Notes from a traveller: part eight (continued)

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Kaye’s itchy feet have taken her to LA. Read the latest instalment of her ‘Notes from a traveller series’, only on Just About Travel

Continued from yesterday

It’s also – as you would expect for such a celeb studded city – ridiculously image conscious. Case in  point? On day one in town, I felt the need to take myself to The Grove (a Disney-esque al fresco shopping centre) and buy some new threads, cognoscente of the fact that my South American backpacking threads weren’t worthy in La la land.

The Grove

The Grove

I was pleased at the prices of my purchases – until I got to the till and found that there were taxes to pay on top of the amount stated on the price tag. It’s a similar story when it comes to restaurants, salons, taxis, I could continue… the apparent  price is never the final price. There is always a tip – typically of around 15-20 per cent, regardless of the level of the service – to be paid. Indeed LA – and America at large – appears to be in the grip of a tipping frenzy. I live in terror of under tipping (the ultimate LA sin) and, as such, send dollar bills flying left, right and centre on a daily basis.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Tipping aside, LA is passionate about plastic surgery. I’ve spotted a crazy number of nose bandages during my sojourn (word on the street is that students at Beverly Hills High are ‘gifted’ nose jobs as a 16th birthday present). It sounds a little bizarre but don’t forget this is Kardashian territory – the youngest of whom, Kylie Jenner, has just admitted to having two rounds of lip fillers at the tender age of 17.

I’ve also seen a lot of Angelenos wearing sunglasses indoors – despite the unseasonably cold and overcast climate – which my Airbnb host, Cassi, informs me usually signifies that someone has had their eyes done. But the most popular plastic surgery procedure in LA is, by far and away, breast augmentation. Angeleno ladies are famed around the world for their ample cleavages (Pamela Anderson in Baywatch anyone?) but it’s still something of a shock to see a pair of LA breasts with your own eyes…

Watching James Corden tape The Late Late Show

Watching James Corden tape The Late Late Show

Of course half the fun of visiting Hollywood is hoping you’ll see stars. I upped the odds by bagging tickets to watch fellow Brit, the incorrigible James Corden, tape The Late Late Show for CBS. You can also take tours of all the main studies such as Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers Studios.

The Last Bookstore

The Last Bookstore

LA isn’t completely vacuous though – promise! One of my best LA evenings was spent in The Last Bookstore – a gorgeous (think marble columns and giant doors), independent bookstore housed in what used to be an old bank building – listening to Joshua Fields Millburn, aka one half of The Minimalists, explain why living with a lot less is ultimately more. Or as Joshua and his similarly minded guest speakers such as Colin Wright (an author, entrepreneur and full time traveller ), Skye Steele and Matt Sumell termed it: “Love people and use things. Because the opposite never works.”

The Minimalists think that before purchasing anything we should ask ourselves the question: “Does this add value to my life?” My favourite message from their WordTasting tour though, was this: “We can’t change the people around us, but we can change the people around us.”

Joshua Fields Millburn explains minimalism

Joshua Fields Millburn explains minimalism

The aforementioned statement doesn’t need any explaining, but LA’s relationship with food is a little more ambiguous. I had been planning to cook – I use the word loosely, being no Nigella  – a few meals while in town to help ease cash flow problems, but the kitchen where I was staying didn’t inspire confidence. And so I found myself eating out most days and faced with a choice of either fast food outlets (aka heart attacks waiting to happen) or dining establishments where the menus are full of lactose, dairy and yeast free, low sodium dishes. Seriously. Yet while Angelenos may disagree on what to eat for dinner, they all love their eggs for breakfast (or brunch at weekends) washed down with a cup of Joe. California, it seems, runs on caffeine and I’m always being offered a refill at no extra charge.

Brunching out in Santa Monica

Brunching out in Santa Monica

But it’s these quirks that make the metropolis what it is: a place where absolutely anything is possible. With so much on offer and the original Beach Boy, Brian Wilson’s words – “California inspires me” – ringing in my head, I was tempted to linger a little longer but the aloha state is calling. That’s right: I’m headed for Hawaii!

Queuing for coffee

Queuing for coffee

Talk soon

Kaye

x

 

To be continued on June 23

To read part one of Kaye’s ‘Notes from a traveller’ series, please click here

To read part two click here and here

To read part three, click here

To read part four, click here

To read part five, click here and here

To read part six, click here and here

To read part seven, click here and here

To read part eight, click here

 

 

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