Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
Adventures in LaLaLand
Categories: Trips

On our fast road trip to Los Angeles and San Diego we have been pretty relaxed and amused, discovering and comparing different things among SF, LA and SD. The only inconvenient for this Cuban who writes has been the gray days. No sun in LA or SD welcomed us so it has been a sunscreen – free southern trip with amazing pictures of both cities. I wished for the sunshine but I cannot complain. This is their winter after all. 🙂

We found an amazing and centrally located duplex on Airb&b. We stayed in Hollywood, just a few blocks away from Sunset Blvd and Vine St. We did most of our sightseeing by foot. Isn’t liberating to forget about the car and driving, specially when you want to have a few drinks?

Hollywood during the day is a bit of a circus. You get the usual tourist harassment of locals insistently trying to sell you CDs, books or the best tours in town. Why some of them get mad at you get you say “No, thanks” will remain a mistery to me. Come on!

The front area at Grauman’s Chinese theater, where they have several actor’s hand and footprints is always packed. Marilyn Monroe’s signature and prints always have a lot of fans surrounding it as well as the Michael Jackson’s star.I walked up and down Hollywood Blvd. walk of fame, took some nice shots of their art deco Pantages Theater and other buildings I found along the way. It was interesting to see the type of products they sell at the stores on Hollywood Blvd. They range from I love LA tshirts to the kind of clothing you would wear to shot a porn film or to pole dancing at a strip bar.

Almost everyone has something particular about their outfits, hair or make up. It made me think of San Franciscans and their casual, natural look and how eccentric instead random pedestrians would look like in the city of angels. It makes sense, I suppose, in this Hollywood land.

We ate a good dinner at Murakami Sushi and went for dessert to Beard Papa’s. We had been craving some cream puffs since our trip to Tokyo and finally seeing a Beard Papa was a reason to feel in sweet heaven. The puff was nice but nothing close to our Japanese experience where the puffs were bigger, fresher and I remember them having more variety.

On Friday night we took the bus towards Silverlake Boulevard to go to a small indie rock bar called The Satellite, known previously as SpaceLand). I felt really lucky to see three bands new to me in concert (Owens Valley Dynamite, Polica and Centro – Matic). The crowd was tiny for such a great show.  Polica’s singer voice is beautiful! The songs were great. The Centro – Matic guys also played an awesome show. I danced and got a bit drunk with this huge PBR beer which was horrible and cheap but it hit the right spot. LOL. Good Angeles times.

One funny thing about the night: if you want food after drinking and you are not DRIVING you are pretty much destined to street hotdogs. We tried to buy food at this place on Santa Monica Blvd and Vine St corner (a fast food Japanese place called Yoshinoya) and we could not get our fix at 1:30 am because the woman would only open the window for drivers. Really? A Drive Thru only? The business just lost at least $10, which is not much, but the place was empty. Being in Cuba it is normal to have the waitress ignoring you but in North America, where they want to keep their customers happy, no matter what? I was surprised and figured the purpose is to keep homeless away and drunk people leaving trash and staying around the store eating their “morning meal”. The options are: you eat and drive or drink and stayed hungry for Japanese. I am not sure if something like that would happen in TO, for example. I just too attached to public transportation everywhere I go. It shows, one more time, how big of a driving culture this country really has and how we are not anywhere close to becoming “green”. Let’s not even mention the partying and driving.

On our way out of LA we passed by 3000 Canyon Lake Drive to see the famous Hollywood sign up in the mountains and take some tourist pictures. The drive is windy and the houses are impressive. I guess it is really the perfect place to be disconnected to whatever is happening down there in the city.

We left for San Diego and came back a day later for another night in LA. We have an Iranian friend that recommended an excellent and very genuine Persian cuisine place out of LA. The name of the place is Peris and you would never believe it is a five star and fine spot for Iranian food and desserts as it looks like a regular American diner and they cook both American and Iranian dishes. I loved the food, the dessert, the staff. Even the manager gave us complementary hummus and chatted with us a little. He was thrilled to have some Torontonians in the house.

We were really looking forward to see some of the downtown buildings. Last night we parked by the Disney concert hall and explored the surroundings for about two hours.

The city felt empty after the rain, it was a humid night so except from people leaving the concert hall and the music center we did not see anyone else around the Peace on Earth sculpture area or the streets. On our road to Los Angeles City Hall we saw one or two people sleeping at the bus stops with their life belongings and once at the City hall then we saw the Occupy LA camp, bigger than we imagined.

The Occupy movement signs were damp after the rain, the tents were wet and the place was quiet but the amount of tents we saw were for sure larger than in SF. The sound of percussion drums could be heard in the distance.

That was all from LA for now. Next time I am sure the temperature will be better and I will be ready to visit the beach and so much more…

We exited the city and left a beautiful blue sky behind. It was not for me this time.


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