Gangsters Paradise!

Trip Start Aug 15, 2005
Trip End Dec 21, 2005

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, September 22, 2005

Wednesday 21st September 2005

The overnight train journey to Los Angeles wasn't too bad. Our last Amtrak journey in the states! Mandy drove us to the Amtrak station in Tucson (thanks Mandy!) which was about 13 miles from the house. The ticket machine wasn't printing at the station so the guy behind the counter told us we would have to get off half way through the journey at the next main station to get our tickets....not good! Our train was due to leave Tucson at 11.59 pm but as suspected didn't arrive until 12.30 am....typical Amtrak! We got on carriage 1 which was actually a lot more comfortable than previous carriages, the seats seemed bigger and as there wasn't many people Dan and I had a double seat each. I got my sleeping bag out and we pretty much slept for the duration, the train did stop at one point and some French lads got on making a racket chopping and changing seats but the 10 hour journey seemed to fly, probably because it was overnight and Mandy had tired us out walking round the desert museum that day. I woke at 6.50 am, Dan was still sleeping. The sun was rising and the view out of the window was like we were still in the desert. We stopped a couple of times on the track (to let the frieght trains through). The whole of the area as far as I could see was flat and you could get a great view of the hazy mountains in the distance. As the morning went on and I was sat listening to my ipod, I could see it was going to be a lovely sunny day. We drove through hundreds of turbines at one point, the mountains were lined with them. We arrived in downtown L.A, Union Station at 11 am, 50 minutes later than scheduled but we were in no rush so it didn't matter. We walked through the station and grabbed a yellow cab which took us to our hotel near the airport. We decided to stay at the airport as it had a free shuttle bus to take us there tomorrow as we leave for Fiji so just a brief stopover. The hotel was nice enough and had a pool and was directly across from places to eat and the public library. We nipped in for 15 minutes at a time free internet access to catch up on a few emails and stopped for a quick bite to eat. We have all day tomorrow so decided to take a tour of Los Angles. The city is just so big it would be hard to see everything so we took the option to see it all in a day tomorrow and booked our tickets. The nice guy on concierge gave us a discount for travellers! We went back to our hotel room where there was breaking news of a plane that had taken off from Burbank heading for New York when it's front wheel was turned the wrong way, after a few hours of decision making they did an emergency landing at Los Angles (LAX) and we were right there! We nipped into the hotel restaurant for tea and I scrubbed up a nice chicken caesar salad and dan an sandwich with a bottle of Corona! We have long day tomorrow.

Thursday 22nd September 2005

We woke this morning quite early. I set a wake up call for 7.15 am. We were checking out at 9 am to catch our tour bus for the day. My Aunty Wendy called this morning and it was so lovely to speak to her, and also Liz...cheers guys.
We had hardly unpacked so we checked out about 8.35 am and went for a $7 eat what you can breakfast, we didn't have long so stuffed, toast, cereal and lots of melon washing it down with juice and coffee. We nipped out to the main entrance and got on the tour bus.
We started first of all by making our way down Century Boulevard to downtown L.A, we drove on the freeway over Compton, home of the gangsters Cribs. We were told that if we were to hire a car NOT to go down in this area! Dan was loving all this of course! Our first stop off was Disney Hall and the Music Center, Disney Hall was a strange shaped building all shiny reflecting the sun. IT was only a 10 minute stop but enough to have a brief look around. Just where we parked, the roads were being coned off and they were starting to set up the film set for an upcoming film called Dick and Jane starring Jim Carey, it was all getting very exciting!
We got back on the bus and drove past City Hall (where batman was filmed), past the courthouse where the O.J Simpson trial was held. Our next stop was the oldest Hotel in L.A Pico House (the bus driver told us Mr & Mrs Smith had scenes filmed there but I haven't seen it so can't comment!). There was a cool little street filled with Mexican stalls selling gifts so we had a quick walk down there too where we got our postcards.
The bus then continued on down the hightway near the spot where Michael Douglas go out of his car and beat up the gang members in the film 'falling down' (Dan told me this!). Other stops were the Kodak Theatre (we only saw it outside), Mann's Chinese Theatre where the famous handprints and footprints are of the movie legends and we walked down the Boulevard 'walk of fame' where all the stars names are on the pavement. We got a few pictures too! We also got to see the 'Hollywood' sign in the hills from here.
Our next stop was Farmers Market where we stopped for lunch. It was just lovely, we had a fresh beef salad sandwich, just warm off the bone! mmmm and we washed it down with a real lemonade!
After lunch we drove down Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood where Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez are supposed to live. We drove past the Viper Room Club where River Phoenix died of a drug overdose. We then went onto Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills where all the really expensive houses are. We drove down the few blocks which made up Rodeo Drive where all the expensive designer shops are, we were told that stars aren't often spotted as they get in through the back! We also saw Harry Winstons (famous for diamonds). We then drove past the Beverly Wilshire Hotel the one where Julia Roberts stayed in Pretty Women, it was well cool! Another hotel we drove past was the 'Peninsula' the only 5 star hotel in L.A costing $3,500 dollars per night. We saw the 20th Century Film studios, past the Gold Gym (incredible hulk works out here apparantley!) then off we went for a stop at Venice Beach. Baywatch was filmed here and I didn't realise! We walked down as far as muscle beach but unfortunately there was no-one working out! It was really hazy at the beach, a great place to people watch!
Last stop was Marina Del Ray, the worlds largest mad made boat harbour. We stopped here for ice-cream which was lovely!
We then drove back to our hotel, I was still taking it all in, we were so glad we chose to see all these things today. We still had a few hours to kill before leaving for the airport so we called in at the hotel bar where there was complimentary food so we tucked in for tea!!!!
We got our free shuttle to the airport and checked in our bags. We also managed to waiver a 50 pound fee for a ticket change to New hour or so complaining but it worked!!! Yipeee!
We boarded our plane at 10.50 pm ready for an 11.30 pm flight to fiji....will update you from there!
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