The Traveller
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  • Day19

    Los Angeles Day #7

    October 28, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Last day!

    After leaving the hotel this morning, I took a train to Downtown and actually visited the “real” Los Angeles for the first time.

    Whenever I’m in L.A., I usually don’t spend much (if any) time Downtown. I prefer other areas like Hollywood, Santa Monica or the Valley. Unlike New York, L.A. is not particularly good when it comes to exploring by foot as I like to do.

    In fact, I have walked over 200 km (125 miles) on this trip 😳 And I thought this was supposed to be a relaxing holiday ;)

    Anyway, once I arrived in the Downtown area I walked around for a bit, ending up at the impressive Westin Bonaventure hotel. It was used for filming memorable scenes from some of my fav action flicks, like “In The Line of Fire” with Clint Eastwood, and “True Lies” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. In that movie, Arnold rides a horse through the lobby and somehow managed to get into an elevator - still on the horse. I saw that very elevator today and I’m not sure how they got a horse in there 🤷‍♂️ Hmm.

    After a long walk around Downtown, I found myself in an interesting area which was quite different from Beverly Hills - let me put it that way. They had some sort of street market where people were selling a bunch of things from small stalls, not to mention a lot of street food vendors.

    At some point I arrived at my destination - an exhibit called “I Like Scary Movies”. As the name suggests it is based around horror movies, so they had recreated sets or scenes from movies such as The Shining, IT, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and others. It was done quite well.

    When I got back to Hollywood, I had some food at Mel’s Drive-In, a legendary old school diner.

    Before leaving for the airport, I saw a zombie walk! Basically zombies rolling out of the Metro train station. An amusing and fitting end to my Hollywood visit!

    Now I’m heading to the airport for an 11-hour flight to Zurich, then a two-hour layover, followed by a two-hour flight to Copenhagen. Phew. That will be fun 🙊
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  • Day17

    Los Angeles Day #6

    October 26, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    My last full day on this trip was a bit more quiet and relaxed than some of the others.

    In the morning I got some breakfast at the hotel and hung out by the pool for a bit. Then I went up to the world-famous Griffith Observatory. The building itself has free admission, where you can explore various displays related to science and space, and you can look at the huge telescope.

    Mostly, due to its unique placement on Mount Hollywood, it has very impressive views of the city from every side, including Downtown and Hollywood. The location has also been used in a number of movies.

    Speaking of which, later in the afternoon I went on one of those “Celebrity Homes” tours. I’ve done them lots of times before, but I usually book via Starline which is the most well-known of the tour operators here. This time I tried a different company called Ultimate Hollywood Tours.

    The tour was pretty good, and the guide was entertaining. I mainly take the tour, not so much to see the driveway or the outside of someone’s home, but mainly as a chance to see a bit more of the city, especially the fancy neighborhoods. Indeed, we passed by Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Mulholland Drive and some of the other swanky locations where most homes cost $10 million and up. Pretty nuts.

    We saw the homes of Taylor Swift, William H. Macy, Michael Jackson, Elvis and many others along the way.

    In the evening, I went for a walk on the famed Sunset Strip and eventually had dinner at the Saddle Ranch, a western-style chop house where they have a mechanical bull inside. Only in L.A.! (I didn’t try it).

    After dinner I went to the Laugh Factory for a comedy show. For a little over two hours, around 6-7 different comedians would do their routine. They were all pretty good, some more than others of course. I hadn’t heard of the comedians before, except for one Pablo Francisco who was the headliner for the evening. Ironically he was the one who got the least amount of laughs 🤷‍♂️

    Overall a good show though and a nice way to end my last evening in Los Angeles.
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  • Day16

    Los Angeles Day #5

    October 25, 2019 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    Another warm day here in California! I celebrated the heat by going for a hike on a mountain. Well, perhaps not a mountain, but certainly a hill with quite a bit of elevation.

    Despite the heat, my hike in the Runyon Canyon area was quite nice, and there are amazing views over the whole city from up there.

    Following the hike, I made my way to Universal City where I had lunch, and then proceeded to Universal Studios - a combination of a theme park, and an actual movie studio where they do TV and movie productions all the time. I actually started my visit to the park by going on their studio tour, which is quite different from the studio tours at Warner Bros., Paramount etc. Since this is a theme park, it's more focused on showing off special effects and such, and the portion where we drive around the actual studio lot is minimized. We did see the exterior sets of “The Good Place” which was cool, and the tour once drove through Wisteria Lane.

    Nevertheless, it's a very funny tour, and I got to see some interesting sets, picture cars, a very impressive King Kong 3-D experience created by Peter Jackson, a visit to the set from "Jaws", a stop by the Bates Motel, a Fast & Furious experience and much more.

    I also saw the relatively new Wizarding World of Harry Potter area where they have built a huge replica of Hogwarts castle with a ride inside, which I tried at Universal Studios in Orlando a couple of years ago where they have a similar setup.

    On previous visits to the park I have tried the various rides, so this time around I was mostly just walking around, exploring. Besides, there were so many people there, so it wasn't super easy to get around, and the lines for the rides were long.

    In the evening, I went back to Hollywood to join a walking tour of Hollywood Blvd. The tour was done by a very knowledgeable and entertaining guide, Brian, whom I've actually known for several years since I've followed him on Facebook for a number of years, and done various tours with him on previous visits. He was quite happy to see me again which was fun, and he thanked me for supporting him over so many years.

    His tour was very entertaining and we got a lot of stories from many of the legendary places on the boulevard, like the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel where several rooms are apparently haunted. Much like the ghost stories I heard from Queen Mary, a lot of ghosts also roam around Hollywood. Apparently the spirit of Marilyn Monroe can still be seen in a lot of bathrooms around town!

    Brian works for a tour company called Dearly Departed, and they focus mainly on the dark side of Los Angeles, particularly Hollywood. All the mysterious deaths, murders and suicides that have happened here. Fascinating, scary and incredible stories - many of which Brian told with great enthusiasm. Fun experience for sure - and the tour lasted for almost three hours, twice as much as the 90 minutes we paid for!

    Following the tour, I returned to Universal Studios to experience "Halloween Horror Nights" where they open different sections of the park, featuring various mazes that you walk through to experience settings and characters typically familiar to a certain movie or TV show. For example, I tried the Ghostbusters maze which had a number of re-enactments of scenes from the movies, with actors and special effects inside designed to scare you as much as possible!

    Again, the park was super crowded, so the wait times for the mazes were much too long. I waited almost 90 minutes to get inside the Ghostbusters one, which was over in around 5 minutes. It was fun to try, but waiting in line for that long was not really something I wanted to do again.

    Fortunately, three of the other mazes had much shorter lines, so I tried those as well. One of them, "House of 1000 Corpses" may not have had a 1,000 corpses inside, but it definitely had a lot of scary shit, and actors dressed in very creepy outfits that would jump out and say boo!

    Despite the crowds and the craziness of the whole affair, it was fun to experience this side of the park (including areas that are typically closed off during the regular hours).
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