Hollywood and Home
12.11.2012 - 12.11.2012 20 °C
The last day of my journey arrived. My only planned part of today was to fly home tonight, but as the flight was 10:20pm I had a full day to do whatever I pleased. After packing my suitcases properly for the flight home, leaving out a spare change of clothes for the flight, I took off after breakfast and made for Hollywood.
I booked into a 2 hour bus tour of the sights and the movie stars homes, something we didn't do when we're here in 2005. I got to the meeting point an hour before the tour, so just wandered around Hollywood Boulevard with the intention of taking some pics at the more famous sights, like the stars in the pavements, the Graumann theatre (where the movie stars imprint their hands and feet in cement) etc. Well - I have to tell you - I was most disappointed at what Hollywood has turned into. About every 10 steps or so I was accosted by someone trying to sell me a seat on another bus tour. I'm not exaggerating either - in the space of a couple of blocks I must have been asked about 15-20 times, enough for me to get really annoyed. It has become that bad.
If the above wasn't off putting enough - it got worse. I was speechless when I was standing in front of the Graumann Theatre video taping the scenery, nothing in particular. There were dozens of people dressed up as famous movie and superhero characters wandering around. I couldn't believe when a lady dressed as a pirate approached to ask if I wanted to have a photo taken with her. But as she approached me whilst I was video taping, she was talking to me and at the same time had her hand covering the lens of my video camera. Not that I was even bothering to film her, but that was just plain rude to do that. Knowing full well all she wanted was money for having a picture taken with her, I said no and got out of there.
Well it didn't stop there, a few metres down the street and a guy shoves a CD in my hand, saying he's an up and coming rapper and that is his album. He goes on to say he's coming to Australia (which I didn't believe but when he found out I was from Australia he was saying he was coming to play concerts there, sure). Well I said thanks to walk off, but of course he then asked for a donation to help him out. Not just any donation, they start by asking you for $20.
With all the above all happening in the space of about 15 minutes I couldn't wait to get the heck out of there. I cannot believe the Mecca of movie stars and one of the most popular tourist destinations in USA had become such a terrible, money hungry place. It's bad enough that there are homeless people wandering around, sleeping on the footpaths of such a tourist destination - the LA people really need to clean their act up.
I made it back to where the open air bus tour started from, and we took off. First stop was up in the mountains that overlook LA where we got a wide panoramic view of the city and beyond. A few steps around the lookout and we saw the famous Hollywood sign. Our guide also pointed out several famous homes from this spot - eg Jack Nicholson's, Meg Ryan's and Jason Statham's whose place had a great big pool perched over the side of a mountain (check the pic later).
We drove along Sunset Boulevard and were shown several famous places eg establishments owned by famous people or where famous incidents occurred. We headed towards Beverly Hills and down Rodeo Drive hoping to spot a celebrity but to no avail. We then headed around the streets and were shown a whole bunch of houses owned by celebrities.
There were so many, I can't remember them all, but will list those I can remember - Steven Speilberg ($68m place!), Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Michael Jackson (where he died), Dr Phil, Bill Cosby, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore (when they were married), Justin Beiber, Al Pacino, Adam Sandler, Elvis Presley's former house, Laurence Fishburne and many others I can't readily recall.
The bus that took us on the tour was playing up a lot, and was having trouble taking off from standing starts. About 2 blocks before the tour ended the engine started smoking and we all begged the driver to let us off before it blew up. Heading back to my car I decided to have a quick bite and ambeer at Hooters, given I gave up that opportunity the previous day.
To say I couldn't wait to get out of Hollywood was an understatement, it has severely tarnished my liking for it. Something to keep in mind if you ever intend to go there. I drove off and went through Rodeo Drive myself, then headed out to Santa Monica Beach. I figured I'd spend a few hours there as it would be pleasant, and from there it's less than half hour drive to the airport. I found street parking and walked 2 short blocks to the ocean.
I went along the ocean drive then onto the pier that stretches a few hundred metres over the water. There were lots of people walking around, even for a Monday afternoon. After taking pics and buying a couple of souvenirs I headed back to the 3rd Street Mall which is the centre of the tourist area there. The mall was full of places to eat, people busking and made a pleasant change to the money hungry Hollywood. I grabbed a crepe and a coffee but then felt there was nothing left to do, so made the drive to drop off the rental car.
I had returned the car a little earlier than expected, but this gave me plenty of time once I got to the airport. I checked in my suitcases and wandered around the shops. I called up my friends as I had a prepaid SIM card so thought I'd use it up but the battery ran dry pretty quick.
So the time came to leave the USA, it's been a great trip and a great adventure. I don't suspect my blogs have been real exciting given there were lots of days I did nothing but hang out with people. My friends here in Sydney often said to me before I left if I felt unsafe or weird going to meet and spend time with people I didn't know. I'm a shy person normally but I felt that I knew these people like I'd known them for years, so I felt comfortable at meeting them and spending quality time with them. There are lots of great memories for me, and I hope you enjoyed the blogs and the pics, which I will load more of when I get the time. Take care my friends, and if the opportunity arises to take a trip like this, go for it. Life is short and unpredictable so make the most of your chances while you can.