Drive to LA and stay in Hollywood

Trip Start Nov 01, 2009
Trip End Nov 30, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, June 21, 2010


Day 1 Drive to LA - We spent the day driving from Monterey to LA, stopping at various points along the way on highway 1. The route was meant to have stunning coastal views but all we could see was white nothingness as a heavy sea mist set in. This didn’t stop us from stopping at the view points and imagining what was out there, each time commenting on how nice it must look on a clear day. Sometimes we made out the occasional beach or waves crashing on rocks, but it was tough and it all got a bit much for Doog who was so disappointed by the situation that we had an early tea stop in the hope that the mist would clear. Unfortunately, despite stopping for tea and then an early lunch, the mist persisted. We therefore set ourselves a new goal of trying to find an elephant seal colony we had read about.

We knew that the seals were near a lighthouse in an area called Piedras Blancas. On seeing the lighthouse, we saw three cars parked at the side of the road near a sign on the fence saying ‘do not feed the seals’. At the far end of the beach we could see a group of people on some rocks, and so we came to the conclusion that this must be the place, we parked the car and walked the length of the beach.

At the end we didn’t find elephant seal spotters but a group of Chinese people, scraping shellfish off the rocks which they had collected in two big ice boxes. They seemed a little confused why we had walked to where they were standing and explained that further up the road we could find the seal colony. As we left them, we noticed a park ranger walking along the beach towards us. He asked us if we had seen what the Chinese people were up to and what they were collecting, to which Doog said ‘look in the cool boxes’. The ranger carried on but as we left the beach we looked back to see the Chinese group opening empty cool boxes. After spotting the ranger, they had thrown away their catch.

When we drove on a little further, we passed a large car park which was clearly the site of the seal colony judging by the signs, the noises and the smell. We stopped and watched the group of seals as they lay burping, scratching, wobbling, flicking sand on their backs and sparring with each other. Up and down the beach, were males rearing up to each other on their back flippers and then letting their bodies fall towards each other. It was hard to judge who was the toughest sumo wrestler on the beach.

Having spent far too long watching the seals, we got back in the car to continue our journey to LA. We resorted to chanting in an attempt to clear the mist and singing along to Arcade Fire with our very own mist clearing lyrics…sure enough a few miles later the mist began to clear and we could actually see the sea!

Our first stop in LA was at Malibu Beach, which we reached just as the sun had set and found a small car park that was free between sunset and sunrise. There was nobody in the little hut at the gate to the car park, so we parked the car and quickly walked the short distance to the beach. As the sun had already set we didn’t spend too long on the beach and just went and touched the sea before heading back to the car. When we returned to the car we found a ticket on the window screen. On the ticket someone had listed two options, option one was to pay $12 right then by posting the money into a deposit box next to the gate, or option two was not pay and receive an $85 fine later in the post. For $12 we could have parked there the whole day and we were really annoyed that we had to pay for the short time. The sun had already set when we arrived and so the parking should have been free. To make matters worse the cowardly person who must have slithered to and from our car and left the ticket in the cover of darkness was hiding under a stone somewhere. With nobody to talk to we were forced to pay the $12, not wanting to risk the $85 fine.

By now it was pitch black and we still had to drive to our hostel in Hollywood amongst the fast flowing LA traffic on a six lane highway. Doog did really well though and with my excellent navigation skills we got there without a hitch. We arrived at the hostel with our huge backpacks just as a large group of people were leaving for a night out and we struggled to get through the door - as they piled into their awaiting stretched limo.

Feeling very hungry, we went out for dinner at a place called Kitchen 24. Here we saw the typical going out gear for women in LA, which was basically a very short low cut dress that was tighter than it was short, teamed up with high heels. This seemed to be the style of choice for everyone, regardless of what size they were and it left little to the imagination. As we looked at them, wondering how it was even possible to sit down, they must have also looked at us thinking what on earth people wearing fleeces and hiking trousers that can turn into shorts were doing out in LA. At one point however everyone stopped checking each other out and all eyes turned on one guy who walked in for a takeaway looking and dressed exactly like Jesus. It was all too bizarre - we had arrived in Hollywood!


Day 2 LA - Our hostel was on a side street off Hollywood Boulevard, so it was easy for us to start the day with a stroll down the Walk of Fame. It was more fun than expected spotting names from Tom Jones to Kermit the frog, and the likes of Frank Sinatra (who had two stars) and Sly Stallone. Michael Jackson had flowers next to his star in honour of the anniversary of his death. 

As we walked I managed to find an amazing vintage clothes shop and saw an opportunity to buy some jeans. The pair I had had been using constantly for the last six months had started to get a bit thread-bare on the bottom to the point where I was worried they may split at any moment.

Elsewhere on Hollywood Boulevard we visited the Kodak Theatre, home of the Oscars and the Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Outside the Chinese Theatre were hand prints and footprints for the stars - and wand and dreadlock prints in the case of the Harry potter crew and Whoopie Goldberg. Next to the Kodak Theatre, in a shopping mall, we caught our first sight if the famous Hollywood sign. Unexpectedly, it caught us both by surprise and sent of a buzz of excitement through us - even though (or maybe because) we had seen it loads of times on T, it was brilliant to see it for real. We took the obligatory photographs before going to get some lunch.

After lunch, we caught the bus (yes - there is public transport in LA) to Robertson Boulevard, which we had read was one of the main shopping streets. It wasn’t quite the honey pot for the stars as we had been led to believe, but it did have a shop called ‘Wrap it Up’ at the south end of the street, which I loved. It was a second hand shop with a twist - all the clothes had been used in films or TV shows. Every clothing item had a label with a code on it and all around the shop were lists detailing the code and what show or film they represented. We walked around the shop looking at all the codes and found clothes from Spiderman, Batman, CSI, Ugly Betty and the Hannah Montana show. I could have spent the whole day in there but we had other places to go…such as Rodeo Drive. I did however mange to find an Armani top for $3 which had been used on some US TV series.

From ‘Wrap it Up’ we walked to Rodeo Drive. As we made our way there my love of Pretty Woman hit fever pitch and I was coming out with quotes left, right and centre - Doog was wondering what I was going on about half the time! The first part of Rodeo Drive was all residential, which was a little unexpected. The houses were all beautiful and we decided it wouldn’t be a bad address to have. Eventually, however, we reached the designer shops…all I could think of as we passed them was "Big mistake. Big. Huge!"Like most of the other people there, we didn’t actually go in any of the shops, but just walked up and down catching glimpses through open doors and windows at what treasures lay behind. Many of the shops had photos of Hollywood A-listers wearing their clothes, shoes or jewellery on the red carpet. Amongst all the designer label shops was a shop that sold safes so that after securing your newest purchase you had somewhere secure to keep it. The nearest we got to actually spotting a star out shopping was spotting a shiny bright yellow Rolls Royce parked outside one of the shops that clearly belonged to someone with a lot of money, the owner however never turned up.

Near Rodeo Drive was the hotel used in Pretty Woman, the Regent Beverly Wilshire, and after imagining what it was like inside we came back to reality and took the bus back to Hollywood Boulevard., which we walked down once again looking at the stars on the pavement until we got back to our hostel.

It was our last night in the US, so we treated ourselves to another Denny’s, which Doog had taken a real liking to, something that most people we met on our travels didn‘t understand. After dinner, we went to the hostel’s bar and watched what had been advertised as an ‘openmic night’. A guy in our dorm, who had come to Hollywood to go to singing college, was keen to get up there and do a bit of Hip Hop/RnB, but the whole night was a bit of a set up and only the friends of the hostel had their chance to sing. When a string broke on one guy’s guitar (he was the bar man’s friend), he had the cheek to ask one the hopefuls in the audience if he could borrow their guitar to carry on, using up way more time than was fair. We hung around a while and chatted with people but decided to call it a night at 12pm, with the knowledge that we had to had an early start the next day to watch the England v Slovenia game - a must win for England for them to make it past the group stages.


Day 3 LA - We got up at 6 am and sleepily made our way to the hostel bar for the big TV screens to watch the England game. There were seven English and one Welsh man in the bar, and we had all got there early to prevent any Americans trying to watch the USA v Algeria which was being shown at the same time.

It was an exhausting game to watch, as so far all the England games had been, with England creating very few chances. Thankfully, Defoe scored in the 23rd minute and after a very nervy second half the score remained 1-0 to England - we were through! The USA also made it through the group stages with an injury time goal, which got the American presenters that were meant to be analysing the England game talking about the USA game instead. Doog and I could hardly bear any more of the American ’soccer’ commentary, which was full of ridiculously phrases (to the English at least!) .

Doog made a list of the most annoying football Americanisms we had heard throughout the World Cup coverage so far, with the hope that writing them down would stop him thinking about them.

Some of Doog’s pet hates of US football commentary and presenting:
-referring to the English squad as British and the fans as Brits relentlessly
-calling the goal keeper ‘goal tender’ and after a good save saying ‘that was great tendering’
-explaining that the goal tender was the only player of the team that could touch the ball with his hands (is it really necessary to say this?)
-‘a draw is apparently a good result in soccer’ (said after the Mexico v South Africa game)
- repeatedly saying ’offence’ and ’defence’ and ‘that was a great play’
- ‘Ghana, a country that gained it’s independence from the United Kingdon just 53 years ago, win a game at the World Cup’ (said after Ghana won in the group stages)
- referring to a penalty as a ‘P-K’
- ‘Doesn’t Beckham play for the US?’ (not actually said by a presenter but by a girl sat next us, good enough to make the cut!)

After the stress of watching England play, we checked out of the hostel overhearing the two American guys on reception talking about the World Cup with comments such as ‘What will the world think if we actually win this thing?’ We then spent the rest of the morning doing jobs like posting more stuff home.

After buying a map of the star’s homes from a machine on a street corner of Hollywood Boulevard for $5, we decided to take a drive around Beverly Hills to see if we could find any of the celebrity houses…such as David Beckham, Tom Cruise and Jessica Alba. We discovered that Beverly Hills isn’t that easy to navigate your way around and it was really hard to find specific houses, although we did see Avril Lavigne’s bungalow and Beckham’s postbox. It actually felt really weird going around trying to find people’s houses like a member of the paparazzi…Doog even had the long lens on our camera. We realised that it would have been better to have done the $25 tour, where at least then you are in a group so it doesn’t feel quite so weird. After getting lost a few times and finding ourselves in Bel Air we still had some time before we needed to take back the hire car. We drove to the Getty Centre, but unfortunately it was closed when we got there. With no more ideas of what to do in the time we had left, and seeing that the traffic in LA had become very heavy, We decided to set off to the airport early. We successfully returned the hire car without bumps or scratches and I think Doog was quite relieved to hand over the keys…although it was the end of our US road trip which made us both feel a little sad.

We spent the next 5 hours in LAX airport, spending lots of time looking around the shops, getting something to eat, reading etc. On going through security, a rather large guy was struggling to get his belt through the loop holes of his trousers and asked Doog if he could help him. I found it very hard not to laugh as Doog helped with the belt, negotiating the builder’s bum that was making an appearance from the top of the guy’s of our last memories of the USA!

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