Just the coolest day ever....
Day Two, Hollywood:
Woohoo! Been waiting for this day to arrive for what seems like forever. The only real thing i wanted this trip to include... Hollywood! Our first night in the camper was cool, slept like a baby although little did we know he campsite was right next to a train line, Dad pointed this out to me in the morning, after being woken several times during the night. Haha! Unlucky! So brains here decided unlike yesterday’s drama of taking ‘Beastie’ into the city, we’ll find a local transport instead. Luckily, there is such thing here as a ‘park and ride’, so we dumped the camper in the car park and caught a train into the city. First stop, Hollywood Blvd....
We jumped off the train at Hollywood Highland station which brought us right onto Hollywood Blvd itself, just down from the Grauman's Chinese Theatre which is where we started our adventure today. The theatre was built back in 1922 and if you’re a movie geek like me then you’ll know it played a major role in the start of Hollywood and the early stages of the film industry. Above all else it’s known for its ever growing ‘concrete art’, right outside the main doors. There stars from decades gone by have left their mark in the pavement; handprints, footprints and even the markings of the Harry Potter cast’s wands have been left for all to see. We tried to get as many photos as possible, trying not to take photos of other tourist’s feet whilst doing so.
So Hollywood Blvd is essentially a really long street with lots of expensive, overpriced tourist shops, selling fake Oscars labelled ‘Best Granddad’, ‘Best Driver’ and so on. In between the tacky shops you have some pretty cool places too. The plaza allows awesome views of the Hollywood sign itself, although my camera’s zoom wasn’t that great and it pretty much turn out as a white smudge on a hill in the photo. There is also a Planet Hollywood restaurant, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the Jimmy Kimmel Show live, one huge Disney store and the famous Kodak theatre, where the actual Oscars ceremony is held every year. We tried to see as much as possible, whilst looking out for our favourite celebrity’s stars on the Walk of Fame. We spent what seemed like forever (in a good way), looking at the ground and taking photos, but pretty much everyone was doing the same thing! Dad seemed made up when we walked practically to the top of the street and found Elvis’s star. It was surrounded by flowers as the date of his death was a week or so ago.
We had breakfast at a very 1950’s style diner called Johhny Rockets, the type that have mini juke boxes on each table. We paid our 5c and got our tunes on whilst tucking into pancakes with loads of syrup and, for me, a huge strawberry milkshake.
Our next stop today was Universal Studios! I could barely contain myself as we passed the spinning globe in the fountain and approached the ticket booth. I think the last time I ever felt like that was Disney World, Florida, back when I was 11. Dad seemed to be pretty mellow; I guess I needed someone to keep me grounded today as it felt like all my dreams were coming true. We kick started our Universal trip with the House of Horrors, Dad’s idea of course. Lots of screaming and classic horror movie characters chasing you through tunnels. What fun. We then took the time out to watch the new Special Effects Show, which demonstrated things like CGI and camera trickery.
We spent some time soaking up the really cool atmosphere. There were characters walking round having photos with visitors. Had my photo with Marilyn (Monroe not Manson) and we both had our pictures with Shrek and Fiona! I was mortified when Dad made me have my picture taken with Donkey (Shrek) he was like the real thing, sitting in the back of cart talking to passersby in the actual voice! Very clever but after he shouted my name and then mocked my English accent for all to hear, I wasn’t best pleased!
We spent most of our trip today stood in queues, but we were expecting it! But nothing could have beaten the length of time we stood in for the Back Lot Tour. Although the queue moved pretty swiftly, everyone seemed to be baking in the Californian heat. The guys at Universal figured that if they spray cool mist onto visitors whilst queuing, it’d make the wait a little more bearable, it did!
The Back Lot tour was well worth the wait and was definitely the highlight of my day. We travelled in trams for about 45 minutes, visiting working sound stages and a huge verity of sets from all different films; The Bates Motel (Psycho), huge street sets used for films such as Bruce Almighty and Back to the Future, the plane crash scene (War of the Worlds) and Wisteria Lane (Desperate Housewives), to name a few. The tour also included a few unusual attractions as well; King Kong 3D and 360, The Mummy Ride, Jaws, the list is endless. The tram was also thrown into the action with a flash flood, an Earthquake in an underground station and several cars were blown up and thrown towards us, it was crazy, but so much fun.
After the excitement from the Back Lot Tour we filled in the last part of our day with Shrek 4D, and The Simpsons Ride, which turned out to be Dad’s favourite, it was pretty impressive. We finished up with a hot dog and a Simpsons style Squishie before heading back to the train station, not forgetting to stop for some souvenirs from the official Universal store. The sun was just setting over the downtown LA skyline as we made our way back it to the campsite. What a brilliant day!