Thu, 8/10/2015

It may seem that LA is a nice tourist city with palm trees, but in reality it is one of the world’s largest cultural, economic, educational and scientific centers, where music, movie, TV and computer games industries are very well developed.
As I’ve already told you in the previous part, I imagined LA simply between the sea and the mountains with the Hollywood sign. Basically, that is true, but the distance is quite big.
Have you ever heard about “BEVERLY HILLS 90210”? It’s the most popular zip code in the States thanks to the famous same-name series.

As a place to stay we chose “The Peninsula” hotel in Beverly Hills, because it is situated right in the middle of all popular attractions in the City of Angels – Rodeo Drive, Hollywood and the ocean (Santa Monica). It takes 30-40 minutes to get to Hollywood and nearly 30 minutes to get to Santa Monica, while the Rodeo Drive is just a 5 minutes’ walk away.

I like travelling and staying in hotels with huge beds, where I can sleep in a “star” position together without bothering each other. I got used to comfort and cleanliness just like any normal person unless he’s a Mowgli. But they don’t know about that in hotels. Late check-in, we shut the drapes and turned off our phones, so that nobody could disturb us. But at 9 a.m. I find somebody knocking on the door, they’ve already sent the room service.
 - We arrived late at night. Thank you very much. We checked in late and now we’re sleeping. Do not disturb us.
 - Can I change the towels for you?
 - We didn’t have time to dirty them.
 - Maybe you need some more toilet paper then?
 - You are wrong about us. Russian people make it as often as Americans do.
 - Should I make your bed at least?
 - I think my sleeping wife will be mad and will definitely fight for the bed.
The first attempt of invasion into our room was neutralized. So we get up later and go have our breakfast.

We came back 15 minutes later, and the room was already clean! (Where is that damn “Do not disturb” sign? Ah, they have a button instead, modern technologies!)
The next day we got a message under our door saying that “You didn’t allow us to clean your room, so it must be pretty messy, you must have run out of toilet paper and all 12 towels. Call us and we will arrange everything”.
We had a lot of things, Yana’s jewelry, my photo equipment, shoes and other stuff lying everywhere in the room, so the least I wanted was to have a stranger touch it all and rearrange. But we thought why not please the lady. So we spent 30 minutes on putting away our stuff and folding clothes just for the cleaning maid to make our bed, change the towels, take the tips and leave us alone. When we get back to our room in the evening, all tired, we pull the blankets stuck under the mattress out again and we check where she decided to put our clothes this time.
We’ve been to many countries and cities and hotels, but it’s all the same, we have to pluck that blanket out every evening. But good news is that if the hotel suddenly turns upside down, you will find yourself in a safe spot. Maybe that’s for our safety indeed?

Russian immigrants from the former Soviet Union live in Western Hollywood, where they even have Russian press and many companies and stores. We also saw an Armenian quarter, where many Armenian Americans people live. We were really surprised to see no American taxi drivers (for almost 10 rides), they all were Russian speaking Armenians, which simplified our navigation. So if you are catching a cab in LA, ask the driver if he can speak Russian. Even if he says “No”, don’t say out loud that you don’t like “Khash” or Armenian bread.

We passed every shop and all neighboring streets to Rodeo Drive. Here is what we found as points of inteterst:

 A fountain at “Tiffany’s”

Palm trees

Modern art

A cool car

and a red car

Every evening we dined at the best and popular restaurants recommended by our American friends. One should reserve a table several days in advance and then stand in a queue near the restaurant. It’s a typical scene, a RR Phantom car arriving to the restaurant, a family coming out and joining the queue to wait till their reserved table is free. And every day we were expecting a gastronomical outburst, but it wasn’t that great. Those restaurants and cuisine were just not impressive. I don’t mean they were awful, but such service and food is available at every corner without queues and much cheaper. So one thing I made clear to myself, I would never go to a restaurant because of someone’s recommendation. It was pretty dark and not that beautiful in those places we were at, so no pictures attached.
But we had marvelous dinners right in our hotel, where this talented pianist was playing live. We even bought 2 CDs with world famous tracks performed by him, so now we have something to remember Los Angeles by.

We were running out of time, so the day before we left, we decided to pay a visit to Santa Monica.  

Santa Monica is located at the Atlantic beach. There are many hotels, cafes and restaurants in the area. The city reminded me of Miami, their Ocean Avenue looks a lot like Ocean Drive in Miami Beach. The moment we arrived there I realized what a big mistake I’ve made when planning our itinerary. 5 days for Los Angeles is extremely little. Ideally we should have stayed all those days in Beverly Hills and then move to Santa Monica to relax. But we planned to fly to New York instead for another week...
So I would recommend you to stay in Beverly Hills for a couple of days (which is not far from Hollywood), and then move to Santa Monica for a relaxing beach holiday.

There were lots of people on the large beach even at sunset, many of them were still swimming. Well I can imagine how many people visit it at daytime.

The main attraction that we managed to visit was the famous Santa Monica Pier, which is the final point of the legendary “Route 66”.

The second must-see place at Santa Monica Pier was the amusement Pacific park. Judging by its size, it’s definitely for children.

There were also lots of fishermen on the pier.  

The rest of the days we decided to spend somewhere close to Hollywood. The first landmark of course was the “Hollywood” sign.
The best place to see it from is Mulholland Hwy, but parking there is always a headache. So we had to park somewhere in a Moscow style, blocking someone’s entrance. If you park in the right place, you can take a picture of the Hollywood sign for free. We got our “ticket” for $58 (fine for parking violation).

But we have the picture, so it is worth the money we paid. 

If you take this road it will also take you right to the HOLLYWOOD sign to see the construction itself up close (on the photo you can see people who have made it there). After visiting the sign we returned to our hotel to have lunch and a little rest. And then we moved to Hollywood itself by a taxi this time. The taxi driver took us to an observation site with a famous Los Angeles scenic view and a less popular Hollywood sign view.

Then the driver advised us to go to Universal studios, which is something like Disney land, an amusement park in general. We agreed.

We didn’t have time for entertainment like that, so we skipped standing in the queue for tickets, and went shopping instead. It was a free version of Universal Studios only without amusement rides and queues.

By the way there’s an Abercrombie & Fitch store there.


So you can impress your child even without buying a ticket, it’s like a super cheap version (the ticket costs around $100 per person). The child won’t even realize that he or she was cheated on. As for us we decided to visit the park when we have a child, so that will be a good reason to come back here again.

The final and the long-awaited point of our trip was Hollywood itself, the Walk of Fame and all the rest. Frankly speaking I didn’t imagine it to be like this. When we left the cab, we found ourselves at a place resembling New York, swarming with tourists and cars. We look at our feet? Wow, we see the stars! But we didn’t recognize the names, as if stars were given to locals, not movie stars. As it turned out the most sought after stars were located closer to the “Dolby theatre”.

There are a lot of museums and souvenir shops on Hollywood Blvd. The taxi stopped at the entrance of the Wax museum. It didn’t take us long to decide and so we entered and bought our tickets.

Total rubbish. The best advantage of the museum is the possibility to take a picture with the Hollywood sign on the background (but you can do it even without buying a ticket).  

Wax figures were shabby. So, this is a low-budget version of Madame Tussaud’s museum.

The most bitter part was that the real Madame Tussaud’s museum was just 300 meters away, at 6933 Hollywood Blvd.
The biggest crowd met us at the DOLBY theatre, there were the celebrity look-alikes, supermen, Charley Chaplins and some lads selling CDs and selfie-sticks for $5. It’s too hard for me to be in places like that, too many people per square meter.

Evgeny Fist for RunwayDay.com 

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