous Dolby Theater where the usual site of Academy Awards takes place. The Oscar winners pink stars are also placed in front of the theater.

The sidewalk is crowded all the time that makes it one of the popular destinations in Los Angeles. They said that you have never been to LA if you do not have a photo at the Walk of Fame. So, I never missed the chance myself.

This is the first time that I get the chance to be in most of the photos!

This is the first time that I get the chance to be in most of the photos!

Going with the crowd, posing for some photos with the heat of the California sun, this first stop was pleasant and exciting.

From the Walk of Fame, we drove to one of the places that have a good view of the ever famous “HOLLYWOOD” Sign.

The distant HOLLYWOOD sign!

We drove half way through the Griffith Observatory and walked all the way up from the parking lot.

This observatory was constructed and always opens to the public. At the main entrance, you will be greeted by a huge pendulum that exhibits the earth’s motion. Inside, you will learn about past astronomical history, telescopes, and different planets. Sci-fi enthusiasts will be so enthralled by this place.

However, I am no sci-fi or astronomy fanatic, so the one thing I noticed as we strolled around was the mountain trail that goes down at the back of the observatory to probably Hollywood mountain or wherever that trail may lead.

We walked down just to have a look as my friend is not fond of hiking, so that was the closest I can get to LA hiking experience. It was a very short walk but good enough to get your heart pumping. Well, he is missing quite a lot, living in a country where mountain ranges are so stunning and not taking advantage of it is such a pity…

Griffith Observatory

I must say, California has the most beautiful, clear blue sky that I have ever seen.

The Griffith Observatory gives you a distant view of downtown LA and the Hollywood sign, not the perfect photo that I was expecting of the most famous sign but it does not matter at all. At least I get to see it and got some quality time with nature and some catching up with my good old friend. Well, there will always be next time for the sign.

 

Not having an itinerary in LA but few items on my list of must see and do, with no expectation of where to go next, I just followed wherever my friend takes me. And the next destination really caught me by surprise, which I assumed my friend also did not know anything about, one of which is a California Sunset.

Santa Monica Beach

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We headed to Santa Monica Pier after the observatory. I must admit the traffic in Los Angeles is way too much and I can’t even deal.

What else comes to mind if you think of Santa Monica, California – not the song by Savage Garden but Santa Monica Pier, that is.  Its red and yellow Ferris wheel is really iconic and I never missed the chance to take a photo. Which my friend call it a “very US” photo, I really have no idea what he meant by that, but I never dare to ask.

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The Pier offers an amusement park, restaurants ranging from seafood and classic American food, souvenir shops, a good place to “people watch” due to the countless crowds and a fantastic view of the Santa Monica beach and sunset.

We only stayed for half an hour before the sunset. But witnessing the sun beaming its majestic fiery sun rays, I can’t help but stare and be stunned. I told myself, this has finally taken off from my bucket list – watching the sunset along California coastline – CHECKED. We did not stay until dusk, but having that goosebumps while looking at the beach and the sun, made it so real. There will always be next time to experience another sunset in California coastline but this one will always be remembered.

It has been a long day for sure; we headed our way to the last leg of my LA tour – the best way to conclude a fun and exciting night with a good friend but to EAT in one of the famous seafood restaurants in town – The Boiling Crab.

After that awesome dinner, I checked in to my hotel and called it a night as I am off to another journey the next day to visit one of my best friends back in college.

A train ride in the US is totally nerve-racking and terrifying. I am used to Europe, Japan or Korea’s train system where it can all connect one destination to another.

Meeting friends brings back the good old days. I realized that no matter how many miles the distance are if the friendship is true and genuine, our hearts will always remember that trust and friendship.


My mind forgets to remind me
You’re a bad idea
You touch me once and it’s really something,
You find I’m even better than you imagined I would be.
I’m on my guard for the rest of the world
But with you I know it’s no good
And I could wait patiently but I really wish you would…

XOXO

Jhes

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