And so our grad visa blogger, Thomas Burke, has finished in Seattle and heads onward to LA. If you missed the last leg of his journey you can read it here.
After rainy Seattle, I was ready for some sun! When I was planning the trip, I was going to stay in Los Angeles itself but a friend of mine suggested staying by the beach in Santa Monica. I owe him big time! Santa Monica was beautiful and I went into LA for the day and actually wasn’t overly impressed at all.
The trip from Seattle down to LA was long but the majority of it was in California so the scenery was stunning!
I arrived in LA late and got a shuttle bus from the train station to Santa Monica. This took about an hour. It’s safe to say I was wrecked when I eventually arrived at the hostel. However, I still wanted to catch the sunrise on the beach the next morning so I arose at 6am for it. It was completely worth it!
It’s an incredibly beautiful place. People are very health conscious and were already up walking, running, skateboarding, rollerblading and cycling. After watching the sunrise, I went back to bed for a few hours and had breakfast at the hostel. Fully rested, I decided to just go for a walk, relax on the beach and not do anything too strenuous for the day. It was a gorgeous day so I grabbed an iced coffee and walked towards the famous Venice Beach which was about a forty minute walk from the hostel.
Walking along the beach, I also noticed some cool graffiti art, seamlessly added without ruining the scenery and beauty of the area. The pictures really don’t do it justice. It really adds to the character of the place.
The following night, there was a Lakers basketball game on in the famous Staples Center so I had to check it out. I bought a ticket on the day of the game and made my way into the city. It was about an hour metro to the stadium (LA is huge!). The stadium blew me away. As a basketball and sports fan, it was a pleasure to be there. It wasn’t the best game (Celtics destroyed the Lakers) but the stadium is littered with historic memorabilia that was really interesting to see. They have hugely passionate fans on the West Coast. It’s in stark contrast to the New York games I attended where it’s all corporate boxes and businessmen at the game. It’s great to see and it definitely adds to the experience. I would highly recommend going here if you’re a fan of basketball and sport in general. [Lakers ticket – $80].
The next day I decided to check out Hollywood Boulevard and the Hollywood sign. Again, it was about an hour metro to here. I made my way to Hollywood Walk of Fame, excited about seeing it in person after seeing it on TV so many times. I hate to say it but it was very disappointing. Derelict, run-down and just not pleasant to the eye. Like I said, after seeing it on TV so many times, I was quite surprised and let down by it. However, I did manage to find Jackie Chan’s star which I thought was pretty cool.
Not to be deterred, I did a bit of research online beforehand and while you can get tours to the Hollywood sign, I found you can actually hike around the area to get just as good a view. One of the best views is from the Griffith Observatory. So I set out on a hike up there! It took about an hour to get up to the Griffith Observatory but it is a beautiful hike and well worth doing. There are also sweeping views of Los Angeles which is breathtaking. It definitely made up for the disappointment of Hollywood Boulevard and it was free!
My train out of LA was late at night. It was my last day in California so I decided to just spend it by the beach. What can I say about California, I had the best time there. I didn’t even get to visit San Diego which I’ve heard is one of the best spots in the state (I will be back!). I would recommend anyone on a J1 to visit or live in California for some length of time, you won’t regret it!
Two more stops to go, Austin and New Orleans!
Don’t forget to follow Tom’s adventure on Instagram and Snapchat (tburkey91) as his time in the US winds down. Got any questions for him about his time in NY, the Grad Visa program or his East to West Coast trip? Drop him an email firstname.lastname@example.org