14.04.2011 - 20.07.2011 31 °C
I had written most of this entry in LA but unfortunately I ran out of time due to my flight. I’ve been back home now a few days and it’s just been mental catching up with everyone so I’m only getting around to posting this now:
Well, it's the final day of my trip. In some ways it only seems like a few weeks ago that I was leaving for Singapore (which was seven months ago). Right now I'm just killing time before my flight in a few hours so at this stage I'm looking forward to getting home and seeing everyone. Anyway, here's what I've been up to on my final few days.
The train ride from San Diego to LA was smooth and fast. The three hours flew by. This time I managed to stay awake and actually enjoy some of the scenery. When I arrived into Union Station I took a bus outside to Santa Monica Boulevard, the place where I would be staying for the next few nights. I thought I had come across enough insane people in San Diego. Unfortunately there would be one more. On my bus this older man ended up getting on halfway through and decided to talk the face off me for the rest of the journey. There was no escaping. He spoke in a very high pitched wheezy voice so it was hard to decipher a lot of what he was saying. There was plenty of smiling and nodding on my behalf. On the plus side, I was offered a job sealing envelopes for 40 hours a week so if I don't get a job when I'm home I have a back-up option!
I met up with my good friend Troy a little later. He flew down from Vancouver to hang out which has been great as LA is not a place you want to be on your own - it just wouldn't be any fun at all. He booked us into the Ramada which was really reasonable price wise and perfect in terms of location. It's without a doubt the gayest hotel I've ever stayed in - over 90% of guests are! I wasn't complaining. Speaking of gay, the whole city is gay ville. You actually have to look around to spot the straights and the whole commercial market is targeted towards the pink pound. Gyms with the gay flag in the window and men posing in minimum underwear in clothes shop feature, along a frozen yoghurt outlet called Yoghurt Stop which actually has disco balls in it! Hilarious. Thankfully there weren’t too many screaming camp queens roaming the streets.
We didn't have much time to sit around and relax on the first day as Troy had gotten us free tickets to a live screening of the Jay Leno show. We headed out to NBC studios and queued for a while before finally being letting in. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any photographs past the point of entry so the picture below is the closest one I could get. The show generally has some really good celebrities on it but we were in a bit unlucky on this one. We got stuck with Kendra Wilkinson and Tyler Perry. I had never heard of either. Kendra apparently spent time living in the Playboy mansion before moving on to the current series of Dancing with the Stars. Tyler is an actor/comedian who is starring in Madea's Family Reunion, a film that looks funny but is a complete rip-off of Big Momma's House. To be fair the guests did entertain as Tyler was quite funny and Kendra ended up coming across as the complete stereotypical air head many people would presume her to be. I must add poor Jay isn't looking too well these days. I think botox is taking its toll. He comes across well on-screen but off-screen there are few facial movements going on and he's starting to look quite plastic. He was a bit more nervous than I expected considering his experience but after the first ten or fifteen minutes he got into his stride. It was cool to be able to see a show like this. It's just a pity Jerry Springer wasn't on at the same time I would have loved to be in the audience for that (Jerry, Jerry!).
That evening we took it easy as we were up the next morning for Six Flags theme park. I had been here before a few years ago when I took a day trip visit to LA from Las Vegas in order to go. It’s without a doubt one of the best rollercoaster theme parks in the world. My only complaint about visiting is price. The park entrance itself is just 35 dollars, but when you add in 55 dollars for a return shuttle bus and another 100 dollars for the best fast pass (which is necessary to be honest) it makes for a very expensive day out. However, how many times do you get to this? And I’m a big theme park fan. It was like a military operation getting around the place as it’s huge. We just about got it all covered by the time it was closing. The best rollercoaster I’ve ever been on is in this park - X2. It’s just awesome. That night we headed out clubbing and got to see Kelly Rowland perform live. We didn’t know about it until the evening. She came on and sang her three songs. I was loving it.
We didn’t stay out too late though as the next morning was another early start, this time for Universal Studios. This is the third Universal Studios I have visited, the other two being Orlando and Singapore (at the very start of my trip). I wasn’t sure about whether to go or not but Troy really wanted to as he hadn’t been before. It was cheaper to do than Six Flags when you take in all the costs and a lot closer by. Many of the attractions are similar to the other geographical locations but there are a few unique rides. The best one was the Hollywood Studios tour where you get to drive past the studios where most American shows are filmed. They bring you through outdoor film sets and then into this cave for a 360 degree Imax experience of King Kong, whilst on a shuttle bus. It was pretty impressive. That night we headed out again and this time it was a late one. I think I ended up getting to bed by 6am. There’s lots of choice club wise in LA and it’s a pretty fun scene to go out on, if a little OTT.
On Sunday we had a sleep in and headed down to the main Hollywood strip where the Walk of Fame is - it’s funny seeing all the celebrity stars as you walk up and down the street. There is some serious names there too, as you’d expect. One highlight on the way to the strip was our taxi - we were picked up in a Hummer jeep! The comfort and style inside was unbelievable. Only in LA would you have a taxi man pick you up in a Hummer. That afternoon we paid a visit to Madame Tussauds and then saw the film Insidious in the infamous Asian themed Grauman Theatre. That film is possibly the scariest movie I’ve ever watched and I’m a big horror film fan. Make sure you see it! That night we ended up seeing a second film in the Grove Shopping centre near our hotel as we weren’t going out. Scream 4 - load of rubbish!
The next day we booked the Hollywood celebrity homes tour. It’s a couple of hours long. They first bring you out to see the famous Hollywood sign. Unfortunately though the weather was very cloudy that day so it was hard to get a decent shot on the camera. After that we drove through Beverly Hills where our driver pointed out all the stars’ homes. Below you can see Britney Spears' and Simon Cowell's homes. Before we returned back to the hotel he drove us down the well known shopping district Rodeo Drive where scenes in Pretty Woman were filmed.
Troy’s flight was shortly after the tour so we said our goodbyes and he headed back on a flight to Vancouver. I moved from a hotel to a hostel in order to save some cash and went to see Rio that night in the Grove Shopping Centre to pass some time. Great film. By this stage the trip was pretty move over so time went by a lot slower as I was eager to get home to Dublin. My flight to London was with British Airways. It was comfortable and I slept for a few hours but it’s not as good as Qantas. I guess I’ve been a bit spoiled by them over the past few months. I had another few hours then to kill in London airport before my flight to Dublin. My mum, sister and niece picked me up and we headed for lunch before I finally got home. It was really strange! And I couldn’t believe the good weather - sun in Ireland and no rain! I was dying to see my house again and finally have some space. The last few days have been spent catching up with friends and I’m now on the job hunt with a few interviews lined up for this week.
I really enjoyed my time in LA and I think it gets a lot of unfair criticism. It’s not somewhere I’d live by any means but for a 4-5 day trip it’s a lot of fun. Just make sure you’re with at least one friend and have plenty of cash because you can burn through money far too quickly here. I’d definitely go back again to visit but not for a long time.
It’s hard to believe the entire seven months is now over. At the beginning it felt like I would never be at this point. I’m going to write one final entry this weekend on some of the highlights from the past seven months. It has been such a fantastic experience. It hasn’t really hit me yet that it’s all over but I know it will once I start working. Until then I’m going to enjoy the last couple of weeks off before it’s back to reality.