Lights, camera, action on Los Angeles!

Trip Start Mar 15, 2008
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Trip End Oct 02, 2009


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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, April 14, 2008

We disembarked our turbulent flight from Japan a little greener around the gills and a lot more bleary-eyed into the much-anticipated Los Angeles. In true California style the weather was a very sunny and a lovely 24oC or so. We hopped on a shuttle bus and I spent the next hour or so trying not to fall asleep or throw up from the motion of the bus. (I was a little more prone having not quite got over the flight and really I am just not a good traveller as I get queasy on pretty much every form of transport except trains!)

Anyway we arrived at our accommodation in West Hollywood, a dodgy motel whose claim to fame was that Jim Morrison stayed there 30 years or so ago snoozing and boozing as they put it. I don't think they must have thought to update/renovate/maintain anything since then either. On the plus side it was cheap and we had our own room to try and reset our body clocks to the new time frame and I would just have to get used to having a shower where the water hit my face in a horizontal fashion and nowhere else! We settled into our room and allowed ourselves an hour to have a nap as I wasn't feeling real flash. We got up after I hit the snooze button about 5 times and headed out for a wander along Santa Monica Boulevard. It was pretty quiet and just a normal street with shops and a few food places. We grabbed our first taste of American pizza for dinner and all in all our first impressions were a little under whelming.

The next day our first full one in Los Angeles saw us sleeping in until almost midday before getting up and wandering the 3kms down the road to the Beverly Centre one of the most popular shopping complexes in the area to get some tourist information. After wandering around for about 30 mins following the signs and asking people, we found the place where it used to be and the fact that it had moved a couple of months ago to the other side of town...pity they didn't think to take down the street signs directing people to it!! We decided to grab some lunch and grabbed some yummy, yummy Quizno's subs which I am glad I got the small size meal as in true American style it was huge!

We headed back to our room and decided to plan our days in LA with the good old lonely planet guide, find a new place to stay for the following couple of nights as the crappy motel wasn't doing it for us and we found some time to contact home and catch up on some blogging, as well as a wander down the famous Sunset Strip where the only fame we glimpsed was Pauly Shore coming out of one of the restaurants chatting on his mobile with a couple of friends in tow.

The strip was nothing more than boring, as much as I hate to admit it. Maybe I just went in with too many expectations but it really was nothing more than a long stretch of road with a few clusters of restaurants and cafes littered with shut boutique stores and of course a number of clubs scattered through. Actually it sounds better as I am typing this than I remember it being. To be fair we went on a Tuesday night so that probably wasn't the best time to go but come on, it's the Sunset Strip isn't that supposed to be a happening place anytime you go?

So the following morning we had a plan and we were going to find the things that everyone raved over in LA. First things first we packed up and said seeya to the old sleazy motel and headed into Hollywood where we had a great room in a hostel called Orange Drive Manor. It was a beautiful old rambling house built around 1900 and was literally 200m off of Hollywood boulevard itself, tucked in behind the Chinese Theatre. After a breakfast of bagels and a chai latte we headed down and had a look at the Chinese Theatre, looked at the Hollywood walk of fame as we pounded the pavement. Went on a tour of the Kodak theatre, which is where the Academy Awards are held every year and was purpose built for the occasion. The tour was interesting and we got a good look at the behind the scenes stuff as well as being lucky enough to go up on the stage where the stars make their acceptance speeches each year.

After the tour we took a look at the famous Hollywood sign and got a ticket for the hop on hop off bus and headed down through Beverley hills to Rodeo Drive where lots of the stars live and where there is lots of designer shopping galore available for those interested and not on a backpackers budget. This is the area where everything is about looks to the point that each street has a different type of tree lining its roadside. Also you can tell the difference between the suburb of Beverley Hills and surrounding suburbs because as soon as you enter Beverly Hills all the telephone cables along the streets suddenly become underground and invisible so as not to detract from the visual aesthetics.

We then headed to the La Brea tar pits and this was a fascinating area full of pits of asphalt with a great history lesson for all and the morbidly fascinating idea that so many intriguing and perfectly preserved animals, plant and seeds have been caught, stuck and buried in them for thousands and thousands of years including a human! Some pools have been mined and mainly contain water today except for a slick on the surface of the pools as tar still bubbles up from under the ground. There are also other areas that are still relatively untouched and during the cooler months when the pits solidify somewhat the geologists scour and excavate them to remove huge volumes of preserved animal skeletons including wolves, mammoth and mountain cats. Really cool stuff!

The day ended with us catching the bus back and heading back through the farmers market and along the length of Hollywood Boulevard before hopping off and grabbing some Mexican food for dinner and falling asleep before our heads hit the pillow in anticipation of the upcoming day at Universal Studios!!!

Our day at Universal Studios (once we got there!) was spent mainly being ushered to the front of every queue as we had splurged and bought a priority pass for an extra $40 and it was one of the best ways we could have spent our money! We headed down and the first thing we did was jump on the Jurassic park ride which successfully got our hearts pumping and my stomach and its contents lodged somewhere between my lungs and my oesophagus! Well that's what it felt like after falling down a massive incline which seemed to last forever. We then made our way around to check out some special effects theatres, a Backdraft studio re-enactment (the fire movie from the 90's), and then headed into the upper area of Universal Studios to race around from the Terminator 3D feature (a 3D movie experience which included live actors, pyrotechnics and water spray to enhance the sensory experience of the 3D movie....this was the best thing we saw all day!). To a Waterworld re-enactment which included some amazing stunts, water and pyrotechnic tricks. Finally there was also a Shrek 4D show (which I had to drag Ben to and which he unexpectedly enjoyed I think!) and the Tour of the Universal Studios which has numerous surprises like Jaws coming to snap at us on our way past and being in a flooding tunnel along with getting to see the sets from numerous shows and movies including War of the Worlds, Psycho and Desperate Housewives.

During the day I got my photo taken with Shrek and Curious George and saw lots of other characters like Dora the Explorer and Lucille Ball. All in all it was a fantastic funfilled day which ended with a wander up the Universal city walk which is kinda like a mall crossed with a showground as there are lots of things to do, see, buy and restaurants to eat at. I managed to get a water massage where you are put in a sun bed type contraption fully clothed and the top is heavy duty plastic that has water jets blasted at it while it is on you.....very relaxing! We then ate dinner at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company which is a spin off chain restaurant from Forrest Gump. We ate great shrimp topped off with cocktails for me and beer for Ben before debating whether to do indoor skydiving but agreeing that our bank balances had already taking enough of a flying leap for one day it was then back to the hostel and ready to be up bright and early for our bus to Las Vegas the next day!!!
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