When in the USA: The West Coast. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas… The places we´ll all seen thousands of times in magazines and movies around the world. But does the reality really meet expectations here, on the West Coast?
When in the USA: The West Coast – Reality vs. Expectations
We are a generation raised on Hollywood movies, so there is a weird feeling you get while traveling on the West Coast: “Have I already been here? Where do I know this place from?”.
Nevertheless, not everything looks the same in real life as it does on the screen. And here the biggest disappointment for me was Los Angeles… Of course, Beverly Hills area looks awesome, but what about the famous Hollywood Walk of fame? On the other hand, San Francisco is even more charming in real life and Las Vegas was exactly the same I´ve expected it to be.
Everybody Comes to Hollywood: Los Angeles
I have mixed feelings about LA. From one side it is definitely a city of big dreams and huge success stories, but from the other side, I didn’t expect to see so many homeless people there. This contrast of extremely rich vs. poor was something shocking. Moreover, Los Angeles city center is, probably, the worst city center I´ve seen in my entire life – there is nothing in there. I get it, LA is a ” car culture”, but seriously, – is it that hard to have an effective public transport, when everything is so far away and traffic jams are horrible?!
Every time I´ve been to LA, I went for a hotel in a different area, and it is still a mystery for me where to stay in LA: wherever you go – traffic jams, lots of people, and everything is far away from everything. You waste so much time. It looks like a vicious cycle: you can´t live there without a car, but driving is such a nightmare.
Another thing that surprised me was food. Europeans often complain about this when in the USA. However, in New York, there were so many nice restaurants with delicious foods. They all costed a fortune, but so did those in Los Angeles. And yet all the restaurants I visited in LA had nothing special. Like for ex. at BOA Steakhouse: a lot of glam around, while the food was simply ok, like the one in an average European restaurant – nothing special for the price they charge you.
San Francisco: My American № 1
San Francisco is often called by many the most European city in the USA. Everything is charming about this city – landscapes, history, architecture, cable cars… Definitely, my favorite American city.
- Chinatown (much cooler than in NY, feels like a little “piece of China” inside the US)
- Golden Gate Bridge (this view never gets old, love it)
- Alcatraz Island (didn´t expect it to be that interesting, book at least a couple of days in advance)
- City Center (walk around is really cool)
- take a San Francisco cable car (you can pay inside)
- Golden Gate Park (huge and green: bigger than the Central Park in NY)
- Fisherman´s Wharf (don´t miss crabs)
- Lombard Street
Las Vegas: What Happens in Vegas – Stays in Vegas
One surprising personal fact about me – you´d never guess: I got married in Vegas [lol] and Elvis Presley walked me down the aisle. Fake Elvis Presley, obviously, – but he was really good at his job though. The whole experience was so much fun. I´ve also had a big classy fairytale wedding for all the relatives and friends, but the Vegas wedding was the one I truly enjoyed. Viva Las Vegas!
As to the city itself: I´ve expected it to be bigger, like Macau. Although it is literally one street, full of casinos: nothing else.
- Shows: for ex. Cirque du Soleil, I´ve seen lots of their performances across the globe, the “O” in Vegas is the most amazing; Zumanity and Zarkana were also really good
- Get married by Elvis Presley (or celebrate the anniversary, renew vows, etc), even a fake wedding ceremony could be fun too! Mine was at Graceland Wedding Chapel.
- A day-trip to Grand Canyon
- Dinner at Roy´s: this place is awesome! book in advance and if having a special occasion – let them know! we did celebrate our anniversary there and got a special dessert form chef and a pic of us in a special frame.
- Hotels, Clubs, Casinos, Forum Shops at Caesars: nothing else to do in Vegas. From all the hotels I liked Bellagio the most. When staying there you can see the fountains show from your window. Each TV has a special channel, where the music is synchronized with the fountains show.
- If you like CocaCola, there is a big store where you can try the most exotic flavors from across the globe. But careful: I´ve tried everything and had a stomachache all day.