Exploring Los Angeles

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At just under 4 million residents, the city of Los Angeles is America’s second largest. Most famous for the area of Hollywood and all the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, LA also has some negative reputation hang-over that really should be dispelled. In my brief one-week visit, I spent my time wandering through neighbourhoods and enjoying the local sights.

I found the people of Los Angeles to be friendly and helpful, quite unlike the reputation of being shallow, fake, and self-centered. Certainly this reputation has been earned by a few, but I do not feel it represents the general population whatsoever.

Also, the smog that made international news so often in the past has been remedied by California’s very strong anti-pollution laws. Testing facilities can be noticed throughout the city as every car must pass a pollution emission test every year. LA’s cleaner air never made the international news, “Today the air in Los Angeles is fine!” does not make an exciting story. Many people hold a picture in their head of the citizens of LA choking under a cloud of car exhaust, and this is no longer true.

This city seemed to me clean, modern, and comfortable. My personal preference is towards higher-density urban living and the liveliness that comes with it, so the suburban flavour of LA was not something I appreciated. However, there seem to be many people who actually prefer the segregated lifestyles of suburban neighbourhoods of which LA offers in spades, so for them this aspect would be an asset.

The final red flags that most visitors hold for this city is fear of violence and crime. It was notable to me the number of homes and buildings throughout the city that looked like little prisons (the windows and doors very barred), but I felt completely comfortable everywhere I wandered, even in these areas of high-security. I did make a point to not join any gangs while visiting the city though, so that could partially explain how I did not find myself in the middle of dangerous situations. Additionally, I completely avoided purchasing any illegal substances and I would advise readers to do the same.

I am a driver and I stayed in a very suburban area in LA (very much of the city is suburban), but I did not rent a car. Although I at first avoided use of the bus, it proved essential due to a nearly complete lack of taxis available to hail. The people on the bus mostly represented a lower-economic cross section of the community for sure, but the only stories I conjured during this week came from friendly passengers who I rode alongside for an hour or more going into Hollywood and connecting to the Metro.

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Beautiful trees and iconic tall palms tower above homes and businesses throughout Los Angeles.

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A partial map of public transportation. I thought the buses and metro were quite good, although the distances are unusually far due to the predominant low-density housing everywhere.

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A square in rejuvenated Downtown LA.

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This is considered a sketchy area, South East of Culver City bordering Inglewood. Still, it’s clean and pleasant. I did notice a lot of heavily-barred windows and doors here and throughout much of the city though.

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I always like to take pics of local dogs.

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I saw a few of these fantastic retro car washes around the city. Check out the low retro-price! In Toronto the two hand car washes I visit cost $23 and $25 for their basic service (and there are no cheaper automated car washes in these areas). It was suggested to me by a local that this low price could be in part due to the low-cost “immigrant” labourers who are many, and who often do not have “immigrant” status.

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Usually the graffiti added some life to buildings. Perhaps not in this case.

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The Hollywood sign, high above in Griffith Park, is viewable from many vantage points.

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Having arrived to LA from Calcutta, India, I could not help but notice these signs advertising “Indian Hair”. In many temples throughout India, hair is given as a sacrifice to specific Gods. This hair is then sold to create a monetary donation to the temple/God. I was told that the givers of their hair don’t actually realize that the temple will be selling it to raise funds, I’m not sure what they believe the purpose of their hair donation is.

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Too good to be true, make sure to read the small print before barging in to claim your free Indian hair.

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Where do you think the Bohemian hair comes from? How can they tell it’s Bohemian?

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Gorgeous Griffith Park.

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A downtown market.

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A neighbourhood North of Downtown, view from the Metro (train).

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Rules for using the Metro. Their enforcement is probably part of why the system was so comfortable to use. Even though alcohol and pot were strongly present in the air at nighttime whenever I took a bus, the passengers were still well-behaved and pleasant and I felt perfectly safe.

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Most of the city was quite green with trees and flowers.

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In highly-secured areas, even the churches had bars. This topic will have it’s own future posting.

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The Thai neighbourhood of LA in Hollywood.

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I just thought Dirty Dave had an amusing sign.

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If you have kids, COME GET YOUR MONEY!!!

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Loving the street art throughout LA!

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Often the prettiest views involve looking straight up. Walking around the city opens so much more than other modes of locomotion.

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It’s fun to compare soles.

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Sitting outside in West Hollywood. Poor guy, I noticed his hygiene products and then figured he’s probably homeless. He sure was polite.

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Fantastic sign. India needs to buy some of these signs, even if they made the fine $1. In the movie, “The Fantastic Marigold Hotel” set in Dehli, India, the only thing I found unrealistic was that they completely cleaned-up every scene before filming. I never saw clean streets as shown in that otherwise fantastic film. No doubt it was a stipulation for getting a film permit in India, although everywhere, they do not like to see pics or films of their rubbish.

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Some artwork inside a metro station.

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Although the landscaper might not be talented, I loved how these shrubs turned-out.

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What have American Banks learned about giving mortgages too easily? Anything?

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Somewhere South of Downtown. Before I discovered the joys of bus use, I went walking towards the Metro with plans of hailing a taxi whenever I came upon one. THREE HOURS later, I arrived at the Metro station having never seen a taxi. The next morning, I googled the bus schedules and maps before stepping out of my home.

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Some hand-made perhaps not professionally-done signage.

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I forgot to make note of what this store actually was. Perhaps an African hat store?

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They probably do know that cuts usually starts with “c”, but the look of this sign does leave some doubt.

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Where I came upon this sign, I would not be tempted to live. Or visit. Or walk slowly.

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I loved this feature on the long bus rides. Although often just a map of our location was on display, there were also short programs. I learned some sign language enroute and apart from passing the time I thought that was really cool.

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LA’s subway is called the Metro. Some trains run mostly overground. This made for much more interesting journeys.

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This building in Downtown LA will be in my Downtown Post, coming soon.

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Thanks for reading my Intro to Los Angeles! Upcoming postings will include Downtown LA (amazing architecture), Hollywood (which is central in LA), and nearby Pasedena.

If you have enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends! Share it on facebook by clicking on the “facebook” button below or by posting the blog address, it is http://www.PersonalTravelStories.wordpress.com Thanks for reading! Cheers! Darren

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