First steps in California

Diary of my first hours on a 2012 trip to the usa

/ usa, california, la


So hello from California. The first two full days of my time in L.A. have passed and it all went well so far. The atmosphere is very relaxed and more positive than I'd have expected, judging from the negative press LA enjoys. There is Hollywood, yes, but it ain't as glittery as you might think. Just imagine that the glamorous Kodak Dolby Theater is part of a mall- which means that the Oscars are given out at a mall. Just like the average random city little talent mall awards.

I'm generously being hosted by my friend Kelly and her boyfriend and both of them go out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcome, starting with a party just after my arrival, where I had my first taste of Californian hospitality - learning again how interesting it is for American is to pronounce my name - but not ending with a party, but continuing to bring me to Malibu beach and today on a Venice and Hollywood tour.

What can I say about the appearance of L.A.? It's huge and its in no way accessible by public transport. Using that is not only inconvenient, it is also possibly dangerous. Los Angeles is more like the German Ruhrpott and not a single city, but a giant municipality of different cities with different folks. You have the famous Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Pasadena and the infamous South Central, Hollywood and other parts where you don't need or want to go. Connecting these cities are some 12lane Freeways which have traffic-light regulated on-ramps. No matter where you go, the "Hi, how are yous" are abundant and like everywhere in the US, the answers to that questions are never of importance.

There is also in-N-out burger, which if you haven't seen Big Lebowski or aren't into American culture, won't tell you much. There you'll get insane burgers for low prices. Once you had one of their burgers you know why it was hyped in the movie. That does not count for the beer here. It's as awful as always. Instant headache and feeling of not wanting more. In other cases of food something changed. It's long ago that I was able to eat feast at an "Outback" restaurant, the last time was in North Carolina in 1999. Now its 2012 and they added calories and how many people a dish serves to the menu. These numbers take the fun out of the blooming onion, which clocks in at way over 2000 calories. So going to Outback means eating dishes which would serve two of you for a day or two. Not nice to know.

One more thing, which is just mind blowing: Marijuana is legal. Semi-legal that is. You can get a prescription at a "Doctor" and buy medical skunk, hemp etc. at stores. Finally someone got it. And that has some results: It's not just that you can buy the raw material, you can even get it in liquid form (drops), candy or prepared for vaporizers. Insane. I did not expect this in the States.

Just now, literally, the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley cup for the first time in 44 years. As Montréal did not "do so well" while I was there, I can finally see a city burn and getting trashed thanks to the Stanley cup. Because no matter if a team loses or wins, the city goes down. Just remember Vancouver last year. Hope it's going to be interesting. Tomorrow it's time for starting the day with watching a Euro 2012 game, then it's time to roll down to San Diego for a two day escape. Everybody, even the nice guy on the plane, urged me to go down to San Diego and marvel at its beautiful beaches and friendly atmosphere. Let's see about that, and let's see about driving on Freeways and busy L.A. streets. Now, for your approval, here's the the rest of the first batch of pictures, presented in a bigger resolution. One last thing: It all feels very much like a real-life GTA here. Oh video games, you spoiled me.

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