I didn’t know that the Hollywood Walk of Fame concept extended to RockWalk of Fame at the Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard.
Right there in front of the doors to the Guitar Center are the hand prints of rock legends, icons of the music industry who left an imprint on the world with their music and were asked to leave an imprint in the concrete to solidify their presence for the coming generations. And I never knew it existed.
When I passed through LA in June for a friend’s wedding I found myself casually walking down Los Angeles’ Sunset Blvd in the building afternoon heat, sweating, my hat and sun glasses in place and my eyes scanning building names and architecture. I smiled at strangers and took long looks at all of the characters strutting, hobbling, clicking, and jogging by as I meandered down the sidewalk.
This was the first time that I had ever walked Sunset without an immediate purpose. Though I toiled through two long years in the city, I never walked through Hollywood unless parking was impossible… and then it was an inconvenience so I spent my days rushing past the buildings, ignoring others and using my pre-printed Google with my exact destination.
It took a year an a half for my travel eyes to apply to the US but I discovered on my summer tour from California to New York City, Washington DC, and Florida that I have fresh eyes on my former homes. Fresh eyes on the cities I once thought I knew just because I could drive the roads with familiarity and find my nearest supermarket with ease.
For the first time, I approached Los Angeles, Orlando, St. Pete, and others with a mind toward traveling through them just like I travel foreign cities all over the world.
I walked everywhere.
Or rode a bike.
I stopped and asked for directions rather than printing a map.
I carried my camera and looked around for the visually appealing; the neat; the weird.
I tried new restaurants.
I entered shops and chatted up the sales clerks.
I asked for discounts at inappropriate times and bargained in appropriate places.
I smiled at the actors moonlighting as superheroes on the touristy part of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and wondered about their stories – their goals – why they chose this job.
I traveled through Los Angeles and found a new coffee shop (that isn’t a Starbucks!).
I traveled through Orlando and a friend showed me the best vegan and vegetarian eats I somehow missed in college.
I traveled through St. Petersburg and rented jet skis with my Florida friends for the first time ever, ending the day with lunch at a local fish shop I’d never seen before, even though I lived in St. Pete for more than 18 years.
I simply continued my travels even though I was home.
Give it a try! What are your home touristy experiences? Do any of the above tips and you’re bound to discover something you never knew existed right around the corner from your house :-)