When you accidentally end up in the Ghetto in LA – Straight Outta Inglewood

December 2012

Venice Beach, the famous Venice Beach, where the body builders really do just oil up to flex and stand around, the market stalls sell weed under the table, the rollerblader’s skate around in their underwear, the skateboarders are jibbing everything and the local entertainment is endless. Sinking back a few Coronas I attempted to figure out a way to the staples centre, after talking to a few locals I discovered it wasn’t as simple as I first thought..

I boarded the first bus.

“You wanna sit right behind and don’t move or talk to anyone ya hear me?”

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I was a little confused at the warning…. for about 5 mins. What I didn’t realize is the suburbs the bus passed through were some of the most dangerous in Los Angeles… Without sounding racists we the only Caucasians on the bus. The first bus ride was full of young males causing a bit of ruckus; swearing and pushing each other around, the driver didn’t flinch, obviously this was normal. There were people yelling absurdities making no sense at all, clearly high on what I’m guessing was crack… we came to a bus depot, where we were to change buses.

‘You wait here for your bus okay, do not move, do not get on any other”

The next bus pulled up and I approached the driver to ask him if this was the right bus, he asked me where we were going. In response he through his head back in a laugh and for the second time today.

“Right here, right behind me, eyes to the front and they shouldn’t bother you”

At this stage I didn’t realize what all the fuss was about the last bus ride wasn’t so bad…

First stop on comes two ladies trying to lift a trolley on the bus.

“Sorry mam, that trolley cannot board”

I’m not entirely sure what the clearly cat loving ladies were saying but next minute they are ramming the bus and yelling, throwing their grocery bags at the driver. The driver without a second glance closes the doors and continues the journey, the ladies still chasing and hitting the bus. The next passenger boards quietly in a normal manner, bopping to the music of his head phones… we make eye contact.

“you guys wanna buy some weed? pills I got pills too?”

Politely declining he continues on down the bus offering his services.

Next stop; an extremely fragile, but not so old woman is trying to step onto the bus, after a few shaken attempts she steps onboard. I’d like to think her weakness and skeleton draped body was linked to malnutrition… Buuuuut I’m going to say it’s more like a heroin addiction. She sweeps onto the bus walking straight past paying the driver.

“Thats’s $2.10”

“Put it on the tab”

“Lady you ain’t got no tab, there are no tabs”

“Yeah well, watcha gonna do about it”

The lady then takes a seat, the driver muttering around his breath does nothing. Shortly after the lady has taken her seat, another woman, extremely boisterous, squeezes beside her. The loud woman was on her phone, she was speaking like she was fresh outta Compton.. oh that may be because we are in Compton…

“oh hell no, you tell that bi-atch that he your man” (not a word of a lie here)

“does she know who you are?! We gonna smash her teeth out”

The conversation continued much the same, become more aggressing with arms beginning to flail. Not to much surprise she strikes the lady beside her, and carries on without a worry. Miss quiet and fragile suddenly pipes up with her hand bag and starts smacking the woman, the two ladies break loose.

Still the driver continues like nothing is out of the ordinary.

The men on the bus are trying to separate them, and finally after a few good bitch slaps, they are torn apart. The bus starts to slow down and stops at the next corner, the large boisterous woman gets shoved out the door and the driver quickly drives off as if he knew this is what the plan would be. The mouse like skelton mutters some good riddances under her breath and the journey continues.

I was watching an active map on my phone and thought that I was coming close to my stop, I stood up to approach the driver and he very quickly and strongly reminded me that I should not be drawing attention to myself and sit back down until he tells me otherwise.

“I’ll be making a special stop for you”

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And sure enough as the Staples Centre came into site, he pulled over so we only had to cross the road. I pulled a tiny little koala out of my pocket and put it on his coin desk, ( I always travel with these koalas to give for gifts) I jumped off the bus and looked back at him. The driver looked very confused and was looking the koala up and down, I have at him and yelled thanks. Next thing I saw was this beautiful glowing white smile rising up waving vigorously, it’s a pretty magical thing to watch happiness reveal itself in front of you.

We had made it to the Staples Centre.

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Hollywood in 72 hours!

December 2012

After the whirlwind of Vegas, we’re flying back to the West Coast to stay in Hollywood for a few nights. I had been to Los Angeles before, and for me I didn’t really have a reason to return. This city of concrete has never really called my name. However as part of some compromises with Voldemort we were doing the tourist attractions of LA. Looking for accommodation in LA is ridiculous! I spent hours and hours trying to find a cheap place with a good location, and as stated earlier a hostel apparently just wasn’t good enough… After scanning the pages of trip advisor I finally found a place; Elaine’s bed and breakfast, this ended up being nothing short than perfect! This quirky house is run by Elaine and her husband Avik, and offers a seamless Hollywood experience. Avik is amazingly eccentric and beautifully comical, he use to work on the red carpets in Hollywood and has the most out of this world stories to tell. To tell you the truth the reason why I booked this place is the reviews spoke about the amazing costumes Avik would wear around the house. Avik even has a personalised Christmas card from President Obama!

The room was about $80 a night ( it has now inflated to $100) – Which was actually the cheapest accommodation I could find! (and probably still will be) It also included breakfast and wifi – These two combinations are liquid gold when you are travelling.

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This unspoiled location was walking distance to everything! And with a late arrival we strolled to the nearest corner store, purchased a cheap bottle of wine and grabbed some slushie cups. Wandering the surprisingly warm streets of Hollywood, there’s always something interesting to see! Peculiar characters walking their pets, locals dancing in the streets, music blaring from taco vans, espresso shops turn into night clubs; it really does live up to the entertainment capital of the world.

The next few days were flooded with strolling Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard shopping in Beverly Hills, adventures through Universal studios, cycling from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and a Laker’s Game at the Staples Centre.

To tell you the honest truth, most of these adventures don’t have stories worth telling… apart from the bus ride from Venice Beach to the Staples Centre. I’d much rather tell you the stories where things didn’t go to plan.. But how about I give you a quick run down of the Must Do’s In LA.

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-Universal Studios; I actually loved this place more than Disneyland! They’re all about getting you involved in their live shows. Tickets for Universal Studios range from $95 – $120USD a day, try and purchase online in advance to save a few dollars! There’s public transport from  Hollywood boulevard.

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Disneyland / Disney California Adventure Park; I do recommend two days to get to both parks if you have an extra day, I only spent one day here though. Disneyland is a lot more traditional whereas Disney California is aimed a bit more for thrill seekers. You can get tickets for separate parks or tickets to hop between them both. Tickets range from $95 – $120 a day – and the more days you by the cheaper the ticket gets. Public transport from Hollywood takes about 1.5 hours (sometimes longer) the train is the cheapest option for around $11 and the shuttle buses cost around $40.

beatle-Hollywood walk of Fame; something free to do! Set a side a few hours to walk up one side of the Hollywood boulevard and back down the other , looking out for your favourite celebrities. You’ll see a few characters pacing the street on this walk! There’s an large amount of souvenir shops to get all your shopping in too!  Stopping outside the TCL Chinese Theatre was a great experience, lots of handprints and writing in the cement from  a few great characters. One the corner of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevard you can see the Hollywood sign!

 

 

monica– Santa Monica – Ahh the famous pier, even if you don’t think you know what I’m talking about, you’ll see the pier and realise you’ve seen it in one movie or another. What a perfect blue day, palm trees lining the path, roller-skaters trailing up and down, buskers around every bend, every style of sport being played on the beach, body builders oiling up and flexing about (they hardly ever seem to be lifting – just showing off to the passers by) A great way to spend your afternoon is hiring a bicycle and taking in the scenes here.

bev-Beverly Hills – Not that I could ever afford even one sock here! But still a whole other world to see, the oh so glamorous world. Women shopping whilst in their best gowns and highest heels, with sunglasses half the size of the face,  cafes with cups of tea three times the price you normally pay. Dog’s in most handbags and even try for some celebrity spotting!

gameNBA Laker’s game- Can you get any more American? Depending who is playing and where the game is at you can usually get tickets for around $30USD – Not the greatest seats however. From memory I paid $80USD per ticket and I was close in on the action. Went to the bar to get a beer $15USD for a schooner! Asked for a nachos and received a small plate with some sort of liquid cheese on it for a further $15USD – oh well all in the nature of the business!

And that’s how you see all the sights in 3 days in Hollywood!