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JoeDavola

Los Angeles / San Diego / Mexico

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Once again I'm consulting the HPC hive mind to help me plan one of my impulsive trips and ensure that I get back in one piece.

I've got a friend who lives in San Diego and can give me a free room there, so I'm planning on killing several birds with one stone to speak, by flying to Los Angeles, spending a few days there, then getting the bus down to San Diego for a while (maybe a week and a half or a bit longer), and perhaps even venturing into Mexico. Then bus it back to LA and fly home.

Since my friend lives in SD, my questions mainly relate to LA and Mexico. Basically:

- Whereabouts to stay in LA, and is it difficult to get around it if you don't have a car (as I won't). Is there anywhere in particular that I should be looking to stay if I don't have a car. I've heard the walk of fame is a dump but that doesn't really appeal to me too much anyway; i'd rather be near a nice beach or something and just chill for a few days.

- How dangerous is it to cross into Mexico? I've heard horror stories about Tijuana.

- If there's anywhere along the route from LA to San Diego or around either area that you think I should check out, feel free to recommend them.

This should be an interesting one as I'm planning it on quite short notice - I would be flying away towards the end of March.

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I'm planning on killing several birds with one stone

Would these be deluded scrapper birds?

I look forward to reading about your arrest for multiple homicide in the near future.

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I think Mexico is a bit dodgier than when I lived in San Diego. We used to get the trolley over for a night out - then wander back over the border at 3am and wait for the first trolley back home. Not sure if that's recommended these days. Although it does look like generally the drug gangs aren't overly Interested in tourists.

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Saying that you're going to visit LA but not drive is a bit like my father in law coming to visit London from LA last year but saying that he didn't want to see any museums, churchs or old buildings. The thing with LA is that there isn't actually all that much to see (other than the tar pits) and it's spread out over an enormous area. I wouldn't spend too long in LA. Stay somewhere in central West LA, somewhere between Downtown and Santa Monica, and you should be able to get around by bus or uber.

Crossing into Tijuana isn't that big of a deal, and it's right next to San Diego, so it's pretty easy to do. I wouldn't venture too far off the beaten path though. It really is dangerous outside tourist areas. San Diego is actually a much nicer place to visit than LA.

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LA is a sprawling mass - you need a car. No car. Don't bother. They don't understand the concept of public transport in LA.

Personally, I would avoid LA. There is nothing there. Lots of crime though. The centre of the city is a no go area with a north and southern area where people who work in movieland live but it is hellish getting around if you have a car, let alone if you don't.

You have Santa Monica in the north and then towards Malibu - lots of celebs live in those places, especially super-rich Malibu but you will not see many and if you loiter around Malibu or the police will probably prod you to move along. Ditto Beverley Hills. Lots of Brits, working in the film industry, live in Santa Monica.

There is Venice Beach by Santa Monica - which you see often on the TV shows with people skate-boarding, do body-building on the beach, etc, but once you have seen it in, oh, 5 minutes you have seen it.

South of LA you have the Newport Beach area - again where lots of celebs have homes - but getting from somewhere like Santa Monica to Newport even if you have a car is nightmarish. Without one - you probably will end up dead.

Don't take that lightly - there are plenty of places in LA where it is really not safe to go. You will be robbed and lots of people will not think twice about murdering you for a few bucks and your smartphone. I often think that if the dodgy people in some of the central parts of LA ever got their act together they could simply take out Beverley Hills, Santa Monice and Malibu or Newport Beach.

Don't get me wrong - I like Santa Monica and, if I won the lottery, I woud move there, pay a few million for one of the lovely houses there and spend the rest of my life chatting up the would-be actresses and models. But LA is just a mess. It is a collection of towns and not much else.

A friend of mine describes LA as 'Stupid Town'. He says that the grey cloud of smog that hovers over it is the stupid cloud sucking intellect out of the people who live there.

Seriously, unless you are hoping to become the next Tom Cruise, I would seriously avoid it. It is a place to go to do business IMPO

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San Diego is nice but I have been hearing that people are concerned about rising crime re people who have come across the border. It is right on the front-line in the USA/Mexico border dispute.

It has a huge naval base and is a navy town. Great surfing is you are into that - and if you are brave enough to run the odds of not becoming shark food. Taco Surf is a place to get some Mexican US food. Fish tacos are some kind of San Diego food.

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/san-diego/best-california-burritos-in-san-diego

Personally, from what I have heard, I don't think I would fancy venturing out in San Diego after the sun has gone down.

I certainly would not think twice about crossing over into Mexico - you would be really going out on a limb there. If you fo a google you will be shocked at the numbers of serious assaults, robberies and murders that happen to people who have crossed the border.

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I was in LA 12 years ago, and stayed at the Venice Beach Cotel, which is a hostel right on Venice Beach. If you're by yourself that could work well as there'll probably be people at the hostel you can hook up with. like all hostels it's a little rough and ready, but the location is fantastic. You can walk up to Santa Monica easy enough.

Downtown is a waste of time. I only found that out after going there, then got stuck there because of a bus strike. No taxi's would stop to a hail on the street, and eventually hours later having wandered into south central LA in the dark I paid a Mexican to drive me and my hysterical girlfriend back to Venice Beach. Not a good day :(

Universal studios was fun if you like that sort of thing. I remember getting a mini bus there with a group of tourists, but can't remember how that got arranged. Probably something the hostel hooked me up with.

Tijuana is a shit hole. I'd only go there again with a big group of lads, and even then I'd be very careful. Get further into Mexico (basically away from the US border) and it's nice, but I don't think you've got time for that unfortunately. If you did I'd go the other way and see San Francisco.

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TMT couldn't have summarised LA better. Personally I really, really didn't like it and I've never not really liked anywhere I have travelled. I left quite a few days at the end of an American road trip to do LA thinking I would be hard pressed to pack everything in. Quite the opposite. I actually spent the last day watching TV in the hotel. You see the Hollywood Walk of Fame (tacky), the tar pits (giant, tacky fake elephant in it), Venice Beach (like TMT says, 5 minutes later, you've seen it, what now?), city tour in a bus (other than some obscene examples of personal wealth, the rest of the city is a decaying mess) etc. Personally I tried to do it relatively cheaply (as LA goes) and I really regretted it - I felt extremely on edge even walking across the road to a convenience store. Sirens were going off all night in the distance. As has been said, even if you could walk, you wouldn't, you have to cross bad areas to get to okay or decent areas and you really don't know what you are messing with in an unfamiliar place. I suspect I may have had a bad experience though as plenty of people seem to like and plenty of expats out there!

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I can't talk about those parts of the US at all.. I've never been to any of them.

I've also never been up to the border / TJ either. So not much help so far.

I frequently go to Mexico and always feel safe. That said, the border is known for being more dangerous generally.

Personally I wouldn't hesitate to go to TJ but I've never really had any reason to go. Just like any other slightly dodgy city you just have to be a bit sensible and not walk down dark back allies alone or take dodgy looking taxis etc. I'd probably avoid drugs too.

Most people go to TJ for the strip bars, drinking and prostitutes (legal in Mexico). If that floats your boat then go for it but be careful.

If not take a flight and head down to Mazatlan or Guadalajara (Tequila) etc. Probably quite a bit safer and you still get the "Mexico" experience.

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Downtown is a waste of time. I only found that out after going there, then got stuck there because of a bus strike. No taxi's would stop to a hail on the street, and eventually hours later having wandered into south central LA in the dark I paid a Mexican to drive me and my hysterical girlfriend back to Venice Beach. Not a good day :(

Wandered into South Central LA and still here - how did that happen?

Joking aside, both you and you gf were very lucky.

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We stayed here once for 4 nights http://www.seashoremotel.com/

Inexpensive, in Santa Monica close to the beach (5 Minutes), the famous SM pier is about 15 Mins and a short walk to the centre of the town. Couple of Irish type pubs within 500 metres for drinks and foods. Found it perfectly adequate.

5 miles from LAX

Only downside is you will need to reccy the bus routes into the wider LA area. We had a car we hired at the airport so didn't need too. I think they have started extending the subway into SM but not sure if it open as yet. It also had one of those Hertz never lost things in it so it was very easy to find things.

Can't help with Mexico except to say I hear it is murder (wrong word probably) trying to get back owing to the ques from the Mexican to US side. Have been to Mexico a couple of times but entered by ship, Cozumel and some other place down the coast whose name escapes me. Felt perfectly safe wandering about.

Edit to add.

As for touristy bits we drove up to Hollywood Blvrd to have a look at the walk of fame and the theatres, there is a bit to see a waxworks and some large shopping malls nearby.

Drove down Sunset Drive as well not much to see except a long Blvrd with a few cafes and hotels along it. We did the obligatory Universal Studios as we had the kids with us not cheap but an enjoyable day out. Didn't do Disneyland as they had previously;y been to Florida. Drove all over looking for a city centre but was unable to find one. It's like LA doesn't have one and is just spread out.

Other than that we stayed in SM until we left to drive to Vegas. In hindsight 4 days was probably too long for LA.

Edit again.

We always went out in the car but I drove quite a few miles across the city. Same as anywhere else some places are run down but we never felt threatened either in SM or out and about.

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Can't help with Mexico except to say I hear it is murder (wrong word probably) trying to get back owing to the ques from the Mexican to US side. Have been to Mexico a couple of times but entered by ship, Cozumel and some other place down the coast whose name escapes me. Felt perfectly safe wandering about.

Good point about the queues.. avoid rush hour !

otay1.jpg

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I really fancy visiting Eugene, Oregon. I have read that it has become the new San Francisco since all the people made rich by Silicon Valley have basically priced out the 'real' people of San Fran.

It sounds like a pacific version of Boulder, Colorado.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene,_Oregon

Go to Portland instead. Judging from your post, you would really like it. It's one of the few place worth spending time in the US. There's plenty to see in the rest of the country from a sight-seeing or anthropological-study, but Portland is actually worth hanging out in. Eugene is too small (unless you're really into athletics).

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I stayed in centralish LA years ago without a car (can't remember the exact district). The only place in the world where I've felt genuinely scared (not that I've been to Iraq or Syria or anything...). The greyhound bus stop was probably dangerous but felt like a positive sanctuary. Eventually I went up to Santa Barbara which was okay (stayed on a commune, which was weird - all lovely and hippy except 9-5 when they all put on their suits and went to work in town!)

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Go to Portland instead. Judging from your post, you would really like it. It's one of the few place worth spending time in the US. There's plenty to see in the rest of the country from a sight-seeing or anthropological-study, but Portland is actually worth hanging out in. Eugene is too small (unless you're really into athletics).

Thanks.

Actually, I meant Portland as the new San Francisco. Eugene is supposed to have a laid back atmosphere also and there is another town in Oregon, forget the name, that is similar in lifestyle apparently.

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I've been to San Diego many times and rate it very highly. I much prefer it over LA and many people would share my view on that. The Gaslamp district in the centre is worth exploring but so are many of the neighbourhoods too - including North Park / South Park. Some excellent restaurants and bars around there. My favourite is Hamiltons: http://hamiltonstavern.com/

Balboa Park is nice too. ‚Äč

The coastline is impressive, albeit not spectacular. Coronado beach and La Jolla are the "to go to" beaches in my view.

Despite all my times in San Diego, I was never tempted to cross into Mexico from San Diego as heard too many horror stories about waiting times at the border to re-gain entry to the US. I did travel to Mexico City once from Los Angeles International (LAX), which is an unpleasant airport and the wait at immigration on the way back was very long ..... the US passport holders all breezed through whilst I was towards the back of a rather long line of Mexicans who, in general, seemed to have a harder time.

In terms of LA - Rodeo Drive is worth a visit once (only once) and West Hollywood (WoHo) is nice and trendy, but maybe a bit over trendy for some. Can never recall much of interest between LA and San Diego, although there is Disneyland on outskirts of Anaheim, just south of LA on road to San Diego. I've never been.

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Thanks.

Actually, I meant Portland as the new San Francisco. Eugene is supposed to have a laid back atmosphere also and there is another town in Oregon, forget the name, that is similar in lifestyle apparently.

Bend?

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I stayed in this place a few years ago in LA:

http://www.bananabungalows.com/hollywood-hostel-los-angeles/

It's a hostel, but you could get a single room. It's a good price for the location.

I didn't have a car when I went, relied on taxis, organised tours and went on the subway once.

The traffic is pretty bad though, also on arrival, the taxi driver almost had to break up a fight between 2 motorist!!

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I'll post a proper reply tomorrow when I have a bit more energy, but thank you all a million for your responses. Los Angeles and Mexico are no longer on the cards.

Given that I thought Las Vegas was a shithole, and interesting to see for a day, but not something that I have any desire to go back and see, I don't think LA would appeal to me, even the 'tourist' bits.

San Diego still is on the cards, but I'll post more tomorrow. I have a good friend in Missouri so might fly over there for a few days in the middle of the trip. I don't think there's anything between San Diego and Missouri that I'm too fussed on seeing.

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I'll post a proper reply tomorrow when I have a bit more energy, but thank you all a million for your responses. Los Angeles and Mexico are no longer on the cards.

Given that I thought Las Vegas was a shithole, and interesting to see for a day, but not something that I have any desire to go back and see, I don't think LA would appeal to me, even the 'tourist' bits.

San Diego still is on the cards, but I'll post more tomorrow. I have a good friend in Missouri so might fly over there for a few days in the middle of the trip. I don't think there's anything between San Diego and Missouri that I'm too fussed on seeing.

I find that a lot of US cities have one tourist place that is hugely over-hyped, probably by US TV shows, and once you have seen them there is not much else to see in those cities.

You have Rodeo Drive and Venice beach in LA. Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, although SF is probably the exception here, and the 'Strip' in Vegas. New Orleans has the French quarter. Often once you have seen them, or you step outside what is effectively a road, you have nothing.

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