Month(s) Visited: January – February 2014
Weather: Very warm. Clear Blue Skies. It was like 25 – 31 degrees Celsius everyday. I wore a vest and ¾ length trousers most days.
Hollywood In General
So if you like films then this is the place for you. Lots of Show biz everywhere. The streets were safe with no gangs etc the only people who hassle you are the people along the Hollywood Walk Of Fame who try n sell you tours for Celebrity home tours. Seeing things like the Chinese Theatre where shows like the “Oscars” and “Premiers” are held are really cool. Seeing stars homes, hand prints and stars are great too. We didn’t encounter any celebrities on the main street, however if you put shades on a famous person and maybe a cap n they could walk past you without you even knowing! Transport here is amazing. I have wrote more about this [here]. We didn’t visit places like Universal Studios or Disneyland due to money however I’ve told Bec I want to take her to Orlando Florida for the parks as there alot better there.
So arriving in Los Angeles we looked for accommodation. This place is more expensive than other places. We stayed in a few different areas whilst here. We stayed in Hotel Solaire and Americas Best Value Inn – Alvarado Street. This area is full of Spanish people and lots of homeless. We did walk the streets at night and to be honest they weren’t that bad. I guess when you see rubbish everywhere and homeless people you kinda feel you’re in a shady area. Luckily the metro line was a short distance away that took you into Hollywood.
We also stayed in USA Hostels. It was literally a minute walk from the “Hollywood Walk Of Fame”. This was a great hostel. It was $33 each per night and we shared an 8 man dorm. It was so clean. There was an outside area where you could lounge around and sunbathe. You had good free wifi too. They had all you eat foods every night for $6. Monday was my favourite as it was all you can BBQ and they gave you free sodas, chips n Salads with this too. They would also have an upstairs bar area that opened at 6pm – There also a shower in the lounge / bar area which I used if someone in our dorm was using that one.
This place did their own tours, so things like the Hollywood Sign, Canyon, Disneyland etc they did. They did a free walking tour and the others were cheap. A great way to see other parts of LA without spending lots.
We spent alot of our time on the front courtyard chilling with Beers from the Liquor store n meeting /playing games with people.
The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
So we got the red line metro to The Hollywood Walk Of Fame. As soon as you walk up the stairs you see stars on the ground. You will find that they will start off with “less known” celebrities at first and as you move closer to the Chinese Theatre they will get more well know. The likes of Will Smith, Morgan Freeman and Elvis are around the Chinese theatre. The stars go on for miles. I’ve never looked at the floor so much down a street..and so were others so you do nearly bump into people lol as everyone’s looking down.
As you get to the Chinese Quarter this place is rammed. This is where the people dressed as characters were and also street performers. It’s a pain as everyone kinda pushes etc round here.
The Movie Stars Homes Tour
So our first time onto the Hollywood Walk Of Fame street we were approached by a dude selling tours. I had looked at this tour on the net and so knew how much they went for. He stated that they do 2 tours. One that is the Hollywood stars homes and one where you see Beverley Hills and Hollywood sign etc. He said I will do you an offer for both tours for $25 each. To be honest I thought that was quite good so we both booked. Our bus arrived at 3pm and we hopped on. It took us up the hills where you get off at a stop where you can see the Hollywood Sign and take pictures. Only issue with this spot is that the sign is quite far away, so it’s hard to get a picture with you in it that actually shows the sign more clearly. I would opt for getting closer to the sign.
He then drove us around Beverly Hills where you see famous homes like Michael Jackson, Elvis, Robert Deniro etc. He then took us to Rodeo drive which is the rich street. Lots of nice cars were around here and expensive shops. We saw the hotel where Richard Gear stopped in the film “Pretty Woman”. We then went around some other streets where the likes of Johnny Depp used to Jam in certain bars which was cool to know about.
Hiking To The Hollywood Sign
So whilst staying at USA Hostels we decided to do their Hollywood Sign Hike. This was only $7 each. The guide from the hostel walked us to the bus stop and we caught a bus and hiked up the Hollywood hills whilst he told us history along the way. It was an interesting tour as you saw all the nice houses along the way. It was very steep and very hot so I was knackerd. It took us about 20 mins hiking time to get to the top and there you saw the amazing sign. It was worth the hike. It looked so cool and was nice to finally have pictures of it up close rather than miles away.
Griffiths Park Abandoned Old LA Zoo
So since we were in LA for a month we wanted to find things to do that didnt cost much and that were off the beaten path. I found out that there was an abandoned zoo in Griffiths park. We caught 2 buses from Hollywood Blvd (780 and 96) which cost us $5 in total return. The walk from the bus was about 15 minutes to the zoo. The first part you come across is the bear /lions pits where there are now picnic benches. Its so interesting as you can go into the part where the bears / lions used to come down the stairs into the main pit. You also see a sign stating the history behind the zoo. Apparantly it was opened around 1912 with 15 animals.
As you walk down the footpath there are lots of other cages too. We were trying to figure out what animals they were. I think a few cats, birds and apparently an elephant at one point. Alot of the old huts are clearly hang outs for youths as their are cans of lagers in them and graffiti inside their – to be honest thow what do you expect considering its abandoned! I wished they put signs up outside the buildings that stated what was kept in there!
Its obvious that this zoo was a small zoo as theres not that many cages. It was fun to go inside them thow n obviously have the picture taken like your an animal lol. We did see a few photo shoots going on inside the cages and pits.
All in all this is definitely worth the visit. If its a nice day take food as theres like a million picnic tables here.
Melrose Trading Post (flea market)
Found this on the net of stuff to do off the beaten track. It happens every Sunday 9-5pm. I caught the 217 bus from Hollywood BLVD and it cost me $1.50 to get to Fairfax/Melrose where my stop was. Across the road you could see the stalls in the school grounds. It was $3 in. To be honest it wasn’t amazing as I thought it would be. There were a few cool clothes there, however the majority caters for women. There is also alot of people selling what looks like “car boot” stuff. Its worth the look around as it is very vintage, just didn’t see any thing amazing to buy. Worth visiting if you have a spare 2 hours or so.
Watching The SuperBowl in Hollywood
Although not planned, we were actually in Hollywood for the Superbowl. We didnt really know the rules of American Football but thought we would show our support. We found out that it was Denver Broncos vs Seattle Seahawks. Since we didnt know much about this sport, we chose Denver Broncos as Denver is in Colorado and Colorado is where South Park is based! So we got an 18pk of Budweiser, Doritos and watched the game in our hotel room (as we were watching the money situation). We got confused quite abit by the rules and to be honest it was quite boring to watch. Personally I prefer Rugby as theres more going on in the game. Due to getting bored we decided to name the Denver Broncos characters from South Park for example the one in charge would be called Stan…the footballers name was “Manning” . The other team we named after Resident Evil characters. I player called “Bryant” we named “Nemesis” as he was huge and was “lerking” about. We had fun however unfortunately the Broncos lost really bad with a 43 win to Seahawks and a score of 8 to Broncos :(.
Being In An Audience For Jimmy Kimmel.
So whilst in our hostel we met a guy who gave us some websites for spotting stars. On that site was a link to a website where you could get free tickets to talk show hosts shows. Lucky for us Jimmy Kimmel was recording on the Hollywood Blvd and had a show available on 4th Feb. The other shows were sold out however he had guest like Morgan Freeman and Sharon Osbourne so you can kinda see why. We arrived outside the theater and cued up. We sat at the back in the middle. The studio was small so its hard to get a bad seat. It was unusual seeing all the props about. We had the normal stage manager warm us up and then on came Jimmy. It was weird seeing him. He was a really nice guy. At one stage he stopped and spoke to the audience.
His guests were Dr. Mehmet Oz who is a famous doctor here in the USA and also the actor Barkhad Abdi – who starred as the pirate alongside Tom Hanks in the film “Captain Phillips”. He was a really nice guy. He had worked as a limo driver when he was spotted. Next thing he knows he does the film and has been nominated for an Oscar! Wow.
The oveall experience was amazing. It was great to see how it was all put together and to see Jimmy was great fun. It was a shame we didnt see more famous people but to be honest it was good enough just seeing Jimmy.
So since we were staying in Hollywood we needed a trip to the famous Venice Beach. Luckily our hostel offered a free shuttle bus to Venice Beach so we took it. We left at 10am and it took around half an hour to get there. Santa Monica wasn’t a bad place to wonder around. We had read reviews that said it was abit dodgy, however we didn’t see any gangs etc around the tourist parts and was actually quite pleasant. We decided to get dropped off at the Santa Monica pier as we wanted to hunt for the end of the Route 66 sign.
Santa Monica Pier
This is a cool place. The weird thing about this pier is that cars can still drive onto it as they used to in the olden days. We noticed the huge tents to the side as Cirque Du Soleil were performing there. There were lots of route 66 shops and restaurants here. Bec was the first person to see the “End Of Route 66” sign as it was in the distance.
End Of Route 66 sign
As soon as you walk onto the pier you see the sign after about 3 minutes walking as it’s to the right of the main walkway on the pier. This was quite a moment for us as we had now seen all Route 66 signs. We saw the start one in Chicago, Midpoint one in Texas and now the last one in Santa Monica. Now there is history behind this sign as this is actually not the “official” end of route 66. There are reasons as to why the sign wasn’t placed at the official route which include things like violations to highways etc. The sign on the pier was taken down at one point and a local shop owner wanted a sign back up that stated “end of route 66” on it, so he bought one that looked similar to the one in Chicago and placed it in his shop window. He got lots of tourists visit his shop and have their photo with the sign. Shortly after the local council approached him and stated they wanted to put the sign back up so naturally he supported this and it got put up this time with “end” on it. The shop is still on the pier and has the sign that looks more like the Chicago one in the window. The big one that has been placed up on the pier is nothing like the one in Chicago but at least it has “end” written on it…so now technically there are 2 “end of route 66” signs on the pier (one in the shop, one on the main pier walkway). After the pier was done it was now time for Venice Beach.
This was about a half hour walk from Santa Monica pier – but an easy walk!
The beach was huge. There are lots of homeless people on the walkway, however they sell their own artwork and stuff which was nice to see. There are obviously plenty of rollerbladers, boarders and buskers. I actually saw a Rasta guy on roller blades with an electric guitar and he played it whilst riding along – weird sight that was.
I had read reviews about Venice Beach and people said you should just park ya ass on a seat in a bar somewhere and just people watch…and now i know why. There are many interesting looking people on the walkway. We saw a freak show half way down that had lots of “interesting” looking characters. We strolled along and I was now looking for Muscle Beach.
Muscle beach is more like a part of a small leisure club. You see the club house to the right and the gym to the left. There were a few muscle guys working out in it. I have no ideas how the guys work out in this heat. It was like 30 degree Celsius which for us Brits is damn hot. I was wearing a vest and shorts and was sweating my ass off! Its abit of a trek down the walkway however it’s worth seeing.
Venice Beach as a whole is full of posers / interesting /funny looking people. You kinda feel bad after a trip here as you feel your body is shite and start having thoughts like “should I work Out More?” , however it wasn’t long before I started stuffing my face with pizza again hehe,.