“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” So said ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
We took advantage of the free hotel, the Sheraton Skyline at LHR, and the next morning headed for the long stay car park, which was also courtesy of Archers. It was a quick and easy journey, parked the car, and then took the Virgin flight to Los Angeles. The plane was not overly full and we had a row of seats each to stretch across. This was the first flight food I have had that was bad. People often complain about it, but in general, I find it adequate if not tasty. However, on this occasion I was given a frozen salad and something in a sauce that was unrecognisable. Nonetheless, as I don’t eat much and sleep even less on long haul flights it made little impact.
We have travelled with Archers/Cosmos several times and this was the first tour where we had a shuttle service rather than a private transfer. Once outside the terminal, we met several couples going to same hotel but we were all taken on different buses, ours took just over 30 minutes to get there, but the couple who arrived after us and left in a shuttle before us got to the hotel at the same time. We learnt they had had a very hairy journey! After arriving at our hotel appropriately called the LA in Downtown Los Angeles, we crashed for the night.
People think they know Los Angeles, even if they’ve never been – a land of star struck dreamers, traffic-numbed freeways, and silicone-enhanced bimbos. Notwithstanding that – this is what we found.
The following day saw us set off on a tour of Tinsel town the world’s ‘Capital of Glamour’. It could have been interesting if we had time to stop and stare but our guide, Mark Coop, whistled us past Marilyn Monroe’s house on Doheny Drive, the Rainbow Bar where famous celebs including John Lennon and Alice Cooper would hangout and was where Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio first met on a blind date. We caught a glimpse of El Pollo Loco where Brad Pitt dressed as a chicken worked when he first arrived in Hollywood and managed to snap through the coach window the Beverley Wilshire Hotel, where Richard Gere swept Julia Roberts off her feet in ‘Pretty Woman’. We rushed along Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive and through Beverley Hills, So far what we saw of the supposed glitz and glamour was actually disappointing.
Finally, we stopped for breath at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Like millions of wide-eyed visitors, we saw the hand and footprints of stars in the cement at TCL; no longer Mann’s Chinese Theatre and snapped the Hollywood sign, a symbol of the city that can be seen by peeking through the archways of the Highland Centre, a place filled with eateries. The whole area has made a comeback; the glamour that was not there years ago has, like an aging starlet had a facelift, since our last visit.
Our Tour Director recommended we spend the remainder of our day close to our hotel and checkout the Museum of Contemporary Art and Walt Disney Concert Hall the masterpiece of architect Frank Gehry and home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
After wandering through a ghost town that is Downtown Los Angeles, we found the MOCA was closed on Tuesday’s!
It wasn’t the greatest of starts and a bit like the curates egg some parts of LA were better than I remembered but overall I would not be rushing back.
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