On August 9th, at 11.25 PM, 20 minutes late, we arrived in Los Angeles International Airport, after a long flight from Toronto. Getting from the airport to our motel, only a mere 20 kilometres away, wouldn’t take long we thought. But boy were we wrong!
Los Angeles may be one of the world’s most developed cities, but an easy way to get from A to B does not exist. We thought about getting a taxi, but it was too expensive, at 50 USD for a short 20 km ride. Instead, we opted for the bus and metro. We bought our ticket and figured we’d be home in less than an hour, but luck was not with us that day.
The metro line that we needed to go on had stopped running for the day, so we needed to find an alternative. Thankfully, two lovely security guards helped us figure out which three busses we could take to get to our motel.
The first bus would arrive 40 minutes later, and while we were waiting for it, we realized that we didn’t have any small change for the 1,75 USD bus fee! I only had a 100 USD note. I rushed back to the two security guards and asked if they could exchange my note. They couldn’t, but lovely as they were, they handed me four dollars straight out of their own pockets, so we were able to get on the bus! The woman, Bri, told us to get to our motel safely and to not speak to any strangers on the way. She referred to herself as our “mama outside of home”, and that evening she was definitely an angel looking out for us. This really goes to show how good people can be.
We caught bus 40, but no ticket was issued, meaning that we would need more change for the next two busses… So when we got off the bus in the middle of a deserted street, we desperately searched for an open shop to exchange my 100 USD note, but nothing was open! Then a kind local walked us to an open fastfood restaurant, which was a good 30 minutes walk away.
By the time we got there, we were too exhausted to keep trying to take public transport in LA, so we asked the owner of the restaurant to order a taxi for us. Half an hour later, our taxi arrived and not long after, we were finally safely at our motel! Talk about needing to sleep! We had been awake for 42 hours straight since waking up in Copenhagen to go to the airport!
To put it bluntly, getting out of the airport and to the motel was a hellish experience. We felt like giving up on our trip on the very first day. We also found out that our “downtown motel” was not at all downtown, but located in South Central LA.
South Central LA is a run-down, ghetto-like place, and we were actually told quite a few times that it was a dangerous place for us to stay in. So we decided to go sightseeing early the next morning and then come back before dusk. We were taking no chances with the way our luck was going!
So after only sleeping for 5 hours, we got up and got ready for a day of sightseeing in LA, hoping that Hollywood and Beverly Hills would make us appreciate the city more!
Unfortunately, Hollywood didn’t quite live up to our expectations – or anyone else’s, as I’ve since found out. We were expecting polished buildings and street cafés, but it was more like a South Central LA 2.0, just with some more tourists and souvenirs.
We walked along the famous Walk of Fame for quite a while, in the search of Mary-Kate and Ashley’s star. They were my childhood heroes, and I let out an excited squeal when we finally found it! We also found quite a lot of other cool famous people, and it was fun to search for the ones we knew who were (which wasn’t many, let me tell you)…
Seeing the famous Hollywood Sign was also high on our list, and it actually wasn’t too hard to find it. We saw it quite often throughout the day, as we were catching busses to and from Beverly Hills, and we also spotted it from Hollywood Boulevard. I would’ve loved to get a closer look and a better view of the sign, but because we were so tired, we decided to settle with just seeing it from afar.
Next after Hollywood, we decided to head to the playground of the rich and famous, Beverly Hills.
We got off the bus right by the Beverly Hills sign, and stood in line with the other tourists to have our pictures taken in front of it.
Then we walked to Rodeo Drive, a beautiful tree-lined street where all the most expensive brands in the world have a fancy shop. This is where spotting a famous person is actually possible in LA, although we didn’t spot any!
After we’d seen some of Beverly Hills, it was time to head back to the motel in South Central LA. We spent the evening researching and loading ourselves up for our big 10-day roadtrip across the USA, which would start the following day.
On the morning of August 11th, Amanda and I took the metro into the very center of downtown LA, where skyscrapers were towering above us. Here, at the LA Hotel Downtown, we picked up our rental car. Getting the car went smoothly, and I was surprised how easy it was to learn how to drive a car with automatic transmission! It was so much more comfortable than a car with gears!
Our first destination with our rental car was Malibu Beach, located 35 miles from Los Angeles. We did a small scenic detour through Santa Monica Mountains and then down to the Pacific Coast Highway, which took us about 1,5 hours as there was a lot of traffic through Los Angeles.
We decided to park in McDonald’s parking lot and then went for a short walk down to the pier, where we watched the surfers and imagined how life would be if we’d grown up in such a place. I remember thinking Malibu looked like such an awesome place to live in Mary-Kate and Ashley’s “So Little Time”, and I honestly still think it would be a great place to grow up, although I wouldn’t trade Denmark for anything (okay, maybe the Faroe Islands, but nowhere else!).
From Malibu, we drove along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Monica Pier, where the Route 66 officially begins. I will write about this in the next post, my first post on our adventurous roadtrip along Route 66, so stay tuned!