I was down in L.A. for a (very full) week and while I enjoyed pretty much everything down there I obviously had my favourite parts! I’ve saved most of these for this post, and I would certainly heartily recommend visiting if the chance arises. I know I’d happily go back to all of them!
Overall, I still don’t really know what to make of L.A., a city that encapsulates a lot of the contrasts and contradictions I found in America (extreme wealth and poverty living almost side by side for example) but is also a gigantic mess of people and cultures. I can’t say I’d ever want to live there, but I would love a return visit.
The Getty Centre, perched overlooking the city from the north, was easily the best surprise from the whole week, maybe even the entire year. The collections are extensive and impressive, but for me they were thoroughly overshadowed by the spectacular setting.
The panoramic views were breathtaking and the buildings phenomenal. If you’re there, make sure to spend a good few hours, if not a whole day. You won’t be disappointed and certainly won’t get bored.
Number one recommendation has to be the architecture tour (an unofficial version of which I received from my guide) which gives incredible insights into every aspect of the centre’s construction. It really added to my appreciation of the place, from the alignment of the buildings to the slabs of marble the architect deemed to beautiful to cut and smooth, and so instead mounted like permanent exhibits in the numerous courtyards and walkways. A brilliant afternoon, I just wish I’d seen more.
Space Shuttle Endeavour
I was in Davis for the last flight of Endeavour – its final transferral from NASA to the California Science Center, and watched the coverage of its majestic final taxi trough the streets of the metropolis. Seeing the shuttle, therefore, was going to be the perfect conclusion to my trip down south. I geeked out completely (in fairness, it’s a goddamn space ship!) and stayed gawking at it for over an hour. Easily the best $2 I’ve spent, I’d love to go back when the permanent exhibit has been completed – though the interim one was plenty impressive enough!
So still star struck by Endeavour, I made the short trip across the park to USC, where I was spending a few days before heading back north. It’s a big, famous American private university in the country’s second largest city, so I was expecting an impressive campus. I wasn’t disappointed, with the tone set by the college’s football stadium (the 1984 Olympic stadium) and opulent buildings bearing the name of generous alumni.
What really struck me was the spectacular contrast from the immediate surrounds. Outside the trust fund bubble of campus was a very run down and almost entirely Spanish speaking neighbourhood that I changed busses in. London, and even Dublin and Edinburgh, have their bad areas but the extent of the contrast in that one short bus ride was mind blowing.
So back to NorCal, one term of my year in Davis to go. I enjoyed L.A. a lot, but Davis had really begun to feel like home at this stage so it was good to be going back. Also, cool lightning storm: