Bright lights, celebrities, the road to stardom… just a few things people think of when they hear the words Los Angeles, or even California.
Bright lights, celebrities, the road to stardom… just a few things people think of when they hear the words Los Angeles, or even California. The ‘City of Angels’ is the home of fame and fortune and the LA lifestyle is the envy of the world.
I was lucky enough to spend an entire month in the beautiful state of California on a traveling trip with friends. It was a month of Greyhound buses, backpacks and hostels. It’s not necessarily the most glamorous way to see the state, but certainly the cheapest and most educational. I met people from every walk of life – people who had sold every possession they own just to experience California, to other people who were on round the world trips but couldn’t bring themsleves to leave the sunny state. The biggest thing I discovered whilst on my trip was Los Angeles itself; what it is and what it isn’t.
See it all..
There’s a lot I didn’t prepare for. I was naive in thinking all of the ideological things. Assuming that this place is going to be the most amazing place in the world, and just like it is on television. What you don’t expect to see is the vast amount of poverty and crime that takes place right in front of your eyes.
Walking down Hollywood Boulevard with stars in my eyes I couldn’t believe the amount of street performers keeping us entertained on our travels, but I was blissfully unaware that smiling kindly and walking away was not an option. I was intimidated, cornered, and practically robbed of my money. They thrive on tourists, following you, even putting their hands in your pockets after you refuse to tip them. Hollywood itself is not a nice place, I’m not sure I have ever been so disappointed in my life. As well as the pushy entertainers there is graffiti, gangs on every street corner and police sirens close to every thirty seconds.
Leaving Hollywood as quickly as was humanly possible I stayed in a place called Hermosa Beach which is a quieter part of LA, an absolutely beautiful place with a great pier and the typical roller-blading and dog walkers. I finally felt safe after the awful experiences I had earlier, and began to feel at ease. Making friends with some of the locals ensured that I had a great time. However, whilst enjoying an evening at a bar I used the facilities and returned to find my American ‘friends’ gone, as well as my purse with over two hundred dollars inside. Safe to say, that was the last time I saw those people. Now, I am streetwise, I know who to and who not to trust, but I had spent almost a week with these people and genuinely thought I’d became friends with them, but it is clear that those people exist primarily just to deceive tourists.
Trip of a life time
Despite my trauma, parts of California were world class and I had the trip of a lifetime. One word of advice to people planning something similar, I guess you ‘have’ to see LA, just so you can say you have, but be very careful about who you meet, do not go anywhere in Hollywood late at night as there are more gangs than I have ever seen before, and remember – you are not at home, never get too comfortable, and always be aware of people with bad intentions.