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London vs. Los Angeles: My Dream Vacation

9 February 2011, Wednesday

Vacations are a great time to bond with our families and friends, and they are wonderful opportunities to relax and chill out from the busy lives we have at work. But, as I read through The Daily Post at WordPress’ topic today on “Describe your dream vacation“–along with its bonus question “describe your last vacation and compare the two”–I have been fired up to ask myself two things: what kind of vacation do I really want to do, and what do I want to see once I get to my chosen destination?

Choosing a dream vacation for me can be both a wonderful experience to have and a hassle to do because not only you’re thinking about what cultural experiences you will encounter during the trip, but also the amount of money spent throughout the trip. Besides, someone has to pay for all the airline tickets, fuel, food and lodging, souvenirs… you name it. However, the real essence of a vacation is what you get from it: what I mean by this is the value of spending time away from your normal routines and focusing on what you want to see that you don’t normally see during your morning and evening commute, and the value you get from it is the experience of staying at a place that is new to you and enjoying the place’s sights, sounds, and scenery.

When asked about my last vacation, one thing immediately stood out: my vacation with my grandfather and my family in Los Angeles. Nicknamed “the City of Angels” and larger in both area and population than San Francisco, Los Angeles is the heart of the entertainment world, with Paramount Studios, Universal Studios, Disneyland, and Hollywood all in force to create cinematic magic for families and individuals alike. “LaLa Land”, as the locals call their city, hosts to numerous cultural and civic features that promote its rich, historical roots from the first inhabitants of California to the Spanish contact to the birth of the entertainment history. I even have a photo slideshow of all the images I took from that vacation (400 in all!) that documents everything we did from Disneyland in Anaheim to Universal Studios in Hollywood, and many other things in between.

What I liked during my last vacation in Los Angeles last summer was the fact that my grandfather–whose 73rd birthday is today–visited the Southland for the first time in his life. He has truly enjoyed the experience of walking through the streets of Disneyland, enjoyed the tall skyscrapers LaLa land has, and saw behind-the-scenes stories of how films made by Universal Studios are shown right before his eyes. He even got to ride on the monorail at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland as well and experienced its speed and comfort as it went around the park! He was wearing a light blue polo nearly all through the vacation in Los Angeles, as you might recognize through the slide show, but, he’s a true character: he works very hard for his family, even on the weekends, and he just wants to lead a simple life. And Los Angeles for him was a great experience that he will never forget. I, too, would not forget that joy of being with my grandfather after a long time traveling with him around the Bay Area with my aunt and my mom because it allowed him to explore further afield south of San Francisco and enjoy the scenery of the Central Valley and the Southland.

Switching gears, my ultimate dream vacation is another trendy place, London. Yes, I am a fan of LBC 97.3, a major speech-oriented radio station in London, but, it plays a part in the reason why I want to go there for a real vacation. When I listen to their traffic reports, I would listen to keywords, such as the “Central Line”, “Euston station”, and the ever-ubiquitous “M25”, that would ultimately remind me of London because those are the main modes of transport that I will expect when I get there: Central Line being the Underground, Euston station being the rail, and the M25 (orbital) being the bus and car.  London, for me, is way beyond just the Underground, though: I would love to see the sights along the River Thames, from Big Ben and Westminster to Canary Wharf and the Docks (also the London Eye), as well as the many squares that dot the city, from Trafalgar to Leicester. I would also like to have a stroll along Hyde Park, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Parliament Hill, and the City (also known as the Financial District) wherein I want to savor the city life London has to offer compared to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Most of all, I would love to stroll along London’s lively streets, including Oxford Street, Regent Street, and the famous Piccadilly Circus, all of which I would love to see because I want to feel the buzz of London.

Both cities are capitals of culture: London being a capital of English and classical culture, Los Angeles being a capital of the film industry. However, both capitals show their differences as well: while London is rooted from thousands of years of growth and development from the Roman Empire to the present, Los Angeles has its roots just over 200 years ago when the Spanish explored the vast plains of Baja California on the Pacific coast (now in Mexico and the United States). London in itself has become a city in its own right by developing massive fortresses and castles that host to the many monarchs of the English kingdom, while Los Angeles has become a city “artificially”, meaning land from the vast desert just east of the city has been developed into massive suburbia, housing millions of people. But, what really impresses me about both cities is how both have developed their transport networks to carry the vast numbers of people living within their city’s boundaries: London, for example, has developed a vast Underground system that carries millions of riders a day from the suburbs to the inner city; Los Angeles, in contrast, has developed a vast freeway system that brings in millions of drivers a day, causing massive congestion along its highways and side streets. As a result of their massive development, it seems to me that London is ultimately my dream vacation because the cultural sights surpass those of Los Angeles’, the transport seems to be better off than Southland’s freeways, and city life in London truly reminds me of a real urban center than the sprawl LaLa land. No offense to Southern California, but, I believe that those cities east of the LA basin (i.e. Riverside, Ontario) must improve their cities’ growth before it’s too late to develop them further.


Visit London, the main travel guide for London, United Kingdom

London Government, the site of the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority

London Underground, the website of London’s famous metro network, operated by Transport for London

All in London, a London-related website focusing on the city’s cultural highlights

Global Radio, the parent company of LBC 97.3, which also hosts multiple radio networks covering London and the United Kingdom

Summer 2010 in Los Angeles: my photo collection

  1. Hey Anthony,
    There is a need to consider the time of the year when you visit London or that part of the world. Late Spring, and Summer will make it more enjoyable. It can rain, and rain until it is just miserable. I hate rain! Take care, Charlie
    PS: If your blood is thin, go when I recommend.

  2. [Charlie] That’s a great advice! I love London for its scenery, but I want to visit there during the summer since it’s warm and I like to walk around town for long periods of time.

  3. Hello there! You have won an award. Come by to pick it up! 🙂

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