A Flying Visit To LA LA Land

Los Angeles was admittedly never at the top of my travel bucket list, but when the opportunity arose to travel to LAX, I knew I couldn’t miss the chance to explore a new place. With Fran and I singing the horribly catchy Miley Cyrus song “jumped off the plane at LAX..” weeks leading up to the trip to say we were excited would be a massive understatement!

Being met at the airport by someone familiar is more heartwarming than you will ever know and as we walked through arrivals Fran spotted the familiar face of family and we felt right at home straight away.

So we had 10 days in LA and a list as long as my arm to see and do!

Day 1:
Rest and planning day. All this traveling takes it out of a girl so we used our first day to do nothing but search the web for things we wanted to do and get settled into California lifestyle. We were treated to a scrumptious BBQ dinner our first night and spent the evening out in the garden in the glorious warm summer evening. I could get used to this way of life.

Day 2:
Our first touristy day and we caught the bus and subway to West Hollywood. The public transport was surprisingly good contrary to popular belief. Although this is where you come across the ‘characters’ LA has to offer.
West Hollywood is where the Hollywood walk of fame and the Chinese hands Theatre is. We walked up and down spotting the names we knew and having pictures with our favourites. There were touching tributes around Joan Rivers and Robin Williams’ stars as they recently passed away.

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At the Chinese Theatre celebrities print their hands and feet into the cement just outside the theatre doors. I can tell you Mr Will Smith has the biggest feet I’ve ever seen and Marilyn Monroe has the tiniest hands in the business.

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The atmosphere on the streets is electric, thousands of tourists are milling around and street performers are everywhere you turn.

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We saw Michael Jackson on one street and then the cast of transformers on the next – it’s the craziest place we’ve ever been and we loved every second of it. It was amazing just people watching and soaking up the local flavour.
We found what claims to be the biggest candy store in America where I stocked up on the most American candy I could find to send home to some family of the sweet toothed variety.
To end our first cliche tourist day we headed to the famous Jonny Rockers diner and filled our faces with burger goodness.

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Day 3:
Spent the day at a huge mall, shopping ’till we dropped. It was funny to watch groups of younger teenagers ‘hanging out’ at the mall – a real American pastime. As were staying with family of Fran’s it’s a lot of fun doing normal day to day things with them rather than the crazy life that were currently living. Therefore a trip to the mall is so much more fun than you would think.
We went to watch Teegan, Fran’s younger cousin, at softball practice which was very cool. All the kids were decked out in the gear with serious looking bats – I was very envious and wanted to have a go myself.
We spent the evening out in the garden again. Los Angeles was going through a heat wave while we were there so it was constantly around 40 degrees which meant in the evenings the heat just became bearable and we could spend some time outside. After getting my fix of softball in the garden we settled down for another BBQ and a few vinos to finish the day off nicely.

Day 4:
Today we headed to the infamous Rodeo Drive.

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This is where the rich come to shop, with stores like Channel, Tiffany, and Vera Wang the street looks like something from a movie.

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Cars like Ferraris, Mercedes, Porsche and Rolls Royce line the road and look as of they’re there for show as surely no one could own such a beautiful thing!?

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The famous hotel The Beverly Wilshire where Pretty Women was filmed stands elegantly at the end of the street and just adds to the beauty of the entire area. Of course we had a look around and instantly felt out of place. It’s clearly for the richest of the rich – but wow the place oozed understated elegance.

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Once our envious sides had died down we headed to another infamous spot – The Sunset Strip.

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We walked for a while taking it all in; another crazy place with a few ‘characters’ of LA knocking about. We headed to Mels diner, one of the oldest in California for another huge lunch. America sure was feeding us up! We found a really cool bookshop where I bought a signed copy of ‘My Drunk Kitchen’ written by one of my favourite Youtubers – Over the moon!!

The sunset strip has a huge gay scene and one of our friends told us that if we didn't have time to party on the strip we had to at least check out the rainbow crossing. We wasn't kidding the place looked crazy fun and in the middle of it all lies a gay flag zebra crossing – surreal!

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Day 5:
Time for another chilled day and some time to plan our next adventure – Costa Rica. We also booked a car for the next two days so we can do some solo exploring. Very exciting!

Day 6:
ROADTRIP! We picked up our tiny Chevvy hire car, reminded myself how to drive an automatic and then hit the road.

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Armed with a Sat Nav and snacks for the day we typed in our first destination – Malibu. Our plan was to check out as many famous spots as we could while we had the freedom to do so.
The drive to Malibu through Malibu Canyon was beautiful with blue sky above us and the radio blaring it felt amazing to be back on the road exploring new places.

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This was a tribute in Malibu of all those who had fallen in 9/11

If I had the money and the opportunity to live in California, Malibu would be my number one. The houses and the beach there are so impressive and are the ideal beach house. What I would give to live in a house like that!

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Once we were done staring at houses that belong to people like Will Smith and Jennifer Anniston we took to the road again and headed towards Santa Monica.

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We parked at the Pier and went to explore. Santa Monica Pier is very cool and has a amazing buzz as soon as you step foot on to it.

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We walked to the end of the pier where we met Charley the seal who apparently visits every now and again for some grub. He was definitely the centre of attention and acted like a king giving us all a show – I liked him a lot!

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As an excuse to shelter from the intense sunshine we ate a delicious mint chocolate chip ice cream and watched couples dance along to the street performers playing jazz music. Such a cool atmosphere!

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From here we drove to the home of crazy – Venice Beach where we spoke to more delirious people in one hour than I ever have in my entire life! I think the character of Los Angeles stems from here and it might be one of the coolest places I have ever been in my life. Everyone has their own individual wild character, people walk around with huge boom boxes like something from the Fresh Prince and artists constantly approach you to sample their new music. Sides of buildings are covered in skilful graffiti that gives a sense of life and colour to an ordinary structure.

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The streets are lined with local artists and tourist shops selling I Heart Venice t-shirts but no tat can ruin the amazing vibe that this crazy town exudes.
We headed back to Sunset Strip for dinner as we wanted to see how the blvd came alive at night.

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It’s like another place after dark. The road was a constant hum of LA traffic, all the billboards were blinding and restaurants were spilling out into the streets. We picked a bar that overlooked all this commotion and ordered cheap enchiladas and beers. What a perfect day!!

Day 7:
One more day left with the car so armed with a celebrity homes map we planned to go on a hunt to find some of our favourites. First on the agenda was breakfast at iHOP, where we stuffed ourselves silly with delicious pancakes and then felt ready to face the day.

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We drove around the luxurious Beverly Hills, down Mulholland Drive and up and down the Hollywood Hills. We were like kids in a candy store and every house blew our minds whether it had a famous owner or not! What do these people do to own a house like that?
You know when you’ve come across a celebrity home as the fences are so high you can’t even see the house, we still felt a small buzz when we found our favourites though like Jennifer Anniston, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Hanks and George Clooney. Unfortunately none of them were putting the bins out or popping to the shops for some milk so we didn’t have any celeb spots.
The ex president Ronald Reagan has a guard tower at the end of his drive way with an armed guard and the largest plot of land ever, his house went on for blocks!
Lady Gaga had an ordinary looking house in a beautiful location on the edge of Beverly Hills, you could knock and ask for a cup of sugar if you felt the need 😉
One of our favourite finds was when we pulled up to a house about 7 or 8 and yelled to the cab yo homes smell ya later. For those that don’t know what I’m talking about we found the mansion from the Fresh Price of Belair. It was exactly how you remember it just with a little more privacy then what’s shown on TV!

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Our final excursion was to try and get as close as possible to the Hollywood sign as we could. We drove through the hills and saw more beautiful houses, and then we got our first glimpse, far in the distance the famous white letters that sit atop the hill!! We were still super far away but we got a buzz for seeing it for the first time!

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Eventually we got to a look out point with a few other tourists, turned around and there it was clear as day right in our faces!

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Wow what a feeling. We cracked out the jumping poses and took hundreds of photographs – it felt surreal to actually be at the Hollywood sign in person!

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That evening we cooked our hosts a good old English roast with all the trimmings. It went down very well and also filled a craving we both had!

Day 8:
Car-less again and back to using public transport we decided to check out Downtown LA. Downtown is famous for being the oldest area of Los Angeles and because of this has some beautiful architecture. It feels a little like parts of New York with the giant iron fire escapes on the outside of the buildings. It’s very different to the other parts of LA we had seen already.
A highlight for both Fran and I was when we came across ‘The Last Bookstore’. It was the craziest bookshop/library we had ever been in and even included an arch way made completely out of books. We could of spent days in there!

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Day 9:
Its coming close to the end of our stay here so we spent the morning cleaning all of our clothes before packing them into our backpacks.
We picked Teegan up for school and joined her and her dad in their Friday tradition of after school Fro’Yo – glorious during a heat wave!
We were lucky enough to be invited to look around where Alison works. Alison works in design for Disney and we felt as if we were getting a sneak peak behind the scenes of upcoming Disney movies. The offices were FILLED with Disney toys and memorabilia, it was a kids heaven. We even got to peak at one of the animators doing some incredible sketches! What a very cool place to work.
That evening we headed over to Glendale to an outside shopping and restaurant complex called the Americana. This was a really cool place to hang out in the evening and people watch – just grab one of the free blankets, choose your spot on the grass and settle in – perfect!

Day 10:
DISNEYLAND!!!
What we had all been waiting for! There’s no better way to end a wonderful trip in Los Angeles but with a trip to Disney 🙂 We were all over excited and so ready for the crazy day ahead.
Of course the weather was scorching but that just gave us a reasonable excuse to go on all the water rides. We went on everything from the carousel to The Tower of Terror to the biggest loop de loop they had. I even got Fran and Teegan on the roller coaster twice 😉

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Fran and I were desperate to try out the famous American delicacy; a Corndog, we were not disappointed!

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After a fun filled day and feeling utterly exhausted it was time for us to bid fair well to crazy LA LA land and hop on another plane at LAX..

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