I read a recent travel article in the New York Times . It had California in the title , so I assumed that it would talk about my state .
First , I should say that travelling to California is generally similar to travelling to the USA . Okay , where will you go ? It’s a big place .
The author of the NY Times article flew into Los Angeles , went to see the Hollywood sign and , I think went downtown and then out to Venice Beach , and then headed for Santa Barbara . Oh, Santa Barbara was great and beautiful and wonderful and charming . Three quarters of the piece said that . Los Angeles was kind of a dud , I guess .
Hollywood sign —- big deal ! You can see it better in thousands of photographs . When you actually get to Hollywood to some decent location to view the sign , you may well be looking between some worn-out buildings along a run down city street , or you may have managed to find some nearby narrow winding local street and join the hoards of sign -gawkers heading up to some spot where they can see the sign . Maybe you found Grauman’s Chinese Theater and were persuaded by one of the hawkers there to pay for a bus tour to take you up somewhat close to the sign . (Hope you got a safe bus .)
Downtown ? What did you do there , see the fascade of the Disney Hall and maybe checked out the gift shop ? Maybe you visited Olvera Street ? Watch out for the homeless guys around the plaza . Most of them will be sleeping because the nights are harder to sleep through .
Venice Beach ? Okay , watch the street performers and the oddballs and the rich locals trying their best to blend in , and the other tourists , of course . Maybe you should walk inland a few blocks and check out Abbot Kinney Blvd . Buy an expensive meal somewhere chic and try to mentally channel the 60s when Venice was ragged and struggling and cool .
Then head for Santa Barbara —– Sorry you had to be bothered by your obligatory purgatory in LA .
I feel sorry for people who come to Los Angeles to visit when they know no one here and haven’t been here yet . Where do they go ? Do they expect to fly into LAX , find transportation to LA , maybe take a nap in their hotel first and then go out on the town for a little look-see ? Did they book a hotel beforehand ?
I should maybe draw up one of those brief travel charts —- where to go if you have one day ; if you have two days ; if you have three days ; if you have a whole week . On a budget ? When money is no problem , maybe cash is coming out your ears ? Maybe an old fogey travel itinerary . I could manage to write one up. Or a young cool person’s itinerary . I’d have to have help on that one . I’d have to find an artist, too , to illustrate the thing , at any rate.
I agree , by the way , that Santa Barbara is a beautiful and picturesque spot , but if your travel article says “California” in the title , then let’s hear about California . How about San Francisco , at least , or San Diego , or Sacramento , or the Gold Country , or Yosemite , or places along Highway 1 along the northwest coast ! Hearst Castle ? Big Sur ? How about the rest of California ? San Luis Obispo or Morrow Bay ? Death Valley ? Let’s not even mention Palm Springs or Yreka ( State of Jefferson , anyone ? ) or a million places in between . After all , California is whatever you want it to be ! Is that it ?
I’d have re-titled the Times’ California journey if they’d consulted with me about it . Call it a ” Trip to Santa Barbara ” to keep things simple . Don’t even mention Los Angeles except to say you flew into LAX , unless you also want to do LA justice . Maybe get some good advice about what to see in LA and how to get around and all of that . Pick up one of my little brochures . They’re not available yet because I just came up with the idea ; but that NY TIMES travel author won’t be back to LA soon , I suspect . Too bad ; it’s a fascinating place , the LA basin , great and beautiful and wonderful and charming ——- if you know where to go .