Sunshine, palm trees, glitz and glamour. The fame and fortune of America.
Up early and off to the airport, pizza for breakfast as you do. We were only in the air for 50 minutes before we landed at LAX, it was a bumpy ride in, but the views of the city were awesome! We waited for the Contiki bus and headed for a day of touring before checking into our hotel, The Mayfair in Downtown LA. We headed straight for Venice Beach first, it was incredible, an outdoor gym, people playing basketball, market stalls and people on bikes, scooters and hover boards. The place was so busy! It was such a nice day too, sun out and the beach looked beautiful.
We walked on the beach and got photos on the lifeguard shacks, like from the O.C – the ones Marissa would get drunk on all the time. After getting the photos I realised there was actually a homeless man sleeping on the other side, he kind of photo bombed me.
We didn’t get much time at Venice Beach before heading down the road to Santa Monica Pier! Best place ever, it was like a carnival all year round with the rides, shops, restaurants and the wharf overlooking the beach! I really loved it, I could have spent the whole day there. Amelia and I bought tickets and went on the famous ferris wheel people associate with Santa Monica. It was slow because it was stopping a lot but the views were great! Worth going on it, the roller coaster would have been fun too!
After that Nicole, Amelia and I went to get some lunch, the pier had a mini Taco Bell so we decided to give it a go! I got a quesadilla and the nacho cheese hard shell taco. The shell was actually a nacho cheese Doritos chip, it was so delicious! We headed back to the bus after that, late again, and then drove in the horrible L.A traffic towards Hollywood. Kiran was telling us how spread out L.A was and with traffic it takes a long time to get anywhere, well she definitely wasn’t wrong.
Firstly we went through Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, such a beautiful area, so clean! We even drove past the police headquarters where Beverly Hills Cop was filmed. We also went by Marilyn Monroe’s L.A home, the guy who lives there now painted it so people wouldn’t notice it, but clearly that doesn’t work. We then headed along Sunset Blvd where the rich and famous shop, perform and hang out. Unfortunately we didn’t actually see any, but it was on sunset at the time so it looked beautiful!
Then it was off to the Hollywood Walk of Fame! The road was closed due to the Star Wars premiere so we stopped a street back and walked. We went along one side of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and across the other side, so many famous names, and that was only a small part! It was also so busy, along the way we saw the TCL Chinese and Dolby Theatre where they have a lot of premieres!
Before heading back to the bus the three of us went to the gift shop, of course! It was a nothing over $10 clearance so we were sucked in. Much to our surprise once we got back to the bus we were the first ones, we thought we would have been late for sure.
Heading to our hotel we dropped off our bags and went on the a Downtown L.A night walking tour. The guide had a mic connected to the headphones we all were wearing, which was a cool feature. It was safe to say he definitely didn’t like New York, he would continue to say what L.A had that New York didn’t! Most of the tour consisted of the guide showing us places to eat and we were all starving so it made us hangry – hungry and angry.
We did see some amazing street art along the way and the theatre where the start of Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video was filmed! We also saw the Walt Disney Theatre, which I thought was a pretty ugly building. Towards our hotel, near L.A live we were pointed out the apartment building that Kobe Bryant lives in, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger when they are in L.A.
When we got back to our hotel it was fairly late, we checked in and went to get dinner. We went to a place showing the UFC fight, for the boys, but there were no tables! So Nicole, Amelia and I went to the shopping centre close to our hotel and got dinner at one of the restaurants called the Tavern. I had the chicken with a lemon butter and mash, wow it was amazing. As well as trying the mac and cheese between us all.
Mac and cheese in America is a little different to what we have in Australia too! It is the fake cheese they use, it isn’t very nice. We ate our tea at the bar and chatted to the really nice bartender, she gave us some tips on where to go whilst staying in L.A, she was great!
When we got back to the room and whilst unpacking and rearranging my things I realised I didn’t have my Prada sunnies I had been wearing all day, oh no! I messaged Kiran straight away to see if she could get the bus company to look the next day!
Having a little sleep in, we got up and headed downstairs to use our free breakfast voucher. There was a fair bit of food to choose from, unlike the last place and our hotel rooms were huge, nicest hotel so far! The breakfast bar even had a make your own waffles station, I attempted that and failed, I also had a bagel with cream cheese and spring onions, fell in love! I wish I had one in New York.
Then Gareth, Carl, Sam, Dylan and us three girls headed to L.A live to go to the Grammy Museum. When we got there, Gareth realised he left his ticket at the hotel so we waited at L.A live while he went back and got it.
There was so much to do in L.A Live they had the ESPN Headquarters there, the Staples Center, heaps of restaurants and also for Christmas they had an ice rink! But, that day we also found a huge Star Wars convention/fair. There were photo opportunities with the characters and everything Star Wars related.
We got a group photo with the storm troopers and went into this tent to watch some strange light show, we even got these wrist bands that light up when you shook your wrist, it was a good time filler for us.
After that we headed to the Grammy Museum and found Gareth, who loved Star Wars, ooops! So we went to the museum, starting on the fourth floor, it had the different Grammy’s and how they had changed over time. Then they had all the different music genres with videos on how and where they originated. I watched the pop video and how it has evolved over time, then I headed to the 2Pac exhibit.
It was really interesting because in Vegas we saw where he was shot. The exhibit had clothes he had worn, notebooks of his song lyrics and ideas, interviews with his family and his personal possessions. For those who really like rap music, it would be worth going to just see that.
The museum also had clothes and outfits singers had worn on stage and had also worn to the award ceremony.
The next section had instruments you could play and listen back what you had played. We spent way too long there making our own songs and trying to make a tune. The ground level was a gift shop, of course, and a Frank Sinatra exhibit. Obviously well before my time, but interesting to see all the different parts of his life.
After the museum we went to get lunch at Tom’s Urban in L.A Live. I had the pulled pork and slaw sandwich, it was different I didn’t really like it. After lunch we split into two Ubers and headed to Griffith Observatory, which looks over the whole of L.A.
It was a fair drive but the views were amazing, you could see the whole of downtown L.A and the Hollywood sign! We think they may have been filming a movie there because a fair bit of the road on the way up was blocked off. We spent a little while exploring, they even had a cafeteria and another gift shop. We did get some amazing photos, although it is hard to get ones of the Hollywood sign without making yourself or the sign blurry.
We then decided we might head to Rodeo Drive for a look, but without the wifi working to get an Uber we jumped on the bus they had. We went to the end of line and were dropped off in the middle of nowhere! So we found a cafe with wifi.
But Rodeo Drive was closing due to it being a Sunday, so instead we headed to The Grove shopping outlet. I bought some more MAC make up – so cheap – and we made a reservation for The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. We continued to shop while we waited for our table to be ready, I bought some clothes from Top Shop and lost an earring in the change rooms, not having any luck in LA.
We checked out the huge Kmart, it had a cafe, jewellery counter and everything.
Then we all met for dinner, the food is amazing. I had an enchilada, which was huge. Plus some Pina Coladas and for dessert a mango and lime cheesecake, which was the best. The meals there are so big but they serve up great food!
Then we ordered an Uber, using the Starbucks wifi, in the cold and Carl had to stand there while we ran to the other side of the road waiting. He would yell out when it was coming and then run across, good method.
We all met downstairs to head as a group to IHOP for breakfast, we all squeezed into a huge booth. It was so American, the huge booth and the coffee pot! I ordered the raspberries and cream pancakes, oh my god it was so good, three stacks, I couldn’t eat it all! On the menu – which was huge – they had chicken and waffles! That’s what Zac got, he said it was delicious, it actually didn’t look too bad!
So Josh, Jess, Zac, Carl, Jaz, Gareth and us three girls got the train to Universal Studios. The train wasn’t as easy as the subway in New York, but it was still easy to navigate. It was so cold, the sun was out, but that wind was freezing! We thought L.A was meant have the nicest weather.
We got off at the Universal station and walked to the bus stop to wait for transport up the hill to the park. So we got on and headed up the hill into the entrance and we were dropped off near the Street Experience, which had all these shops and was like a shopping mall.
Then we saw it, The Universal Globe!
We got the typical photo out the front and headed inside. It was a lot like Movie World on the Gold Coast in Australia, it was so much fun. They had all different worlds and these boards around telling people the waiting times for the rides and shows, which I thought was brilliant idea. Gareth had a Mr Sparkles top on, from the Simpsons, so he got a free front of the line pass for six people for the Simpsons ride.
On the way to the studio tour we had to pass through The Simpsons World, best place ever! We were heading back there next to discover more! The studio tour was really interesting, we were shown what shows were filmed in the lots, including America’s ‘The Voice’.
The first simulated ride of the tour was a dinosaur one, it was so real. Following the ride we drove past all the famous movie cars including Back to the Future and the Fast and the Furious cars! During the tour we saw the Mexico/Wild Wild West set and the guide showed us how they make it rain during films.
Then we went into the Subway set, where they simulated a storm and earthquake, the roof caved in, there was fire and floods, it was incredible what they can do on a set! We also went to the set of Jaws and the town of Amity Island! Again they put on a show with the shark where it came out of the water along side the cart, it was actually terrifying! Continuing on we headed past Bates Motel and Norman Bates came at the cart with a knife.
Next was Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives, heading out the guide informed us that Dominic Toretto’s Dodge Charger had been spotted – this was where the Fast and the Furious ride started – before it started we headed into the plane crash site they use for movies, which was an actually an old plane that was restored.
Then we headed into another studio for the simulated Fast and the Furious Super Charged ride, it was awesome, especially if you love the movies. After the studio tour we used Gareth’s pass to go on The Simpsons ride, best ride ever. It was simulated, but it felt like you were on a roller coaster. So much detail was put into the ride, it was so amazing!
Then we split up and planned to meet out the front at 4:30pm to get back to our Contiki meeting. Nicole, Mill and I explored The Simpsons World, we got photos with Bart, Homer, Lisa, Marge and Krusty! The place had a Kwik-E-Mart that sold merchandise and these giant donuts. Then they had a Moe’s Tavern to eat in and buy drinks – including Duff Beer and the flaming Moe – and the Lard Lad donut shop where you can also buy those huge donuts from. You could eat at several places including Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Krusty Burger, Luigis and the Bumble Bee guys taco van!
All the background around the world make it feel like you were in Springfield they had the school, power plant and all shop fronts from the show. We ate at Cletus’ Chicken Shack and all got chicken strips with honey mustard sauce! I also tried the buzz cola, which was pretty much cherry coke. Nicole tried the duff, I had a sip, it was so gross! Then we nearly bought almost the whole of the Kwik-E-Mart, I even bought bacon chocolate!
Then we explored the rest of the park! We went through Paris and then into the Minion World, got photos with the characters and went on to their simulated ride. Then we headed through old New York, most of it was just backdrops.
Next it was down what felt like 1,000 escalators to get to the bottom of the park where they had Jurassic Park, The Mummy and Transformers. We must have come at a good day because waiting times were not huge at all. The Jurassic Park even had this robotic dinosaur, it looked so real and was scary. We decided to go on the ride, even though we were warned of getting wet.
The lady on the ride said it wouldn’t be so bad, that was a lie! The first part was fine, like a log ride. Then you head into a dark tunnel where there was a huge drop then, soaked!! We were freezing after that! Next we put our bags into these lockers and headed for The Mummy ride. The line to wait was inside so it was nice to be out of the wind to dry off! This ride was the longest we had to wait for, but it wasn’t a huge wait and it was easily the scariest.
The Mummy was the only roller coaster ride at the park, it was so fast and I think I was in shock most of the ride, but it was a really thrilling ride, when we got off and had a look at the photo, my face was priceless!
We headed for the Transformers ride after that, another simulated ride. It was pretty good, it had a lot of drops – well what felt like drops. By then we started heading to the meeting point, before stopping at a few, or 10, gift shops along the way. I bought some American lollies to take home and then we headed to the downtown part to have a quick look and we found a shop called LIDS, an American sport merchandise shop.
It had every team and heaps of awesome cups, shot glasses, hats and everything you could think of! I also bought some sunglasses at the Billabong shop because Kiran messaged me saying the bus company hadn’t found mine, guttered!
We met up with the others and headed to the mini bus/train, and it was freezing by this stage! Overall, Universal Studios was so much fun! We didn’t see any shows, but there were heaps of those, heaps of rides and just so much to look at, I absolutely loved it! On the train home, I fell asleep as I have been in almost every moving vehicle I’ve gotten in over the course of the trip. When we got back to the hotel we had our final meeting and did our Kris Kringle presents.
I got an awesome shot glass and a little bottle of absolute vodka, Nicole got some chocolate that you can feed dogs – because she has a Dalmatian at home and loves dogs – and these socks and Amelia got a hilarious shark fin headband! She was a land shark!
We did our evaluations, if there were two things I could say about the Contiki was that the hotel in San Fran wasn’t great and could definitely be changed and secondly there was definitely not as many included breakfasts as it said on the itinerary. Apart from that everything else was amazing and I loved every minute of it! The stuff we got to do we wouldn’t have done going by ourselves! I highly recommend doing a Contiki!
After the evaluations we got ready to go to dinner, it was so cold, I couldn’t believe it! Felt like New York again. For dinner we went to Plan Check, a fancy burger place. We had some really nice appetisers with curried eggs, vegetables chips and guacamole, they were delicious!
For dinner I had the cheeseburger, it was nice but I wasn’t really in the burger mood, the chips were amazing though! After we ate we were all going on the pub crawl that we had paid for and everyone had paid, but it was only Josh, Kiran, Carl and us three girls who left to go! We met the guides in Hollywood and they took us to the first bar. It was like inside/outside so it was cold. We did Vegas Bombs and some had a moonshine shots to warm up, we had a few drinks there and headed to the next place. We all really liked this one, it was made to look like a diner and the music was awesome! They also had $5 shots and cocktail buckets!
Next was the nightclub, we were excited to go to this and on the way Carl even bought us roses off the guy selling them on the street! But the nightclub was not good, the music was terrible and we all felt like we were having a stroke! So we headed back to the bar we were previously at and spent the rest of the night there. I wish it wasn’t a Monday night because the guides said better clubs would have been opened! We all got a taxi home around 1.30am and stopped at the 7/11 next door to our hotel for food! I got this rock hard pizza, it wasn’t very nice at all! Note to everyone: never buy a 7/11 pizza!
Not having to rush anywhere today, we got up and packed a bit before heading downstairs to see everyone before we parted ways.
After a few had gone to do some shopping we decided to meet at 12pm and then Carl, Josh, Hayley, Gareth and us three girls would head down to Hollywood. We headed upstairs and finished packing when we heard on the news the metro station down the road was closed because there was a fire! We could see helicopters and the fire brigade down the road near the station, it was crazy!
We met everyone downstairs and said goodbye to Rachel, Bec, Jaz, Zac, Jess, Erin, Natalie and Kiran. It was really sad saying goodbye to people who have been like your family for the last 14 days!!
The rest of us headed to the station and everything had cleared by then, so we headed on the train to Hollywood. Once we got to Hollywood we had noticed the Star Wars Premiere was being taken down, but they were replacing it with bike jumps. We found out it was another movie premiere – which Justin Bieber went to later that night! We were starving at that point so we went to Hooters for lunch. Our waitress was so lovely and had amazing customer service!
Most of us got the Tuesday all you can eat wings, you could pick your own sauce and every time you order you get the choice of different sauces! However, I definitely did not give the all you can eat a good crack! Then Carl had to leave to catch his flight home, I was so sad! He was like my dad the whole trip. Lacing my new shoes, fixing my bike!
After that we decided to pay the bill and head over the road to the Chinese Theatre to look at the hand and foot prints out the front. We saw the Twilight stars, Will Smith and Amelia even had the same size foot as Eddie Murphy, that is a classic! Then we all headed to Madame Tussauds. It was pretty cool to get photos with all the wax figures, they all looked so real, it was very lifelike! Seeing as we hadn’t seen a celebrity yet it was nice to get some photos, however, my head did feel big in comparison to Lady Gaga and Will Smith!
We had a look at some of the names on the Walk of Fame and then headed to look at the shops. I bought some new stuff from Victoria Secret and Sephora. The items I got were so so much cheaper than at home, it was crazy! We made our way back to the hotel and along the way lost Josh and Hayley as they were heading for dinner. We said our sad goodbyes, again.
So then it was four! Once back at the hotel to get changed before going to the NBA! L.A Lakers vs Milwaukee Bucks! We were all so excited! We put our bags at the concierge for when the basketball finished and then it was time to say goodbye to Gareth. Again, so so sad, he made us laugh everyday!
We got an Uber to the Staples Center and headed inside! We bought Lakers beanies and some sushi for dinner before heading to our seats. They were amazing, we paid good money for them but it was worth it, right behind the backboard and close to the court!
Taking in every minute of the game the atmosphere was incredible! Kobe was playing awesome and we seen some really good shots – an awesome dunk too. The Lakers have a promotion where if they win and keep the opposition under 100 points, everyone gets free tacos from Jack in the Box.
By the end of the forth everyone was chanting, ‘we want tacos’! So good, the chants throughout the game were hilarious. In the end Lakers won and kept the Bucks under 100, so we got the tacos!! That NBA game was incredible, I loved every minute of it and was easily the best sports game I have seen!
So we headed out, got our taco voucher and booked an Uber. Wow our Uber driver was very very odd, his name was Mickey. He looked nothing like his Uber profile photo and was a budding actor who talked a lot of nonsense! But, he did take us to get our tacos.
We needed to get to Anaheim from our hotel. So Mickey organised for another Uber driver to come get us and the bags. I went with the girl Uber driver and Nicole and Mill went with Mickey. My driver was nice but I was so tired and she kept talking about this true story she wanted to make into a screen play and I was struggling to pay attention! It was a fair drive to Anaheim, around half an hour drive and we were there at the Best Western Park Plus. We checked in and pretty much wet to bed. Our room was huge though, quite nice! I was still in awe from the basketball when we went to sleep.
Things I would like to do in Los Angeles:
- Explore Beverley Hills
- Go to Rodeo Drive
- See a celebrity
- Little Tokyo
- Paramount Studios
- See The Ellen Show
- See the neighbouring towns including Malibu, Orange County, Newport.