Salut! I’m Nicolas, a French teacher and new recruit at Bristol Language School. I love to travel, as I’m very keen on discovering new cultures, but I had never left Europe… until I went to the U.S. a few weeks ago! Here is my report about this experience.
After a looong night, I wake up in great shape at 7am, before everyone. The sun is already shining! I decide to go running, and I head for Venice Beach which is not far. What a fantastic view! And it’s the very first time I’ve seen the Pacific Ocean in my life. It is very quiet: a few runners and surfers of course, but the weather is perfect, and so is the moment.
As I knew I would only stay in LA for one day, I booked a tour on a sightseeing bus (I know… lazy, but easy!). I struggle a little to find the bus stop, and I have to walk for 30 minutes (btw, I am used to walking in Europe, but walking is a nightmare in the US, especially without GPS!). Once again, there is absolutely nobody in the street. This is clearly not a country for pedestrians. At last I reach the (almost empty) bus. Now with the audioguide in French, I am the perfect tourist! Ready for the day!
The first part of the tour is from Venice Beach to Pacific Avenue. Venice was founded by a rich man who wanted to recreate the Italian city of Venice. Next on the tour we reach Brentwood and see the house where Marilyn Monroe died, and a bit later Westwood Graveyard where she was buried, which became the “stars” graveyard.
We go through Beverly Hills, of course, and the bus stops for a few seconds so we can photograph the famous sign (there are only 5 of them, and you must pay a lot of royalties to use it in a film or a show). Finally, we reach Hollywood. It’s easy to recognise it, of course, because it is written on the hill! I want to take a closer picture, but the closer you get, the more buildings and adverts there are and you can’t see it anymore.
I leave the bus for a lunch break on the Walk of Fame. There are so many stars on the pavement! There are hundreds, and most of the names are not very famous (well, not to me!). The shops are only for tourists (fake Oscars, caps, postcards, etc.). I have another Burger + Fries but in an Irish pub, near a couple of Banksy stencils and it starts to rain (I feel at home for a while!). It’s $15 for a simple meal (burger+fries+beer), because of the taxes and the tips that are not included on the menu… I’ll get used to it, I guess!
On our way back to Venice, we see Sunset Boulevard and many other famous places: we see the Château Marmont, then the club from the Blues Brothers film (made out of corrugated metal structures), then the Viper Room club where River Phoenix died in 1993…
Finally, one last turn on Pacific Avenue, and the sun is back…
That was a long day, and now my mission is to reach downtown to get the coach to San Francisco. And when you’re a foreigner, on your own at night, that’s quite a challenge! This is a completely different atmosphere. One guy kindly explains to me how to reach downtown, and when I say I want to reach the coach station on foot, he litterally says “please, don’t do that.” Very reassuring! So I take the bus again, and finally get on the coach to San Francisco…
Written by Nicolas Salmon