This time last year I made a spontaneous decision to travel alone to LA, one which was very much out of my comfort zone. It seems silly now to think that I was so afraid of travelling alone, especially since my cousins waited for me on the other side!
From the moment I arrived in LA, I was welcomed with open arms. My huge extended family all lived within close proximity of each other and each called by for a family dinner that first night. The beautifully balmy weather was blissful and a pleasant change from the dreary English clouds.
Having marvelled at the main tourist attractions on a family trip four years ago, I decided that I wanted to visit some more local places and really soak up the cosmopolitan, carefree and bohemian ambience of California.
Trips to Venice and Santa Monica Beach boasted lush palm trees, golden sand beaches and bustling strips full of edgy pop-up shops, divine restaurants and quaint food trucks.
The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA was a treasure trove full of literary works and adorned with profound art - perfect for culture-enthused tourists. The beautiful Grove shopping mall oozed character with its iconic tram and luxurious fountains. Here I stopped in a Mexican restaurant for a refuel, enjoying mouth-watering tacos and tamales with salsa.
Hiking on the Wonderview Trail with my cousins through the Hollywood Hills was the biggest adventure, and the perfect end to an action-packed week. The two-hour trek was tiring, but the breathtaking views of the LA skyline, valleys and infamous Hollywood sign were worth it.
Much to my surprise, families were hiking up the hills and ravines with small babies and toddlers, despite the fact that the trails had no barriers and very few markings to help walkers navigate their way to the Hollywood sign. I felt as though we were all explorers in the wilderness! It was only when we got to the halfway point, filled with people also catching their breath on the benches, that I remembered we were in a city and not lost in the wilds of California.
To my horror, when we finished our hike, I spotted a sign reading: ‘Beware of the Rattlesnakes!’ We were all convinced that we had guardian Los Angeles angels watching over us because none of us had seen a snake, let alone been bitten by one!
I left LA with more family memories to treasure and a different picture of the California metropolis - ultimately urban but with a surprisingly wild streak.
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