Hi y'all! from America!
We arrived safely in Los Angeles after traveling back in time from Auckland! We left NZ at 8:10pm on the 16th after a short delay and arrived in America at 10:40am also on the 16th. This really affected us for the first few days as we couldn't remember what day it was.
From the airport we managed to navigate ourselves around the metro system and arrived in Hollywood where we were staying for 5 nights. On checking into our hostel we found out the reservation hadn't been sent through from the website we'd used so we weren't on the list. Luckily they had space for us and we settled in. From here we walked to the supermarket to get some food - as usual the plane food wasn't very appertising. Our hostel was located just off Hollywood Boulevard, or as its better known 'The Walk of Fame' so we were very central. With that we took a stroll along the street taking in the names as we went, still trying to get our heads around the fact that we were in Hollywood! We saw names such as Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Swarznegger, but our favourites had to be David Hasselhoff and Big Bird!!! Er...sorry those were Gavin's favourites - mine was the legendary D1ck Van Dy-ke! On our way back from the supermarket we stopped off at Graumans Chinese Theatre which is where the celebraties put their hand and footprints in the cement. It was really busy though and you couldn't see much so we continued back for our first taste of a real American bagel.
After lunch Helen fell asleep so I set out back along the Walk of Fame to find a cash machine. On my way I noticed the Chinese Theatre was much quieter so I popped over for a quick look and didn't realise just how many stars had made their mark. Back at the hostel and after dinner we both fell asleep after a very very long day!
Sunday started with us having the free all you can eat pancakes that the hostel put on, although you have to cook them yourself. Unfortunately the mixture wasn't the best but they were free meal so we tucked in. After breakie we walked back to the Chinese Theatre so Helen could have a look. As it was still early in the morning the place was very quiet so we got a real good look. The foot and hand prints belonged to the biggest stars in Hollywood such as Marylyn Monroe, John Wayne, Tom Hanks, Sylvester Stallone, Arnie, Will Smith and Helens favourite D1ck Van Dy-ke (Helen here, I put my hand in his handprint, I'll never was my hands again!!!!). Once we'd finished we walked to the Kodak Theatre which is where they hold the Oscars ceremony each year. We also found out we'd timed our stay a week before the show and they had this years actual Oscars on display. In the showroom you could see how the statues are made, examples of past statues and then this years awards. You could also hold an Oscar they'd made at the same time as the ones that will be presented. To get there you walked along a section of red carpet that had the hand rails up and then massive projector screens lining the way with footage of photographers and fans so it gave the impression of actually walking up the red carpet. The Oscar itself was heavy and on a string so you couldn't make a runner with it. We did a couple of poses and then walked out wetting ourselves. On our way out we decided to book ourselves onto a tour of BeverleyHills and Bel Air. It lasted 2 hours and we drove around and our guide pointed out hotels, bars and clubs that the celebs own, or where big news stories have happened. The tour of BeverleyHills was a real humbling experience as it was just road after road of mansions, and it made our flat seem very very small! We saw the homes of loads of Celebs such as Jennifer Aniston, Robbie Williams, D1ck Van Dy-ke (I know where he lives!), Matthew Perry & Elvis's old place. We then entered Bel Air which is the most expensive and exclusive part of town. Here we saw the homes of Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, The Beckhams, Harrison Ford, Frank Sinatra's house and many more. The nicest house had to be Nicolas Cages but its worth $35 million so we wont be putting in any bids just yet. The highlight however had to be seeing the house used in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air!!! From Bel Air we drove along Sunset Boulevard and Rodeo Drive which is where the rich and famous shop, eat and generally hang out. Unfortunately we didn't see anyone. Back in Hollywood we found out our food had been stolen again!!! Why is it always us?!?!?!
Monday we headed to Universal Studios for the day. We didn't realise it was Presidents day so we were expecting massive queues as we'd been told it was a national holiday but luckily the people who told us were wrong. First thing we did was to go into the 'House of Horrors' wooooooo! It was clever how they did it as they had things moving and jumping out at you and people running around trying to scare you. The funniest thing however had to be all the young Chinese and Japanese girls that were walking in front of us. They were scared of a guy dressed up as a vampire at the entrance so they were properly scared with things jumping out at them from the dark. From here we went on the 'Studio Tour' which took us around some of the many studio buildings that they have on the site. They told us what was currently been filmed there and what had been filmed there. We then took a tour around some of the sets that they'd built for films and tv. We went through a couple of sections which were streets in different periods and countries. They also demonstrated how they can use the same building sets for different scenes by simply changing the lighting, railings and lamp posts! They also showed us how they can create a set that was used for rain, thunder and flash floods which was very clever. We also saw the set for the Dr. Seus film and also more recently War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise. It was the scene where the plane crashes into a housing estate and they'd built house frames and destroyed an actual plane in the area. Its amazing how real it all looked! We also had Jaws coming out of the water at us, King Kong trying to pull the bridge down while we were driving over it and we experienced an earthquake while we were in an underground station. We were also shown how they use mechanical 'arms' to simulate cars flipping over. It was all very clever and very informative gaining an insight into how it all worked. Throughout the day we also visited a special effects show which showed how scenes can be computer aided, sound effects added to films after the footage has been shot and how a persons movement can be applied to a computer character. We also visited a demonstration called Backdraft which showed how they can use fire within scenes which was particularly impressive. We also saw a 'show' called Water World which used pyrotechnics and very crazy actors, a live show of Fear factor and also an animal show demonstrating how they can train animals to do certain things for films. There were also a couple of rides which were very good. All in all we had a brilliant day and it was well worth the visit.
Tuesday we were planning on catching the free shuttle bus to Santa Monica and VeniceBeach that the hostel put on but unfortunately all the seats were taken so we headed to Downtown LA instead. We soon realised however that there is very little to do round there. We visited El Publo de Los Angeles which was meant to be nice to visit, however we found it was full of either homeless people or very dodgey looking people so we didn't hang around! Next we visited the City Hall which was used as the Daily Planet in the Superman TV series but we didn't recognise it so carried onto the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Once we were here we had done everything there was to see in around 10mins of arriving so we were very disappointed. As we were walking back to the metro we noticed 'Historic Downtown LA' so went for a look. And although it is was more what I imagined old LA to look like it was still very boring and full of shops selling prom & wedding dresses that you see in high school films set in the 60's! With that we headed back to Hollywood and after some lunch walked the other end of the Walk of Fame which we'd missed out. We also walked up towards the Hollywood sign to try and get a nice picture but everytime we got to an opening there seemed to be some obstructions in the way - tree branches, power lines, etc.
Wednesday was our last full day in LA so the plan was again to go to Santa Monica and Venice Beach but when we woke up it was raining so that put an end to that. Instead we set off up the Walk of Fame again and decided to go for a tour of the Chinese Cinema which is where a lot of the big films hold their premiers. We found out the idea of having hand a foot prints out the front of the cinema happened by pure luck. One star turnt up during the theatres construction and accidentally stood in some wet concrete. We were taken around the theatre and shown the VIP areas. We offered to add our feet and hand prints to their collection but they unfortunately didn't have any wet concrete to hand - what a shame! We then had a walk around watching the area outside the Kodak Theatre being fitted out for the Oscars and even managed to take a walk along the red carpet inside the main building - however it unfortunately had a plastic sheet over it so im not sure if it counts?!?!? Back at the hostel we fell asleep before I started writing this blog & then got 'hit on'... by a bloke!!!!. He sat next to me and just stared at me before mouthing 'your very cute' and that he really fancies 'straight English guys'!!! He also asked for me email address to which I declined, quickly logged off and then ran back to the room to cuddle up next to Helen!!!! Luckily we were checking out the following morning so I made Helen stick by my side for the rest of our time in the hostel!!!! Anyway that evening we went back to the Chinese Theatre to watch a film (Jumpers) in the main premier hall and we managed to sit in the seats the lead stars sit in which was cool. By the end of the film however we couldn't help feel that the seats were actually too close and our eyes hurt by the end of the film. Also we didn't think the film was that good but at least we could add our names to the list of famous people have been there!
Yesterday we traveled up to San Francisco on the Greyhound bus from Los Angeles where we're now staying at my Aunt Karen & Dennis's house. We'll leave it there for now
Hope everyone is well and we'll see you all in just over 20 days!!!
Gavin and Helen