#ThrowBackThursday: California Part I (Los Angeles)

Welcome to California, the Golden State!

What can one say from California that hasn't been said? Home of Hollywood, sunshine, palm trees, beaches, the Beach Boys, the Golden Gate Bridge, adoptive family to the Beat Generation and setting for many adventures, real and literary equally.

During both my stays in the wonderful USA, I took the time to visit California on my own personal, crazy, unplanned, backpacking way. Flying to Los Angeles from Toronto (Canada) both times, getting in and out of LAX was an adventure on itself. But that's another story. We are here to see everything else!

I have to admit that Los Angeles has never been one of those cities that called me, I was always curious but I could survive without it. Too big and complicated, but since I was coming to California, I decided to pay it a visit. Like all places, LA does have its charming bits, if you're lucky enough to find a local to show you around. On my first visit I was on my own so ended up spending over 1,5hrs on a public bus just to get to Santa Monica. Not cool!
During my second visit, I was lucky enough that my friend AJ was home for a few days. We met up, catch up, and she being a local, and with the help of her friend JC, we took off to some wonderful places hidden (or not so much) within the busy streets of LA. 

The first day we started early trying to beat the traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway our way to the Getty Villa at the top of Malibu. She picked me up from my temporary home, the Los Angeles Backpackers Paradis Hostel in Inglewood, and we headed out on a beautiful blue-skyed summer morning. Drove through West Hollywood and Santa Monica, then followed the traffic into the famous Pacific Coast Highway. What should have been a 30 minute drive turned into an hour wait before we could finally reach our destination, but oh boy! it was well worth the wait. 

Wonderful views over the Pacific coast, amazing art and artifacts, 

fountains of clear blue waters and gardens hidden on top of a forested hill, perfect for wandering and  meditating.

I don't want to show you too much so you can get your own experiences once you get here. Just to say J. Paul Getty, founder of the villa and art lover, knew what he was doing. The Getty Villa is one of the two locations of the Getty Center and Museum dedicated to the study of the art and culture of the ancient Greek and Roman empires. Originally founded by Oil magnate J. P. Getty in a small gallery next to his home. In a few years he had accumulated so much that he had to build what today is the Getty Villa down the road to be able to fit it all. He found inspiration for the construction on the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. The construction was completed in 1974 and since then a second complex, the Getty Center was developed nearby. Today, it is home to around 44.000 pieces of Greek, Roman and Etruscan art, and it is visited by more than 400.000 people every year. 

After a very inspiring and relaxing morning, we decided to jump down the road to take a walk on the famous Santa Monica Pier

 before heading for dinner at a dinner at the Boulevard.

Sorry for the blurriness but hunger was getting the monster in me out...:P

After dinner we drove down to Venice for my first ever Froyo and a walk through the canals.

Wearing: American Eagle tribal print bikini set and a reversible USD10 cotton dress from Walmart
Oh don't blame me for my 2010 travel fashion choices, the life of the adventure-budget traveler is tough ;)

After such a long day, we were surprisingly still full of energy and ready for our next adventure before my trip down to San Diego, Hollywood. Because there's no real trip to LA without a visit to the Walk of Fame, Kodak Theater and the corresponding embarrassing pictures with giant Shrek, Marilyn and Mickey Mouse sculptures! So we did our part the best we could as the moon was rapidly raising.

Marilyn and I became besties in no time

and Shrek...what can i say, we just hit it off straight away! despite my scared face...

And of course we visited some Stars...

To end our incredible day, we headed to The Grove for a midnight summer outdoors screening of Alice in Wonderland, photos,

and a quick walk through the Farmers' Market.

As we waved goodbye to LA from our Amtrak to San Diego, we drove across the Anaheim Ducks home. If you're a sports fan like me you'll know what I'm talking about ;)

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