Everybody goes to Hollywood

Trip Start Jul 27, 2003
Trip End Jul 26, 2004

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, August 31, 2003

Hi all,
Sorry this is a bit late but we are now on Island Time and life has a much slower pace!!

This is an update from LA and then I will get this week on tomorrow or the next day - whenever!

Thursday 28th August - continued
We got off the train about 7pm and our hotel for just one night was just a few blocks from the station in Little Tokyo on the esge of downtown LA. We checked in and then checked out the local area. There was a Japanese shopping centre called Tokyo Mall which was full of Japanese restaurants and shops. We found a little restaurant and ordered a combination plate and some Edamame (for the Yo-Below memories). Our combination plate consisted of Miso Soup followed by Chicken Terryaki, Mixed Tempura, rice, ginger and some sushi. We also got tea and ice cream included. The options of ice cream were Green Tea flavour or Rocky Road, we took the Rocky Road option!! It was delicious and really good value as there was so much competition in the immediate area.

Friday 29th August
We got up and checked out of the hotel and wandered the ten blocks to our next hotel The Hyatt Regency where we would be staying for the next two days. We checked in and headed to the nearby Public Library and signed up for another Library Card. We booked a couple of hours on the internet to do Travelpod and check emails and look at some sites for our next leg of our journey. We had a car booked for 5pm today for two days collecting from the airport. So we thought we would wait to get it before exploring LA. We had a wander round downtown and then got the Metro to the airport for just $1.60. We jumped on the Hertz Shuttle at the airport and collected our car.

Driving in LA is pretty easy as their are many freeways and the streets run for miles across town so you can always jump on a street and head towards downtown if you felt lost. We decided to first got to Santa Monica Boulevard and check out Rodeo Drive and the Regent beverly Wilshire made famous in Pretty Woman which sits at the bottom of Rodeo Drive. Rodeo Drive is pretty short but pretty crammed with designer shops. We took a drive up and ticked that box! We then headed upto Sunset Strip which is odd because one minute you are driving amongst plush houses and then you are in the middle of the ghetto with grotty motels that you can rent by the hour and takeout shops. We passed some trendy restaurants and bars including The Viper Room which Johnny Depp owns and where more famously River Pheonix died after a drug overdose. We cruised down Sunset Strip for a while and then headed back to the hotel before it got too late and the only people that were cruising Sunset Strip weren't tourists if you know what I mean!

Saturday 30th August
Today we went in search of a 1 hour photo place before you lot send me anymore emails asking me when I am going to post up some photos!! We found a Wallgreen and dropped off our films. We headed from there to see The Holllywood sign which you could see from where we were but we thought we could take a drive up the mountains for a better view. We headed to The Griffith Observatory to get a view. You can't get close to the sign as there is no trail and it is now a World Heritage site. We had a good enough view from here. Each letter is 45 foot tall and the "H" was used in the suicide of a disappointed actress who jumped off the "H" in 1932. We took a picture, ticked another box and moved on. We went to pick up our photos and then headed to Grand Central Market in downtown. It is a really cool indoor market which has been around since 1917. There are loads of cheap fruit stalls and butchers selling goats heads and tripe among the more mainstream meat. There are also lots of little cafes and food stands. We were recommended to go to China Cafe for Chow Mein as it serves good, cheap food since 1930. We sat at the bar and ordered a plate of Chow Mein each for just $2.50 each and a couple of bottles of Corona. It was lovely.

We then went to check out Hollywood Boulevard home of Manns Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame. Both were nothing special. The Walk of Fame was two miles of sometime dark sidewalk. It was fairly glitzy at the top end but then by the time you walked down you were alongside dodgy parking lots. There are more than 200 stars set into the sidewalk. It costs $7,500 "installation" fee for a star and you have to be approved by The Chamber of Commerce. We ticked the box for here and quickly moved on. We headed back to the hotel really looking forward to our flight tomorrow.

Sunday 31st August
We packed our bags all ready for the flight tonight. We loaded up the car and checked out. We took a drive upto Santa Monica Bay and headed through Bel Air en route which had some pretty amazing houses. We drove up the coast road along Santa Monica Beach which looked really familiar after the Baywatch series was filmed here. We went down to the beach for a while which was pretty crowded. We didn't stay long as we knew in 12 hours we would in The Cook Islands and we were sure the beach there would be nicer!! We got back in the car and headed down to Venice Beach which was much the same. We continued down Route 1 until eventually we hit the airport. We went to The POst Office and sent home some postacrds. We then went to the Hertz rental and returned our car. We caught the free shuttle to Terminal 2 which was pretty small with just a couple of coffee shops and a newsagent. We changed our money into New Zealand Dollars for The Cook ISlands and got some Fiji Dollars for Fiji which have our Queenie on them which was a bit weird. The New Zealand money is plastic not paper to beat counterfeiters which is cool.

We headed to the Newsagent and read OK and Hello magazines and were pretty soon called for our Air New Zealand flight to Rarotonga, the largest of The Cook Islands. The plane was pretty old with just 3 TVs suspended from the ceiling. The food though was amazing and by far the best plane food we had ever had. We were right at the back of the plane with a guy called Nick from New Zealand who had been travelling around Canada and doing Camp America and he was staying at Varas which was the same place we had booked. There were also other travellers behind us from Woodbridge in Suffolk and we were all chatting which really made it feel like we were just starting our trip (really travelling!!). No more hotels, taxis and fancy restaurants from here on in. We have had our holiday and now we have to live cheaper than we have been and I was so looking forward to it. This is the beginning!!

We had a 12 hour flight with a 2 hour wait in Tahiti Airport Lounge. We got back on the plane at 5am to a Bucks Fizz breakfast.

That is the States done and our first coutry conquered. I had a brilliant time in the States and will never generalise about America again as it is a million countries in one. It has some of the nicest cities with Boston and San Francisco. It has some of the nicest countryside in New Hampshire, Louisisana and California and it definately has the friendliest people in most places. I have enjoyed it but am now ready to move on and see some more of this world that gets smaller by the day!!

Thats it for now I will try and get the next week done in the next day or so but we have had a good time here so far and met so many people its just a different experience.

Hope you are all well
Take care
Liz and Simon xxxxxxx
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