Let me preface this blog entry by saying that while I am not new to traveling, I am new to traveling west. In fact, the farthest West I had been prior to this Spring Break was the Gulf of Mexico on the Florida Coast (I originally thought it was Buffalo, NY but upon looking at a map I had to readjust this statement). Therefore, going west was a huge step for me, let alone going to Los Angeles! I had an amazing time out there for Spring Break and I figured I would share with you my observations of Los Angeles, how it compares with Boston, and some interesting info I learned on my trip.
Let’s look at the transportation in Los Angeles versus that of Boston. First, Los Angeles is much larger than Boston, by almost 10 times the square mileage. This is mostly because LA is spread out amongst many different districts because the Santa Monica Mountains bisect it. Therefore, LA doesn’t have much of a public transportation system like “The T” (however, there are buses that you can take to get certain places depending on where you are in the city). This means that driving is the main method of transportation. This leads to a huge increase in traffic that causes locals to constantly figure in massive amounts of traffic time in order to plan when to leave to get somewhere. In addition, since the districts are divided up by mountains, highways are the road of choice for LAers. Now most of you Easterners are probably thinking, “Man! Driving around on the highway that much must be really expensive with the tolls!” At this point, I shake my head and chuckle to myself because I thought the same thing. However, there are no tolls on their highways. In fact, they are so proud of not having tolls that they have something called a freeway. This was a huge shock to me, especially because I come from New York and go to school in Boston where there is a toll every 10 minutes. Nevertheless, it all evens out because their gas prices are at least a dollar more than ours per gallon.
Something that LA and Boston have in common is that each city contains many bikers. The bikers even have their own paths along the beach that people can ride on (and if you walk on it people get very upset). However, the bikes themselves are completely different. For example, the bikes that are most common in Boston are mountain bikes with multiple gears, cool handlebars, etc. While on the other hand, the bikes that are most common in LA were what I affectionately called “beach cruisers.” These bikes had high seats, handlebars reminiscent of a tricycle, and a large swoop in the front where the bar is on a mountain bike. In addition, these “beach cruisers” were usually painted some pastel color like they were Easter bikes. The bikes weren’t even the only thing that was different about these two biking communities but also the way in which the people rode. In Boston, if people are riding bikes they always look like they are secret agents on a mission. Their heads are down hiding their miserably cold faces from the whipping Boston winds, which is a fruitless effort. They are flying down Commonwealth Avenue at lightning speed with one pant leg rolled up or strapped to their leg so it isn’t caught in the chain. In Los Angeles, however, there is no rush to get anywhere while you are on these bikes. Everyone I saw riding a bike was casually sitting on the bike and enjoying it. They were all wearing comfortable clothes with both pant legs in their normal positions and a smile on their face. It was interesting to see this contrast between the two biking communities.
Overall, Los Angeles was a wonderful city and I really suggest going to visit for anyone who hasn’t done it yet. I personally would never choose to live there solely because I wouldn’t want to lose the special feeling I had while I was driving around and seeing everything for the first time. If I lived there, the scenery would not be special anymore because I would be seeing it every day. In addition, the touristy things I did (such as a hike to see the Hollywood sign up close and walk around Venice Beach) would also lose their charm after a while. I definitely want to go back and see even more of LA and California in general, but I might try a new place to travel to in the future. Maybe I’ll see what’s happening in Wyoming.