Thursday 13 March 2014

California: Day Ten - Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills

Brian and I knew there was a lot we wanted to see in the LA Area, so we made sure to be awake by 7:00am and out of the hotel by 8:30. The hotel was the Holiday Inn Hollywood Walk of Fame, and only a few blocks away from the start of the Hop On/Hop Off bus. We walked down and spent a bit of time exploring the walk of fame, and the outside of the Chinese theater. What a cool area! We had fun being “typical tourists” and crouching down to take photos with our hands on the celebrity imprints. It would have been interesting to do a tour of the theater, but we didn’t want to spend a few hours in one place.

There were a number of “upcoming artists” thrusting their CD’s into hands of the tourists in front of the theater. One guy gave us his CD and signed it, then asked for money. He seemed disappointed we didn’t have any cash on us, but smiled and wished us a good trip. A few minutes later another guy pushed his CD into my hands and also asked for money. When I again explained I didn’t have any cash he snatched it back and snapped “then you don’t get one!”. Um okay, its not like I wanted it in the first place! I am sure with that attitude he will get far in the music industry!

The CD from the friendly artist!
Before we got on the bus, we stopped for coffee and croissants at the Starbucks. We sat outside and had a great view of the theater across the street being set up for the Captain American Winter Solider premiere. It was fun to watch them rolling out the red carpet, and roping off the roads and sidewalks. It’s incredible to think of how often the theaters go through this huge production for these premieres.

I had a small incident with a woman outside the Starbucks. As Brian was waiting for his drink, I went outside to get us a table. I picked one out of the sun (since Brian was already a bit sunburnt) and sat down. A few minutes later this woman rushes over and demands I move because it was her table and she had just got up to make a call. I calmly explained there was nothing at the table indicating it was in use, and that there were other tables she could move to. She then demanded I absolutely MUST move because she had a disability related to the sun. I pointed that there were other tables out of the sun, and she then insisted I move one of the tables for her, since she didn’t like the location. At this point it just seemed easier to gather up my things, give her the table and move to one far away from her. When she sat down I noticed she just had a cup of water and nothing from Starbucks. Seriously, some people are just ridiculous.

We boarded the bus and stayed on it for about 30 minutes. We sat on the top level, which was outdoors so we were able to take a lot of cool photos as we drove through the streets. We drove past Rockwalk, some of the popular music stores/hangouts, as well as the comedy store and other famous comedy clubs. 

Then we drove down Sunset Strip, past the Hollywood design center, the Directors Guild, and the Paley Center for Media. I was a bit disappointed as it turned out the Veronica Mars cast was doing a session at the Paley Center that day and I would have tried for tickets if I had known. Brian and I got off the bus at the Beverley Hills City Hall, which was a short walk to Rodeo Drive. Our first stop was Sprinkles Cupcake Shop because I wanted to see the Cupcake ATM in person. IT was really cool! It’s set up to look just like an ATM – but it dispenses cupcakes. I was going to get a cupcake from it, but we figured there would be more selection inside the shop. The cupcakes were good – a bit too sweet, but still yummy.

Afterward we walked back down to Rodeo Drive, which was incredible! It is exactly the way it looks on TV and in Movies – very fancy and exclusive. The entire way down was full of stores I had never actually seen in person, like most of the top celebrity designers like Vera Wang, Badgley Mischk, and Versace. It was awesome to window shop and look at all the fancy clothes and accessories as well as all the displays. We only went into one store – Coach – which was likely the only store I could remotely afford! I had wanted to buy something from Rodeo, so I picked up a pair of earrings I had wanted. I also bought my best friend a birthday gift from there.

There was a few more blocks left of Rodeo, but Brian and I decided to head back to the sightseeing bus instead. We took the bus down past the Beverley Center and past a bunch of designer shops like Stella McCartney. We also drove past the John Wayne statue that Brian was able to get a great photo of.  

We got off at the LA Art Museum stop, and found a restaurant for lunch. We ate quick, and then walked over to the LA BREA Tar Pits. This was something Brian had always wanted to see – they are these large tar pits where the remains and fossils of numerous animals had been found. It wasn’t exactly my thing, but it was interesting to walk through. The museum was pretty cool, as they included some of the findings as well as some replications. There was also an area where you could watch the scientists working on recent discoveries. It wasn’t a place that I would have chosen to visit, but I did find it interesting.

We got back on the bus, and drove past the Grove and Farmers Market. I had initially wanted to stop at those, but it was getting late and it just seemed like more of the same shops. Though there was an American Girl store that was tempting! I have heard those stores are worth seeing – but didn’t want to drag Brian though four floors of doll insanity! 

We did get off at the Paramount Studios stop, where we walked around the studio to the Hollywood Forever cemetery. The paramount lot was huge, so it took us almost 40 minutes to walk around it to the cemetery entrance. I believe there was a quicker route, but Brian didn’t exactly trust my navigational input – grr! By the time we got there the cemetery the office was closed so we were unable to get a map that showed where all the various celebrity graves were.

Brian and I decided to walk up to the next stop, rather then walk back to the previous one. We definitely saw a different side of the area. Actually to be honest, I was a bit surprised by the entire LA area. The main streets are exactly as they seem on TV/Film, but they are drastically different a few blocks past. They are a bit rougher, and a lot less “glamorized” that the famous streets and areas are. As it was, the area we had to walk through was a bit scary, so Brian and I made sure to put away our cameras and not appear touristy.

We picked up the bus at the last stop and rode it back to the start of the line. The Capitan America premiere was in full swing, so we got let off at a different area since the street was closed. I wandered into a souvenir shop and picked up a few gifts for my family, and then we made our way toward the theater where the premiere was being held. Everything was blocked off, with people lining the roads calling out to the stars on the red carpet. We picked a spot off to the side just to watch for a few seconds since it was pretty cool. Much to our surprise we were directly in front of the tent where the cast was being led into after they made their way down the red carpet! We got to see Chris Evens (the main star), Jeremy Remmer (from the Avengers) as well as Samuel L. Jackson. I was only able to get a photo of Jackson, but it was an awesome experience! Once people started to realize that the tent was there, the crowds around us got huge and people started pushing and shoving to get closer – at this point I had had enough so we left.

Brian and I were both hungry but not sure what we wanted to do for dinner as we were exhausted from spending almost 12 hours sightseeing and walking. So we decided to just pick up pizza and drinks and bring them back to the hotel. We spent our final night in LA, decked out in PJ’s, eating pizza and watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith on TV. It wasn’t exactly a glamorous Hollywood evening, but it was perfect for us!

I enjoyed the LA area and got to see and visit many of the places I had wanted to. We will definitely go back especially since Brian’s brother lives there, but I am not sure if we would spend as much time sightseeing. A lot of the places we saw were great, but not something I am in a rush to see again. I would want to do the tour of the Chinese Theater, and go down to Chinatown. I’d also like to visit the LA Museum, Paramount studios and the Farmers Market, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to go back to the places I saw.

Visiting LA had always been a dream of mine, and I am so glad that I was able do it to on this trip with Brian. We had such a wonderful time and a lot of fun!

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