Los Angeles
Los Angeles © Thomas Pintarik
Millions of visitors arrive each year in Los Angeles, eager to experience first-hand the famed land of modern mythology, wondrous optimism and immense creativity. The fantasy worlds of Disneyland and Hollywood, the extravagance of Beverley Hills and Malibu, and the sun-soaked beach culture are just some of the attractions within the 'City of Angels'.

Los Angeles is not really a city but rather a sprawling metropolis constituting more than 80 smaller city areas woven together by a daunting network of traffic-congested freeways without a clearly defined centre. LA is just one of these cities with Downtown at its heart, and lying outside the city limits is the surrounding conglomeration of cities that comprise LA County.

Los Angeles offers a dazzling variety of attractions and world-famous amusements. Downtown is a mixture of cultures and local communities: the traditional herbalists of Chinatown's Bamboo Lane; Little Tokyo with its sushi bars and Japanese gardens; and the narrow Latino-influenced Olvera Street. Los Angeles County is endowed with a rich diversity of backgrounds and a mix of people from 140 countries speaking 96 different languages.

West Hollywood: the focal point of gay and lesbian culture, the posh beachside resort of Santa Monica, body-builders at Muscle Beach and the childhood fantasy of Disneyland all add to LA's diversity. There are exciting museums, cinemas featuring every conceivable production, fashionable boutiques, comedy clubs, poetry readings and coffee house recitals, and music of every kind played in various venues throughout the city.

Underneath the huge 'Hollywood' sign on the crest of the Hollywood Hills, the high energy and pleasure-seeking atmosphere, bold billboards, beautiful sun-bronzed people, bright lights and fancy cars are images of a city that everyone loves to hate; but whether one likes what one finds or not, Los Angeles must be experienced at least once in a lifetime.