Los Angeles

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Sarfaraz Ali is an aspiring writer, photographer, filmmaker, musician and marketing professional. He’s almost convinced his mother he’s kinda talented.

Follow his journey at www.facebook.com/ SarfarazAliPhotography

If you’ve grown up on pop culture like I have, visiting Los Angeles will grip you with an inescapable feeling of déjà vu. Street corners remind you of Tarantino movie sets. People can look strange enough to inspire Jim Morrison lyrics.

Under the sunshine and perfect weather, this sprawling megacity can be equal parts aesthetically stunning and madhouse zany.

The entertainment capital of the world -home to Hollywood and artists too many to list – Los Angeles’ charm isn’t just in its pretty sights and oddball lifestyles. The beating heart of the city is a mosaic of multicultural, free-spirited subcultures that both respect the past and constantly work towards imagining the future. What you see is merely a manifestation of the madness at work.

Though the pretty sights aren’t half bad either.

My trip started with a drive down to Santa Monica Pier. Surrounded by the iconic Santa Monica beach, the pier is a popular destination for tourists and local beach-lovers. Hundreds of people throng the boardwalk lined with food vendors, historic artifacts and even an amusement park complete with rollercoaster and Ferris wheel. I grabbed a few churros from the vendor and walked down the pier, soaking in the late afternoon sunshine. As I neared the end of the pier, I saw nearly a dozen locals fishing as a street musician played his acoustic guitar against the cool
breeze of the Pacific Ocean.

However, nothing will prepare you for what lies a few miles along the coast – Venice beach. The embodiment of all that is whacky and kitschy, you may recognize Venice Beach as the setting for the music video of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy And I Know It” (if you’re into that sort of stuff). The relatively small patch of beach is home to some of the strangest sights, sounds (and smells) the city has to offer. I recommend renting a bike and casually riding through the beach along the bike route while you attempt to absorb the surrealism on display. A must-visit spot!

Most people visiting Los Angeles want to experience the Hollywood life – from the world famous Hollywood sign to walking down the Walk of Fame across Hollywood boulevard. While I definitely
recommend visiting these places, I was intrigued by a slightly-less touristy area very close by. The North Hollywood (NoHo) Arts District is an up and coming area for the creative industry. As
a result, the district has a chic vibe with beautifully designed cafes, restaurants and lounges opening every day. If you want to avoid the hordes of tourists and experience a more authentic yet eclectic side of Hollywood, I can’t recommend the NoHo Arts District enough.

Chances are if you own a TV, you’ve seen the Los Angeles skyline. Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) is the financial and commercial hub of the city as well as the region. Historic monuments dating back to the 1890s, ultramodern skyscrapers, the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and everything in between, I was blown away by the variety of styles in DTLA’s architecture. And because it’s Los Angeles, every other surface will be covered in stunning street art (sometimes commissioned, often illegal). Walking around, I realized that all the street art has transformed what would have been a drab, soulless financial district into a living, breathing microcosm of all the passion and energy the city holds. When visiting downtown, I recommend keeping a camera to capture the architecture as well as the colorful characters you may encounter. Also, there’s usually a concert or event happening so make sure to check DTLA’s website to see what you’d like to attend.

Alas, what travel article would be complete without a mention of food? Angelinos love their food and they’re usually quite picky about it. Thankfully, with sushi spots in Malibu to a once-a-week food truck festival in Granada Hills, you’ll never be too far from a huge variety of delicious things to stuff your face in. But if I had to pick one place you should eat, it would be the fast food chain In-n-Out. A Californian institution, its focus to simplicity and quality food makes it tower over other fast food joints, easily observable by the insane queues outside their branches. Even with an almost cult-like following, In-N-Out will exceed your expectations when you take the first bite into their delicious burgers. And if you’re vegetarian, fret not. Their “secret menu” also has a grilled cheese burger that is making me salivate as I type out this article.

So you remember that feeling of déjà vu I mentioned in the beginning? Well it works both ways. Once you visit LA, the crazy, fun-loving spirit of the city grips you and doesn’t let go. It changes you forever. So when I find myself daydreaming about sunsoaked beaches, the stunning art and the passion the city emanates I realize you can check out of Los Angeles anytime you like,
but you can never really leave.

“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”

~ Frank Lloyd ~ Wright

Bizzare Facts

You are shorter when you go to bed than you are when you wake up because your spine compresses throughout the day and decompresses at night.


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Try not to become a man of success but rather of value.

Albert Einstein