Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Half-way between Frankfurt, Germany and Los Angeles, CA The flight from Frankfurt (Germany) to Los Angeles was not very eventful, and was over faster than I had feared. We departed at 10:35am and landed at LAX around 12:30pm, gaining nine hours in time zone differences.

We got our luggage pretty fast and also had no problem getting into the country, just showing our passports and answering a few questions ("No, we're not married, she's my mother."). Since this was my first US holiday, and first car rental, I was looking for a car rental counter, but obviously didn't find any. Instead, we found a shuttle bus and were driven to the Avis parking, which is outside the airport. The car we had booked, a 2-door full-size, was not available, so it was suggested we take a 4-door full-size instead. "You'll like the car". I tried to talk them into not requiring me to pay an additional insurance fee (since I was still under 25 years of age at the time of the trip), seeing how I'm a careful driver and everything :), but the manager was sticking to their policy... After a few minutes of getting to know an American automatic (I always only drove stick) - and it took me a while to realize that you have to have your foot firmly on the brake pedal to turn on the engine, even if you are in "Park" position - we were on our way. Now, I was up to another minor culture shock. Traffic lights behind the intersection, right turn on red allowed, street names hanging over each intersection, etc. Let's just say it took me a while to get to our hotel, which was located pretty close to the airport.

Our hotel was located on Century Blvd, just a few miles off the airport. I wasn't overly impressed with it, and had a bit of a problem making myself clear to the (Hispanic) counter personnel. I may just have caught them on a bad day. Another minor complaint was the view from our window, but then again, that wasn't why we were there.

After checking in and getting our luggage in the room, an experience that was to be repeated many times over the next three weeks, we got into the car again and drove south on Sepulveda Blvd. As we were getting pretty hungry, our biorhythms still set on European time, we had diner at 4:15pm. Still lacking any solid knowledge of where to eat and what to expect, I just stopped at a McDonalds, arguably one of the worst choices to make, but then again, an experience that wasn't repeated more than once or twice in the weeks to come. As far as differences go, I was surprised to not only get asked if we were eating in, or taking it away, but also having to pay accordingly. Over here, it's the same price no matter what you do.

Baywatch? We continued south to Redondo Beach, where we stopped for a quick walk around to Fisherman's Wharf. Compared to the one we saw in San Francisco a few days later, this one was even less spectacular. I did a quick snapshot of one of these safety guard things, obviously brainwashed by seeing Baywatch a few times in my teenage years, but of course this was it as far as similarities go. Clouds instead of sunshine, a few overweight couples with their kids instead of scantly-clad beautiful women, and eventless. But who am I to complain, this holiday wasn't about meeting unrealistic expectations. :)

We proceeded to drive through the Palos Verdes Hills, stopping at Point Vicente to take a few pictures. The sky had cleared up a bit, but it was still fairly cloudy, and not too warm. We did some food and beverage shopping and headed North on 110, back to our hotel.

In the evening, I still wanted to head to Beverly Hills and Hollywood, but this turned out to be an experience that shouldn't be repeated. First of all, we were spending quite a bit of time to find the Walk of Fame, and then I realized that it is really just a bit of metal on a sidewalk, in a neighborhood that didn't seem too safe. By this time, it was dark, and I still hadn't seen the Hollywood sign. After some more driving around, we decided that it was better to head back to our hotel, since we were both getting tired.

Lessons learned: The next time, I will try to get out of Los Angeles as soon as possible. I don't really like it, it's too big and I don't know enough about it to find what I might be looking for. It seems like time spent here would be better spent somewhere else (such as in Zion Canyon, where we clearly didn't have enough time)

Miles driven: 105mi (169km)

Motel/Hotel Accommodation: Comfort Inn&Suites (Los Angeles, CA): $80.10 plus 14% tax