First stop: LOS ANGELES
Americans living in big towns like New York, L.A. or San Francisco are used to see their familiar surroundings, streets and buildings regularly in movies they watch.
If you are from another corner of the planet than the USA and you watch a movie once in a while, the world‘s oldest and revenue wise biggest film industry has probably also totally flooded your mind for ages.
So when you finally travel to the promised land, it all looks amazingly familiar even if you have never been there before. A particular feeling.
Game images can have the same effects to some. When passing in front of Muscle Beach Venice, Manga-Japan Fan Travel Companion pulled out his phone and showed me on-screen an image of a game that used exactly this surrounding that we saw a few meters in front of us.
All this to say that our first steps in the streets of L.A. felt like being in a movie or a game.
Apart from the amazing friendliness that hit us and which I mentioned in my last post, a few more things were startling:
- So many homeless persons – if you visit a third world or developing country like Brazil or India, you expect that sad picture. If you travel to richer countries for example in Europe, of course you see some people begging in the street. But to see in the “country of dreams come true” such big crowds of homeless like on Venice Beach was a real shock and very sad. Even more surprisingly a lot of them seemed very young and with serious psychological problems. The explanation I got from an American, who apparently had given the question a thought, was that a lot of these people might have been to war and having seen and lived a lot of awful things completely messed up their mind!
- The overweight present across all age classes – but when you see the sizes of cups and glasses served and the fact that you can get a refill on more, you understand better why some person are far from slim. Why would anybody say “no” to have, after the first liter of lemonade, another one for free. Particularly if you don’t have much money in general and several kids to feed, you better take anything you can get. In my humble opinion instead of passing ads for miracle diet remedies on TV why are they not replaced by praising the benefits of drinking a good glass of water when thirsty instead of soda. Or you take some decisions about the size of cups as did the mayor of New York.
- The taxes on every product you buy in shops and restaurants – I hate it. I want to see a price tag and want to pay what is written on it and not apply my math skills to know what I owe. Since I got back from the trip, I am all surprised to take an item to the cashier and he does not ask me a different amount from what was written on it.
We had only a few days in Los Angeles, definitely not enough to do all the things we intended to do, after all it was a holiday and not a marathon. L.A. is too wide-spread for my taste and driving in this city is a nightmare, but I was lucky that Music Fan Travel Companion proved once more that he is a cold headed driver.
We very much enjoyed the day at the Universal Studios, and an entire day is needed if you let the kid inside yourself have fun. Also don’t miss a ride with a beach cruiser on Venice Beach and if you are lucky you might see a seal if you go up to Santa Monica Pier. Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Strip was not my cup of tea. We passed in front of Beverly Hills, but as none of the famous and beautiful had invited us, we thought that just watching their homes was a waste of time.
We instead enjoyed a sushi meal in Little Tokyo which was worth every of Manga/Japan Fan’s hard-earned dollars. Choosing and not missing the nicest looking Sushi on the revolving conveyor belt and try to be faster than our travel companions was fun.
When seeing all the Japanese looking persons going in and out of the big apartment building and all the Japanese grandmas doing their shopping with their wheeled shopping karts, you believe immediately that the largest Japanese-American population is living here.
We will have to come back to visit the Griffith Observatory, the Lake Shrine and go to a concert at WitZend, which all did not fit into our program anymore. I still regret to not have talked to the fit stretching lady on my pictures below. I realized a day after admiring her exercising that she holds a stand at Venice Beach saying: “911 was an inside job” and “What TV news won’t tell you”! The planned visit to the Fender Visitor Center in Corona and a few more things also had to be postponed to a later visit. We’ll be back!