Well after the luggage debacle in San Antonio I was very anxious that my backpack was going to make it to Los Angeles as there was another connecting flight involved. Thankfully on this occasion I did get to see my backpack at LAX.
As I was staying in a hostel at Santa Monica and had no idea how to get there, I did what anyone would do and jumped into a taxi. In the end it cost me the best part $45 to get there. Thankfully the exchange rate was still in my favour so it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been. The hostel was pretty clean and having an en suite bathroom is a major plus. No midnight corridor runs to the toilet having to remember the card to get back into your room can only be a good thing.
It was a pretty long travel day so that night I just wandered down to the Santa Monica Pier, checking out the lights, plus getting some much-needed fresh air and then walking along the 3rd Street Promenade to find something half decent to eat that wasnt too expensive. Luckily I found a nice Thai chicken curry which filled in the hole nicely. I also enjoyed the musicians playing on the Promenade as well as the Xmas lights on display. One thing the Americans do well are Xmas decorations. They really put an effort in, even if one does have to hear Xmas carols sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks!
Next day was tour of LA day. Had an early pick up at 9:15am. Ok, maybe it’s not that early but seeing as though for the last few weeks I had been getting up near 10:30am this was like getting up at 5am!! Met our driver with the name Danko as he probably had the worst jokes I heard from anyone for a very long time. They weren’t even haha funny, more like groan funny.
Started off with a tour through the streets of hollywood stars houses. It felt kind of weird as essentially they are just normal people and having busloads of tourists coming by taking photos must be totally annoying. I resisted taking photos of most the houses apart from Shaquille O’Neal’s LA pad that he was renting out and the gates to Michael Jackson’s LA residence. Went past one of Brad & Angelina’s places as well as residences of Sheryl Crow, Bill Cosby, Adam Sandler, Kurt Russell & Goldie Hawn, Ringo Starr and Stephen Spielberg.
From there I went to the J.Paul Getty Centre which is a big museum in LA. Holds a lot of the masters artworks but not the level of the Hermitage in St Petersburg but also had an interesting photography exhibit. They also have a garden element around the museum which had outstanding views over the LA area. It was a pleasant stop on this day trip and managed to spend over 3 hours there without being bored out of my brain. For me that’s the sign of a decent of museum.
After that I rejoined the tour and hit Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills for some shopping.. ok, its slightly out of my price range but an interesting walk to see those famous stores. They also spend a small fortune on Xmas Decorations and have to say that Tiffany & Co do the best job of one store I have seen for Xmas. Next stop was Hollywood Boulevard to see the Mann’s Chinese Theatre, with all the hands and footsteps in cement, as well as the stars in the footpath. Also in this place there are so many lookalikes seeking tips for you taking photos of them. Occasionally you have to part with some hard-earned, especially when you see Elmo!
The stars themselves you have to wonder what one needs to do to get one as there is one for Donald Trump. For crying out loud, he has one show on TV!! I didn’t see one for Jeff Probst (host of Survivor) so it seemed a little unreal. However I was stoked to see one for David Hasselhoff. If anyone deserves a star on Hollywood Boulevard it is definitely The Hoff! After that we headed up Mulholland Drive to see the Hollywood sign. From there you got good views of LA and the Hollywood Bowl. It was a very long day of touring the city and I was pretty much stuffed at the end of it and crashed pretty much straight away.
Next day was my trip to Universal Studios. Last time I was there was back in 2003 and was interested to see what had changed. Spent the day with 3 lovely ladies from the Hostel (Lucy, Amy and Nikki) all from Australia and ended up being their personal photographer for the day. Some of the changes I had noticed was the removal of the Back To The Future ride and ET display. They had been replaced with a Simpsons ride and Shrek 4-D. They had also added The Mummy Ride and the House of Horrors and Hollywood Animals show. The old-time favourites of Jurassic Park and the Studio Tour still remain.
The great thing about being there at this time of the year is that there were hardly any queues to any rides and we got to experience everything in the one day apart from the Terminator exhibit. Got to go on the Simpsons ride twice and a couple of the girls rode the Mummy ride a second time. It was such a fun day and what I really needed to help me get through to the end of my trip. Couldnt complain about the company either. They were so upbeat and funny, they kept me laughing all day, although Nikki and Amy’s drooling over Simon Potter (Aussie star in the Waterworld show) was getting to me. Girls, he was only a stuntman, not a real star. Once again I crashed early, maybe it’s age or maybe I am just stuffed!
Well today is the last day of my journey. Made sure I got myself a good sleep then walked from Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach. What a beautiful walk along the beach, through the palm trees and into the market area of Venice Beach. Venice Beach seems to be full of hippies and homeless people. It’s a real contrast to ay other place I have been. So relaxed though. Homelessness seems to be a big problem around the beach areas with numerous people begging for money, food, drinks and many just passed out under palm trees. Whether the Governator can resolve these issues will be the big question. I hope for the area he can as its such a place of beauty.
From there I wandered back into the 3rd Street Promenade area to wander the shops, see the musicians and basically just kill time until sunset.
At sunset I headed back down to the Santa Monica Beach by myself and admired the sunset. Such a peaceful moment for me to reflect on the journey I have had. During this time I did shed quite a few tears which I am man enough to admit to. I guess I just didn’t want it to finish. Think I sat there for about an hour, listening to the waves roll in before heading back to the hostel for my transfer to LAX for departure to Australia.
That’s the end of this trip and I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings about my adventures.