» a los angeles of my own
  • a los angeles of my own

    Apr 03rd • Posted in personal, travel, writing

    Los Angeles was one of my most frequent destinations as someone who was born and raised in Hawaii. I’ve landed at LAX to go to Disneyland, to visit relatives, to send my brother off to college, and just to visit because it’s one of the closest cities that connects Hawaii to the continental United States. And because of that, for years, I constantly complained about LA– it has never been my favourite city, and I’ve never been a huge fan of it. At all. In fact, it was my ‘most hated’ city and I tried to find reasons to avoid it if I could. Everything about LA was the opposite of what I was accustomed to and loved about other cities: the infrastructure was terrible, public transportation was sorely lacking, everyone drives around, the traffic was insufferable, and it took too long to commute from one part of LA to the next. So yes, I hated LA and everything about it.

    However, since moving to San Francisco, my boyfriend and I find ourselves taking more frequent trips down to LA for no reason. (Admittedly, we’ve exhausted our quick weekend jaunts with a car in the almost three years we’ve been together and are finding ourselves out of better options.) While Tobi and I have both been to LA multiple times, we’ve only traveled there together twice. For Tobi’s birthday this year, we went to LA since we are both travelling multiple times and wanted a quick weekend getaway that wasn’t too far, and somewhere we still needed to explore: Los Angeles was the perfect fit.

    Whenever we go to LA, we always end up staying somewhere in the Silver Lake neighborhood, sort of the enclave of hipsterdom. The accommodations we find in the area are somewhat more affordable for better quality– the past couple of times we’ve stayed there, we’ve managed to stay in stand-alone bungalows or houses with more than one bedroom for under the price we’d pay for a hotel room in a more central area. Plus, Silver Lake is fairly walkable, and that was a pretty nice point for us. There are a ton of great neighborhood restaurants along Sunset Blvd, and the place we were staying at was only two blocks from the famed Silver Lake Ramen, so how could we not stay here? In any case, I would definitely recommend staying in the neighborhood because of its proximity to amazing food (Silver Lake Ramen included, but also Pine and Crane and Night + Market Song) and because it’s in between Echo Park (new enclave of hipsterdom) and Los Feliz.

    Tobi wanted to visit The Getty Center, which is a little further out west in LA– sort of by Bel Air and UCLA/Westwood/Brentwood area. The Getty is an art gallery and research institute that has free admission (the only price you pay is $15 for parking) and also has beautiful gardens. If we lived in the area, we’d probably visit it fairly often, as the exhibitions frequently change, and the lawns outside the galleries would be a great place to have a quick picnic lunch or date. The views on top of the hill are spectacular, and if you go on a Saturday, you can stay until 9 PM and take in the views when the sun goes down. We went on the Friday after we landed, which meant that it was less crowded, but there were more school groups and children running around. Luckily for us, the children are mainly contained in tour groups, and don’t really care much for the art, so it felt nice to just relax and view the works at a slow pace. It is also possible to pack your lunch and bring it up with you on the tram (you can also walk all the way up the hill to the center, but I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s quite a trek) but there are two restaurants there if that’s what you’re into. This is definitely a place you need to spend the entire day– there isn’t enough time to view the grounds if you’re only there for a few hours! The next day, we went out for brunch to meet up with some of my friends who are visiting or living in LA at Kismet in Los Feliz. We tried to make this as much of a “walkable” day as possible, so after that, we walked around Los Feliz for a little bit until we reached a cute independent bookstore (Skylight Books) and hung out there for a bit before wanting to head out to Griffith Observatory for sightseeing and general mayhem. We took an Uber up there, but if you’re close to the Metro, you can take a shuttle bus from the Metro Red line at Vermont and Sunset station up to there and back down again. It’s $0.50 each way. From there, we discovered how walkable LA can be– if we had worn our hiking shoes, we could have trekked up to Griffith Park and taken one of the many trails up to the observatory. There’s a shuttle back down, which would have worked to our advantage as well. We finished off the afternoon at The Last Bookstore in DTLA (downtown LA,) which is infinitely walkable, though we were too tired to explore the rest of it with our purchases in tow.

    The strange thing about getting older is how your perspective changes. I used to be someone who either vehemently loved or hated a city. Now that I’m older, the nuances of each city come out differently. I’m someone who prioritizes fantastic (read: walkable with excellent public transport) infrastructure, great food, relatively safe, and big enough to get lost/explore over anything else. I’m sure in a decade or so, that will change. While LA doesn’t have a lot of these things, it does have great food and some parts are walkable– so I’ll have to admit that I’ll have to trek back down more often than I’d like, and that maybe I’d even move there for a bit.

    I’ll eventually get back to writing better travel stories, and more personal essays. For now, I’m easing back into it and LA was the perfect adventure to write about. Quick, fast, and easy.