When people come to visit New York and leave with the impression that the entire city is like Times Square (because that is where they stayed and they spent time in only the busiest tourist spots), I feel they have missed out on the real New York City. The one that is made up of the corner deli and the favorite diner; that place in Riverside Park and the rocks below the Harlem Meer. Of course when you come to the city you want to see the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty; Madison Square Garden, Central Park and Broadway. All these things are an integral part of the splendor of New York. But if that is all you see, you miss the heartbeat, the pulse that makes the city home to so many.
Today we drove into Los Angeles. We avoided the high traffic hours, but navigating the freeways and neighborhoods was still a challenge, having never been there before. We saw Rodeo Drive, Wilshire Blvd and the mansions of Beverly Hills. We spotted the Staples Center, the Hollywood Sign, drove past the Chateau Marmont and the Kodak Theater and saw the many stars (in the pavement) on Hollywood Boulevard. In Burbank we searched for the place where “The Voice” is taped and found NBC studios, but “The Voice” eluded us and no one, including the staff at NBC, seemed to know where to find it. (In general the people we asked gave terrible directions – we got nothing right the first time around.)
When we finally headed back onto the freeway towards Yorba Linda where we are staying, I felt that although we’d driven all over Los Angeles, we still hadn’t experienced it. All we saw were street signs, some buildings and the traffic. The traffic was how I imagine people think of Times Square when they wander through, jostled by the annoyed natives on their way to work, dodging the outsiders who don’t know their way around. The traffic was distracting and intense and I a few times I wished my car did not have California plates so that the other drivers would know I was from waaaay out of town.
Some day maybe we’ll tackle LA again. Hopefully in the capable hands of a native who can show us, not only the sights, but the city itself.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway A Moveable Feast