Friday, April 8, 2016

[California dream] A trip to Los Angeles

In January, before my birthday celebration trip to HKG, Baby and I had been on a long discussing on where to go for our annual long-haul trip. We could not decide between New Zealand or US (west coast) initially, but after weeks pondering and searching for a decent airfare, we decided to fulfil our dream to complete both the east and west coasts of the United States, and decided on California! Baby surmised since we did New York last year, we should do the west coast in order to make a good comparison between them.
Baby did much preparation and in depth analysis on our entire 2-week stay on this upcoming west coast USA trip! In total, we stayed at about 7 different hotels and airbnb, as we were planning to visit Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona! Our airfare was with Cathay Pacific with a transit stop at HKG. Roughly, our tickets cost us about SGD1500 per pax for a return ticket to Los Angeles.

After about 3hrs and 30mins of flying, we touched down at HKG around 10.45am. Due to my connecting flight about 2+ hours away, we decided to have our lunch.

My 2nd leg of the journey to Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX Airport was about 13 hours and I literally felt that I was spending almost a whole day flying in the sky! A cool point to note, Cathay flights now have USB ports at every passenger's seat and this made it easier to charge our phones/iPads before leaving the aircraft. After what must have felt like an eternity, I was delighted to see that the seat-screen was showing our destination was close!

We landed at LAX airport at around 10.45am local time. Note, the USWC is about 15 hours behind us which means we earned a day! Well sort of, as we need to fly back at the end... but oh well. After clearing the US customs (which was the most difficult part), Baby purchased a monthly data SIM card from T-Mobile at a hefty price of USD109! Although it might seem expensive in price, but I have read that the local data network is more stable when on a road trip, so this was a mandatory buy. Additionally, with a local US number, we would also be subject to various shopping benefits, which was what we did in New York as well. I remembered that in NY, I got some physical reward cards from Walgreens and Duane Reade. With these cards, we could obtain special buys and discounts, and hence we did the same thing for this trip! For the USWC, I got a reward card from the pharmacy RITE AID and its various affiliates, which gave me the aforementioned perks!
In prior to my trip, we pre-booked our car online, and the company had a policy to pick us up at the airport to collect our car. Very good service! In all, our Toyota Corolla cost us about USD500 for the entire 2 weeks. We were all set for our trip after collecting our car!

Our airbnb location was at the outskirts of Korea Town, and Baby drove us there after about half an hour. He was trying to familiarize himself with the left hand drive, hence we took a slightly longer time.

We settled in our airbnb stay around 2pm, and this lovely place was my ‘home’ for 6 days in Los Angeles. I can now confidently say that for longer stays, airbnb is a better alternative to the usual boutique hotels especially those far from Downtown LA or Hollywood Boulevard. Our damage was about SGD800+ for 6 days, which I felt was a good deal. The location was good, and the neighbourhood seemed safe. It had really good Wi-Fi too!


Our first stop in LA was a 5 to 10 minutes drive to The Grove for some shopping to beat jet-lag! The Grove is an outdoor shopping mall, with a layout of a small village.


We had gourmet burgers at Umami Burger for our lunch, and we had a delightful meal.

The Grove is more or less merged with Farmers Market, where you can buy all sort of delicacies as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.


We decided upon New Orleans fare/soul food, Gumbo Pot. The portion was extremely big, where it was enough to feed both our stomachs!

Before I end this post, I want to share my joy with you guys that I can proudly cross out seeing the Hollywood Sign from my bucket list!

It was just a mere 10-15mins drive from our place to Griffith Park, which is fairly near to the Hollywood Sign. Note :- The actual location where the Hollywood Sign is off-limits to the public, hence one must go to various other areas for a vantage point of the Hollywood Sign.

We decided to park our car at the free public parking at Griffith Observatory, but due to the limited parking slot available, we were unable to park our car! We were forced to park further down from the observatory, and had to walk about 10 minutes up the hill.



From the views from the Griffith Observatory, we can clearly see the Hollywood Sign and Downtown LA (DTLA). We were very contented taking pictures of the Hollywood Sign and LA in its enormity!
Thanks for reading, and to see or know more of my travel experiences, do stay tuned to my space!


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