United States

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  • Day343

    Laid Back in LA LA Land

    July 7, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 38 °C

    Early in the morning, before sunrise, we left our Airbnb in Mexico City to check-in to our 7:10am flight with budget-airline Interjet. With the time zone differences, we arrived in LA well and truly before our 4pm check-in time. We had plenty of time to kill and were fortunate enough to be able to drop off our bags at our West Hollywood apartment. The next few hours we wandered the streets like bagless vagrants, Hollywood-style. Our apartment was well-positioned, within walking distance of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. Armed with a fistful of dollar bills, which were quickly eaten up by the LA buses, we explored all over the city over the next five days.

    At first, the biggest culture shock seemed to be the language. We'd gotten so used to hearing and speaking Spanish that English felt strange (at least with others). For the first few interactions, the automatic response was to thank the person with gracias. It went over well with the Hispanic girl at Subway, but the bus driver who clearly didn't speak Spanish as her first language simply glared at us.

    We had been to LA previously but we had only spent a day so this time we planned to see a lot more of the city. On our first trip, we weren't overly impressed but this time things seemed different. While many of the landmarks appeared the same as they did nine years ago, the most obvious change was the amount of billboards advertising the legal cannabis dispensaries and home delivery services.

    On our second day, we headed to the ritzy part of Beverly Grove, just past Beverley Hills. We stopped off for lunch. The second thing that we needed to get used to after 8 and a half months in Central and South America was the price of food and drink. But Ricky didn't realise that he would need to take out a small loan to pay for the US$17 (AU$24) milkshakes. At first, he thought it was only $7 but quickly realised that there was an extra digit. The cow that produced the milk must have been a purebred Hollywood star – probably one of the Kardashians.

    The following day, we got to experience travelling through the city like a local, as we took one bus, for almost an hour and a half, along Santa Monica Boulevard, and then another after almost an hour wait. Just short of three hours and we arrived at the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades. We were under the impression that we needed to have a ticket, that was booked online, and that we needed to attend within the designated timeslot. Well, our timeslot was almost up because of the LA traffic. When we arrived, we noticed a sign saying that walk-ins were not allowed and that it was necessary to show a bus ticket or parking ticket. But we had fed our dollar bills to the hungry bus machine and we didn't get a receipt of any kind. Luckily, none of that was a problem. Denise, an elderly local woman, gave us a spare bus card, which she had received for free because she completed a survey. Now, we were bestowed with the bus card as a souvenir of our dear Denise. We parted ways and set out to explore the reconstructed Roman Villa of the Papyri, which houses a large collection of antiquities.

    We felt we couldn't leave LA with at least one Hollywood tour. So we packed our daypack and spent the day at Universal Studios in Universal City. We toured the studios, where we got a behind-the-scenes look at a movie studio. We quickly learnt one of the best tricks to know about a theme park – take the single rider line! We were able to experience most of the attractions in the theme park by using the single rider line and we rarely had to wait more than fifteen minutes. Once again, we found ourselves stuffed and gorged in Simpson's land by the extremely oversized donut for dessert and a Krusty pulled pork burger for the main, followed by a Butterbeer in Harry Potter world. We hope we won't be up for excessive baggage charges for a few excess kilos.

    After a day of shopping, we were back on the paparazzi trail as we embarked upon the TMZ tour of celebrity Hollywood and its surrounds. Unfortunately the tour was fairly uneventful, with only a minor celebrity sighting of a comedian who was unfamiliar to us. We toured around low-brow sights, such as the place where Hugh Grant was arrested with Divine Brown, the In-N-Out burger joint where Lady Gaga ordered a burger in her underwear or the now nonexistent signpost that Kayne West smacked his head on while trying to avoid the paparazzi. It was all a bit of an anti-climax. As we fast approach the end of our trip, we are quickly realising the reality of it all. The last (almost) twelve months are soon coming to an end and our next destination is home.

    Next stop: Brisbane via Auckland.
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