You may have noticed that I’ve skipped over LA. Well that’s pretty much what I would recommend any traveler to do. In the hostels I’ve been staying at, I’ve heard lots of kids from Europe mention that they were disappointed with LA, especially Hollywood. It’s not really a destination city - it’s just so spread out and the traffic is so bad that it‘s difficult and frustrating to go from one end of town to the other. I can imagine living there would be OK because you’d pretty much stick with your section of town, but to visit there without a plan of attack is a mistake. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to convince any European to avoid it; the image and reputation of the city is just something everybody wants to see. Just prepare yourself to be disappointed and then maybe you’ll enjoy it.
Once you leave the sprawling mass that is LA and pass the Malibu beaches the next little town up the coast is Ventura. It’s a world away from LA. I love this little beachside town. The shore itself is nice for a long walk, despite having sections that are covered with large smooth rocks. The city is framed by the bright green Ojai mountains in the distance. The town shopping district is pretty small, but I personally loved the main street: jam-packed with great thrift and consignment stores and nice little restaurants.
A short drive up the coast is Santa Barbara. I was pretty disappointed with the pier and beach area, so it’s a good thing I’ve gotten some great beach time already. I’m here on a Sunday when the art museum is free, so of course I’ve got to go. I’m amazed at the quality of the artwork. Almost every piece is donated from the wealthy locals and so the paintings and antiquities are very decorative in nature. But that’s not a bad thing. You can imagine every painting above someone’s fireplace - albeit someone’s rich fireplace.
The downtown area around State street is very posh and nice to walk around. But most of the shoppers are tourists. I head a little off the tourist track to have lunch at La Super Rica - rumored to have been Julia Child’s favorite place around here for Mexican food. The food is simply prepared but fresh and delicious. The salsa had just the right spice to it. And the handmade corn tortillas are so fluffy and light. My only complaint is that three little tortillas were not enough. I wanted more.