What else to do with myself in LA now that I had the beaches of Venice and Santa Monica ticked off. Hum that was the question and most friends I had spoken to did not given this city high recommendations at all. Dirty, traffic ridden and false were commonly used words. I was not really keen to go to Universal Studies or Hollywood Boulevard and pretty sure my wallet could not handle Rodeo Drive. I decided to take the recommendation of Enrico (the other house guest) and hike up to the Hollywood sign, so I left the house at 7am and was already hiking by 8am. The trail, a 6 mile round trip is very exposed to the sun and I had been warned to take lots of water with me. Luckily it was cloudy on my assent, which given the fact it was quite a steep path I was very grateful for. The dusty path wound round the mountain and was surprisingly quiet, a few people walking dogs passed me by and the odd other tourist here and there.
I guess it took around 1 &1/2 hours to get to the top and it was a good work out. Unfortunately you never get a good full view of the Hollywood sign and you reach it from the back, so you only get to view it through a fence and the back of it. The views of LA however were really good, you pretty much get a 360 degree view of the total sprawl that is LA. Luckily the sun came out and although there was quite a bit of haze/smog the city was visible. I stayed about an hour up there and got chatting to a nice young American couple (AJ & Victoria) that had lived all their lives in LA and this was the first time they had done the hike. They were working down an LA bucket list as they were shortly moving to a different State. I made it back down to the parking lot in well under an hour with the sun beating down on me the whole way back.
I decided I needed to suck it up and go be a real tourist by visiting Hollywood Boulevard and the Chinese Theatre where the stars have their own stars on the ground. Yup total cheese, reminded me of Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, plus there were all these people dressed up in costumes (from Wonder Woman to Darth Vader) charging up to $20 a pop for a photo, and people were actually happy to pay! I think I may see if I can bring this business model to London I would make a fortune!
I also opted to take the TMZ two hour tour which turned out to be a $55 well spent, it was great fun. Justin our guide was as over the top as you would expect for a tour guide in LA and while we did not spot any celebrities, his commentary and enthusiasm as we pulled up to venues like The Ivy and The Beverly Hills Hotel were hysterical, it was like being on an urban human hunting safari. Highlights also included seeing the street where Hugh Grant was busted with a hooker, the fast food restaurant where Brad Pitt dressed up as a promotional chicken, seeing the worlds most expensive shop on Rodeo Drive (with the owners $2 million dollar hideous yellow Bugatti parked outside). Lots of interesting celebrity gossip was traded with the participants and the vibe was inappropriate, politically incorrect, outrageous and over the top, just like the show. I learnt nothing of any value to the world whatsoever and it was a wildly fun 2 hours.
After this I drove down to Melrose Avenue, had a smoothie (must remember to put mint in the ones I make, it creates a great flavor) and treated myself to a pedicure.
I returned back to Venice (I'm really comfortable with the driving now and actually felt like a local as i kind of knew where I was going , OK so my GPS knew where we were going, but I'm not nervous anymore about moving around by car on my own :)
I chatted a little that evening with my host Melodie who the more you talk to, the more you realize is operating on a slightly different plane than the rest of the world, not in a bad way at all, but she is pretty out there and does like to repeat stories. This is the exact reason I wanted to do Airbnb, to meet some fun, colorful characters and get to see how other people on the West Coast are living their lives.