LA is massive. It's hard to describe quite how massive. It's a mega city with a population of 18.5 mil but there are much smaller cities which more people (i.e. New York). What's important when it come to LA is that it covers 12,562 km2.
It takes an age to get anywhere and the public transport system is well below par. So our first trip to LA we stayed Downtown, this time we gave Hollywood and Santa Monica a go, staying in different hotels to get a feel for the different areas.
Despite Hollywood feeling quite different to Downtown, our disillusionment with LA continued. Both times we've arrived in LA we've asked our taxi driver what we should do while we're in town. Both more or less just shrugged their shoulders, 'Universal Studios?' Compare that to the list that you'd get when arriving in New York.
So we got to our hotel on Sunset Boulevard and walked up to Hollywood Boulevard and the walk of fame etc. Again it was a case of 'where is everyone'. We thought that now we were out of the business district there'd just be more people around but there were hardly even any tourists.
The next day Ariane had booked us in for a 'tour of the stars'. I must admit I was reluctant and the fact that it was just Ariane, me and four middle-aged French-Canadian women didn't fill me with much hope. I was made to eat my hat. I'd say it was about fifteen to twenty times better than I thought it was going to be. It's not that I care that we got to see Justin Timberlake's house (amongst many many more) it was that it made Beverly Hills and Bell Air accessible to us. We got to see the perfectly manicured boulevards and gargantuan mansions that you've seen in the movies and never thought you'd get a chance to see up close.
I guess that's what I'm trying to say about LA - it's probably the least accessible city we've ever been to. A car is a must (we racked up a fortune in Uber rides) and unless you have a detailed knowledge of these suburbs you'll never get to see them.
Later that day we went to The Grove, a shopping mall which seems to have been the number one recommended thing for us to do. Yep, in LA people recommend you go to a mall. So we ate at the attached farmers marked (not many farmers about though) and went to see the new Bond film, Spectre, at the cinema there.
Then it was a bit of a walk up to the Sunset strip with a couple of drinks along the way before dinner at the diner that the opening scene of Pulp Fiction was shot at. You know: 'Everybody be cool, this is a robbery.'
The next morning we relocated to Santa Monica and spent the day wandering along watching people work out, swim, skateboard and so on. We had lunch on the board walk and then made our way to Venice Beach where we stopped in at the first bar we saw.
We ended up spending a few hours at the bar having struck up a conversation with a delightful woman who was now living in Austin and in town for a conference. After exchanging email addresses (and web addresses, hi Susan!) we stumbled off into Venice but with the sun now set it was pretty dead.
And that was it for us and the United States. It was a pretty spectacular month and feels like a lifetime ago that we were with friends in New York. We love this country even more now and we will be back as soon as we can.