Last week I ended my holiday with a stop at the famous Hollywood sign nestled in the hills above the city known internationally for film. It was the last entry in my travelogue documenting my vacation in Los Angeles. Today we continue. Now I’m sitting in a nine-meter-long motor home somewhere in the boonies of the USA – but first things first! I still have a lot to say about our time in Los Angeles.
Venice Beach – Freakshow on the Boardwalk aka Holiday in Los Angeles
After getting advice from some friends who live and have lived in Los Angeles, we looked for a hotel near Venice beach. We found a place in a quiet residential area, a few kilometers from the sea and with the bicycles our landlord Stephen loaned us, we were on the lively boardwalk in no time. We arrived at the “Freakshow”, a description of Venice beach given to me by my mother when she was there a few weeks ago. I quickly realized that she was right: Whether it’s the world famous Muscle Beach, where bodybuilding was invented and one can observe oiled-muscle-men working out daily in an open air gym, or just walking along the boardwalk where you could probably make a very accurate study on the effects of various drugs; Venice Beach is like a circus: a mixture of the most disturbing Hollywood films.
But that’s precisely what you want to see if you’re already in California, right? However, the beach is also right behind the boardwalk and very relaxed. The sand is fine, the sea nice and wavy, and the lifeguards in their red swimming trunks act very important. It seems as if the trained Beach Boys, each one with a six-pack, all work for Abercrombie or Calvin Klein and the beach is left only for the “normal” people.
The Venice Beach Canals are only a few blocks away from the beach and are worth seeing. Food tips for Venice Beach: The hip & healthy food shop – “Lemonade”, the slightly higher priced restaurant – “Superba”, and the small but nice bar – “Alibi” where the city’s best food trucks set up shop.
Palm Springs – A trip to the desert
As a big Steve McQueen fan, of course I couldn’t leave without visiting Palm Springs, California. After all, Mr. Style himself had already lived there and elsewhere; this place in the desert is adorned with several Hollywood personalities. Palm Springs is a very pretty place. We explored the city from the comfort of the stylish Mercedes SL with the windows rolled up and managed to escape the scorching temperatures outside of the car (over over 40° C). In addition to having a delicious-organic-vegetarian lunch, we also visited the Palm Springs Art Museum which is not to be missed. The museum is in a beautiful building which perfectly links the style of the area with modern architecture.
But now we’ve had enough of the heat! The best way to cool off, if you do not live in Palm Springs and have a pool, is a cable car ride up Mount San Jacuinto. Within a few minutes you suddenly find yourself hundreds of meters high in the mountains where the temperature is a comfortable 20° C. We were rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view, tranquility, fresh air and beautiful forest trails.
Then we hit the highway and headed home. Being on the highway made me even more aware of how beautiful the Mercedes 430 hp SL is. In Germany there’s no speed limit, but here the speed limit is 75mph. When the speedometer goes up to 160 mph and you can only drive a maximum of 75 mph, that’s pretty depressing.
El Matador Beach – a dream of a beach like out of a picture book
My expectations of beaches in and around Los Angeles were naturally huge! The typical beaches, like Venice Beach, are still really nice, although not surprising because we were already somewhat familiar with them from shows like Baywatch. Since I rather prefer nature than a beach swarming with fruit vendors, I wanted to try something different. A friend from Germany had recommended the El Matador Beach in Malibu, so we went there and we were not disappointed! Located in a sandy cove amidst beautiful rocks, it’s no wonder that photo shoots are held there virtually every day. You can enjoy a proper beach day at El Matador Beach and everything is just right. Parking only costs $8 for a whole day. In the off season, parking is always free.
Caution: In the afternoon when the tide comes in, a particularly large wave could flood the beach. Unfortunately one of those waves cost us an iPhone which, despite our best efforts, we were unable to restore. So as a precautionary measure, take very few valuables/electrical appliances to the beach and under no circumstances should you store them in an open beach bag! Depending on the site, it makes sense to simply put your belongings on higher ground on top of a rock.
Santa Monica – Shopping and fun right on the oceanfront
Whereas Venice is rather a Freakshow, and is almost always associated with Los Angeles, Santa Monica is the perfect coastal town. The famous Santa Monica Pier is located on a beautiful beach. You can find many fishermen on the pier, as well as a small amusement park and several restaurants.
Santa Monica has a lot to offer besides the beach; there is also the 3rd Street Promenade which is a beautiful shopping street that reminds me a little of Cannes. Among other things, there’s the Apple store, and Levi’s and Urban Outfitters are also at home on the promenade. And there are street musicians playing on every corner. The whole atmosphere is just pure holiday.
Downtown Los Angeles
Of course, while on our road trip, we’ve also been to downtown LA where we saw the Disney Concert Hall and Union Station. After 6 months in New York, the 10 days spent in California were perfect for nice little excursions and we walked through the city for hours.
The second part of our Road Trip
The dreamlike time we spent driving the Mercedes SL in California was just a part of our entire trip. Part 2 began on a Saturday when we picked up a huge motor home for our vacation in Los Angeles. We will travel approximately 3,000 kilometers throughout the Southwestern United States and visit some national parks in the motor home. More on that next week!