Monday, October 5, 2015

First impressions

Up in the Air

Yes, we made it, but not all of us. As we only had stand-by tickets we had to wait until the last moment. We saw how a familiy was send back, because they were a few minutes late, and so my niece Susan, her friend Meike and I got on board of this enormous airplane. 509 passengers and not one seat left. But my sister has to stay back and wait for the next chance. In four hous there‘ll be one, but if there‘s no place?
So now I‘m sitting here among strangers, nobody to talk to to make time pass. No space to spread my legs, no window to look through. And only three hours have passed, eight more to come.
I‘ve watched two movies now. Me, Earl and the dying girl. Really touching. And Self/less for contrast.
Yes, I want a cigarette, not really desperately, but still. Two nicotine candies help a bit, but it‘s not the same, not at all...

Finally we arrive in LA, but not so our lugagge. That‘ll come with my sister. In the meantime we rent a car. the car rental is a 10-minutes shuttle trip away. And it takes us more than an hour to get the car. Should we try to find the "AirBnB" in Hollywood? But what for? We can‘t take a shower or change clothes. Or wait for her, and where? We decide to wait, but there‘s no free parking space. So we're just driving around the airport for what seems an eternity.

When my sister finally arrives with all our bagagge we start for the apartment.
The first surprise while driving from LAX to Hollywood is how much Los Angeles reminds me of Athens.
It‘s just the same feeling, the same mixture of freeways and boulevards  with gigantic ads everywhere, modern elegant buildings right next to small and a bit dipilated old ones, small shops, trees on all the sidewalks, high and low buildings, mix of styles.

The only difference at first sight is that Athens is a lot smaller and the center is really old and there are everywhere small alleys. Here all the side streets seem still wide enough.

From the nice apartment we can walk in two minutes to the famous Walk of Fame. Colorful, vivid, international, loud - I like it!

First night

I can‘t sleep. It‘s 4.30 and I‘m awake since 1.30, sitting on the balcony and watching the rain falling in the pool. „It never rains in California..“? It‘s ironic. Obviously not true.
Is it the jet lag? The excitement? The constant noises from the city, police sirens, cars, neighbors? Sleeping in a bed with my sister who complains that I‘m snoring terribly? I don‘t know.

At 7, after two hours of sleep, we are all awake. Uschi and I go to  Saddleback church. After translating for them I wanted to see the service live. A fantastic worship band but surprisingly few people await us. It's good to be here. It's good to sing and praise the Lord and to hear the message. Afterwards there's coffee and donouts.

The girls want to see the shops on Rodeo Drive.
We enter an Art Gallery. Amazing originals: Renoir, Dali, Miró, Chagall...I thought those were only to be seen at museums or some art auction, not in a shop with price tags, and what price tags!

We drive through Beverly Hills to see how the rich and famous live. And again it reminds me of the rich quarters in Athens.

As we drive to the Griffith Observatory there's another ressemblance: the burnt hills. Just like Penteli. And the view from above is like the view from the observatory there - only that LA must be 3-4 times bigger.

Of course we want to see Downtown and El Pueblo. The others liked it there, but I'm used to greek and german traditional buildings full of touristic shops, so it doesn't impress me.

But I like this city. A kind of Athens less chaotic though, less trash everywhere, more order and much more international feeling.

For the next night we move to Venice. Finally we see the Pacific.
A long walk along the beach, music at every corner, a colorful variety of people, musicians, skaters, biker, freaks, punks, tourists, young, old, ...interesting. A characteristic smell in the air, palm trees.
The shops close surprisingly early.

This little apartment has got a nice little porch with a whirlpool and a fantastic bougainvillea and blue hibiscus and a little fountain.

But as I lie in bed I see a mouse come out from behind the commode. It's looking at me. And it's big, perhaps even a rat? I don't know. I get up, trying to chase it, but it's nowhere to be seen. I'm not really comfortable with the idea, but I choose to ignore it. I need to sleep. In the last 55 hours I've slept only about 12 hours. Not enough. Clearly not enough.

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