Los Angeles

Polaroid Of The Week: Street Art In Silver Lake, Los Angeles

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week usa california los angeles silver lake

While I admittedly didn’t get around to doing everything I had on my Los Angeles To-Do-List due to my tight work schedule this month, I managed to return to some of my favorite neighborhoods like Santa Monica Venice and West Hollywood,, but there was one neighborhood I really wanted to see before leaving LA: Silver Lake.

This neighborhood had been described to me as the Brooklyn of LA or the Williamsburg of LA, to be more precise And not only that Forbes Magazine even went as far as giving Silver Lake the top spot on its inaugural list of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods and CNN Money followed by putting it in the Top Ten of its list of best big city neighborhoods in the U.S.

So of course I had to check this uber hip neighborhood for myself to see what all the fuss was about.

The stretch of Sunset Boulevard that runs though Silver Lake felt indeed very Williamsburg-like, and just like the famous hipster neighborhood in Brooklyn, it is lined with trendy cafes, quirky independent shops and little eateries, and street art fills many a wall stretching into the side streets off of Sunset Blvd.

I couldn’t help but fling in love with silver like within fifteen minutes of getting there – this is definitely my kind of neighborhood! Unpretentious, with inventive yet affordable restaurants but also hole-in-the-wall Mexican street food, funky bars and shops that go beyond your usual chain stores: instead you find spice stores, comic book stores and guitar shops.

There are two basins – the neighborhood’s namesake Silver Lake Reservoir and the Ivanhoe Reservoir, both offering walking and running paths and a natural setting to escape the noise along the busy main streets. Speaking of walking: I found Silver Lake to be walkable and cycleable, something that can’t be said for all neighborhoods in this car traffic-heavy city.

I wish I would’ve had time to check out the bar scene on my visit but I guess it is good to have an excuse to come back to Silver Lake next time I’m in L.A.!


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Polaroid Of The Week: L.A. At My Feet

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week usa california hollywood sign los angeles

This week I finally made it up to the famous Hollywood sign – a hike that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. After two failed attempts (traffic, cloudy skies), I found myself scrambling up the rocks to a small hill above and behind the actual sign, which me and my hiking buddy reached after about an hour’s walk, just in time for a brilliant sunset. You can’t get to the sign by car, the only way to get up, close and personal with these giant white letters that have become an American icon, is on foot or by horse, and you can’t get in front of the letters, only above them.

Funnily enough, the sign didn’t have any association with the movie industry when it was put up in 1923. Instead, it was supposed to promote local real estate during a time when the Hollywood Hills weren’t the prime real estate location that they are today. Back then it still read Hollywoodland. After years of deterioration, Hugh Hefner started a fundraiser to save the sign, and $250,000 were raised to restore the sign that had fallen into disrepair.

It used to be a bit tricky to get up to the sign until a few years ago, unless you were a local and knew your way around. The Trust For Public Land, that is in charge of protecting the sign and the surrounding lands, has made it much easier now to find the right paths and not get lost in the relatively remote and rugged southern side of Mount Lee, on which the sign is located. There are now several hiking routes: the Mt Hollywood Trail (short and moderately difficult), the Canyon Drive Trail (longest route), and the Cahuenga Peak Trail (the shortest, but most challenging). We took a shorter version of the Mt Hollywood Trail, which can be started at the Griffith Observatory (3.5 miles round trip) or at Sunset Ranch at the northern end of N Beachwood Drive. The ranch offers guided horse rides up the sign, by the way.

The hike is pleasant, with sweeping views over parts of L.A., Glendale and The Valley from various viewpoints along the way – but the star of the show, the sign itself, stays out of sight for the most part. We started our hike at Sunset Ranch, but next time I’d start at the Griffith Observatory for a longer hike and better views of the sign itself.

When you get to the sign, the most astonishing thing is seeing how big these letters actually are: each letter is 45 feet tall (14 meters) and all of them next to each other are 350 feet (110 meters) long! My height compared to it: 5.8 feet.

If you’re thinking about climbing the security fences that fence off the sign, be warned: the charges are no joke. Trespassers face a $1000 fine, restitution to the City agencies involved in the trespasser’s arrest, a one-year probation period and 20 days on a Cal Trans highway crew.

You can find more information on the hikes to the Hollywood sign here.

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7 Famous Landmarks of LA & Hollywood You Have to See

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As one of the most iconic places on Earth, Los Angeles deserves its grand name. It truly feels like the City of Angels, especially when surrounded by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.

Whether you’re wowed by the prospect of meeting your favorite celebrities in person, or seeing them immortalized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you’re not leaving until you’ve seen it all.

If you’re visiting LA and Tinseltown, these are the famous landmarks you have to see.los angeles street

The Hollywood Walk of Fame

What’s so special about the Hollywood Walk of Fame? From abroad, it may be difficult to see the irresistible appeal of a mile long trail.

But the Hollywood Walk of Fame is simply breathtaking. Over 2 500 stars, each celebrating a Hollywood legend, bring home the significance of where you are. They’re a living history of La La Land, and the modern entertainment industry.

With millions of visitors following the route every year, and buskers and vendors setting up shop, it is a vibrant, exciting experience.Will Smith Footprints

Hollywood Sign

There is perhaps no other sign as recognizable as the Hollywood Sign. Anyone born in the last century has a special attachment to it. So much so that when the sign was rebuilt, after a 3 month absence, the coverage of its unveiling was watched by 60 million people around the world! And this was before live coverage could be broadcast even to the furthest corners of the globe.Hollywood

Venice Beach

Moving away from the silver screen, let’s give a quick mention to LA’s most beloved beach. Venice Beach is such an important part of Western culture, that since 1996 live visuals have been streamed online. It’s always summer at Venice Beach. Although be warned that the weather can be temperamental, so be sure to bring a jersey!Work out beach

The Venice Ocean Front Walk – the “Boardwalk”

The Boardwalk is the perfect place to take in LA culture. With visitors from all over the world, year round, there is an eclectic mix between the local and the foreign. Performers are to be found every few steps. Bring a few dollar bills as tips!venice street art

Universal Studios Hollywood

This Los Angeles film studio and amusement park is a must-see. Guided tours, rides, famous characters, oh my! It’s a film lover’s paradise, with Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Transformers, and even Hogwarts to keep you busy all day.santa monica sunset pier

Staples Center

If you get the chance, go to an event at the famed Staples Center. Sports events are a great way to take in American culture. Concerts performed by a wide range of artists are a special treat. There are plenty of things to do in the area before and after the event, so that you can make the most out of your day.View over L.A. with Hollywood Bowl


No list would be complete without mentioning Disneyland. The most coveted theme park in the world, just the name has had children’s hearts racing since it was opened in 1955. There are countless videos on YouTube of kids’ reactions to their parents’ announcements. And it’s not only special for the kids.

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Polaroid of the week: Sunset over Santa Monica, California

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polaroid of the week usa california santa monicaIt seems like the travel gods aren’t on my side this year: I wish I could say that my journey to the U.S. went without a glitch, but I almost didn’t make it here. I wasn’t allowed on the plane – again. (Does this sound familiar?!) I will talk about it in more detail in my monthly round-up; at the moment I am still digesting this little major travel mishap.

I eventually made it to L.A., and a few days under the Californian sun helped me recover from the incident and to relax before starting my housesit. I stayed one block from the beach in Santa Monica, the perfect location to enjoy the nightly spectacle of the magnificent sunsets over the Pacific and to go on long runs along the promenade.

Most of my days were spent in Santa Monica and Venice – even though it wasn’t like I hadn’t been to a beach in ages (my last beach day was about a month ago in Thailand), I cherished my beach time, knowing that these would be my last beach days for a very long time. However, I ended up braving the L.A. traffic to venture into the city to visit some of the museums I wanted to check out, hunt down new street art in West Hollywood, and try some of the restaurants that had been recommended to me. I have to admit that after the stress earlier in the week, I cut down my ambitious itinerary considerably and decided to take it slow instead, knowing that I’d be back in L.A. sooner or later anyway. Overall, I couldn’t have chosen a better place to kick off my U.S. summer travels – thanks for the great time, L.A.!

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Los Angeles for Cool Seekers

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Today we are sharing a post by Polly Mack, a writer and long-term traveler who lived in LA for six months. Now based in Cornwall, UK, she loves discovering the unlikely, the unusual and the strange monuments to human achievement, wherever she goes.

We only spent about ten days in L.A. in 2010, and it is one of the places we’re hoping to return to soon! Her guide to the ‘City of Angels’ includes some places we haven’t even heard of but that we’ll definitely include on our next trip to L.A.! Read on for a guide to L.A. away from Hollywood and the Walk of Fame!

Tourists, emigrants to Los Angeles, or even lifelong residents will probably still not have seen everything cool this amazing city has to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or novice, improve your street cred with these offbeat, behind-the-scenes attractions and discover another side to a city which everyone thinks they have figured out…

LA haze
LA haze by Robert S. Donavan on

Museum of Jurassic Technology

This museum is located at 9341 Venice Boulevard in Culver City. The museum provides a ‘hands-on’ experience of what life in the Lower Jurassic period was like. Although the artifacts exhibited differ, depending on the time of year and which collections are currently visiting, patrons can expect to see scientific experiments, innovations and inventions of mankind from millions of years ago, such as a collection of thousands of decomposing dice. It’s only open from Thursday to Sunday, but this quirky find is certainly worth a visit.

The Wildlife Learning Center

For those who love nature but are opposed to zoos, this wildlife sanctuary will be a memorable trip. Located at 16027 Yarnell St, Sylmar, the center is open on most days from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Housing animals rescued from zoos and abandoned by private owners, you can view a sloth, a Burmese python as well as over 70 other species of animal. The olive grove setting also makes for a beautiful and natural backdrop.

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Venice Canal Historic District

Located in the historic Venice district, visitors to California can get a feel for what Venice looks like, for only the price of flights to Los Angeles. Having fallen into disrepair, many canals from the early 20th century were simply filled in. However, the canals were restored and reopened in 1993 and this neighbourhood has become stylish and highly desirable as a result. See the eclectic mix of old and new LA, along this series of waterfronts and walkways.

Museum of Death

For $15 and a bus ride to 6031 Hollywood Blvd, visitors can take a 45-minute self-guided tour of this most leftfield of museums, educating them on many unusual death artifacts. These include artwork of serial killers, photos of crime scenes and even the severed head of Bluebeard of Paris!

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Los Angeles, Watts Towers by Allie Caulfield on

The Watts Towers Campus

Located at 1727 East 107th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90002, this folk arts center houses galleries, a museum and access to the ‘homemade’ towers themselves – built out of broken glass and bottles that are 99.5 feet tall. Admission to the campus includes admission to the Watts Towers Arts Center, the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia and the Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center. Listed as both a National Historic Landmark and a Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Monument, this is one attraction that has bags of personality.

Watch me fade through
L.A. by Ryan Vaarsi on

So next time you’re thinking of taking a stroll down the Walk of Fame or checking out the boutiques of Beverley Hills on a trip to Los Angeles, there’s an underbelly to this city which has fascinating and cultural merit all of its own.

Images used under creative commons license.

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Top 5 stops along the Pacific Coast Highway – L.A. to Laguna Beach

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Cruising down the PCH (that’s the Pacific Coast Highway in in-the-know lingo) from L.A. to Laguna Beach is exactly the trip you expect it to be. The sun, sand and surfers are just like out of a movie.

In fact, on our trip down the coast on Monday, we even saw a film crew on location. Read on for the Globetrottergirls top 5 stops along this stretch of the PCH.

1. Santa Monica and Pier

Santa Monica beach and pier are pure California, and though right off Interstate 10 not 30 minutes from West Hollywood and the Sunset Strip, the town center  runs at such a slow pace you forget how close you are to the celebrity-centric metropolis of L.A.  Shuffle down Main Street and you’ll pass dozens of restaurants and bars, from chic to mom-n-pop, and hundreds of relaxed locals taking in good wine, good food, and plenty of California sun along all the year-round outdoor seating.  Though we didn’t stop to nibble here, Holy Guacamole, It’s All Good Bakery, Novel Café and Dhaba Cuisine of India all caught my eye. Make sure to park at the pier and take a walk out onto this classic American pier.

Sure, it’s family-friendly with it’s ferris wheel, easy roller coaster, funnel cakes and coffees and popcorn, but combined with the amateur fishermen at the end of the pier, the seals, the cheap margaritas at the Mexican restaurant and the fact that the it’s open til 10pm, the pier is well worth a visit for everyone. Even if you can’t catch fish, everyone can catch an amazing golden sunset over the hills.

Parking in the main lot at the pier is $10 at an all-day flat rate, or the nearby lots run at only $1 an hour. Well worth it!

2. Venice Beach

Just a ten minute drive down the PCH is Venice Beach, the punk/cool older brother version of comparably quaint Santa Monica. Home to the famed hard-core Muscle Beach, Venice Beach is also piled up with bars and restaurants and a slightly grungy block of market stalls selling everything from t-shirts and ‘hand-blown glass’ (bongs) to sunglasses, key cutting, donuts and useless but cool knick knacks. The beach here is filled with character (and characters!) and the views out into the water are breathtaking. The morning of our visit there were at least 20 surfers out catching waves, as well as a film crew at Venice Beach, though we don’t know whether it was a movie or a commercial.

3. Seal Beach

Passing through the mega-port city of Long Beach which has it’s own charms (the Queen Mary, trips out to Catalina Island and the shops at the Ports of Call), Seal Beach is just 10 minutes down the highway on a slight peninsula. The beach itself is simple and large, plenty of room to grab a spot and a tan and the pier is plain, though surprisingly open til midnight. You do peek out at a few oil rigs offshore and of course the port is up the coast to your right, but easily ignorable. What makes Seal Beach so great is it’s Main Street. Galleries, restaurants, diners, ice-cream parlours, cafes and benches outside several shops for a chance to just sit and relax as you make your way from friendly shop owner to friendly shop owner. We were both immediately transported to the 50s or 60s (or how we imagine that era to have been) and felt completely relaxed. We picked up some duh-lishious bakery goodies at Sweet Jill’s and ate some excellent pizza at Z Pizza, taking advantage of a lunch special they had – $7 for 3 slices of pizza and a drink. Bargains can taste good too!

4. Newport Beach

This was a must-see stop for one of us (ahem….you know who you are), as this is the location of the OC. Much larger than Seal Beach and very touristy, this does not harm Newport Beach in the slightest. In fact, this is a perfect place to hang for a longer period of time. You’ve got miles of gorgeous beach and every type of restaurant, bar and tattoo shop you can imagine. We only stopped here for a quick coffee break and some 5 o’clock sun, but I’d definitely like to go back and soak up more sun here at Newport Beach.

5. Laguna Beach

For those of us who prefer reality to a made-up TV show, Laguna Beach was an ultimate destination for a certain fan of MTV’s reality show of the same name  (ahem, guilty as charged). Laguna Beach was much larger than I expected, and very spread out. The beaches are a dream and the marina is giant and breathtaking to think about how many millions of dollars were splashed on those yachts. No celebs were spotted in the making of this post, however.

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Los Angeles on a shoestring

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Los Angeles evokes images of star-studded Hollywood, the hidden mansions of Bel Air and the palm-tree lined boulevards of Beverly Hills. No doubt about it, the City of Angels can be a place of excess and luxury like no where else in the world, and if you’ve got the budget, you can go eating, partying and dancing with the stars.
For travelers like us who are trying to stretch our budget as far across the globe as we can, the key is to minimize spending but having a top time wherever we are. With some careful research/planning, you can have a  ‘So L.A.’ time without breaking the bank.
Here are our Top Ten ways to see the best of Los Angeles on a shoestring:

1. Rent a car

Los Angeles is car territory, and there is no way to see the sights without one. The drivers in L.A. are reckless and lord, look out for the LAPD on a Saturday night around Sunset and Hollywood. However, sticking with public transportation in L.A. limits any chance to fulfill any of those Hollywood moments you had in mind before your trip. Most of the rest of this post requires a car, so head over to Enterprise or Budget and get yourself something nice. Just make sure it’s not the Budget in Beverly Hills, which seems to rent luxury cars almost exclusively. Defeats the purpose of the name ‘Budget’, but hey, this is Beverly Hills.
*$17-$50 per day depending on model*

2. Mulholland Drive

This winding road through the Hollywood Hills is the way from the TV or music studio to the countless celebrity home nestled throughout the Hills and beyond, so odds aren’t bad you might see a few. Couldn’t care less about celeb spotting? This road climbs up, up and further up to offer some of the most spectacular and well-known views of Los Angeles.

3. Runyon Canyon

Located just a 15 minute drive up Mulholland Drive from Highway 101, Runyon Canyon is a  key vista of L.A. and the San Fernando Valley. Park, slap on your running shoes and jog up and down the well-paved path which leads from the Hollywood Hills above to Sunset Blvd in Hollywood below. These two locations being havens for celebrities and their hangers-on, you’re bound to see more muscles, plastic, collagen and recipients of Botox than on any run at home, but the workout is intense and there is no need for any ‘South Beach Diet’ after a run through Runyon Canyon.

4. Griffith Observatory

Like Runyon Canyon, Griffith Observatory offers spectacular views of Los Angeles and the chance to see the stars – and the moon, and mars. Brush up on your knowledge of Astronomy atop the hill in Griffith Park and see the chaos of the city from one of the most peaceful spots in Los Angeles, plus unrivaled chances for pictures of the Hollywood sign. Read Tripadvisor review here.
Still looking for a hotel in L.A.? Check out my five favorite hotels to experience L.A. in style on Yonderbound! You can book the hotels straight through the site and if you sign up through my referral link, you’ll get $10 travel credit towards your booking!yonderbound LA in style yonderbox

5. Santa Monica Pier

This 101year-old pier off the coast of Santa Monica beach is as traditional as they come. Ferris wheels, easy roller coasters, pier games, margaritas, funnel cakes and fishing off the end of the Pier. Trying to win a giant stuffed Spongebob for your girlfriend/boyfriend/son/daughter? Sure, that will cost you a pretty penny, but for a walk up and down the pier, an ice cream and a dollar bill in the hat of a Spanish guitar playing busker, a visit to Santa Monica pier is pure California for next-to-nothing.
*Parking is $10 for the day on the pier, or $1 / hr in one of the nearby lots. Get there early to get a spot.*

6. La Brea Tar Pits – Hancock Park

Not what might normally be associated with Los Angeles, the bubbling pits of tar in Hancock Park house the remains of mammoths and other mammals from hundreds of thousands, even millions of years ago.  The La Brea Tar Pits, right in the middle of the city, are an amazing site off the side of a beautiful park, art museum, and research facility which is more closely examining the findings of one of the more recent digs at the tar pits.

7. Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame

Yes, it’s a tourist trap, and it stretches for much further in either direction than you would expect. But the Walk of Fame is fun. You walk along, pointing out celebrities you love (or love to hate – does David Hasselhof have to have a star?!). Walking up and down Hollywood Blvd also gives you the chance to check out the shops, tattoo parlors, restaurants and bars of one of L.A.’s most visited and famous areas.

8. The Original Farmers Market

This ain’t your average Farmer’s Market, so it’s best not to expect stalls spilling over with fresh fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices. This is an L.A. farmer’s market, so while it might be the ‘original’ dating back to 1934, times have changed since that July when “a contingent of farmers pulled their trucks onto an expanse of empty land at the property known as Gilmore Island at the corner of Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles”.
Today the Farmers Market is home to dozens of restaurants and food stalls with French breads and cheeses, fish tacos, Italian and Greek restaurants, and stalls filled with hot sauce or sweets or baked goods (even for your pets). While I wouldn’t likely purchase the $15 bottle of Italian olives from the French bakery, the Farmer’s market is the perfect place to grab a table and a snack and people-watch in this clash of  the uber-cultured, the tourists and the regular Angelinos as they all convene in this space on Third and Fairfax.
*$15 lunch for 2 on the cheap.*

9. Hollywood Bus Tour

It’s fine to cruise Mulholland Drive and crane your neck in every direction hoping to spot a celebrity in every Maserati or luxury SUV that drives by, but odds are, while you may soak up the Hollywood/Beverly Hills feeling, you’d never actually know it when you passed [insert your fav movie star here]’s house.
Whether you like it or not, jumping on one of these Hollywood Movie Stars tour buses is a necessary evil if you have any interest in film at all. See the location which served as Julia Roberts’ hotel in Pretty Woman, check out Hef’s Playboy Mansion, see Michael Jackson’s final home (Elvis Presley’s was strangely right across the street) and squeal with delight when you see the house which serves as his kingdom, he was finally there, to sit on his throne as the Prince of Bel Air – the Fresh Prince of Bel Air house. (Maybe that last one was just me, but I did, in fact, squeal as soon as we rounded the corner. The house needed no introduction from our tre-geek tour guide)...

*$25  plus $5-10 tip. Choose any of the ones on Hollywood Blvd.*

10. See a live TV Show taping

Unfortunately we ran out of time to take advantage of this last tip, but we’ll be back in L.A. for a few days in July and we hope to catch a live taping.  See The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Maher, Craig Ferguson, the Price is Right. Register on the wish lists on each individual site. If you’re lucky, you can get tickets for Jimmy Kimmel for the taping on that same day on Hollywood Boulevard, or other tickets for shows like Catch 21 – just look out for the guys with the lists around the Chinese Theater.
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Hotel Tip: The Orlando, Los Angeles

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While we were in Los Angeles recently we had the pleasure of staying at The Orlando hotel in West Hollywood for a review in an online publication.

“From its unobtrusive appearance on the corner of 3rd St and Orlando Ave, The Orlando fits right in to the residential neighborhood of Los Angeles. While the European-style boutique hotel provides perfectly sufficient accommodation, the true benefit of choosing to stay at this hotel is location, location, location.”

Check out our Globetrotter Girls gallery below for more images of this laid-back, luxurious Los Angeles hotel.

We recommend you to take a look at, to find your cheap hotel in Los Angeles online!

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