Los Angeles, the city of dreams. Growing up, New York had always been my true love, but this past year I'd been pricked with curiosity for the warm, breezy city. I'd seen California in films, but had always been too focused on New York to really wonder more about it. Recently, the film La La Land was released and I absolutely loved it. As a huge cinema lover, I like to dip my toes into every genre to get a feel of storylines, moods, aesthetic, and creative direction. I grew up on musicals and singing, with a dash of big city dreaming sprinkled on top, so of course, La La Land was immediately on my radar. More than simply the plot however, I absolutely loved the bright colors of the film and deep hues of LA skies. The way Los Angeles was portrayed in the film was beautiful and it piqued my interest in California in a way nothing else ever had. I suddenly became determined to visit Hollywood. I loved the idea of old Hollywood, of the 50s & 60s era of the industry and the famous actresses/actors of that time. I loved the way it looked and the feel of it, the relaxed, yet glamorous undertones to it. It was a city of dreams just like New York, only a palm tree covered, chiller version. How had I never been to California?
My boyfriend and I decided that every year we would travel to a new place we had never been to. Although he grew up in California and had recently visited a couple of months ago, he surprised me with plane tickets to the city I'd been restless to see. I was beyond excited and filled with movie expectations. Would I see any celebrities? Would the Hollywood strip be as glamorous as it was on TV?
One thing I didn't expect about LA was the traffic. It's funny, you see traffic in films, but you don't really think about it until you're actually there in the same situation. Man was there traffic! Getting to a location that was supposed to be 10 or 15 minutes away ended up turning into a 30 or 40 minute drive because of all the traffic. I definitely got car sick from being in a stuffy, warm car (it was also unbearable hot every day). When I arrived to Hollywood, I was surprised to find that it was relatively normal. No celebrities, no magical yellow brick road like in the Wizard of OZ. Just a normal beach-looking strip that happened to have pink stars on the ground, which were a tad repetitive in the names. There were homeless people in the corners, just like in New York. I don't really know what I expected. I supposed people always build things up in their mind to be bigger and better than they actually are, and I always had a tendency to do that. The surprise lasted for 5 minutes or less and once I got used to my surroundings, the immediate obsession for somewhere new set it. I loved it! I loved everything about it. There's something charming about a place being unapologetically itself and simply standing there, not asking for your approval.
Like the planner that I am, I made a list of all the places I wanted to visit and got to see most of them. Among those places were Griffith Park, Santa Monica pier & beach, Beverly Hills, downtown Los Angeles, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Venice Beach, Universal Studios, and Catalina Island. I loved all of them and had so much fun exploring, and experiencing the sunny west coast. My favorite of all the locations I visited were Catalina Island and Universal Studios. Catalina Island is a beautiful, European-esque island an hour away from LA. A ferry is needed to get there and it's well worth the trip. It's full of all the scuba diving, jet-skiing, and paddle boarding fun for those that love water rides. Visitors can rent a go-cart or bicycle to drive to the top of the island and have the most beautiful view. It's truly breathtaking and I can't wait to go back and visit again. My boyfriend and I were originally going for one day, but ended up staying another because we were so in love-at-first-sight-head-over-heels for Catalina. We stayed in a cute suite room that overlooked all the brightly colored houses stacked up on the hill. All the restaurants had great food and though a bit expensive, it was a small price to pay in comparison to the beauty of the island.
Universal Studios was my other favorite because, well, it's Universal Studios. Need I say more? It's like entering a completely different world. I took a tour of the behind-the-stage sets for films like Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Jaws, as well as visited the built-in cities like New York and London that they use in films. Harry Potter world is amazing. As a huge Harry Potter fan, I was in heaven. They had all the butter beer, rides, wizardry stores, and souvenirs to my heart's content. I was suddenly a child again, running around in delight and getting on every ride.Whether you have a family, friend, or simply want to go by yourself, I definitely recommend Universal Studios. You'll have nothing, but fun all day.
Moral of the story, go to Los Angeles! It was such a fun trip and I got to explore so many parts of the city that I hadn't heard about before. It's so busy and vibrant, and every place you visit in the city has something going on. The hot, artsy, and diverse city has definitely wedged itself into my heart, forming a new romance. I will definitely visit again.