Wednesday, 18 March 2009

24 - If Jack Bauer Can Manage It...

We only have 24 hours in LA so, having landed and taken a bus to our B&B, we tried to see as much as we could on foot that evening. We went up Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, saw the handprints of the movie stars at Grauman's theater and, more exciting from my point of view, the handprints of some legendary rock stars at the Guitar Center on Sunset, including Hendrix, Clapton, Page, Lennon although sadly, no Doonican.

At Grauman's whilst browsing the pavement searching for stars whose names we recognised (dunno who Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland or Sophia Loren are, but we did spot Matt Damon's!), I was distracted by sirens - no, not Angelina Jolie and her mates dressed up as mermaids and singing tempting songs - you know, sirens (nee naw nee naw, wooo wooo). Hollywood Boulevard became a river of fire engines and they were all pulling up in our vicinity.

Outside Grauman's there are all sorts of people dressed up as famous movie stars who encourage you to have photos taken with them, and expect a little something in exchange. So we have the bizzare sight of Marilyn Monroe and Catwoman being chatted up by firemen, as Spongebob Squarepants and Yoda pose for photos in front of a massive fire truck. I started to get confused - which ones were in costume and which ones were meant to be dressed like that.

Phew - lucky you showed up Superman, things were hotting up in there

It must have been a drill or a false alarm because no-one seemed to mind us taking photos and there didn't seem to be a great deal of urgency to put out a fire or evacuate California. One thing we both noticed - the LA Fire Dept doesn't half send out some clean and shiny vehicles - they must be have an entire Turtle Wax brigade. Maybe it's just the Tinseltown effect, maybe everything looks shiny here, but I'm sure I noticed Catwoman using one of the trucks to check her whiskers.

The following morning we were picked up by Ferdinand, from Hungary (I don't mean he'd driven all the way from Hungary to show us round LA, I mean he was Hungarian). Ferdinand drives lots of movie people, plastic surgeons and lawyers around the city in his huge black executive SUV. His task today was to show us as many of the sights as he could in the 5 hours we had available, before dropping us at LAX. He did a pretty good job - we saw Beverley Hills, Hollywood Hills, The Hollywood Sign, Bel Air, Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, The Hollywood Bowl, The La Brea Tar Pits and much much more.

We stopped on Rodeo Drive for a quick look around the shops (Tiffany, Gucci, Dior - this is Posh 'n Becks territory). As we returned to the car we were surprised to find an eager star-spotter armed with two cameras, waiting to take our photos. She'd asked our waiting driver who his clients were but he'd politely refused to tell her, asking her to respect our privacy. I think she was a little disappointed when we ambled back and jumped into the car. We smiled and said 'hello' to her, but she was clearly struggling to recognise us and didn't appear to take any snaps. Clearly the incredible buzz around this blog hasn't reached the US yet.

Our driver waits for his megastar clients on Rodeo Drive

We also stopped and walked around Venice Beach - I was tempted to have a go on some of the weights in the "Muscle Beach" area there, but the gate was really heavy and I couldn't seem to push it open - it's probably just down to technique.

One place we really warmed to was the Farmers Market (on 3rd and Fairfax) which consisted of lots of little stalls where you could buy all sorts of stuff - breads, fruit, meat, confectionery. Elsewhere, it was striking how many small independent stores there were (clothing, groceries, you name it). In contrast, thinking about the templated chain-store high streets we have back home, it felt like LA (or at least this part of it) was less "American" than any town I can think of in England.

Overall, although we'd expected to hate it, we both agreed that our preconceptions were wrong - we loved LA and wished we'd allowed more than 24 hours to experience it.

Oh, I nearly forgot. As we were dropped off at the airport, Justine is convinced that Johnny Depp was standing right next to us outside the terminal doors. But she didn't think to mention it until we were cruising over the Nevada desert, half way through our flight to Vegas, so obviously I have no way of checking the validity of this story! Maybe she was mistaken - maybe it was just a travelling scissor salesman :)

1 comment:

  1. quality ! how much did you pay the driver to spin the ol' client confidentiality piece !! i bet you were loving it !! y'all come back now !