Los Angeles

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The City of Angels was different from what I expected, but for the better as it's actually a very pleasant place. The traffic and smog can still be bad (although the latter has been much improved in recent years), there is plenty to see and do, but everything is very spread out. The city is incomprehensibly huge - I spent at least half my time on buses during my first visit, but unfortunately there were no dramatic "Speed" events to liven it up. However I really liked seeing so many sights that I recognised from the movies, all over town.

Los Angeles was the end of my summer trip in 2001, I spent my last night on the floor of LAX waiting for my flight, and woke up to the events of the morning of 9/11. I was due to fly to Boston and then on to New York that Friday, neither of which were on the cards any longer. I waited in a hotel for two days until getting a flight to Cincinnati, and waited there a day or so until I could buy a new flight to London. I consider myself lucky that I wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time, and frustrating as my situation was, I realise I was far better off than so many others.

Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles was much cleaner than I thought it would be, this picture looks almost like a painting. The building on the left is the erstwhile Library Tower, tallest building west of the Mississippi and featured in "Independence Day".

The Bonaventure Hotel in downtown LA is a bit of a landmark institution. I spent a while buzzing up and down the lifts trying to get some decent pictures out the windows.

Bonaventure Hotel

Where they stick their hands in the cement

Grauman's Chinese Theatre is where the big Hollywood premieres are held, and where all the hand prints and signatures are set in the cement on the pavement. Most of them were quite old, some I didn't recognise but I did spot Shir Shean Connery in there.

Arnold Schwarzenegger left his mark in the cement back in 1994, at the height of his movie career following the success of Terminator 2. At time of writing, the erstwhile Governator was mired in a sea of divorce, questionable relationships and extramarital children coming out of the woodwork. Will he really be back...?

Will he be back…?

Latest addition to the Walk of Fame

Here I am getting the obligatory photo at the start of the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. There are about 300 stars, and I tried to read them as I walked along the street staring at my feet and bumping into locals.

Another shot of the Walk of Fame from outside the Capitol Records building.

Outside Capitol Records

Hollywood and Highland

Hollywood Boulevard itself, at the corner with Highland. The Hollywood area is not glamourous, it's very much cheesy low-end tourist market style, in amongst the theatres and stars on the sidewalk. On my second visit there I was pleased to see that they've built an area where you can actually see the Hollywood Sign, which is not visible from the street.

Universal Studios at Universal City, Hollywood. I highly recommend all the attractions in here, especially the Terminator 2 ride! Well worth the overdraft. This is the globe logo at the entrance to the park.

Universal Studios

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard runs from the coast at Santa Monica all the way through to Hollywood. It's a bit of a centre for bars and clubs around the West Hollywood area, the so-called "Sunset Strip". And yes, they have girls girls girls.

Santa Monica is one of the most pleasant parts of greater Los Angeles, with its compact centre, sweeping beach and pleasure pier. This is the Third Street Promenade.

Santa Monica Third Street Promenade

Santa Monica Pier

The entrance to Santa Monica Pier, the sign is now a bit of an attraction in its own right, featuring in many movies as it does.

One of the many beach huts that line the Pacific Ocean. There were also some of those yellow jeeps that go around, but unfortunately no red swimsuited beauties.

Where's David Hasselhoff?

Santa Monica Beach

On a weekend however the beach is properly crowded, but the Pacific is not altogether warm for swimming at any time of year.

Beach babes rollerblading down the Santa Monica beach boardwalk, just like in the movies.

Beach boardwalk rollerblading

Venice Beach skateboarding

Down at Venice Beach there are all sorts of strange things going on, as well as the bizarre and risqué shops and souvenirs, there's Muscle Beach, and the skate parks. The blurry kid on the left was only about 6 years old, but he was already a regular Bart Simpson.

I took this shot whilst trying to walk to the Hollywood sign, which like everything in LA was much further away than we thought. You can see downtown through the smog in the distance. This is quite representative of Los Angeles. We never did make it to the sign...

Relentless traffic

Malibu sunset

During my first trip to Los Angeles I tried walking up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu from Santa Monica, somewhat unaware of the distance involved. Eventually I gave up and hopped on a bus, which got me there in time to capture this beautiful red sunset.

Heading the opposite direction from Santa Monica is Laguna Beach, home of the MTV show by the same name. Another resort done in that Californian way; beaches and palm trees.

Beautiful Laguna Beach

California girls

California Girls by the lifeguard station at Laguna Beach. Or are they California Gurls?

In Laguna Beach, even the rocks look nice, washed by the tide.

Beach rocks

Prepare for a probing

The Encounter Restaurant at LAX is one of the city's most recognisable buildings, built around the time that UFO-related paraphernalia was very popular. However, I have yet to partake in a probing.

As I sat in the hotel post-9/11 waiting for the airport to reopen all I did was eat, sleep and watch the news. This is what I could see out my window, the flags flying respectfully at half mast.

September 11th 2001

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2001-2011