We flew out to Los Angeles on 29th August for a 16 day tour taking in Scottsdale, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Fresno, Sonora, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Lompoc and lots of places inbetween.
From the airport we were transferred to our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, formerley known as the Hollywood Heights hotel. Our first evening we spent exploring the Highland Shopping Centre on Hollywood Boulevard, which was a short walk from out hotel.
We found a real ale bar where we had a meal, and of course some real ale, before retiring for the night, we were quite exhausted after our 11 hour flight and had to be up quite early the following day for our tour of LA.
The following morning we met our Tour Director, Allen and bus driver, Bob,
and boarded our coach to start our tour of LA.
Our first stop was the Farmer's Market
where we had breakfast of bacon and egg
and MWM couldn't resist a doughnut to follow, with a cup of coffee.
After a walk around the market we boarded the coach again for our first stop on the tour La Brea Tar Pits the worlds most famous Ice Age fossil excavation site and its bubbling asphalt lakes, right in the heart of LA!
After excavation the Ice Age remains are taken inside the Page Museum
where the best fossils are on display.
Next on the tour was
with it's posh shops
its iconic sculpture
The "Torso" by Robert Graham, which was built in 2003, and made out of aluminum. It was being cleaned when we passed.
We also passed Los Angeles Police Department and County Jail
where Hugh Grant was taken after his arrest for his 'indecent conduct' with Divine Brown on
the famous 'Strip', where we drove past
"The Viper Room", which used to be owned by Johnny Depp and was where River Phoenix met his end. We drove past this amazing building
The Disney Auditorium
The Los Angeles Times building
before stopping at Olvera Street, the oldest part of downtown Los Angeles, where we saw the old Plaza Church (Mission)
and Avila Adobe, the oldest standing residence in LA.
a fascinating insight into life in the 1800's in Los Angeles.
Back on the road again we saw the Capitol Records Building
which was saved from demolition by public outcry. Our last stop on the tour was Madame Tussauds, where we got to take photos of us posing with some of our favourite stars.
MWM managed to get a shot of me with the HOLLYWOOD sign in the background.
Did you know that HOLLYWOOD was originally called HOLLYWOODLAND and was first erected in 1923. Its purpose was to advertise the name of a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. In 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce began a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild the sign. The contract stipulated that "LAND" be removed to spell "Hollywood" and reflect the district, not the "Hollywoodland" housing development.The Parks Department dictated that all subsequent illumination would be at the cost of the Chamber, so the Chamber opted not to replace the light bulbs. The 1949 effort gave it new life, but the sign's unprotected wood and sheet metal structure continued to deteriorate. In 1978, in large part because of the public campaign to restore the landmark by shock rocker Alice Cooper (who donated the missing O), the Chamber set out to replace the severely deteriorated sign with a more permanent structure. Nine donors gave US$27,700 each (totaling US$249,300) to sponsor replacement letters made of steel, guaranteed to last for many years.
We had opted for another behind the scenes walking tour after the coach tour and met our guide at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre. We went inside the theatre but unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photographs. The Egyptian Theatre was the venue for the first-ever Hollywood premiere, Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks, on Wednesday, October 18, 1922. In 1927, Grauman opened a second movie theater further west on Hollywood Boulevard. In keeping with the public fascination in that era with international themes, he named his new theater the Chinese Theatre. Its popularity eventually rivaled and surpassed the Egyptian because of its numerous celebrity handprints, footprints and signatures in the cement of its forecourt.
We also visited the Chinese Theatre and took some photos of the footprints and handprints.
We also saw the Dolby Theatre,where the Oscars are held
This is the ceilinginside of the El Capitan Theatre.
In this photo of Hollywood Boulevard you can see the El Capitan Theatre on the left hand side (click on photo to biggify). The sign was changed to Muppet Theatre for the film 'The Muppet Movie'.
In the left in the far background is the Roosevelt Hotel, where Marilyn Monroe was discovered, she was a resident at the hotel for two years when her modeling career took off. Her first magazine shoot was taken on the diving board on the pool behind the hotel. The hotel is said to be haunted by various Hollywood stars, including Marilyn.
See the hotel behind the palm tree in the next picture?
Do you recognise the fire escape on the front of the building? That's the fire escape Richard Gere climbed to get to Julia Roberts at the end of the movie 'PrettyWoman'!
Well that was the end of our tour of LA/Hollywood so all that was left to do was to go get showered and changed and go eat dinner, after which we retired to bed (early) in preparation for our onward journey the following day.
I hope you enjoyed our first days in LA and hope you'll join me for Wonders of The Golden West Part 2.