The first thing I noticed when I got off the plane in LAX and into the taxi is how dirty and dull Los Angeles was. I didn’t realize it but subconsciously I was comparing everything I saw to everything back home. Is that a normal thing to do? Do other humans unknowingly start judging and comparing the place they are in to what their norm is?
There were bits of rubbish under some of the bridges and although there were a few palm trees in sight, the general environment wasn’t very green. The next thing I noticed was the number of billboards that were plastered everywhere and what was expected but yet still shocking were the sex ads on display. ‘Call me for a good time’ seem to come up quite a lot. The commercialism that was present was magnitudes greater than what I had ever seen but not would ever see – wait till I get to Vegas. Once, we hit Beverly Hills, things started look up. The cars got bigger and shinier, the roads got cleaner, the shops got fancier, the number of palm trees increased and soon we were surrounded by rows of picturesque houses and immaculate gardens. I got out of the car and into my auntie’s house and I felt as if I had landed in…well..Beverly Hills!
The trip began with a stroll down Rodeo Drive and the shops did not fail to amaze me. Admitting that I’m a material girl, I was in shopping heaven but with no plastic to my name. I waved hello to Vera Wang who would be supplying all my wedding essentials, followed by Cartier who would be making my engagement ring and all future diamond purchases and lastly I can’t not mention the smile I shared with Hermes who will soon be delivering my Birken Bag to my door. I must also mention my favourite friends: Michael, Yves, Chanel, Ralph and Tiffany.
Getting back to reality, the stroll down Rodeo Drive was just that – a nice stroll. The only thing I took home with me that day were fond memories of me gazing into a materialistic future and some nice snaps.
A good few days of endless shopping were spent in Los Angeles, including some great nights at Santa Monica Pier and Grove. Universal Studios was the next thing on our hit list and that was a blast indeed.
I felt like a twelve year old girl being let loose in a candyshop – but better! There was Krustyland, Jurassic Park, The Mummy Returns, Transformers and then I got to meet Dora, Spongebob, the minions, some random robot from Transformers, and Shrek and Fiona! I was a little nervous for some of the rides because I am scared of roller coasters and well anything scary! I screamed my heart out for Jurassic Park and kept my eyes closed most of the times – those dinosaurs were too real looking! The mummy ride was my personal favourite. I tried a soft cinnamon pretzel as a snack and it was so filling it ended up being my lunch. It was a good day indeed!
A few days later we boarded the American Airlines aircraft to head out to Las Vegas. Plane rides in general make me uncomfortable, but when I’m sitting in a small aircraft which tends to shake when there is even a little turbulence and make weird noises as the wheels come up, my nervous-ness is magnitudes greater. My palms were sweaty and my heart was beating fast and the entire time I was praying to god that we would land safely – and what do you know, we did!
The first night at Las Vegas I got very homesick. There were so many couples and family around and I was there with someone I didn’t really gather to be a loved one – more of a travel partner – so naturally I felt lonely. All the lights were amazing, the buildings so large, the fountain and fire shows so stupid but splendid – I just wanted to share the moment with loved ones. That’s when I started to notice all the people who were there beside from the families and the couples. There were drunk girls who were slipping while walking barefoot, people dressed up as silly characters trying to earn a few dimes, people handing out escort advertisements and then there were those glued to the casino machines at 10pm and then again at 4am and then again at 11am. It was a lonely town and I was starting to feel very alone. I was glad that we were heading to the Grand Canyon tomorrow.
Grand Canyon was a longer bus trip then I initially thought, from memory it was about 5-6 hours including rest stops. I sat by myself on the window seat and then a canadian lady accompanied me. Initially, I thought,”Wow! She’s so friendly!” and then she mentioned she was Canadian and it made more sense – the stereotypes are true! Once, we got to the South Rim, we were given the option to either walk around it for a few kms or go via bus. We decided to walk it and I’m so glad we did! It started off quite sad as I knocked my Karen Walker knock offs off my head and over the Canyon which meant I was squinting the rest of the way. However, the more I stared at the beauty, the more I was mesmerized by what nature was capable of doing. It had spent billions of years creating this glorious piece of art.
Thanksgiving was originally suppose to be a shopping day at the Promenade but discovered that Thanksgiving in USA is equivalent to Christmas, meaning every store (including McDonalds and KFC) is closed. Instead, it turned out to be a nice relaxing day with the family at home – fighting over Bananagram. For dinner, we found a nice restaurant that was open and had an Italian Feast! Not the traditional Thanksgiving but a perfect one nonetheless.
It was now time for my departure to Paris, followed by a train ride to London. It was a sad moment, one in which I shed a lot of tears bidding goodbye to my family. USA had been a fantastic experience, an amazing shopping destination and a great teacher of some valuable life lessons that I was now taking with me. Although, I could never imagine living in the USA permanently – I found the people too unfriendly compared to Auckland, and the environment too unsafe unless I was to live in Beverly Hills. I knew that I would definitely be back – to visit family, to shop, to discover and who knows perhaps to work for a year or two!
Until next time Tinseltown!