A first-time American traveler to California may find it only slightly different to where they live, but when the visitor is from the UK the initial experience can come as something of a shock. It’s a very pleasant one, of course, but it’s still a shock nonetheless. There are several aspects of life in the Golden State which seem strange at first sight, but one of the most pleasing things about California is that anyone can adapt to life there in no time.
Perhaps the first impression that really hits you in the cities, especially perhaps in Los Angeles, is the sheer buzz of the place. Everyone seems to be in a hurry, and the vast majority of them are in cars. Once you get into the heart of the cities, however, you soon see plenty of pedestrians on the sidewalks, although a great many of them walk as though they’re in a rush as well!
Away from the main centers of urban population, the first-time visitor from a small country like the UK is always bowled over by the sheer size of the place. To get from the south of England to the north of Scotland you’ll need to travel around 600 miles, significantly less than the north-south distance of California. When you first venture out into the rural areas, even the sky itself seems larger.
Feel the experience
For many Europeans, a visit to the Golden State is unusual in one sense because, even though they will go sightseeing to view the landmarks, they will generally get more of an all-round experience than simply looking at buildings and monuments. In many ways, California is something to feel rather than just something to see. The best way to love it is, to put it bluntly, to live it.
A road trip in California is more than just a journey in a car. To most Europeans, driving along the highways of this wonderful destination is something they’ve dreamed about. It’s a chance to follow in the footsteps (or tire tracks) of a generation of iconic movie stars and super-cool rock bands, a fact that explains why so many first-time visitors choose to hire a car and head off into the sunset.
Needless to say, the climate of California only adds to its attraction for northern Europeans who are more used to grey clouds than blue skies. An opportunity to enjoy a cold beer on a sidewalk in LA, or a wander along the beach at Malibu, or maybe a ride in a convertible to San Francisco, is never likely to be refused.
David Showell is from the UK. He works for comparecarhire.co.uk.