LA getaway tour - Time to go home
Jul 11, 2010
|SO, after only a hours sleep I was up again showered and trying to have breakfast before meeting my guide.
Ready and waiting at 9 am in LA’s movie hotspot, I was about to experience Mann’s Chinese Theater and Kodak Theater with the Hollywood sign as a backdrop. It was a chance to glimpse my favorite actors and actresses; not in the flesh, but by way of their stars on the Walk of Fame.
It has been said “to visit Los Angeles and not see the Chinese Theatre is like visiting China and not seeing the Great Wall.”
The grand opening of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood was in 1927, my guide tells me the most spectacular theatre opening in motion picture history. Thousands of people lined Hollywood Boulevard with an ensuing riot breaking out as fans tried to catch a glimpse of movie stars and other celebrities as they arrived.
Approval from the U.S. government had to be obtained to import the temple bells, pagodas, stone Heaven Dogs and other artefacts all the way from China. Chinese artisans created many pieces that eventually became the forecourt setting of the Stars.
In 1927 the first footprint ceremony was held which is now home to footprints of some of Hollywood’s most elite, welcoming visitors into the magical world of fantasy and whim known as Hollywood.
Next door is the Kodak Theatre built at a cost of $94 million, seating 3,332 people. It opened in November 2001, now known to more than one billion people across the globe as the first permanent home of the Academy Awards.
Not far down Hollywood Blvd we came to Hotel Roosevelt. Since 1927, The Hollywood Roosevelt has been the playground of luminaries including Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe and is the birthplace of the Academy Awards. Located in the heart of Hollywood, the hotel’s David Hockney pool, Marilyn Monroe Suite, Teddy’s nightclub, and Dakota Steakhouse ooze Old World glamour. Acting like we were guests, we sneaked in to see the ballroom of the Academy Awards and then out to the pool. Not long after arriving we were off again, for an unscheduled stop to the Griffith Observatory and awesome viewing of the Hollywood sign. Perched high up in the Hollywood Hills, it was created as an advertisement for a realtor in 1923, but garnered increasing recognition as in September 1932, Broadway actress Peg Entwistle, a resident of Beachwood Canyon, committed suicide by jumping to her death from the letter H. Te note she left behind talked about her disappointment of not being discovered, and, sadly the very next day a contract had been delivered to her home offering a major role bout a Hollywood starlet whom was to commit suicide. Due to the recent GFC, the company that owns the site had intentions to put the land up for sale, at the bargain price of $14 million until the local council raised enough funds to save it.
Our next haunt was an LA institution of more than 75 years, the Farmers Market. It grew from a 1934 makeshift gathering of local farmers selling fresh produce out of trucks, to an extraordinary array of tantalizing food stalls (I bought some dark chocolate dried pasta, yummy), artisans, music, and of course, fresh produce. A few highlights include a patisserie I was going to order carrot cake at until I realised they were all made for dogs; Dupar's Restaurant which was frequented by The Rat Pack and My American Girl, a three story department store selling custom dolls. The store houses a doll hospital, a doll hairdresser, a photography studio and restaurant where you can sit and eat with your doll. CONSUMERISM GONE MAD!
After sitting for a quick lunch and catch up on the FIFA finale, we headed to "It's a wrap" to browse the specialty second hand clothing shop for fashion used in movies and on television. I was in heaven!! And, only having 15 minutes was painful. I did manage however to pick up a beautiful Anne Klein silk vintage dress designed by Donna Karan (1985) and a Fendi dress worn in, wait for it, Sex in the city!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ok, so an admission, I was soooo excited about my purchases, I changed into the Anne Klein dress for our next tryst - Rodeo Drive. It was great fun walking around, a few people pointed at us thinking we were well to do, and even a photographer walked up, camera in hand, then lowering it when he realised we were nobody's!! How funny..
I went into the stores and tried on a 3k Prada Dresses, 2k Gucci shoes and 100k worth of Tiffany's jewellery. Back at the van, the excitement over for now and I was back in my well worn jeans and tee. Much more appropriate for our next destination, a quaint little cemetery to pay our respects to the likes of Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe and Farrah Fawcett.
It was getting hot by this stage; no, no, I mean it was about 35 degrees, so we cruised down a stretch of historic Route 66 which lead us to Venice Beach to enjoy a stroll along what was modelled after the canals of Venice (Italy), winding through beautiful homes in a pastoral setting that made for a fascinating contrast to LA’s hustle.
To end this long day, oh how I had a ripper of a hangover, my guide talked me into a "quintessential LA experience" on a laid back Cali beach cruiser (bicycle). It was nice to soak up the local culture, 'SoCal' sun, and Pacific breeze on the leisurely 5 km ride from lively (crazy) Venice Beach, home to Muscle Beach, funky shops, and eclectic locals to the picture postcard Santa Monica Pier and back.
After this fun and tiring day I was lucky enough to be dropped off at the airport just in time to check-in for my 14 hr flight home. And at this stage, I was thankful that my hectic, adventurous, exhausting trip was at an end.