Day 18 | Hollywood, Los Angeles

Up at the crack of dawn, no really we did get up early and off to the complementary breakfast at the hotel. HORROR the pancake machine was broken – not happy. Bacon, scrambled eggs, biscuits they call them (scones, actually), toast, bagels, English muffins, cereal, yoghurt, boiled eggs???  Twas okay but not the usual standard. Still, faster to get out to the tour eating in the hotel.

Our hotel is really nice and in a great location for Hollywood. The free WiFi is terrible and almost impossible to access which is rather frustrating – especially when trying to upload one’s blog!!

Down to reception to wait for the bus. On we hop and off we go, our guide is ‘Marco’ from Italy. He was great, full of useful information and a sense of humour. Most of the people on our tour were Australians, funny, a couple from Germany, a couple from Sweden and one guy from Malaysia.

On the way from Hollywood we passed the oilfields which are still operating which look out of place in the city.

We started off in Marina Del Rae. Apparently with 6000 boats makes it the biggest marina in the world. Looks a bit like all the big ones in New Zealand but this one was started by the Spanish in the 1600s.

Then its Venice beach, the experience is one thing the place is another. Filthy is one word to describe the place, numerous homeless people and tacky market stalls. It’s a shame as you can see how amazing the place could be. We saw Muscle Beach. The place was just waking up and in the 30 minutes we were there it got a lot busier. Everything looked like it was sticky and needed a good clean (including the stall-holders).

The Venice suburbs were quite nice. Historically the area was criss-crossed with canals but most have been filled in from the 1950s. Here, Marco told us his story about his ex-girlfriend who came home drunk and fired rounds from his handgun during and argument until the police came. He said it was okay as she was from Argentina and had a part in the TV show ER.

Back on the bus and a drive around the area a bit. We did a drive past Santa Monica and saw the beach were they filmed Baywatch – 100 times nicer and cleaner than Venice Beach and only just around the corner. The bays are all connected by a wide concrete path on the deep sand beach. We passed Gold’s Gym.

Next we head into Central Los Angeles. We saw some buildings that had featured in movies and we stopped at Olivera Street and oooh shopping. Rosie bought a leather bag from one of the markets. Also we saw the oldest fire station in LA (that’s for you Norm). It was in the Olivera St area which is all Spanish and the first street in LA when it was called El Pueblo de Los Angeles by the Spanish and declared a city in 1781. On the way back to the strip we slowed past the flats used in the movie Pretty Woman.

Back on the bus and its back to Hollywood for lunch – we have an hour. We eat at a wrap place which was really nice. Quick look around the massive shopping centre we are eating at (which happens to be right around the corner from our hotel). Then back on the bus for the afternoon tour round the celebrity homes.

Heading into Mulholland Drive we drive up a hill, what an amazing view of the ‘Hollywood’ sign and of LA. The weather was amazing too – we must have hit about 34 today.

We saw the homes of Justin Timberlake, Denise Richards and Jean-Claude Van Damm then we drive into Beverley Hills to see some more houses, this suburb was so pretty and beautiful. We see the homes of Posh and Beck and also next door Tom Cruise and Katie Homes.  Apparently they are great friends. I can just imagine Tom Cruise explaining Scientology to David Beckham and him saying “pull the uv’er one, Tommo, it’s got bells on!”

We saw where Frank Sinatra died and also Lucielle Ball’s last home. We saw the house that Michael Jackson died in as well. Apparently he was paying $100k a week to stay there as he had money trouble. There was a lot of people there taking pictures as it is in the news at the moment.

Next Rodeo Drive and had 20 min there to look around. It is a funny place here, the contrast of the homeless people and the most expensive shopping in the world. All the shops look like they are just trying to look the part. Deserted and shiny. One block back and they are the same chain stores as anywhere and have a sale on. In the street there was a Bugatti Veyron and an Audi R8 which Marco had to point out – very Italian interest in cars.

After our wander we got back on the bus for our trip home and were dropped right back at our hotel. We were so hot we decided to go for a swim in the pool (which was very cold). After a quick change it was out for some dinner.

We eat at a place called Koji’s Sushi & Shabu Shabu Restaurant – very cool place. You have a hot pot on a hotplate in front of you and you dip in your food to cook it. Rosie had a cherry cocktail which was delicious.

As we leave we see there is a huge crowd of people and a stage, we asked some people and found out they are waiting for JLo to make an appearance – so us being the celebrity spotters that we are take up a place and wait for 15 minutes (most others had been waiting hours) and then she arrives. It was very exciting with all the hype. She was donating an outfit to some thing or other and was very gracious with the fans. Every time she turned to them the multiple camera flashes made it almost impossible to see anything.

Lovely stroll back to the hotel and we will have an early night. Beside the mall the road was choked with shiny black SUVs and limousines from JLo’s entourage.

Off to Universal Studio tomorrow - can't wait.

Highlights of the day

O’Regan – sleeping on the bus in between stops and the tour guide. 
McKay – listening to ‘Marco’ the tour guide. 
Rosie – seeing some of the most amazing homes, seeing the house where they filmed the end of the movie Pretty Women, and also the hotel where it ends. 
Angus – Marco and his hypnotising Italian accent, I can’t stop imitating it (“she finds and fieer myee Glock, fieeve or seecks raounds into roof unteel Policeman come, sokay, I see hur every time I see that ER”)

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