My date with an angel called Los Angeles

30 08 2012

I am an angel, so are you! Oh I know you are going to say that this sounds lame, but the City of Angels is what Los Angeles is also called :p

My trip to Los Angeles aka LA was sort of unplanned for. To be frank, I was really planning for Vegas. Since there is no direct flight from Singapore to Vegas, my original intention was to treat LA as more of a stopover. However, I was really glad for this stopover due to flight connection timing and the chance to date the “angel”~ the city does have quite a fair bit to offer.

Batman, Spiderman, Terminator, Simpsons, Michael Jackson, Desperate Housewives are names of movies, shows and famous singers whom many around of the world are pretty familiar with. Indeed, Hollywood has a far reaching influence and a clear product of globalisation. From here, many great movies were born and aspiring actors, actress and singers began their road to stardom. It’s true that Hollywood really doesn’t disappoint, to those seeking the road to stardom and tourists alike.

Apart from Hollywood, the “atas” (singlish for upmarket) Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, Universal Studio, Disneyland (even though technically it’s in Anaheim and not LA) are also popular touristy spot to “check-the-box” 🙂

Ok, if there’s one thing I dislike about LA, it will be the irritating LAX airport. Security clearance at the airport was slow. There are not many shops in the airport (which is really surprising since it’s an international transportation hub). The worst part is that post immigration, there are only 2 small cafes serving limited selection of food! So an advice to all is to grab some food before you clear immigration at LAX airport else for foodies like me, LAX will surely make you feel miserable. As the saying goes “a hungry person is an angry person.”
Tips on getting around LA:
– It’s possible to get around LA with public transport BUT that means spending 4 times longer than if you are taking a car. So net, I highly recommend that you drive since attractions are all disperse over LA.
– If you are not driving, use the shuttlebus to go to your hotel (and ask your hotels for tours to Universal and Disney). Hollywood can be reached via Metro to Hollywood Highland Station and downtown LA can be reached via Metro to Union or Civic Station. Taxis are the most expensive transport but of course the most convenient.
– Driving in LA is easy but I noticed that the drivers are pretty impatient and love to horn. But just keep to what you are doing and IGNORE them.
Sightseeing tips:
– The famous Hollywood sign can be seen at Hollywood Highland which is easily accessible via Metro. If you have a car, you may want to drive to N Beachwood Drive where you can see a bigger Hollywood sign. If you are really keen to see an even bigger sign, you can drive further up the hill to 3000 Canyon Lake Drive. However, the roads there are extremely narrow and windy so be prepared for that.

– For a visit to Rodeo Drive, there are certain free parking along the roads opposite Two Rodeo Drive (the most famous photographed spot) in the residential area. Do read the signs to ensure that you are not parking at the “No parking” stretch. If you can’t find a place, don’t worry and drive around and you should see meter parking available which is not expensive. It accepts quarters and credit card.

– Try going to Disneyland early and the first thing you should do when entering it the park is to run to all the rides that have fast passes and grab the fast passes so that you can skip the line. If somehow you are arriving late, then forget about the fast pass as the rides timing that you are likely to get will be really late in the afternoon or evening so you may be better off queuing.
– Universal Studio Hollywood is not big but it’s divided into the upper and lower park. Rush down to the lower park first to do the rides that you want then come up to the upper park. One highly recommended ride that you will only get in Universal Hollywood is the studios tour (at upper park) so don’t miss that.
– LA is known for its beaches. There are many beaches in the city but the most popular ones are the Santa Monica Beach and Venice Beach. Do head down to these 2 beaches even though you may not be a beach person to experience a little part of LA. As the beaches are just side by side, you may want to drive to one, park your car and then walk from one beach to the other. You do need a car to visit (though there are buses but it requires a few transfers and at least twice the travel time). On the parking, there are lots of free parking along the roads to the beaches so try seeing if you can get a space to park before heading to the paid carpark. I was quite lucky to be able to find one that is within 3 minutes walk to Venice beach 🙂

Food & shopping:
1) I don’t think you will need help to find food and shopping in this city as there are just plentiful and really depending on what you looking for and your budget. Hollywood Highland area has lots of shops and restaurants. However, for souvenirs. I will recommend that you make a trip to Farmers’ market where you can get those souvenirs at a cheaper price.
2) Farmers’ market is also a great place to find nice food from all over the world. By the way, Singapore food is one of the top list of recommended food to try!

3) If you are craving for Japanese meal, head to Japan Town where you can get nice and very affordable Japanese cuisine. Likewise, for Korean food, head to Korea Town, Chinese food to Chinatown. Yes, it’s that simple 🙂 The “not so simple” task will be getting there which shouldn’t be an issue if you have a car. Otherwise, you can try the local transport system (which I took the metro to Japan town and Chinatown, but Koreatown I drove though :p)