USA Road Trip: Chapter III – Los Angeles
We woke up alive and unharmed in Santa Monica…result!
We checked out and headed down the street to Starbucks, avoided the homeless beggars, had a bagel and walked back to the car with hot coffee. The first destination today was Griffith Observatory to park the car and walk up Mount Hollywood to get a good photo of the iconic Hollywood sign. Once our mission had been achieved we looked around the observatory, grabbed a sandwich and drove back down the hill through Griffith Park.
We parked up in a lot on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Argyle Avenue, before walking up to and along Hollywood Boulevard. We headed to the Chinese Theatre and Hard Rock Cafe, bumping into people, lamp posts, trash cans and the like as we tracked the various stars set into the sidewalk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There are more than 2,500 stars along the 15 block stretch. Many we didn’t know, but there were quite a lot we did. The biggest surprise was how many there were and how far down Hollywood Boulevard they stretched. Having your star outside a Dunkin’ Donuts or the Frolic Room surely has to be a tad soul destroying. We were specifically looking for the LL Cool J star as he was only added in January 2016 and we are big fans of NCIS Los Angeles. His star is located outside Hard Rock Cafe.
After plenty of photos of the stars and the Chinese Theatre, we popped into Hard Rock Cafe for a cocktail and our 20th Hurricane glass (Los Angeles), before heading back to the car. We had tickets for the Dodgers baseball game against the Miami Marlins, which started at 7:10pm. It was 4:30pm when we left Hollywood Boulevard. We had 6 miles to drive to collect the accommodation keys and less than 2 miles from there to the actual apartment itself. The combined journey took us over 90 minutes, which made the journey to the game a mad rush.
The apartment was so much better than the one in Santa Monica. Fountain Suites (1111 Wilshire Boulevard) is a mixture of managed residential and holiday let apartments, in a recently new development. In addition to the actual apartment, there is a fantastic pool area, a roof terrace, a communal area and two gym areas to make use of. It is located on the Hollywood side of the Downtown District, close to 7th Street/Metro Center station.
A significant benefit of having an apartment over a hotel was that it came with a washing machine and tumble dryer. We got all of our clothes from week 1 washed and dried, which was an awesome added bonus.
We got to Dodger Stadium with minutes to spare, got in, picked up our promotional fleece blankets, found our seats and settled in to watch the game. It has to be said, baseball can be very boring at times and we’d picked a low scoring game to watch. Miami had picked up 2 runs in their 1st inning, before we had got seated, and went on to shut out the Dodgers to win 2-0. We left after the 8th innings, bought a baseball cap for me and hopped on the courtesy shuttle bus back to Union Station. The highlight was avoiding the foul balls that flew into the seating areas at regular intervals and singing “Take me out to the ball game” which is traditionally sung during the middle of the 7th inning. The lowlight was having to pay $13.50 for a beer!
Today was to be wholly dedicated to our visit to Universal Studios. We have visited Universal Studios in Orlando on a couple of occasions, but this was our first time at the California location. Our first attraction was the studio tour, including the King Kong 360 3D and Fast & Furious – Supercharged features. We then popped into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, before hitting the Transformers, Jurassic Park and Revenge of the Mummy rides. In addition to the rides, the animated character sessions were fun, with Amanda getting her photo taken with Optimus Prime and watching little kids being wary of the Raptor experience, unsure whether it was real and dangerous.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our time in the theme park, but both agreed that the Florida venue is better. The studio tour was fun, but Florida has two parks, making it larger, with more adult rides and attractions.
We left the park and headed to the second Hard Rock Cafe location in Los Angeles, which is part of the Universal CityWalk. We had a couple of cocktails and picked up the 21st Hurricane glass (Hollywood) for our collection. Then, it was time for a takeaway pizza, a 6-pack of Modelo and a relaxing evening in the apartment.
After a light breakfast around the corner from the apartment, we loaded up the Mustang and headed out into the LA traffic. It was just before 10am, so most of the rush hour commuters will now be at work and our drive to Las Vegas should be easy. It was…4 hours later we rolled into the car rental return at McCarran International Airport. The drive took us through a National Forest, which was lush green and mountainous, but that soon turned into open desert, which was barren and fairly boring to look at. We only made one stop and that was at a very basic Highway rest area, which only had toilets and vending machines. Once we’d stretched our legs it was back in the car and back on the road to Sin City.
We got checked into Mandalay Bay, dropped off the bags and checked out the room. All Vegas hotel rooms we’ve stayed in are brilliant, with lots of space, great facilities and a large comfy bed…this was no exception.
What should we do tonight?