It has been almost a year since my trip to Los Angeles and this blog has been in my backlog list since then. Because I have been blogging about several food places here in Dubai and some other travel locations I’ve visited this year, I haven’t really finished blogging about my US trip (excuses, excuses). Even though my trip is now a #throwback thing, I still thought of sharing it because my 2014 summer trip is somewhat connected to this one.
After my trip in San Francisco, my next destination was the sunny and glittery Los Angeles. The plan was to meet my other Dubai Friends who were traveling as well in the US and we will stay together in a motel (that one of my friend’s aunt booked for us). While I was in SF, I got a message from them that they arrived early in the city and they will be staying their first night in a town hours away from LA (and apparently, if you don’t have a car, you cannot follow). The only thing left to do is to book a place to stay at least for a night.
Being a budget traveler, I immediately went to my trusty www.hostelworld.com and looked for a good hostel. There were several choices but because most of them were in the almost same price range ($50/night), I based my selection on the reviews instead. I chose The USA Hostel Hollywood and I must say I was pretty excited. —-The hostel is located at the heart of Hollywood, walking distance to almost every tourist sites in the city (awesome right?!).
I haven’t been in a hostel since my trip in the US started. We had a hotel in NY, a hotel again in Florida, I lived at a friend’s house in SF and this time I think staying in a hostel will be interesting. I love hostels!!!
I mentioned that I will be staying in this hostel to a friend who is based in California and he decided to stay there as well——yahoooo. This will be fun!
As I arrived in LAX, my head kept on turning,looking for any sign of a Hollywood celebrity…sadly I was not that fortunate.
The sun in LA was refreshing. Coming from a very cold and foggy San Francisco, I was surprised that I missed the sun. Seeing the sunset on my way to Hollywood, it felt like a Coldplay song was playing on the background and I was on a TV show opening credit or something.
Riding the subway and walking to my hostel I must say was a bit scary. In the US, like in NY and even in San Fran, there were a lot of times that I felt I was not secure. I felt the same thing (even more) in LA. In the train I was scared that it will be my last train ride ever.
Walking along the Hollywood hall of fame made me feel sad seeing a lot of homeless people camping along the side walk. But I guess, not every city is perfect and let’s just hope that the government (and neighborhood) will do something about this.
I finally arrived at the Hostel, it was not really hard to find. The direction from their website was pretty accurate. The Hostel looks nice. A bunch of travelers already occupied the outdoor lounge area and I must say, I was a bit intimated. It felt as if they knew each another already for a long time. Well, that is the beauty of being in a hostel, but this time (at least for the first night) I was the outcast.
I saw my friend Rio sitting at the corner away from the dominating backpacker groups at the opposite lounge and I was very happy. I haven’t seen him for years and he was the same funny Rio whom I met in Dubai. I can’t stop laughing the whole night while he brought me to the nearest Denny’s to have something to eat (this place is famous for Filipinos, I really don’t know why).
The next day, I was excited to see the very famous HOLLYWOOD. We woke up very early and head for breakfast.
Our hostel has this ‘PREPARE YOUR OWN BREAKFAST AND COOK YOUR OWN PANCAKE’ policy.
It was fun aside from I messing up my pancake because I forgot to put oil (well, in my defense, their pan should be a nonstick). For sure the person next to me already concluded that I am a stupid Asian (whom eventually became one of my closest friends today—more about this later).
Aside from pancakes, an array of other fatty goodness were available for breakfast. Who doesn’t want butter? What I like about the hostel set-up (some will disagree with this), after you finish your breakfast, you should was your own dishes..MANUALLY (gasp)!!! ^^
We booked for a free Runyon Canyon Hike that our hostel offered for that particular day. While waiting, to kill time, Rio and I decided to walk around first and we went to some famous Hollywood areas. It was nice because there were no people yet and we have a good view of Hollywood without the crowd nightmare.
We headed back to the hostel and gathered for the hike. We have a good number for the hike and I thought it was a really fun group. I met a German guy named Felix and he was a bit shy at first because he was not confident with his English (I don’t know, for me he spoke English very well). He was traveling solo and will stay in the hostel a few more days before heading off to Las Vegas via Contiki Tours.
I met also 2 very cool Norwegians, Andre and Ingvild. It was my first time to meet someone from Norway. They were tall—at least a few inches higher than me. They were apparently the guys next to me when I was cooking the pancake and I was hoping that they didn’t recognize me (but they did—boohoo). Aside from being my pancake booboo witnesses, they will be traveling the world for 5 months and they made a blog site about this trip. www.yolotrip.wordpress.com.
The trek to Runyon was long and I must say it was a perfect time for us to get to know each other. We immediately jived and became friends (at least that’s what I felt). For a first time traveler in LA, doing the Runyon Canyon hike was a great idea. Although very tiring it will give you a full grasp of the city. You can see a top view of the entire Los Angeles which is pretty pretty nice. As the day progressed, the sun also showed its summer strength. Rio and I were wearing our jacket during our morning stroll and now we (for sure I was) regretted bringing them.
During our hike, I realized that I was not fit at all (well I already knew that before hand, I was just in denial). I was so tired but pretended that I was not having a hard time (like my new friends). With a lot of spirit, I was able to make it with a smile on my face. The view was amazing and I was glad that we did this trek.
After the hike, we were all tired and hungry and we decided to eat together (I planned to eat like a monster cause the hike was not a walk in the park for my very delicate body—hahaha) —-we ended up getting a wrap only (boohoo).
We invited another traveler from our hostel who was a bit quiet, he is Brian from Argentina. I loved that we were all from different parts of the world thinking of what to do next in the city of stars.
While waiting for the call from my Dubai friends, I decided to just stay with my new friends for the whole day. We all thought that it will be fun to do the Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills Star Homes Tour.
We walked back to the Hollywood Boulevard and picked the best tour. Because we have seen their banners a lot and we’ll get souvenir discount after (haha), we have chosen Starline Tours. Their ticket operator was a Filipino, yey Pinoy Pride (wink*), and it was really nice to meet a kababayan.
We rode an open truck with a sign in front saying “Tip not less than $10” (crazy). Anyway, our driver told us a lot of stories on every street and every corner. Even the differences between fire hydrants (apparently Beverly hills have silver painted hydrants—very special).
In the middle of our tour, we stopped at an area where you can clearly see the famous Hollywood sign. They said this was the best view to take a photo of the icon. We did so but it was too far and in effect too small. (for sure there is a better spot, I saw it in one of my friend’s FB).
We had fun. I am just not sure how many percent of the stories were true, but entertaining nonetheless.
We ended our trip in front of the Chinese Theater so we all decided to stay a bit and look around. It was nice seeing all the foot prints and hand prints of famous celebrities.
I was really thrilled seeing the prints of the casts of Harry Potter. Although I know that it was nasty, I still touched it and pressed my hands against it. Well, a tourist gonna do what a tourist gonna do.
All in all, it was a long and tiring day. We ended our day by staying in the hostel for a dinner bbq and chilled by the outdoor lounge. We met more travelers like us, one from the UK and one from Australia. I love it when backpackers share stories of their trips. No doubt that we are all storytellers.
As the night passed, I got a message that my Dubai friends arrived in the motel and I need to go to them and leave the hostel. I must admit that it was a bit hard cause I really enjoyed my new friend’s company. I bid farewell and during that time, at the back of my head, I was not sure if I will ever see them again but what I know was, I was glad that I was forced to book a hostel and I was happy about it because I met new special friends……
…..…and after almost a year, some of them are now one of my very best friends. (More about this on my next blog post)
To know more about USA Hostel Hollywood and Starline tours, check out their websites below: