posted on Monday, September 22, 2014

Santa Monica

Everything including another amazing holiday and cycling tour has to come to an end! The last two days, I spent visiting Los Angeles, a city that more than anywhere else I have been, seems so full of contradictions. It let's you wonder if you hate it or love it and I am still not sure what is the answer. Two days is indeed a short time to decide but speaking to a friend that knows it much better than I do, the feeling was the same.
Los Angeles doesn't really exist, what does exist is a huge conglomerate connected by lanes and lanes of freeways and tarmac and the messy traffic that make this city famous. Downtown LA, arriving at Union Square was not too welcoming after the beautiful nature I had been immersed in for three weeks. Huge crowds at the station and hardly anybody seeming to be able or in the mood to give me any advice as to how I should get to Santa Monica. The hostel information seemed also a bit off and I was left wandering back and forth dragging my heavy packed bike in search for the right bus stop. Outside Union Station was a large community of homeless people, always a presence pretty much anywhere in California but even more so here. Who can blame them, the weather is warmer here than in San Francisco and it doesn't rain as much making it the ideal place for anyone without a roof for shelter.
The bus journey opened my eyes to the huge distances involved when moving around and Venice Boulevard went from showing me the ugly part of a downtown that seemed left to stray dogs and ugly decaying buildings and car parks, to the luxury of Venice Beach and Santa Monica.
Santa Monica had a lot to be liked, huge beaches full of hyperactive people doing all kind of activities involving sun and sand, non stop from morning to dawn and the luxury and wealth that was obvious all around. Third Avenue, unusually a pedestrian haven in a made for cars city, was buzzing at all times with the best free shows I have every enjoyed in a single place. Street artists who might not have made it in their search for fame or were just warming up to have their best shot in showbiz, were all around, oozing talent from all their pores.
The summery weather and still hot sun gave the whole place a definite holiday feel, despite being so much part of a megalopolis instead.
Not having enough time to move around I chose a bus tour to give me a little taste of what else LA had to offer and it turned out that mostly it had all to do with the search for fame that turned a desert into a dream factory. Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood and Santa Monica were definitely the Los Angeles I had known in movies and books, the rest seemed the untold story, the failure of a dream that remained just a dream.