Thursday, January 21, 2016

Los Angeles

December 29, 2015 - January 2, 2016

My family and I traveled to southern California for the days bookending the new year to see the Rose Parade. Though a large portion of our trip was spent seeing the floats and watching the parade, we did have some spare pockets of time to sight-see on our own. As we didn't have a car we had to rely on hotel or city transportation but we still were able to see quite a bit despite our limitations.

We spent a few hours on Hollywood Boulevard reading the names on the Walk of Fame stars and hopping in and out of shops. We stopped by the Chinese Theater, which was fully decked out for the newest Star Wars film. Though seeing some of the famous sites was interesting, I was hoping for something a little more - exotic - than what the street actually was. I had assumed Hollywood Boulevard would be lined with stalls selling outrageous souvenirs - Miley Cyrus reportedly gets a large portion of her wardrobe from places along the road - yet it felt as common as a normal street, with a few unique spots but mostly common chains running along either side.

On New Year's Eve we spent a bit of time in Downtown Disney, avoiding the full theme parks because of the sheer number of people in the area for the holidays. The California park is much, much smaller than the Florida one, and I was a little disappointed at how quickly we walked through it and the nearby themed hotels, but given the chance I would still love to return and see the insides of the parks in the future.

Overall, Los Angeles is a lot different than what I expected. Unlike other big cities like NYC or Chicago, LA has very little "distinctive" space - the whole city, aside from the downtown area, is just a huge sprawling mass filled with the same things - chain stores, houses, and lots of palm trees. I was also struck by how friendly everyone is. The South has a reputation for being unfailingly polite but I was very taken aback every time a salesperson or a street performer or a bartender was openly nice and cheerful and always smiling. Though I only had a few days to explore the area, LA certainly made an impression on me, and I would love to return in the future and see some things I missed.
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