Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Southwest USA Travelogue: Los Angeles

I am so lucky having opportunities to visit remote spots, make films and write about it.
Today, we try to travel from Amsterdam to Los Angeles.

Traveling might be fun or just stressful. We have to transfer in Houston. Late departure from Schiphol Airport now leaves us with only one hour to go. From International to domestic. Impossible? The arrival hall is packed with people, queued for customs. A yelling lady - incomprehensible "Los Angeles or San Fransisco?" - directs us to the next hall. Queue lengths are here half the size. With the Electronic System for Travel Authorization we still have to leave behind 10 fingerprints and a nice photo. We have luck, do we? The suitcases are already on the luggage belt. However, we may have entered the United States, our suitcases have not. Another queue. No problem. We already have a boarding pass for our transfer flight, but where to drop the suitcases for our flight to Los Angeles? OK. Found it, Next queue, security check, taking too long. Now we really have to run, from the E-terminal to gate C43. Just 10 minutes before STD arriving at the gate, breathless.
So, impossible? Not for us, but for our suitcases it is...

Jet-lag. At 2 AM, sort of conscious again, the phone in our hotel room is flashing. 2.30 AM, nice time to unpack.

"Good morning. How can I help you?". Thanks to Starbucks we revive. We only have one day to experience Los Angeles, thus, renting a car is a requirement. And renting a car is easy and cheap. For the reservation in combination with the booking of the complete America trip we paid only 25 euro's (± $ 33.00), for the whole day.
Straight to Hollywood Boulevard where tourists are trampling the stars of the - mostly rich and - famous. Before we went to the USA I didn't know what to expect from the average American. One of the European prejudices of Americans is being superficial. True or not, we have met a lot of friendly Americans. While trying to pay for the parking with a credit card a big black guy immediately wants to help entering the requested data. After the "No, thank you" on his attempt to sell us a tour he still is friendly.
We drive into the hills to the Griffith park and the Observatory. To the right we look at the famous HOLLYWOOD letters on the hillside, to the left we have a magnificent view over down town LA. We descend in the direction of Sunset Boulevard and through Beverly Hills we reach the expensive Rodeo Drive. If you can't or don't want to spend money here watching the pedestrians won't bore you either.We have some early lunch at a Mexican restaurant and we are in luck. Officially not yet opened, but the Tuesday offers us three different tacos for $1 each, including a large diet Coke!

Next stop: Santa Monica. The famous Pier resembles an amusement park, but the nice weather and people passing by our terrace make our day.

Last stop for today: Venice Beach, home of the hippies. We are surprised by the smell of hash and people demonstrating for the legalization of marijuana. We known this from Holland, but hey, this is America. While the sun is trying to meet the horizon, we form part of the public watching the skaters horizontally taking the turns in the special concrete tracks.

The car navigation guides us back to the car rental and for the 25 euro (plus gasoline) we are even brought back to the hotel in a mini-van.

Watch the video impression of our quick tour Los Angeles.

To be continued...

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