Los Angeles

Ok, So it’s time I updated you all on everything we’ve been up to since arriving in the USA. I know, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve got about 6 weeks to write about, so I’m going to do this in a couple of parts.
-Amanda

Ok, So it’s time I updated you all on everything we’ve been up to since arriving in the USA. I know, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve got about 6 weeks to write about, so I’m going to do this in a couple of parts.
 
We arrived in LA, gaining a day from crossing the International Date Line, but getting our first real dose of jet lag! We went for a wander down Rodeo Drive, it’s a nice road for window shopping and watching a lot of people crowd around a store front for a glimpse of some celebrity (Michael Bolton???) rumoured to be inside, but it’s not really the place to buy stuff… unless you’re a celeb! All the shops had tough looking security guards with dark sunglasses just inside their doors, keeping a close eye on all the non-celebs in the store who were, like me, just looking, not buying.
 
We went to Hollywood a couple of times – lots of people, but lots of fun. We got a CityPass which gave us entry into the Hollywood Wax Museum, a “Stars Homes” Bus Tour, a guided walk of “Hollywood Backstage” and a Kodak Theatre Tour. Ok, so I’ll start with the bad. The Hollywood Wax Museum is really bad! The wax statues don’t really resemble the stars at all, and it’s not just my bad eyes! In one room, there was a group of six other people staring at the statues just as clueless as me as to which stars they were supposed to be. The only one we all agreed on was Tom Cruise! So, if you are ever in Hollywood, you can give this museum a big miss, it’s not worth it at all. Thankfully, the rest of the tours on our CityPass were much better. The bus tour of the “Stars Homes” went through the streets of the Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills, it was a lot of fun, but unfortunately we didn’t see any stars :-(. We did, however, see the outside of the fortress that is the home of Tom Cruise (and Katie Holmes), the blacked out windows of Lindsay Lohan’s 20-something floor apartment, a house Brad Pitt once owned, Dr Phil’s driveway and Sylvestor Stallone’s House. We also saw the Chicken Shop where Brad Pitt had his first job when he moved to Hollywood – standing outside on the corner dressed in a Chicken suit holding an advertising billboard for the shop! Ok, so the guys might not find that even remotely interesting, but the girls will, right girls….
 
The Hollywood Backstage guided walk, was fantastic! It was just a walk along Hollywood Boulevard, but it was great having someone point out where various scenes of movies had been filmed. We also went to the Chinese Theatre; this is the theatre where many movie premieres are held and where the stars’ hand and foot prints are in cement. They are fast running out of space for all of the hand and foot prints that they have, and so, sadly, once a celeb is not so famous, or not so popular, their concrete print is taken away and stored in the basement, ah, well, that is the harsh reality of fame. Our final tour was the tour of the Kodak Theatre – the home of the Oscar’s… and the American Idol Final. It was only a 30min tour, but it was still nice to see the inside of the Theatre, and hear how even celebrities won’t pay for alcohol! Apparently, on the night of the Oscar’s, the drinks are free… well, only until the ceremony starts, and after that, the celebs have to buy their own drinks. According to our tour guide this is a ploy to make sure that everyone is seated in time for the show to begin… and it works.
 
All this movie madness inspired us to go to Universal Studios Hollywood, in the hope of going on a tour of their “backlot” to see where movies and tv shows get made. Unfortunately, they don’t really do that. We were hoping for something better than MovieWorld on the Gold Coast seeing as they have filmed hundreds of movies and TV shows there, but it was no different. They have the “Universal Studios Tour”, but they really just treat it as another ride. Everything is staged, but we did see the famous Jaws and drove down a street with a set from “The War of the Worlds” but it wouldn’t surprise me if they moved the set there after filming just to have something else to show. All-in-all, Universal Studios wasn’t that impressive, just another theme park. We spent a bit extra on tickets and bought the “Front-of-Line” passes, which meant we didn’t have to line up for any rides or shows. If you do plan on visiting when the park is really busy (like in summer), I would definitely recommend this option, it saves a lot of time, and makes the day worthwhile, a lot of the rides, while good, aren’t worth waiting in line for hours for.
 
Ok, so let’s get to something that’s not about Hollywood. Santa Monica. Just a short taxi ride from Beverly Hills is Santa Monica (don’t even think about public transport in LA, it takes forever). We got there early in the morning and hired some bikes. The bike tracks along the beach were fantastic. We rode south from Santa Monica Beach to Venice Beach. We passed Muscle Beach (yes, the very beach where Arnie was discovered, ok, so it’s still a little bit Hollywood) and were lucky enough to pass by as a body building competition was in progress. At first we just heard and saw the crowd and weren’t exactly sure what was going on, until a rather buff and shiny gentlemen walked past in a hot pink G-string and we saw the warm-up pen, we couldn’t believe our luck!!! The crowd was pretty big, so we just took a few photos from the back.
 
For our last day in LA we thought we’d try a proper studio tour and went out to the Warner Bros Studios. The tour at these studios was fantastic! We actually got to drive around the backlot and see the real sets of shows that are still being produced. Some of the sets we saw were very generic, so they could be reused for movies and TV shows, others were more specific. For outdoor sets we saw the ambulance bay from ER, the grass park where Ross played rugby in Friends, the set of Gilmore Girls, including Luke’s Diner, and Kim’s Antiques and the Gotham City Police Station from Batman, the TV series. For indoor sets we saw the recreation of the Friends Central Perk set (they have moved the set to a more tourist friendly location), the set of The George Lopez Show and the Yale set from Gilmore Girls. Plus we saw the location of lots of other little scenes from many movies.

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