Out and about in Hollywood and Santa Monica

Trip Start Nov 11, 2008
Trip End Jan 06, 2009

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Santos house

Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, January 3, 2009

Day 54

Saturday January 3rd

It's been a busy few days... I think I've seen more of L.A. in the last few days as most residents see in their whole life.And I'm going back again tomorrow.

As I mentioned in my last entry, I did a tour of Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Bel Air on new years eve. I'd wanted to do the whole tacky, touristy bus tour experience since I got out here but not had time until now, and it was a lot of fun. I boarded the small mini-van on Hollywood Blvd outside Graumann's Chinese Thetre, where countless characters were conning tourists out of their spare change to pose for photos. I spotted Elvis, Michael Jackson (he said 'hey gorgeous' to me, hmmm no thanks!), Elmo, Big Bird, Tinkerbell, Jack Sparrow, the Joker, Batman & Robin, the Scream mask man and loads more, but I didn't pose with any of them as my tour guide warned us that some of them are creepy, especially one of the Jack Sparrow's who is too touchy feely with the ladies, a smelly Spiderman who hides in trash cans then jumps out on people and a Marilyn Monroe who show's she's not actually a woman when her white dress blows up...

I sat up front in the van along side the tour guide driver, a woman around thirty who had lots of interesting anecdotes about stars she had spotted on previous tours and infamous places around Hollywood. It was a warm sunny day, perfect for a nice two-hour drive, although the smog level was pretty bad so the view of the city from the hills wasn't too clear.

We drove up Sunset Blvd first, away from the seedy touristy end and towards the famous 'Sunset Strip' end where all the best nightspots and expensive houses are. The tour guide pointed out several famous hotspots such as the Roxy, Houseof Blues, Whisky a Go Go, the Viper Room and posh hotel Chateau Marmont. She also pointed out the hot dog place where Elvis used to regularly go and the street corner where Hugh Grant was arrested back in the 90s. We then drove around the residential areas where all the million dollar mansions of the stars past and present are, starting in West Hollywood then zig-zagging around Beverly Hills, Bel Air then up Mulholland Drive into the Hollywood Hills.

The houses were all so amazing, I didn't have one favourite as they were all pretty impressive... even one of the smaller (ie 4 bedroom) houses would do me nicely thanks! The tour guide pointed out countless star's houses, I can't remember every single one but they included the girls from The Hills (I took a photo especially for Heather hehe), the Beckhams (sorry mum but I had to take a photo, it was a nice house!), the Osbourne's old house where their show was filmed (now owned by Christina Agulera), Snoop Dogg (the house opposite him is currently being rented by Michael Jackson, we saw his bodyguards and some photographers outside), several fashion designers (the Guess guy had some very nice cars), Dr Phill, Richard Gere, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air house, the 9-5 house, the Beverly Hills Cop police station and many more.

We made two stops on the tour - the first at Greystone Mansion, a huuuuge house in Beverly Hills (next to the Beckham's) owned by the city which is often rented out for movie shoots and private events. Many big films such as Batman, The Holiday and The Bodyguard were filmed there. We got to walk around the grounds, although with only 10 minutes we only saw a very small area as it was so huge. The gardens were beautiful and so were the views of the city. We also made a stop towards the top of Mulholland Drive, up in the Hollywood hills underneath the famous Hollywood sign. I tried taking photos although the warm hazy weather and the snog made it difficult to capture the amazing view.

I went into LA again yesterday, as Amanda and Chris had the day off work and suggested going into Santa Monica. The drive up there was pretty quick, although we drove around for ages afterwards trying to find a nice restaurant to eat in, but we didn't mind as we got to see loads of different parts of the city.

Santa Monica is a beach town centred around the shops and restaurants on Santa Monica Blvd/3rd St/Wilshire Bld. It's also a very Bristish area, with several Bristish shops, traditional English pubs and even Indian restaurants that smelled like proper Indian food... it was like being back home but with palm trees. I heard several Bristish accents and one of the shops was even playing Hard Fi, all the way from good old Staines. We hit the shops and I got some nice stuff in Zara, as they are a lot cheaper here than back home (don't be jealous, James!)

We walked up to the beach front and looked at the view of the ocean and of the famous amusement pier. But being a bit of an overcast day and being hungry, we skipped the beach in favour of driving around to have some dinner. After passing two restaurants we'd looked up that were actually closed, we went to a favourite Italian place of Amanda's in Echo Park, which was really nice.We then went back into Hollywood and went for cocktails in the Beauty Bar, a bar where you can get your nails done for $10 which also includes a cocktail... bargain. I chose a nice coral colour, it looks so pretty. After a quick stop at the amazing Hollywood record store Amoeba (where I have spent a lot of money in the last couple of months!) we drove back to Orange County to meet Paul and Elizabeth and have a Singstar night. It was a lot of fun and it was good to play the US version of the game as it's a bit different to the UK one which I have played sooo many times!

Today I have been very lazy and just watched TV and eaten Thai food and peanut butter M&M's, but Paul has just got in from work so we should be doing something tonight. While on Facebook today I discovered that it's been absolutley freezing and that Celeb Big Brother has just started... remind me again why I've been out of the country for 2 months?!? But bad weather and bad TV aside, it will be nice to get back home and catch up with everything and everyone I've missed!
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