How many songs can you think of associated with Los Angeles? That was our game whilst entering the city and we thought of loads, although me and Emma didn't know the 'golden oldies' Emmas parents came out with. Earlier in the day we also played think of a song with the word 'sex' in it but we don't want to go back there!
We were winging it in LA and we drove deep into LA before deciding we must be close enough to the sights by now, so let's just find a motel! We found one but it was pricey. But as it was dark and we were running out of options we took it! Luckily for us, it just so happened we were 2 blocks from Hollywood Boulevard! Bearing that in mind, the price wasn't so bad!
That evening we ate at somewhere we'd been recommended and dreaming about, an all you can eat called Sizzlers! The American meals have been ridiculously huge anyway but an all-you-can-eat is something we hadn't found. We ordered a main meal and then helped ourselves to unlimited salad, soups, appetisers and of course desert! Yum.
The next day we dropped the car off. Again we thought we were going to get charged more because it was so cheap (£50 p/day) and we were taking it back to a location 25 miles away from where we said we'd drop it off from! Nothing, no extras, no charges! Bargain.
We got the underground to Union Station near Chinatown, despite the advise of not to use public transport! The station had some great Art Deco features. As we walked outside something was being filmed. The clip was about 10 seconds long but there must have been 50 people there working on the set. It looked like it took an age to set up too. Anyway, we had come to this part of town hoping to start our hop-on, hop-off tour bus. However, due to 'Earth Day', the road where the bus would stop was closed! We therefore got back on the 'scary' underground and went back to Hollywood, for $1! We started our tour from there instead, although we had to get off at the first stop and wait for another bus because the commentary wasn't working!
We got back on and the tour bus, which talked a lot about key buildings and areas including stories about movie and music stars of the past and present, was pretty good. We decided to get off at Rodeo Drive which has all the expensive shops and where the stars shop. We lost count at the number of Ferarris that drove up and down the street, but we didn't see anyone famous.
We got back on and did the loop back to Hollywood Boulevard. We then walked down the road, walking over the famous stars in the sidewalk before finding the concrete section of stars' hands and feet outside the Chinese Theatre. For the amount of film and music stars, there weren't that many hand prints. It wasn't quite how we imagined but I'm not sure what exactly we were expecting.
That evening, after a few beers and G&T's we headed back to Sizzlers, but shock horror it was closed. Feeling sorry for ourselves we heading to the only restaurant that seemed open, Mel's Drive In, but what a find it was! It was set out like a 1950's diner and even had mini juke boxes per booth so you could select the music that was playing in the restaurant. Naturally the music was 50's, 60's so Emmas parents were throwing the quarters in! Ha ha.
The next day we did the blue 'rowte' (Americans can't say route properly) which took us to the coast. We walked to Santa Monica pier which is also the start/end of route 66. The pier was ok for a walk around. We then found ourselves doing a workout on Muscle Beach, even Emma's dad! Yes a lot of the people there were obviously very vein, and I don't know why people insisted on wearing Speedos, but there's actually a lot of decent gym equipment there for a workout. So when the sun is shining, why not?
We continued our walk along the beach in the gorgeous sunshine to Venice Beach which was certainly interesting! Lots of hippies and homeless people wandering around. On the boardwalk they have walk-in clinic centres, where for $40, the doctors will find a reason why they can give you marijuana. There only seemed to be tourists and the hippies there as the locals probably know not to bother going there as they are spoilt for choice with other beaches nearby. On the way back we bought some cheap touristy t-shirts from a Chinese run shop - where would we be without the Chinese! We'd be paying more for clothing and knock off items, that's where!
We caught the bus back but got diverted due to something happening outside the Chinese theatre. We walked around the corner to see loads of people screaming and a red carpet surrounded by paparazzi on the opposite side of the road. We waited for a bit when a limo pulled up and out gets Zac Efron, mainly known for his role in High School Musical. He was being interviewed when Audrina from 'The Hills' (an old favourite tv show of ours) turned up. She was the last person to go through the red carpet so we turned up at the end. A women then appeared behind us offering free tickets to see the movie! Emma snapped four of them up and we wonder whether we'd get let in wearing our traveller clothes and carrying our plastic shopping bags - very glamorous! The seats also weren't together but we thought, why not, let's goto our first ever movie premiere which just so happens to be in the centre of the movie world in Hollywood, Los Angeles! We were shown to our different seats. Emma sat next to a couple of hyperactive kids from Australia. They had a very useful piece of information though. The Pepsi and popcorn was free for everyone! Yum.
The stars walked in and sat in the middle just before the film started. Most people were dressed smartly but you could spot the odd tourist who had been given a ticket on the street! We couldn't quite believe that 30 minutes ago we were getting off a tour bus, and now we were sat in a movie premiere with the stars...surreal!
The film was ok, not bad for a girly film but the whole experience was great. Zac Efron left his seat when his steamy sex scene in the shower was shown. I guess he was just too embarrassed, his mum was there after all!
As our evening had taken such a weird and unexpected turn, our previous plans were out the window so we just needed to find somewhere to eat so late (you'd think LA would be a 24hour city wouldn't you, but most places to eat are closed by 10pm!) So the only place open for dinner so late was Mels Drive through which we didn't mind as the food was huge and tasty.
For our last day in Los Angeles, and indeed America, we went to Universal Studios. We got their 15 minutes before so had to wait until we were prompted with a count down and 'Action!' before we could enter. After which most people fast walked to the Studio Tour.
The tour drove around some of the film studio at first before going into a tunnel where there was a 4D short King Kong movie going on around us. The 4D effects were water, which flew at us when the dinosaur roared and air for when King Kong dropped the cart we were in and the screen made us feel like we were spinning to the ground! It all felt very realistic!
We went on to see cars from famous movies, the fast and furious stunt cars on huge spinning machibes, and an absolutely rubbish jaws remake - we couldn't decide if it was a joke or left for sentimental reasons! We then drove through the set of Desperate Housewives where they were filming but we didn't see anyone from the show. The tour then drove us through a set from War of the Worlds which was really good. The producer purchased an old Boeing 747 for $40,000 and made it look like a crash site! Very cool.
The first ride we went on was the Simpson's 4D ride which was designed to make people feel sick, well Kris. It again felt so realistic, getting sprayed and evening creating the smell of nappies when the ride entered Maggies mouth (baby out of Simpsons)! Shrek 4D wasn't quite as good, but 4D rides are always fun.
We then decided to go to the Waterworld show which was loosely based on the film and included stunt actor from various shows. It was pretty good with fire and water effects but then a large plane seemingly came out of nowhere broke the wall and crash landed into the lake metres from us. Everyone watched in amazement as it was very unexpected and well executed!
Everyone got wet, but some people got soaked, especially those in the 'soak zone'. They had enough warnings!
We then headed to the Haunted House. The haunted house used real actors to jump out and frighten people which makes it impossible not to jump, even though it was expected! The worst section was walking through a scene out of Alien where mumiffed bodies where hanging upside down and you had to knock them out of the way to get through, whilst half expecting one to start moving! They particularly seemed to keep jumping out and grabbing Emma's mum! There were a French couple behind us that latched on to our group so things jumped out at us first and they knew what to expect - cheating I think. She still screamed a lot though! At the end she thanked us. We then went on The Mummy rollercoaster ride, which was all in the dark, and the Jurassic Park logflume ride, both very good. We ended our day at the Terminator2 4D experience, with Arnie on the 3D screen and then actors running round the place as they moving in and out of the screen. It was really impressive and well done! All in all a good day out. We were a week too early for the new Transformers ride though.
We headed back to Hollywood packed a bit and headed out early enough to go to Sizzlers for some more unlimited food!
And that was LA. Not many people recommended LA to us while travelling through America but we were glad we went as we all enjoyed it. We could have spent more time here too as LA stretches for miles with lots to do and such nice weather it would have been nice to spend some time at the beach.
And that was America! America has pleasantly suprised us all. The rural parts we visited had incredibly diverse landscape and the cities each offered something different. Travelling from place to place was so easy, just set the cruise control to 5mph above the speed limit and leave the car for hours to drive itself! The people were also friendly offering advice wherever we went. As we were traveling around we earmarked so many places that we didn't have time to visit for a potential return in the future.
Thank you to Emma's parents for joining us and spliting the car rental 4 ways! Haha just joking. We really enjoyed having their company during the day and evenings where your bar was always open!
The next blog will be coming to you from a new continent on our travels, the mighty South America!