Saturday, December 08, 2007

California Day 1

Last night, I flew from Austin to meet up with some friends in Los Angeles, CA. It was a very long day to begin with because it started out by waking up at 4:30 in the morning to fly from Houston to Austin to meet up with some co-workers for a meeting. After the meeting was over, they took me back to the airport where I sat around for a few hours as I waited for my plane to take me to San Jose, CA where I would catch another plane (much smaller) to Los Angeles's LAX.

When I got into San Jose, I was not really impressed with the airport. It was older and it had a small area for the gate that I was at, which I thought was weird as most gates are pretty big. There also was not much in the way of shops that were open either for me to get something to drink as I waited an hour for my next flight.

When I got to LAX, it was an interesting experience. First off, I had to take an American Eagle jet from San Jose to Los Angeles due to the rather short distance between the 2 cities and how American Airlines does thing. I sat in a seat that was next to the window and I was all by my self because the whole plane was only 3 seats wide. Then when we got in, we exited the plane in a small building that was disconnected from a terminal and was actually on the tarmac. We had to load onto a bus that then took us over to the AA terminal. On this bus, we actually drove on the runway and had to dodge some airplanes here and there. Then I had to make my way to the hotel shuttles.

When I got to the appropriate island for the shuttle buses to take me to my hotel, I had to wait for about 15 minutes. While I waited there, I got to look all around me and watch the traffic as it went by. It was a partial culture shock to see the way that some of these bus drivers were driving. There was a lot of honking of horns, fast paced driving and stopping, congestion, and overall chaos. It was crazy. It was just really weird for me to see these drivers acting this way.

When we got up this morning to start sightseeing, we encountered the same type of attitudes towards driving, but it was not just from professional motorists, it came from the average motorist too. The second that the light turned green, people behind us started honking and we hadn't even had the chance to go before we were "reminded" to go. It was just obscene.

I guess that a part of the chaos comes from the crazy roadway situation out in these parts. There are on ramps from other freeways that run into the existing freeways which makes driving almost impossible. There are a lot of cars on the road too, so that is hard to deal with also.

One thing that was really annoying was that there were no left turn green light to help make turns in the intersections. After watching others do this for a bit, we learned that it was required to sit in the middle of the intersection and wait for the light to turn red in order to make the left hand turn. We all were in agreement that Californians have the wrong idea about this and should consider the Texan way about left turns.

When we got to Hollywood, it was a lot smaller than I imagined. The area with all of the movie star's hand-prints and the Hollywood Walk of Fame was in a small area. The Walk of Fame extended all the way down Hollywood Boulevard, but who wants to walk all the way down just to see a name in the cement that the movie star had to pay for just to have that star.

It was also interesting to find out that the Kodak Theater, where they usually host the Oscars, is inside of a mall type building. The Chinese Theater was attached to that same building down from the Kodak Theater.

We also saw USC today, which was a beautiful campus. I had to go to the bookstore to get a t-shirt. In addition, we went to Fresh and Easy (more about that later), Santa Monica Pier, and Century City (where all of the TV/movie studios area). The Santa Monica Pier was beautiful. It reminded me of Kemah. The beach was also beautiful. Unfortunately it was pretty cold and there was a strong gust of wind coming off of the Pacific Ocean (yeah, that's right, I saw the Pacific) so we did not stay out long, just long enough to take pictures and leave. The sand was beautiful and I am sure if we were there earlier in the day, I would probably have seen blue water. I will definitely have come back again to see it in the full daylight (and also a warmer time to be able to stay out longer) to see it in its full beauty.

Over all this was a good first day in Los Angeles. I managed to take about 130 pictures, and with Anaheim and Disneyland on the itinerary tomorrow, I think that I may be able to double that number.

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