Day 33 – Los Angeles

Breakfast was an individual room affair, some of us ordering room service (La di da Kelly) while others ate watery milky cereal from a plastic bowl with a plastic spoon (Pauline and I care of our whole foods visit the night before). We decided to drive over to Hollywood and park at the Kodak Centre instead of using the car provided by the hotel – primarily because there is eight of us.

Arriving at the Kodak Center we found the tour buses and hopped aboard the one that was next to leave. Unfortunately the one we hopped on didn’t have working audio to describe what we were seeing. The broken system meant that at every stop or red light, the driver had to run upstairs and yell out what we were looking at. It wasn’t an ideal way to tour Hollywood but it was living up to our normal experiences of hop on hop off buses. I made light of the situation by making shit up in an american accent for my family, which had us laughing for a while with my absurd stories of how Britney Spears jumped off that nightclub roof but landed perfectly doing the splits.

Whisky a Go Go:

Whisky a Go Go

The bus took us down Sunset Strip where we saw huge guitar stores where Slash probably bought his axe, the Chateau Marmont where John Belushi died, the Whisky A Go Go where The Doors played and the Viper Room where sadly it is no longer known for being Johnny Depp’s club but  for the fact that River Phoenix died on the sidewalk.

Chateau Marmont:

Chateau Marmont Hotel

The Troubadour:

Troubadour

The Viper Room:

The Viper Room where River Phoenix died

After touring the rock and roll part of town we turn in to the rich celebrity playground of Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. The driver races up to show us where Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown used to live, the impressive police station of Beverly Hills that looks more like a City Hall and the Beverly Wilshire hotel where Julia Roberts serviced Richard Gere in Pretty Woman.

Beverly Hills sign:

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills Police Station:

Beverly Hills Police Station

Pauline, Kelly and Mat on the Hop on Hop off bus:

Pauline, Kelly and Mat in Beverly Hills

Rodeo Drive:

Rodeo Drive

Fiona, Kelly, Mat, Pauline and I got off at the La Brea Tarpits leaving Sue, Mum and Madonna to go ahead to the Farmers Markets where we would meet them later. La Brea Tarpits is something I’ve always wanted to see simply because it has been wrapped in a Disney mystique for me since I was a child. The cartoons of a woolly mammoth and saber tooth tiger hanging around a pool of tar was just so foreign to me – even now it seems odd that something like that is just in the middle of the city. We didn’t want to pay to go to the museum, so essentially all we did was visit the gift shop, take some photos of the pit and get on the next hop on hop off bus.

La Brea Tar Pits:

La Brea Tar Pits

Our next stop was the Farmers Markets for lunch. Originally just a bunch of markets, it has been extended in to an upmarket Disneyworld type shopping centre. Music is piped from trees, fountains release some cooling properties and a tram runs it’s way down the main street. We made a beeline for the old foodie area and chowed down on some american style foods. Pauline had ribs with potato and mac & cheese, while I had a kick ass ham sandwich with potato salad. Pauline was excited to be able to have a beer in the middle of a market without an issue – something that Australian businesses aren’t really allowed to do thanks to some harsh liquor licensing rules. I’ve seen lots of paparazzi photos of celebrities hanging out here, but alas we saw none. Did find an awesome retro 50s store though which I was tempted by.

The Farmers Market and tram:

LA Farmers Market

Pauline’s rib lunch:

Ribs, potato salad, pasta and bread for Pauline's lunch

Pauline enjoying her beer:

Pauline enjoys beer at the farmers markets

The seating in the markets:

LA Farmers markets

The disneyland type Grove:

The Grove

We wandered the shopping complex for a while and met up with Mum, Madonna and Sue along the way. After they were blown away by the crazy custom made doll store at the Grove we got back on the bus to finish the tour. It took us past all the big studios like CBS and Paramount where all the movie stars worked and then past the Hollywood Forever cemetery where they all go to die. Melrose Avenue was a great strip – a shopping street that appealed very much to my style – a little bit alternative and enough coffee shops to keep me happy. Alas, we were on a timetable which meant that we couldn’t get off. I took note of Canter’s Deli and Pink’s hotdogs for later then got back off the bus in Hollywood.

Melrose Avenue:

Sportie LA on Melrose

Paramount studios:

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Hollywood Forever Cemetery:

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The others wanted to tour the streets of Hollywood, but Pauline and I decided not to partake as we had done that on our last trip. Instead she and I immediately jumped on another tour bus to downtown to take a look around the city since we had never actually visited the city of Los Angeles. The ride took us in a mini bus to Olvera Street Plaza where a mexican festival was going on. We had to wait 30 or so minutes to catch the hop on hop off double decker bus around downtown, so while waiting we walked down to Union Station to check out yet another beautiful train station. This one has a mission style outer with beautiful arches inside. Walking to the station was a little bit scary though. There was a bunch of yellow tape blocking the walkway with a shoe on the ground and a bunch of big insects circling the shoe. A cop/security guard was nearby. In my head, this is LA so this was the result of a gang shooting, but the reality was something more lame like bees were living in the garden and bit someone who was allergic. No idea in the end why the tape was there, but it was intriguing.

Olvera Street:

Velarde's Fruit Stand in Olvera St Plaza

Union Station Los Angeles:

Union Station in Los Angeles

Inside Union Station:

Union Station in Los Angeles

Shoe, security and insects:

A shoe, flies and yellow tape at Union Square

Back at the plaza we got on the bus that was finally ready to leave and took a tour down Broadway. Not the active and theatre driven Broadway of New York, but the tin pan alley neglected $1 stores of Los Angeles. The street is one of the oldest in Los Angeles and used to be the place to go see movies with an incredible amount of  theatres all in the same street. These beautiful art-deco buildings that were built in the early 1900s are standing there neglected and ignored. In any other city in the world these places would be celebrated and revered, but here they are like how I imagine 1970s NY times square was – dirty, cheap and drugridden. In one way I want to celebrate the fact that it has avoided attempts for gentrification, but at the same time I am pleased to learn that there are atttempts underway to revitalize the area. Of course, the question then is where do all the $1 shops go?

Los Angeles theatre:

Los Angeles Theatre

Cop, Caddy and cheap shit:

Cadillac in Downtown LA with a Cop

Eastern Columbia Building:

Eastern Columbia Building

The bus took us past the the Fashion District, Staples Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall then in to China Town. China Town didn’t seem that busy and I suspect it may have had it’s day, but it has a great two dragon entrance. After the one hour bus trip we hopped off at the plaza again, just in time to see some mariachis dropped off by mini van with their guitars. Also saw two girls singing their hearts out to the crowd in the plaza – the new Britney Spears? It was bloody hot sitting there waiting to catch the mini bus back to Hollywood. I wasn’t really impressed with Starline’s directions at the plaza – we mostly had to figure times out all by ourselves – they could have done a bit more organization around the bus synchronizations.

Staples Center:

Staples Center

Walt Disney Concert Hall:

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Chinatown Entrance/Exit:

Chinatown Entrance

Back in Hollywood we met up with Kelly and Mat who had stayed behind to catch a ride with us, since the others had taken the other car back to the hotel. We all had a rest for a while, then decided to head up to Griffith Observatory to check out Los Angeles from up high. I finally got to drive the Dodge Nitro with Sue and Fiona while Madonna, Kelly and Mat took the Rav4. Mum and Pauline decided to stay back at the hotel. Our drive to the Observatory was strange in that we were suddenly directed to take a detour through a tunnel. It was dark and tight and just at the end as we were coming out another car came from the other direction forcing me to me over a  little. Somehow I managed to get a little to close to the side causing the side mirror to bend in and smash. It was loud and scared the shit out of Fiona since it was her side that got hit. I swore a lot, got annoyed with myself and then glad we’d gotten the full insurance. Wasn’t looking forward to telling Pauline though.

After parking the car we walked up to the observatory meeting up with the others on the way. The observatory is a stunning building that featured heavily in the movie “Rebel without a cause“. I had great fun taking night photos of LA with the observatory, but had lots more fun when we played with the night portrait settings on the camera. Managed to get some shots of Kelly and Madonna pretending to be on drugs in LA. Very funny. The observatory was closing shortly after we arrived, so we didn’t get to spend too long there, so we headed off to Pink’s to get some late dinner.

Broken Mirror:

Broken side mirror thanks to Amy

Griffith Observatory:

View of LA from Griffith Observatory

Kelly, Mat, Madonna, Fiona and Sue at the Griffith Observatory:

Kelly, Mat, Madonna, Fiona and Sue at Griffith Observatory

Madonna and Kelly tripping in LA:

Madonna and Kelly tripping in LA

Pink’s is a hot dog institution of LA, where celebrities are known to line up just like everyone else to get their dogs. While waiting in line Auntie Sue suddenly got a text from Joan asking if she was ok after the earthquake. We were like what earthquake? Turns out that an earthquake had occurred while we were on our way to the observatory. Mum was in the shower when it happened but she just thought the shower moved. Pauline was in the lounge room when it happened and wasn’t quite sure if it was one since it wasn’t that big. She tried ringing mum to see if she noticed it but Mum of course didn’t answer being in the shower. I claimed that the earthquake must have happened when I smashed the mirror because it turns out it did happen around that time. It was really quite a weird experience with the mirror and being in a tunnel that went through the mountain it would surprise me if something did move.

Earthquake!:

Earthquake!

Pink’s hotdogs:

Pinks Hot Dogs

Laughing about the fact that we were in an earthquake and didn’t even notice we ordered our hotdogs to go and headed back to the hotel. I had ordered one for Pauline too so had to deliver it. The reputation of Pink’s is well deserved because those dogs are damn good. I loved the chilli and onion and the actual meat is just brilliant. Oh I want one now. I went to bed satisfied that I had ticked off a huge amount of Los Angeles cliches in one day.

A delicious Pink’s hotdog:

Pinks Hot Dogs

For more photos, check out the Flickr set.

For Kelly’s version of events, check out her matching day blog post.

Tweets of the Day:

@Kelsbells la di da! Meanwhile I’m eating cereal from a coffee mug using a plastic spoon.
Foggy morning in la today.  http://twitpic.com/5daww
It is very annoying to go on a hop on hop off bus tour without any audio.
@matthew_hall I’ve got it bookmarked now. Thanks! 🙂
Just saw the la brea tarpit but we didn’t want to pay $7 to see the skeletons. Satisfied with the tar smell.
Lunch at the farmers market. Thus far I’ve had some good food in LA. Shame La is so spread out though. http://twitpic.com/5dtyf
Shopping at the grove is like shopping in Disneyland but with stores like gap and banana republic. Music is piped through the pot plants!
Really liked union station in LA. Starting to make a habit out of visiting grand railway stations.
@j3thr0 yes. There was Latin music in the square which was good.
Lining up for a pinks hot dog after visiting Griffith observatory. We have all the tourist spots covered.  http://twitpic.com/5ev1t
I suspect the earthquake may have been at the exact moment the passenger side mirror broke on the hire car as we were going through a tunnel
The lineup was worth it, Pinks hotdogs are kickass. They have that crack of a good hotdog when you bite in to the sausage.  I want another.
@iusebiro Very! Lucky we got full insurance!

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