LA was not what I expected. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I was still surprised. While I was there I compared it to, "I expected I was going to a desert planet and instead I'm in tropic forest. Not better or worse, just different."
I was surprised at how small the "Hollywood area" was, you know the part you think of from Reality TV. I was also surprised at how many people there were. I know we always hear about the congestion of people, but there is nothing like seeing it in person. I didn't experience the traffic people talk about, it was always busy but never unbearable.
I was also impressed by the people as individuals. My experience of "being out" amongst the people was that they are quite generous and personable. That was also surprising to me. I'd expected to be faced with a lot of jaded, guarded people looking out for themselves. And I'm not saying that's not possible out there, but on the whole what I experienced was tons of acceptance. People seemed genuinely interested in knowing people and not judging them based on their appearance.