LOS ANGELES: a scenic drive, legendary beaches and a burrito

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The picture above was taken at 7am on Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, California, USA. A scenic drive on this road made famous by Brett Easton Ellis and David Lynch was the kick off of our 3-week road trip through California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada in May 2011.
To give you an idea of the trip we made, voilà a handcrafted map, especially for you:

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DAY 1
But let’s press rewind and go back to Los Angeles. After a 15-hour flight from Brussels to LAX, we picked up our car and drove straight to Santa Monica beach:

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I bet you’re thinking what I’m thinking. Run, Yasmine, run! Okay, so real quick then:

Well, LA’s legendary beaches didn’t turn out to be all that glamourous. At least, not in May. The water was chilly and the Hoff was nowhere to be seen. Seriously jetlagged, we decided to head for our hotel and go to sleep.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express West Los Angeles, a no-nonsense hotel located in Westwood. The rooms were clean, breakfast was alright. And that’s all there is to say about that. 

Holiday Inn Express West Los Angeles
11250 Santa Monica Bld
Click here to book

DAY 2
On day 2, we visited Walmart to score some low-budget camping gear. No pictures of the Ultimate Walmart Experience though… check this website if you want to feast your eyes. We left Walmart with a tent, 2 pillows, 2 sleeping bags, an air bed and flash lights, all for $120!

Next up: the Getty Center. The center was built high on hill overlooking LA and was opened in 1997. It holds one of the finest museums in the world. You can park the car at the foot of the hill and take the Hovair, a sort of sci-fi tram without a pilot. The tram will take you to the best view over the city. The Getty Museum offers art of any form (paintings, sculpture, interior design) and is a true gem. The entry to the museum is free, you pay $15 for the parking.

Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Dr
Check the website

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When we left the Getty after a few hours, we made a little detour to visit Beverly Hills. No, we didn’t buy a star map or hop on the celebrity tour train (those things look ridiculous, by the way), we just drove around to get an idea of what all the fuzz is about. We spotted beautiful mansions and a lot of palm trees but no Axel Foley and we left the area after only one hour, it got boring.

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Another incontournable when you’re in LA is Sunset Boulevard, or more specifically the Sunset Strip. We spotted the Chateau Marmont, the world-famous historical hotel, the Viper Room and the House of Blues.
We didn’t leave the car to stroll on the Walk of Fame (thousands of tourists did), we just spotted this Darth Vader who couldn’t stand the heat and revealed one of the world’s best kept secrets:

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Echo Lake Park was like a breath of fresh air after the hustle of Sunset Boulevard. This nice park is a great place to hang, feed the ducks, eat a bacon wrapped hot dog or to take a stroll.
Apparently, the lake used to be full of lotus flowers and is now currently closed for rehabilitation. Yup, in LA even a park needs rehab. It is set to re-open in 2014

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Now, time for some shopping! I (Marianne) couldn’t leave LA without checking Melrose Avenue, obviously. This shopping walhalla offers both luxury stores and more edgy shops. I scored some great vintage items at Wasteland and paid a quick visit to Urban Outfitters.
Also, I had my first froyo ever on Melrose Avenue and I became addicted in an instant. I’ll soon join Echo Lake Park in rehab.

Wasteland
7428 Melrose Avenue
Website

Urban Outfitters 
7650 Melrose Avenue
Website

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And now, ladies and gentlemen, for my personal highlight of our LA trip: the scenic drive on Mulholland Drive. It is exactly how you imagine it to be.  Unpredictable, turny, exciting. Perfect for cruising during daytime or at night. There are a couple of scenic overlooks that we found and the views are gorgeous.

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To end the day in style (ahum), we went for a stroll on the Santa Monica Pier. The pier has everything: a roller coaster, a carousel, restaurants, balloons! CANDY! … and a lot of tourists. Not the most sophisticated place but a nice-to-do when you’re in Santa Monica.
We enjoyed a really nice sunset from the pier (check the last picture – no filter!).

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DAY3
On our last day in LA, we went back to where it all began: El Pueblo. This is the birthplace of Los Angeles and has some beautiful founding era buildings that are really well restored. It is touristy but very peaceful and the place-to-be if you want to enjoy some great Mexican food. El Pueblo is at walking distance from downtown LA.

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An even better place to score a big ass burrito is the Grand Central Market, which has been a hub of multicultural shops since 1917. I have a weak spot for food markets, especially if they offer things I never tasted.

Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway
Website

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We couldn’t leave LA without a bit of culture. The MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) has a great Rothko and Mondriaan collection. I really loved the 50ies and 60ies photography by Robert Frank, like this covered car in an LA street:

MoCA
250 S Grand Avenue
Website
$12 admission fee

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We grabbed some sushi on our way home (there’s a sushi restaurant on every block – literally) and prepared for our take-off the next day.

LA, we love you long time!

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