My fourth blog post is dedicated to my wonderful trip to Los Angeles and Irvine, where I visited a friend from high school for about six days. She goes to UC Irvine, so I also got to see another UC Campus. As mentioned in my bio, I am super obsessed with anything Harry Potter related so the main purpose of this trip at the end of the semester was to visit Universal Studios, Hollywood and also eat some wonderful food around the Los Angeles and Irvine area.
I would also like to mention some tips on travelling around the United States. One of the things that was an absolute shock to me when I was booking my flight tickets to Los Angeles was that you have to pay extra for baggage when flying domestically. So, be prepared to pay USD 40-60 (per suitcase!) for checked in and carry on luggage when flying somewhere.
Further, you could also take Amtrak within states, or across state lines since it’s not that expensive and the railway system is really well developed. It’s quite fun to watch the Californian landscape through the upper berth of Amtrak trains. Further, there are tonnes of cheap bus services available with prices as low as USD 5 if you book the tickets in advance. Even if you do end up booking the tickets much later, a trip as far as San Diego should not cost more than USD 40.
My trip to Los Angeles was full of experiences from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, some wonderful food, and the Hollywood Sign hike. To go to Universal Studios, I would suggest reaching around 10-11am. Look at the weather forecast earlier and if you can afford it, definitely invest in the Express Line passes (since most rides have a wait period of 2-3 hours on a busy day). If possible, try to go on a date where you can catch a cool light show at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (we happened to see the Dark Arts one and it was beautiful).
Los Angeles and Irvine also have some delectable food. The Anaheim Packing District near Irvine was full of small food-court-style restaurants which offered a variety of cuisines from Southern American, to Mediterranean and Vietnamese. Los Angeles’ Melrose Avenue and Sunset Boulevard are well known for their picturesque landscapes and delicious brunch food.
Of course, when in Los Angeles, do visit Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign in Griffith Park. There are three routes around the Hollywood sign, varying from easy to hard difficulty. Start out the hike around 4:30pm and make it back to Griffith Observatory around 7pm to catch a beautiful sunset. If the night’s a clear one, try to spot a constellation or two through the many telescopes inside the observatory which is free for everyone! There’s also a bus there that takes you outside the park where you can then call an Uber.
A word of advice though, there are some coyotes roaming around this area around the evening (and my friend and I were unlucky enough to encounter two!) but if you stay calm, walk with a group and ignore the coyotes, they’ll ignore you right back!
California truly is the golden state, so make sure you do end up seeing as much of it as you can. Eat some tacos in San Diego, take a bus to San Jose, wear your Mickey Mouse ears at Disneyland Anaheim, and check out the sparkling Lake Tahoe! Travelling is quite fun, be sure to bring your camera so you can capture the gorgeous sunsets this state offers.
The Butcher, the Baker, Cappuccino Maker: 10/10
A wonderfully delicious, perfectly medium rare burger at this eatery at Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. Slightly pricey, but nothing people from Auckland aren’t used to. You won’t regret it! The meat was juicy and tender, the fries were crunchy, and the cheese was too die for!