Well today has been a real eye opener. I’ve seen some things I never expected to see. I also was surprised by some of the most famous Los Angeles sights, unfortunately not always in a good way.
Los Angeles sight seeing
Today we took a tour of the city with Surf City Tours who are based in Santa Monica. I have to say that the service that they provided was excellent. Our guide Garrett was excellent, both in his knowledge and his manner. The tour was on a small open sided covered bus with only six of us, so felt very personal. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to visit the city.
Our first part of the tour was around the areas where the stars live and fiming locations, with our guide pointing out various houses along the way and giving various funny stories.
Our first stop was The Grove and Farmers Market, which is a very pretty area, with a lovely garden area, high street shops and then the Farmers Market, which housed food of every description.
We then moved on to the Hollywood sign. Now this was the first surprise, that you can’t actually get anywhere near it. Maybe that was quite naive of me. However we went to a great viewing point, where you could see the city in all its glory and also take photos with the Hollywood sign in the background.
Our next stop was the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Now again I may have been a bit naive but I expected this to be a very glamorous area, as you see it on the TV. It was actually (no offence) quite dirty, very busy and at the side of a main road. It’s also crowded with people trying to sell you cd’s, beggars and people dressed up wanting you to pay them to take a photo. The best part was seeing the hand and footprints outside the Chinese theatre. The whole thing was very interesting, but not at all what I expected.
On the other hand, our next stop lived up to expectations, Rodeo Drive. Very exclusive shops, fancy cars, very clean and well kept. We walked down the street, but didn’t go in any of the shops or make any purchases.
Santa Monica Pier
After the tour we walked along the pier at Santa Monica. This was the kind of thing that you expect of a pier and we even had a ride on the Ferris wheel, well because you just have to.
Venice Beach/Muscle Beach
We had read the guide books and knew that this would be a “diverse” place, but nothing could have prepared us for this. There were craft stalls, which were genuinely pretty, but these were interspersed with bizarre characters, selling odd bits or simply asking for your money.
It felt as if you needed to hold on to your bag/wallet/camera at all times. I expected bohemian or even gothic, but this was something else. Many of the people appeared to be homeless, have mental health issues, drugs/alcohol problems or all of them.
Muscle Beach was a fenced in area housing an outside gym. There were no bronzed gods, no roller skating beach babes and no feeling of health and outdoor life.
We walked back to the car as quickly as possible. I’ve worked in some scary places in my time, but this beat them all hands down.
I know that tourists will continue to visit, just as we did, but if I could give any advice to anyone travelling I would say give it a miss. That’s the only place I would say this about in the whole of our travels here in California.