Arrived LA about 1pm and taking the bus drivers advice did not get off at Union station ( which the tickets stated) but stayed on to the Greyhound terminal, where no helpful info was forthcoming to the query as to how to get to north Hollywood..... like they'd never heard of it. So mooching round the back I found the most decrepit taxi rank I've ever seen manned by evil looking Latinos licking their lips as I approached. At least they knew where north Hollywood was and the hotel. When I asked how much the big fat one said $45 or maybe 35 as I looked horrified, depends on traffic. So we hauled the bags round and he watched as I put them in the boot. Traffic was horrible then eased and he drove like a madman and the clock read $39 when we got to the Beverley Garland, across the other side of town and by what seemed a straight route so no complaints except a) we went back passed Union station and b) there is a direct metro line from the station to Universal City which is a 15min walk or $10 taxi ride from the hotel..... but we weren't to know that.
Anyway, hotel is top notch, very swanky and well above our usual level.....never had so many thick bath towels. Beautiful gardens with lovely lights at night, heated swimming pool, excellent restaurant, shuttle every hour back to the metro and Universal studios, WiFi in the room and an enormous TV.
So checked in and then took the shuttle (an old converted wooden tram) to Universal studios where there is a city walk around the studio complex and is full of shops, restaurants, and the sort of things I loathe. Had dinner in a German micro brewery....don't even ask.
Monday, up at the crack of dawn, 9am shuttle to metro, figured out the system, bought & loaded 2 oyster type cards called TAP cards. Down to Hollywood & Vine where the Hop on hop off bus co. HQ is and bought 2x48 hour tickets for
$118. There are 4 different routes designated by colour and over the 2 days we travelled the length and breadth of LA.
All the way down to Santa Monica and walked the length of Venice Beach boardwalk, walked on the beach and paddled in the Pacific in preparation of truly going coast to coast. Bought slices of pizza and sandwiches at a stall and ate them watching people playing basketball on one of the many courts. This was going to be the GF's highlight but the place is very odd and not at all smart,chic or trendy. Absolutely packed, and the boardwalk ( not a wooden walkway but concrete) is full of hippie street vendors out of the 60's selling crap, worse than Morocco or Turkey, except that they were mostly out of their heads and couldn't bother anyone. The grass was covered in bodies in sleeping bags or bin liners and little groups of down and outs looking dirty, unkempt and stoned. The GF was very disappointed, but the beach is fabulous. Excellent sightseeing bus with great commentary pointing out who lived where,was discovered, worked as waiter,was killed,born,married, arrested etc etc.
the Farmers market was great fun and we ate pastrami and corned beef sandwiches on rye with mustard, easy on the Mayo, from one of the many stalls which are legendary. La Break tar pits were worth the hop off and a brief look at the museum of modern art (Van Gogh to Kandinsky).
Being Mr Nice Guy, we hopped off and walked Rodeo Drive which was worth it from my point of view as a Bugatti Veyron drove up and parked in front of me as an extremely leggy lady in extraordinary heels and tight short dress came out of Bijam ( which I am told is the most expensive shop in the world) to put money in the parking meter for the driver. I have photographs of both.
We have dined in the hotel restaurant, strangely called Warren's Blackboard food and drink workshop, which was very good and have found a great supermarket for buying breakfast items near the metro as we walk back to the hotel as it only takes 15 mins.
More unknown charges appeared on our bank statement..2x£49.99.. but on phoning it seems they were made before the card was cancelled on the 14th and have been refunded now. I still can't get over the fact that cards are swiped without requiring a pin , so open to abuse.
Anyway LA has a lot of history, bits are terrific, bits are shit and there is a lot of conspicuous wealth here and we come across film crews everywhere. I hadn't realised so many scenes really are shot on location here and it was fun having hotels,bars,restaurants pointed out where iconic scenes were filmed for real . Didn't get to drive up Mulholland Ave or park up above the Hollywood sign as I wanted to relive Harry Bosch books but at least I've seen the rest and know where he's coming from.