Today we’re really honing in on our destinations and focusing on Los Angeles, one of the most-visited cities in the USA and also home to the lovely Ruth Rieckehoff, blogger behind Tanama Tales.
Ruth is on hand to share some expert travelling tips for first time visitors to LA. With 9 years of Californian living under her belt we’re sure you’ll find her well-qualified!
1. Hey Ruth! Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your experience travelling in Los Angeles?
I am originally from Puerto Rico. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I spent a month in Europe. Even though I like to say that was the trip which ignited my passion for travel, other earlier experiences contributed to the development of my wanderlust. Since that initial trip, I have had adventures in more than 30 countries. I don’t have plans to stop traveling so let’s see where the road takes me.
I blog about my travel related experiences on a site called Tanama Tales. Tanama means butterfly in the Taino language. The name is a metaphor of what I want to achieve with my site. My desire is to show readers how to go through a metamorphic process to spread their wings and fly. I believe you don’t have to travel far or spend a lot of money to have a great adventure. Every day in your life can be different than the previous one.
About 9 years ago, I moved to Los Angeles, California. I am always in the process of enjoying the wide array of options the city offers. I have been to a lot of places but there are still more waiting to be discovered. That is why I love this city!!
2. As a Puerto Rican what’s so great about Los Angeles? How does it compare to your birthplace?
Puerto Rico is a small island (100 x 35 miles). Even though the island is a gem full of charming places to visit, you cannot compare it with the size of Los Angeles and its environments. You have space to roam until you drop death. Plus, the landscape in Southern California is amazingly varied. You have mountains, deserts, beaches, lakes and rivers. There is always a region in season.
Los Angeles is cosmopolitan too. People from all over the world call this city home. We are talking about 21 million souls who speak about 128 languages. It is incredible how much you can learn about other cultures in Los Angeles. I never get tired of visiting ethnic restaurants, festivals or stores. Even my neighbors share dishes from their countries with me. Unfortunately, you are not going to have access to all those cultural exchanges in Puerto Rico.
3. How much money can someone travel around Los Angeles for? What are the greatest expenses? What things are relatively cheap?
This shouldn’t take anybody by surprise. California is expensive. I would say you need to budget $75 to $100 per person per day to travel around Los Angeles (based on double occupancy). This estimate is on the lower end. Things start to get more expensive depending on what you want to do and where you want to stay.
The greatest expenses are lodging and transportation. It is possible to stay in a motel for $60 a night. Small hotels can go for less. I have stayed in San Francisco for $40 a night and that city is more expensive than Los Angeles. Make sure to search in hostel aimed websites for good deals.
As I mentioned before, Los Angeles is a massive metropolis. You would probably need a car to move around. Rentals are not that expensive but take into consideration the prices of insurance, gas and parking (which can get ridiculous around the city).
There is room to save in terms of food and attractions. There are a million of options to eat. This brings prices down. A lot of attractions are free. For example, places such as the Getty Center, Griffin Observatory, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Venice Beach and Olvera Street are free of charge. Don’t forget to stop by the local visitor’s center. Usually, they can provide you with coupons and discounts.
4. What is the local cuisine like? Are you a fan of American cooking, what dishes float your boat?
Local food is varied. I can say people like to eat a mix of American and Mexican dishes in here. Everything Chinese is very popular too. Adventurous palates don’t have to limit themselves. There is always something new to try.
I am not the biggest fan of American food. I enjoy when it is done right or when an interesting twist is given to it. I prefer more exotic dishes such as: green enchiladas (Mexican), mariscos saltados (Peruvian), bulgogi (Korean), vermicelli salad (Vietnamese) or lamb kofta (Middle Eastern).
5. What cultural activities and events would you suggest everyone seeing or taking part in while travelling Los Angeles and why?
Wow, that is a difficult question since there are so many things to do in Los Angeles (and in the USA in general). I’ll stick with what I know best.
Getty Center, Los Angeles County Museum Of Art (LACMA), Ethnic Neighborhoods (Little Tokyo, Little Ethiopia, etc.), Food Tours, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach Boardwalk, Kodak Theater
Downtown Art Walk, Fiesta Hermosa, County Fair, Film Festival
6. What is your favorite thing about travelling in this city? What is your least favorite thing?
My favorite aspect about the city is the endless possibilities of things to. With time, I keep discovering more and more places to visit. That gets me excited. This is not a city for people diagnosed with a severe case of wanderlust.
I have to say the world-famous traffic jams drive me crazy.
7. What things do you focus on most when you blog about this city? Why do you choose these things?
I like to focus on the experience of discovering new places, flavors and smells around the city. Additionally, I like to introduce history, culture and architecture facts to my posts. I want to inspire people to start exploring their own backyard. That initial level of exploration can take them farther. My posts are photo heavy too. I want people to travel thru my posts.
8. What’s one thing you can’t travel around Los Angeles without?
I think you need a GPS device, navigation system or smart phone (assuming you have your own wheels). Los Angeles is large and complicated. I am sure one of those devices can help you to untangle the mess.
9. What kind of response have you had to your blog posts about Los Angeles? What post had the most interest?
People enjoy reading about Los Angeles and other places in California. I have gotten great responses. I think some people get amazed when reading about the variety in the area. People react surprised when faced with a desert covered in wild flowers or a ghost town in the Sierra. My most popular post of the area is about food at the Orange County Fair. For some reason, people love junk food found in places like that.
10. If you could think of one thing you wished someone told you before you started travelling around Los Angeles what would it be?
You need to have an open mind and get out of your shell. I know tons of people who are encapsulated in their own culture even though they have lived years in Los Angeles. This is a city with the power to change your thoughts. But you have to get out there. Eat, walk, drive, talk, explore.
Thanks for the super tips Ruth! Can’t wait to hit up the City of Angels and put some of your advice to the test.
If you’d like to follow Ruth’s travelling tales and check out more on where she’s been, go over to Tanama Tales and say hello on Twitter too.
If you’d like to be interviewed contact us.