Wow! I can only start my post about California like that, and that is because it’s an amazing place, where you can find everything you want or you don’t want. No wonder America is the land of all possibilities 😉
Nothing you read about before really prepares you for the experience that you have there. Or at least this was my case, especially since I didn’t have any expectations. However, it is definitely very important to do your homework very well before setting foot on American soil.
California covers an area of 423,970 km2 along the southern half of the West Coast of the continental United States. Being bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, it enjoys a pleasant climate most of the year, but also snow in the winter in the mountains, as well as rain and fog, especially in San Francisco.
We will begin the adventure with the City of Angels, Los Angeles.
You can find many flights from Bucharest to L.A., so you only have to be patient to choose the right option, both in price and duration. I picked the ones from Turkish Airlines and had a stopover in Istanbul for only one and a half hours (enough to arrive on time for the second flight, but a bit risky if you have any delays). The flight is quite long and tiring but worth it!
Arm yourself with great patience to cope with US Border Control! If there is anything that I don’t like each time I come to the USA, it is exactly this part. However, I will tell you about that in another article when I will share with you the experience of obtaining the visa to the US.
Los Angeles is a city that surprises you, through the diversity of people, places and landscapes. Southern Californians famously measure distance in time it takes to drive in LA traffic. Here the word “close” is used to describe driving somewhere 20 minutes by car 😳 Here you do not see too many streets, but more highways with 5 lanes per direction. Which means that without a car you can’t do much. This is why it is very good to rent a car throughout your vacation. Here everything extends more horizontally than vertically. Only in the center of the city you will see a few tall buildings, otherwise many houses that have a quite different architecture from those in Europe (more precisely a flat roof and not very high).
Los Angeles is a cosmopolitan, vibrant city, full of energy but at the same time relaxed. You can visit, depending on what matters most to you, throughout the year due to the Mediterranean-like climate. In the winter months you can have lower temperatures (15-18 degrees) and several rainy days, but the sun predominates most of the time. And if you plan your winter trip try to choose between late November through the beginning of January to see the most beautiful houses decorated for Christmas.
L.A. surprised me with its scenery that includes snow-capped mountains, arid hills that turn into green meadows after a few days of rain, and sandy beaches as long as far as you can see. What more can you ask for, especially if you are a nature lover!
What not to miss:
As I love the beach, I chose to go to Malibu Beach on the first day, even if it was December. Sure, you can not bathe in the wonderful blue water (I did not dare even in the summer) but, you can relax a little under the warm rays of the sun, enjoy nature and the luxury houses on the beach, without having too many crowds (as is in summer).
For a delicious cocktail, Paradise Cove Beach Cafe is the perfect place, and for a romantic dinner where you can admire the sunset, Geoffrey’s.
Probably the place where we all want to reach whether we are children or not. I was glad to find out that my first visit to a Disney park was the very first park opened in 1955. Here you can find details about Disneyland and tickets: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/tickets/
We caught the busiest day of the year, so I recommend you don’t go immediately after Christmas 😉 The challenge starts from the entrance to the parking lot, which, although huge, seems inconvenient for all the cars trying to find a place. The moment you walk into this place, you are practically overcome by emotions, frenzy and energy. I wanted to go everywhere at the same time, obviously impossible. I chose not to go to both parks (the other being California Adventure across the square), especially since I am not brave enough to try a roller coaster.
It is very important to know exactly which of the attractions you want to reach, so that you organize your schedules at the queues that are quite large. Also, try to schedule your lunch or dinner break if you want to eat at the restaurant (there is a risk of not finding an empty seat).
We spent all day gallivanting through a world of stories and childhood dreams, moving from one story to another, and at the end we found a good place to see the parade!
Everything was magical but the wind from that night did not allow the fireworks and I left a little disappointed. At least now I have a reason to go again.
Although not everyone explores this area, it is worth spending a day to visit:
– the tallest building in LA, US Bank Tower, to enjoy an extraordinary view of the city, but especially to have a special experience given by Skyslide – to get yourself a sled on the glass from the 70th floor to the first floor 69 😳 The cost including general access and sled is $28 for adults and $22 for children.
– for lovers of contemporary art, the Broad Museum – especially since the entrance is free. However, you do need tickets, which is best to buy online, in order to select the time slot.
– Grand Central Market, perfect for a quick stop to get your energy back. It is the oldest and largest public market in the city. Here you will find all kinds of delicious international dishes and a multicultural atmosphere.
– Little Tokyo – are you in America but you crave Japanese food? Then it is worth getting to the heart of the city, in this small district that sends you directly to Japan, starting with the Japanese eateries, street decorations, and ending with the shops full of products straight from Japan.
– The Last Bookstore – get lost for a few hours in the maze of books built in a former bank. The bookstore is famous for its well-kept vintage books, as well as for its hidden alcoves, and the unique way of arranging their library.
J. Paul Getty is guilty of creating this wonderful place, because he had nowhere to display all his exhibits he had collected. So, in 1974, the Getty Villa was opened, which was inspired by the Herculaneum Papyrus Villa and which is now a true museum that houses over 44,000 Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. Spend a few hours among galleries and exhibits, feel like a god or goddess among the Villa’s gardens with the Mediterranean air. For sure you will not want to leave this place very soon.
Admission is free though you must reserve your visit time online. Also, parking is not free, and ranges from $10 to $20
It is the famous street in Beverly Hills where you go as if it were a museum, only this time, instead of paintings or sculptures, you see the most expensive shops and beautiful people.
Maybe because I got here later in the evening I didn’t have to brave the crowds and was able to walk around looking in the windows of all the luxury shops. It is a special place that cannot remain unchecked 😉
We continued on the road to Urban Light, which is worth going to just for a spectacular photo for your Instagram collection. Urban Light is in front of the Art Museum and represents 202 street lamps, quickly becoming the most visited and photographed public art work in Southern California.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Of course you can not miss the famous Hollywood with its legendary sign and Walk of Fame. After a short drive on the streets of Hollywood we found a good parking spot and walked through the big hustle and bustle of “Celebrity Avenue”. I liked the atmosphere here and the enthusiasm of the tourists who were trying to find their favorite stars, take a picture with the famous sign, or buy the most diverse souvenirs (I saw here the largest souvenir shop I have even seen to date – “La La Land”) .
Santa Monica & Venice Beach
Nothing is more L.A than Santa Monica. A cozy little town with the best bars and restaurants, shops and beautiful streets, beach, ocean, palm trees and the endless pier. The pier is very representative for Santa Monica with a small amusement park (opened in 1909), an aquarium, and a few local restaurants. It is also the end of the famous Route 66 as it finally reaches the ocean.
What I liked most was the sunset in Santa Monica seen from the pier. I watched many beautiful sunsets, but none like this one, with the sky changing so many colors.
Try the delicious meat dishes, such as bone marrow, but also the oysters and cocktails from Meat On Ocean, https://www.meatonocean.com/
The Santa Monica beach boardwalk extends to another famous beach, Venice Beach. Bordered by a green oases of palm trees, it offers a variety of activities, such as volleyball, rollerblades, bicycles, and other outdoor sports venues (stop for a few minutes at Original Muscle Beach … you’ll see why!) . And don’t miss a picture with the famous lifeguard stations that give this place even more color.
Venice Beach is the place for artists, non-conformists, and musicians (where you can get a free CD from an aspiring rapper). Plus the smell of “grass” makes you either slow down or quite the opposite 🙂
- Cote d’Azur
- Coasta de Azur
- Malta – Honey Island – an unforgettable holiday
- Malta – Insula de miere – o vacanta de neuitat
- Little Switzerland!