California, part 1
So, off we popped just over two weeks ago to the West Coast from the muggy East Coast for our California roadtrip.
A lot of people told us where we should visit, and some advice we took, and sometimes we just kind of winged it.
I had some preconceptions about California that went a little like this: beaches with people skateboarding along the boardwalks; boutique shops with women carrying their dogs in their Prada handbags; wine tasting; and Hollywood.
So, where first?
Let’s start with LA. La-La Land. Hollywood. Beverly Hills.
Oh, the joy of seeing that Hollywood sign for the first time! It made me want to wait tables for 20 years until I was discovered by a studio executive and given a gritty Oscar-winning role in a do-good movie 😉 . Then I saw the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What was this? A poor-man’s Times Square? A very average sidewalk with a lot of badly dressed cartoon characters practically begging for money whilst standing over the stars? And crowds. Argh!
Sigh. This is the not the Hollywood Walk of Fame I had dreamed off. Sod it, I’ll wait tables for another 20 years rather than wait to get a star on this dirty old sidewalk.
Despite being pretty darn disappointed in this bit of LA (which is basically a load of shops and a McD’s and where they film the unfunny Jimmy Kimmel show), I was mesmerised Beverly Hills, and you know what, I knew I would be!
This is the land of mahooosive houses and big (cleaner) sidewalks, palm trees and fancy shops, pampered pooches, celeb restaurants and my blogging friend Gwen’s pad.
Think of Gwen and my relationship as a blind-bloggers-date. We’d communicated previously, she’d written a great piece for my blog, and we’ve messaged each other a lot. I think we’d found each other’s blogs pretty funny and interesting and, as expats in this land of America, had a lot in common. So my family and the Aussie babe’s family met up and we had a blast. This is possibly one of my favourite things about blogging – the opportunity to meet up with people of a similar persuasion to yourself.
Gwen took me to her top celeb-spotting restaurant, but bummer that is was, no one was out on the town that night (don’t they know Thursday is the new Friday?!). Still, I had a good old natter with a paparazzi who told me he was waiting for Colin Farrell (aren’t we all?! 😉 ). But Colin never turned up. (His loss 😉 )
We were amused to see a bunch of girls waiting outside the restaurant too, and Gwen asked them who they were waiting for. Harry Styles from One Direction, of course, who lives very nearby our Gwen (did I mention her kids go to the same school as Rod Stewart’s?!). Anyway, how had these found this info out about our Harry? A celeb-stalking website, naturally. They had waited for ages, and I hear he never did come for dinner, so those poor, silly gals, hey?!
LA gets a bad rap, and I kind of get why. It’s an electic place that felt quite claustrophobic and in parts, totally fake and made up. Like everywhere there are areas of extreme poverty nestled against areas of extreme and overt wealth which is kind of hard to reconcile, but in LA it felt even more extreme and polarised than anywhere I’d been before.
And the traffic sucks more than…well, it really sucks.
But….hoorah for Mulholland Drive and the Getty Museum, both of which were outstanding and provided some amazing views of the hills, city and countryside of Los Angeles. Actually, I didn’t see much from Mulholland Drive, because I was generally holding on for dear life as we wound our way along those hilly 21 miles with very, very steep drops. Even the lure of living in one of those million dollar houses wouldn’t make me want to drive that route every bloody day!
My favourite roadtrip conversation on the way through LA went something like this:
‘What movie do you think captures the essence of LA?’
‘Beverley Hills Cop, Mulholland Drive, LA Confidential…?’
‘Yes. And Miami Vice…’
Next up: Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach and California sunsets.