Day 2 in Los Angeles didn't get off to the best start. After my massive day 1 I crashed big time and completely slept through my alarm. Waking up 10mins after my scheduled pickup. I got ready in like 10mins and was instructed if I could make it to the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard by 930 I could get on the tour there. So I ran my tail off for the full 2miles to get there with no VIP tour bus insight. So I called the company and I was out of luck. But they very kindly transferred me to another tour. After 1hr wait (time for breakfast and a little sightseeing) on Hollywood Blvd I got picked up and the tour began.
Before I tell you anything about the sights. I gotta say I was spoilt with a great tour setup. Perfect sized bus seating for about 25, leather seats, air con, huge windows was perfect. The tour guide "Uncle Monday" an African American FULL of personality, charisma and wittiness totally made the tour. A great guy!
There were only a total of 10 people on our tour, of which 2 were young girls under the age of 3, perfectly behaved for over 5hrs I must say!
The sun was shining; the skies were a clear blue, no wind at all, perfect 25-degree day.
Anyways the Tour started with a Drive down to the Marina Del Ray. It was a quick drive through but, it houses 4000boats in the water and 2000on land of which only 10% ever leave the Marina. Crazy! Was also home to some great homes, apartments and restaurants all making the most of the location.
Our first true stop was Venice Beach. We were only allowed out for a short 20min look but a place you could easily spend a lot of time at. The beach itself was by far the biggest and flattest beach I have ever seen. Very clean & beautiful. But it was the other parts of this area which were most captivating. A great big concrete skate park. Again perfect in condition and filled with a variety of people who all had skating in common. They were even filming a Hispanic hip hop video there!
The next thing that caught my eyes was the basketball courts. Originally made famous in the "white man cant jump" movie. But more appealing the vast range of ordinary people just shooting hoops, playing pickup games together. It took all my control not to rip off my tshirt and jump into a game. Definitely a spot that I could spend a whole day just shootin hoops and playin ball with the locals. Probably getting taken to skool along the way J
Muscle Beach Gym, made famous by Arnold Schwazzeneger I gotta say was a dissapointment. Heaps smaller than I thought and I only saw flabby old guys. Was hoping to see some huge body builders pumping serious iron J
The walkway itself I guess you would call it was something else. Just heaps of shop front stalls, similar to a market scene selling anything and everything. From fake clothing, taky souvenirs, music, artwork, bongs and im sure the dope to go in them. And the people.. Hippies, stoners, homeless and hustlers. Most of them just spaced out without a care in the world. Or jumpin all over you trying every trick under the sun for a $buck. "listen to my cd, im collecting for this charity, or buy this $20 (walking away) $10..$5.."
Ohh and they all wanna slap hands with you..so was definitely searching for the sanitiser when I got back to the bus.
Supposedly the sidewalk along the beach goes for some 20miles along the coast through a variety of different communities. Would have loved to hire a bike or some skates and gone exploring.
The next drive through point literally not more than 200m across the road from Venice Beach was this beautiful little canal community lined with 1 million dollar houses. Was quite unique. 10secs ago you were in the heart of California now you felt like you were somewhere in Europe.
Following this we drove a little further down the coast to Santa Monica. The newest city in Los Angeles. Home of the famous pier that is packed with Farris Wheel, Roller Coaster, attractions and café. Really nice houses, apartments, hotels and of course shopping strip. Unfortunately no opportunity to get off the bus and explore.
Next was a small drive to check out some of the 'Stars' homes. I gotta say I couldn't care one bit to see any celebrity houses, or even celebrities for that matter. But houses we did see included Britney Spears, Eddie Murphy, Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Steven Seagal, Michael Jackon, Elizabeth Taylor, Michelle Pfiefer, Matt Damon, Aaron Spelling, Rod Stewart, Nicolas Cage, Playboy Mansion, Hillbilly estate im sure I missed a few. But I was extremely interested in the whole setup and the money and prestige behind it all. The main area we were in was Bel Air Estates. Of whice one section is completely behind gates, no general access. That's where all the ultra big dogs hideout eg: The Beckhams!
But the section we were in is quite amazing. It is a narrow road that winds up the mountain, extremely clean, lined with construction and maintenance trucks working on numerous properties. All the properties are completely enclosed by huge retaining walls, gates or hedges. There were a couple of blocks that had been demolished and were building new properties. Just crazy, massive cranes, excavation & construction huge teams of tradies. I hate to think of the $ involved.
Speaking of money we saw homes ranging from $5mil - $150mil. But probably the most unbelievable thing. The massive effect of the GFC. Homes that were originally listed to sell at $39mil selling for as little as $16mil. Ouch!
After leaving the estates on the way to Beverley Hills we drove past UCLA college. Which was massive, and a public college at that. Would easily put any university of ours to shame. I would have loved to compare it to USC private college, but didn't get a chance. We did however drive past Harvard Westlake Private High School. A world of its own. Perfection for yrs 7-12 at $60k per year.
Our stop in Beverley Hills was the one and only Rodeo Drv shopping area. Litterally a class of its own. The cleanest streets you will ever see. Lined with BMW, Mercedes, Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Maybach and so on. The prettiest most perfect and often fake looking people you will find. With every top end brand at your finger tips. Louis Vitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Gucci, Prada, Versace, Tiffany & CO, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Bvlgari… and all the "if you gotta ask you cant afford it" Jewellery stores. I didn't even bother going into the stores. It was more than enough just admiring the beauty of it all from the streets. Was surprisingly a really quiet and inviting atmosphere.
From here we drove around for a bit, going down all those famous streets through Beverley Hills and Hollywood such as Sunset Boulevard, the Sunset Strip, Melrose Avenue, Hollywood Blv pointing out all the popular Bars, Nightclubs, Restaurants that the rich, famous and wannabee's hang out at. Melrose Avenue would have beenthe one shopping section that I would have cared to spend my money. Filled with ultra funky and unique stylings that you just wouldn't find anywhere else. Just awesome street appeal. But surprisingly another area hard hit by GFC with lots of stores closing down.
Next Stop was the Farmers Market. What had used to be a market for all the Farmers to sell fresh food etc that has been modernised with retail stores, a hotel and café's. Although again very clean and beautiful and a cute little setup. All the stores have to be massive which was a little conflicting.
Our final stop was Hollywood Boulevard. It is everything you know it to be. All the stars along the sidewalk with famous celebrities names. The Kodak Theatre, Mann's Chinese Theater and El Capitan Theater. Home to all the big Awards shows and Movie premiers. Madam Tusaudes Wax Museum and a steady stream of street performers and impersonators putting on shows and providing photo opportunities. Everything from Catwoman, Darth Vader, Zorro, Barney, Pirates of the Carribean and Transformers.
All in all I really enjoyed the Tour today. Was with some great people and saw such a vast variety of LA. In ways it was overwhelming. From where I am staying, which my tour guide joked was the ghetto. (im sure there is heaps worse areas) But is lower class people, streets are rough looking, lots of fast food and dodgy looking stores, banged up cars, lots of Hispanic & African Americans. Don't get carried away it aint no ghetto its just rough around the edges and people living day to day.
To areas like Venice beach full of hippies, bums and market stalls, to the heights of the Stars Mansions and Beverley Hills. With I guess the glitzy touristy appeal of Hollywood Blvd in the middle there.
I think I have had enough of LA and are ready to move on. I could never live here. I don't like that there is millions of cars on the road. All massive trucks & saloons with 1 person in them. I don't like what on the surface looks like a huge divide between the poor and the filthy rich. Its hard to explain but I just don't like the 'vibe' in LA seems to me very fake, lots of posing and people throwing their money around. LA & Hollywood is very dry and relatively flat. All this money is spent by everyone and don't get me wrong hollywood, beverly hills, bel air are all very clean cut and everything is huge and world class. But there is no character about any of it. Everything is just plain simple and pretty boring. Nothing seems to have an architecture or design about it. Whether it be traditional or ultra modern anything would be better than the big, solid and lifeless theme they have going on.
Not disappointed in anyway, always wanted to come here, and my travels are all about new experiences.
Tomorrow its down to Anaheim J