Last weekend, in order to escape the pressure and anxiety that school has brought to my life, I decided to treat myself to a little LA adventure. I got coffee from one of my favorite coffee shops, and got lunch from a cafe that I’ve been meaning to try for awhile. I suddenly found myself walking down Melrose Avenue, soy Americano in one hand and cell phone in the other, with the sun beating down on me with my Aldo shades on, walking past lines of parked Mercedes Benzes and BMW’s and passing by the Kardashian’s boutique. It was then that it hit me: I am literally a walking epitome of Los Angeles right now, and the best part is that I didn’t even see it coming. I then became very aware of my surroundings, realizing things I’d hardly given a second thought about before, and realizing that Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley are characters in themselves.
Here are a few things that I’ve noticed while living in LA County over the past 4 years.
As soon as I hit the freeway interchange to get onto the 101 freeway, I can already anticipate what’s coming, as I’m sure every Los Angeles native is very well aware of. For whatever reason, the infamous Hollywood freeway (and just Hollywood in general) is always congested with people who are out and about. Always. No matter what time of the day it is, whether it’s at 11am, 4am, or, heaven forbid, peak traffic time, literally everyone and their mothers are out going somewhere. This isn’t just limited to the freeway, though. Driving down one street for a few blocks could take upwards of fifteen to twenty minutes, due to the amount of motorists that just so happen to be driving down the same street at the same time, and also the sporadically timed traffic lights. I don’t know what the gates of Heaven look like, but I imagine it looks somewhat like the freeway sign telling you that you are approaching the end of the 101 freeway.
2. Where da celebrities at?
One exceedingly common thing people think of when they think of Los Angeles is spotting celebrities as they walk down the street. I’ve lived here for 4 years, and I can say that in that time, I have yet to spot a celebrity walking around, or even a paparazzo looking for a celebrity. This could be due to the fact that I don’t live in that part of Los Angeles, but I’ve strolled down Melrose, into Beverly Hills, and even parked across the street from the Kardashians’ boutique a few times, and out of all of those instances, the rich and famous remain elusive. The fact of the matter is that, just like you and I, these people have 9 to 5 jobs also, and aren’t always out gallivanting their days away. They, too, spend their days in meetings and offices before retiring to their homes at the end of the day. You aren’t bound to find any roaming the streets, especially if you go out looking for them. Instead of spending your days scouring the streets of Hollywood and Beverly Hills stalking the neighborhoods of the well endowed, take a trip down to the Santa Monica Pier, or get a cupcake from the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM instead. Either one is a better way to spend your time than looking for a famous person you’re probably too shy to approach anyway.
3. European cars and brand name clothing
With Los Angeles being the vanity capitol of the world, it comes as no surprise that everywhere you look, you see handfuls of young people dressed in the hottest brands, driving the most high-end European cars. I, myself, pride myself in being a bit of a debonair when it comes to clothing, but the second I step out of my 2003 Honda Civic in my H&M clearance-ridden clothing onto the streets of LA, I can’t help but feel like a plebeian among crowds of royalty. With the Los Angeles residents walking in and out of fancy boutiques and driving down Melrose Avenue in their not-quite-Bentleys, but also not-exactly-BMW vehicles, it kind of makes you wonder what minimum wage job is funding these expenses, and how you can get that job. But once you come down from that cloud and back to Earth, you realize that you’re comfortable with your life and wouldn’t trade your fuel efficient coupe and Converse sneakers for anything else in the world.
4. Hipster hot spots
The younger demographic of the San Fernando Valley are constantly at an arm’s race to find the trendy-enough-but-not-quite-mainstream hangout spots around the area. The funny thing about these places is that although they all have their own aesthetic, they all collectively are pretty much the same. I will be the first to say, though, that I am one of these people who ~has~ to try the trendiest eating spot in Los Angeles, even if that means sitting in rush-hour traffic on the 101 to get there (curse my inner foodie). Surprisingly enough, though a lot of these places serve organic/farm-to-table/healthy cuisine, a lot of them aren’t half bad. Urth Caffe provides a “Grandma’s House” vibe while serving decent food (their turkey burger is pretty bomb dot com), and is one of the many places you can find that do latte art. Down the street, Alfred’s has a rustic aesthetic that serves affordable coffee and pastries. Alfred’s is every coffee connoisseur’s haven, serving coffee in its true glory, without all of the bells and whistles that other coffee shops (*side-eyes Starbucks*) use to mask the bitter taste of coffee. What makes these places unique in their own right is that they are all owned by different people, and not run by large corporations, giving them that intimate feeling once stepping inside, not to mention the feeling of exclusivity for being one of the few people who have even heard of these places.
Despite all of these things, though, I really do love living down here. I’m not much of a city person, nor do I like constantly being around hoards of people (which is mainly why I would never live in Hollywood), but I enjoy the energy that certain areas of Los Angeles gives off. What attracts me most to Los Angeles is that even though there are a lot of cities saturated in such an enclosed space, each city gives off a different vibe, and it’s easy to escape from one area to another for awhile. From the modern and refined atmosphere of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood to the laid-back and easy going “no worries” feel of Venice and Santa Monica, there is something that will appeal to anyone’s tastes.
I hope some of this proved to be enlightening for some of you, or entertaining at the very least. Should anyone come down to visit me or the area (but mostly me), hit me up, and I’ll be sure to show you around! Maybe you, too, will notice the things I’ve just pointed out (and more).
Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone!