Tag Archives: Los Angeles

It’s an American Thing

My favorite city in America is San Francisco with its Golden Gate Bridge. I can image myself living in one of the city’s terraces on a steep hill. A New York loft in Soho comes in a close second, just a short subway ride from Central Park.

And then there is Las Vegas, where you can see the whole world in one place, San Diego where you can see all the animals in the whole world in one place and Los Angeles where you can see all the stars in the whole world in one place.

One of my favorite trips in America was a Californian road trip along Route 66 and Big Sur- seeing the natural beauty of Joshua Tree National Park and the Grand Canyon plus the man made mansion Hearst Castle along the way. California just has so much to offer. There are ghost towns in the desert, seals on the coast and redwoods in Yosemite.

My bestie is from the tiny town of Stuart, Nebraska- a four-hour drive through cornfields from Omaha. I was lucky enough to be included in their annual 4th July celebrations and it was really something special to be welcomed as one of the family.

Of course, my love affair with American culture started early on with Snow White and a trip to Disneyland. I always wondered what it would be like to go to a real American high school like in Buffy, or a real American college like in Beverly Hills 90210 or go to a football game with real American cheerleaders like in Hellcats.

Anne Rice and Twilight peaked my interest in visiting the Deep South and Washington State. The Vampire Diaries and The Originals have made me want to visit Georgia and New Orleans. Gilmore Girls makes me want to go to New England and let’s not forget Sex and the City for New York inspiration, cosmopolitan style.

Which brings me to shopping of course. You can get anything you want at ridiculously low prices compared to Australia, which probably explains why most of us shop online these days.

There is the tasty simplicity of the classic American diner, the best Mexican food and margarita’s outside of Mexico and buffalo ribs smoked the right way. If you have room for desert, there is jello pie, smores and Twizzlers.

The country is so varied, that I can see why you may never want to leave. If you want mountains, you can go to Colorado, if you want water parks, you go to Florida, if you want a history lesson, you go to Washington DC.

I would love to visit a plantation in Louisiana, party for a night in Miami and drift up the coast of Oregon. It would be great to stay in a Boston brownstone, a Chicago skyscraper or a Hampton’s mansion.

The people are friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic about their country. Yes, America has a bit of something for everyone, and I guess that’s what makes the country so great in the first place.

Related posts: It’s a Canadian Thing, San Francisco, 2007- Part 1: Falling in love again, Las Vegas, 2007, USA Road tip, 2007Disneyland, 2007, Los Angeles, 2007New York, 2005, Part 2: Sex and the City Style, TV replays and movie marathons, USA, 1990

Disneyland, 2007

My jetlag woke me at 3am and Opera next door was just closing. I was privy to a car park conversation between a guy and girl exiting the nightclub, which turned into a much accounted travel story.

“What’s your name?” he said.

“Destiny,” she said.

“Destiny! I f-ing LOVE that name!,” he said.

“What’s your name?” she said.

“John,” he said.

Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, but this tickled me no end and I tried to contain my laughter on the top bunk so as not to wake my husband-to-be (HTB) on the bottom bunk. Unbeknownst to me, he was also awake, had heard the whole conversation.

Later that morning we were woken by a knock on the door which heralded our bus ride to the airport to pick up our hire car. No more walking for us! With no time to wash, we quickly chucked our stuff into our backpacks and headed downstairs.

After picking up some other passengers at the famous Chateau Marmont on the other side of Hollywood Boulevard, we hit the freeway. After obtaining our car we headed to Anaheim and Disneyland.

My HTB had never been to Disneyland before and I couldn’t wait to share my memories of the happiest place on earth with him. We took the obligatory photos in front of the Mickey and Minnie Mouse made out of flowers at the entry and then walked down Main Street.

First stop was Adventureland. We went on the Jungle Cruise, which hadn’t changed much and climbed the new to me Tarzan’s House. The Indiana Jones adventure was the highlight- it really seemed like that rock was going to roll on top of us.

In Frontierland we saw the Rivers of America, Tom Sawyer Island and the Mark Twain Riverboat. We had a bite to eat in New Orleans Square and then went on the classic Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The new Haunted Mansion had clever use of holograms and was themed to match a kid’s movie that I hadn’t seen. The best ride was the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.

Next we headed to Critter Country and my all time favourite ride- Splash Mountain. It was just as good as I had remembered it and this time we didn’t have to line up for as long.

We passed the iconic Enchanted Castle in Fantasyland, had a ride on the Storybookland canal boats and a spin in the Mad Tea Party cups. I indulged a little nostalgia with a trip on the Matterhorn bobsleds and a journey into It’s a Small World. The song was just as annoying as I remembered it, but they had updated a few areas, like the 2008 New Year’s Eve in Paris.

Mickey’s Toontown was a completely new area to me. The rides were more for big kids, but we still went on Roger Rabbits Cartoon spin and Go Gadget’s Go Coaster.

Tomorrowland was my HTB’s favourite- probably mostly due to the Star Tours area which was very well fitted out. After a spin in Autopia, we had run out of time, so started our walk back to our cheap Anaheim motel passing the Enchanted Castle lit up for night on the way. As we neared our motel we saw the closing fireworks over the park.

Ah, Disneyland, the original, and still a joy.

Related posts: Los Angeles, 2007, USA, 1990, Travel rememberings, All things Disney

Los Angeles, 2007

My husband-to-be (HTB) and I landed in Los Angeles airport and headed straight for Hollywood. I had flown through LA airport many times, but had never stopped to see the city itself, apart from Disneyland.

This time it would be different. We stayed in a hostel a few blocks from Hollywood Boulevard. The hostel overlooked the parking lot of the club of the moment, Opera, which Brittany Spears had been known to frequent.

Surrounding us were the Hollywood Hills and the famous Hollywood sign- from a very far distance- but still legible. We headed straight for the Boulevard to spot Marilyn Monroe and Keanu Reeves amongst the stars on the street.

At the Chinese Theatre, we found Eddie Murphy’s handprints out the front. I was awed by the Roosevelt Hotel, made famous by many movies I am sure, but by Charlie’s Angels 2 for me.

We saw the lovely old Captain Theatre, Capitol Records and the appropriately themed Egyptian Theatre. We had dinner in the Pig and Thistle– supposedly a haunt of celebrities. I had never heard of Fredrick’s of Hollywood, but the lingerie on display there was certainly show stopping, such as the colourful bra designed by Sharon Stone.

The next day we decided to walk down Melrose Ave and perhaps find Melrose Place. Yes, I know, walk- nobody walks in LA and we quickly discovered why. Melrose Ave is a very, very, very long road. And if that wasn’t enough of a clue, the school bus driver who laughed at us as he passed and called out that we were crazy definitely clued us in.

We passed Kermit the frog at the Jim Henson studio, funky boutiques and coffee shops along the way. I purchased a pair of warm gloves from Target- a reliable shop for a bargain the world over it would seem.

Giving up on Melrose Place, we got on a local bus past Beverly Hills to Santa Monica and the pier. The palm trees here are as numerous and the Spanish style villas.

My favourite thing about LA was the The Getty. The bus trip up the hill that wove through the gated houses of Bel Air was followed by a tram ride up to the museum. When we arrived at the top, the view of the city was breathtaking and we really felt like we were on top of the world.

We hit the museum courtyard at dusk and the orange hues of sunset made beautiful dappled light patterns on the white marble walls of the museum. I loved the marvellous Fran & Stark Sculpture Terrace and inside the museum I felt very lucky to see Irises by Van Gogh and that bridge painting by Monet.

Coming back down to earth, we window shopped Rodeo Dr by night, finding a red dress at Valentino that I could never afford. We also saw the famous Beverly Wiltshire Hotel (scene of Donna Martin’s disgrace on Beverly Hills 90210, or was it Brenda’s first time?) and took our picture with the big Christmas tree set up on the Spanish steps for the season.

We finished our Hollywood adventure where it began on Hollywood Boulevard with half price pitchers of Margarita’s at L’Scorpion. They sure can mix a top Mexican cocktail in California, and the multi coloured corn chips went together with them perfectly.

Related posts: USA, 1990

USA, 1990

All I remember about our family trip to Los Angeles, California in 1990 is Universal Studios and Disneyland.

At Universal, we got attacked by Jaws and King Kong and then caught in a flood. We were greeted personally by name by ETon a cutting edge computer bike ride; saw the Blues Brothers, animal actors and Harry and the Henderson’s shows and met KITT and the scientist from Back to the Future.

I relived my childhood on the Matterhorn bobsleds in Disneyland. We walked down Main Street, USA to Sleeping Beauty Castle and visited New Orleans Square. We rode the Mark Twain Riverboat, the cable car and went mad in It’s a Small World.

Only mum would brave a second day at Disneyland, while Dad opted to stay at the Thunderbird Motel. My favourite ride was the Splash Mountain log ride themed with Brer Rabbit and Brer Bear. Even though it was new and had the biggest line, I went on it three times.

We left LA for Lake Henshaw and a drive through the Anza- Borrego Desert in our dark blue hire car. We visited the small town and church of Santa Ysabel and Julian with its weird pioneer museum featuring a stuffed raccoon.

In San Diego, we stayed with my parents friends Teri and Steve. They had two young boys who I enjoyed watching The Little Mermaid movie with and going to their favourite park on the harbour. It was the 75th Anniversary of San Diego Zoo when we visited and I remember the iconic flamingos at the entrance.

I loved Sea World San Diegowhere I petted a dolphin and saw the famous Shamu killer whale show. Mum pointed out the dolphin prams that they used for me last time I was there as a toddler and I got my photo taken with the Shamu in a costume.

Leaving San Diego, we drove through the Mojave desert to Yosemite National Park. I remember seeing Half Dome and driving right through the middle of a large redwood tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

We drove past mountains with white windmills, Mono Lake and stayed in a Tee Pee in the desert. I remember visiting the eerie Bodie ghost town where you could look inside the empty buildings.

Ending our road trip in San Francisco, my dad wanted to visit the hippy mecca Haight- Ashbury. I remember the pink Palace of Fine Arts theatre on a Lake. We caught a cable car up a steep hill, went to Golden Gate Park and visited Seal Rocks.

We flew home through Honolulu, Oahu in Hawaii where I got my picture taken with a macaw. Mum and I went shopping at the very cheap Waikiki, while my dad sat by the surfer statue on the beach. I remember going to the white Pearl Harbour Memorial and driving to Diamond Head. We went to Iolani Palace, Waimea Bay, Hanauma Bay and Pali lookout. We saw a hula dancer show and dad went windsurfing at Kailua.

Related posts: Travel rememberings, All Creatures Great and Small, TV Replays and Movie Marathons