Hollywood – not quite the home of glitz and glamour

If we were going to do the whole America thing, how could we not do Hollywood California. We decided to spend one day wondering Hollywood and one day visiting Universal Studio. This worked out to be all that we needed, with the third day starting our drive to Las Vegas.

We booked a rental car for the whole period, which made things so much easier and enjoyable. From the airport the GPS navigated us all the way to our accommodation; Motel 6, which we were pleased to find was just walking distance from Hollywood Boulevard.

It was night time when we arrived at our hotel; we walked down Hollywood Boulevard, enjoying our first view of the Walk of Stars and a quick burger at Johnny Rockets, now about my tenth burger on the whole trip. We decided that we may as well do the infamous Genius World Records to end the night, with the VIP ticket including Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the Hollywood Wax Museum costing total $27 per person. Guinness World of Records was worn and out dated (they still don’t have the Burj Khalifa in their tallest structures section), not even worth the $9 entry.

Guinness World of Records tallest buildings (missing the Burj)A bit of Perth Western Australia stardomTravis and Mario (the highlight of the Guinness World of Records)

Day 1 – Universal Studios
We woke up early for Universal Studios, this was a fun day. Having now visited two Disney theme parks, it was good to get a change of characters. Plus Universal Studios is a full functioning movie studio, housing many current movie studios, sound stages, sets, backdrops and even office buildings. On entering we were greeted with Betelgeuse from Beetlejuice, Marilyn Monroe, Shrek and Frankenstein all who we naturally took photos with. Sonya then recommended we first go on the famous Studio Tour.

The tour started at Stage 25 and passed the office bungalows (as Universal Studios calls them). Passed through some street sets including Courthouse Square which was famously used in the Back to the Future series, but now for Ghost Whisperer. It was cool seeing a whole street and then rounding the corner and finding it was literally just a large painted wall. Toward the Fast and the Furious set (merely two cars on individual robotic arms) was a large collection of movie cars, including the Jurassic Park Jeep and Back to the Future Delorean

We past the Jaws Encounter, Desperate Housewives Wisteria Lane, Whoville from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Norman hiding another body at the Bates Motel and the latest set form War of the Worlds featuring an actual Boeing 747 chopped up into pieces.

After the tour we headed to the Simpsons Ride, the ride which was just a simulation, distracted me from the stunning visuals. Though they did a really good turning it all into a working Krustyland theme park and it was neat seeing a life size Kwik-E-Mart.

A series of escalators took us to the Universal Studios Lower Lot, were we visited Jurassic Park, the ride was very close to that in the actual movie, with a large T-rex at the conclusion. Other highlights were the WaterWorld show, where we both got drenched (yes, the soaked warnings on the benches are accurate), House of Horrors where real actors do there best to scare you (it worked well) and Terminator 2: 3D (a combination 3D and live action show).

Sonya and Universal CityWalkSonya and the famous Universal Studios globeTravis and Marilyn Monroe
Sonya and Travis and ShrekSonya and FrankensteinCourthouse Square
Back to the Future movie carsSSS Venture approaching Skull IslandJaws near Amity Island
One of the houses from Desperate Housewives Wisteria LaneSet form War of the WorldsSonya and Jaws
Travis at the Kwik-E-MartTravis at the entrance to Jurassic ParkBrontosaurus in Jurassic Park
Travis on the Tonight Show with Conan OBrienSonya and telephone boothSonya and the Universal Studios sign

After leaving Universal Studio we visited Los Angeles Chinatown for dinner and then the Hollywood Wax Museum. The Wax Museum was very impressive, with amazing details on all the wax sculptures. My only gripe is Angelina could have been improved so I didn’t look like I was standing next to a cross-dresser.

Travis and the characters of The Wizard of OzTom Hanks in Castaway with WilsonSonya and Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean
Charlie ChaplinSonya as a croupier with the James BondsTravis and Angelina Jolie
Sonya with the Charlie's AngelsTravis and the JokerHollywood Wax Museum sign

We finished the night with a drive down Doheny Drive which climbed up Hollywood Hills, the way down offered amazing view of the city.

Day 2 – Hollywood Sign, Santa Monica and Pasadena
We started this day driving to Mount Hollywood which has a good view (though a little far) of the famous Hollywood sign. Griffith Observatory also sits on the city facing slope and offers amazing views of Los Angeles, we even went back at night.

The famous Hollywood SignSonya and the famous Hollywood SignTravis and Griffith Observatory

From the Hollywood sign we drove south-west along Mulholland Drive to Santa Monica and the famous Santa Monica Pier which has a small amusement park and restaurants. After a picnic lunch we headed to Pasadena. Pasadena is roughly sixteen kilometres north east of Los Angeles or forty kilometres north east from Santa Monica. We walked around City Hall and through its amazing courtyards, from there we walked south to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium‎.

Santa Monica PierSonya and the amusement park in the backgroundPasadena City Hall
All Saints Episcopal ChurchTravis and Plaza Las FuentesSonya trying to turn a frog into a prince
Sonya and Pasadena City HallPasadena is know as the City of Roses, Roses mosaic outside Paseo ColoradoPasadena Civic Auditorium

Back in Hollywood, we finished the night with Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Which was only a little better than the Guinness World of Records, and then a night time view from Mount Hollywood, spectacular.

The Walt Disney Concert HallView of Los Angeles at nightGriffith Observatory at night

Day 3 – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and then on to Las Vegas
The morning of our last day in Hollywood, we decided to stop by Grauman’s Chinese Theatre which is famous for its numerous handprints, footprints and autographs set in the concrete in the forecourt. We took the obligatory photos of our hands in the celebrities’ handprints.

Graumans Chinese Theatre handprints, footprints and autographs Travis with the prints of James StewartSonya and the prints of Cary Grant

Let me just say, Hollywood itself isn’t great. The first things you notice when walking down Hollywood Boulevard are the countless adult, tattoo and drug paraphernalia shops lining the streets. But this with the griminess of the streets, the poor costumes of the street performers and the randoms trying to sell you a ‘star’s home’ tour all work together nicely. I don’t think we would be visiting Hollywood again for a very long time (perhaps never) but it was good to have visited it once.

The Walk of FameTravis and Walt Disney starSonya and Alfred Hitchcock star