Here we go again….. I am on the move to my next location within my American Roadtrip! From South Lake Tahoe, we drove to Sacramento International Airport. Here is where we decided to say goodbye to our rental Jeep. To drive to LA it would have taken us about 6 hours and a flight from Sacramento to LA is short, being only an hour and a half in length. This made a lot more sense then to waste half a day travelling. Although we rented the jeep in San Francisco, we were aware that Sacramento Airport was listed as a drop off point. Flights to LA were cheaper from Sacramento to LA as opposed to San Francisco to LA. This is a big part of planning where we would go next and factors how much we would spend on travel. As we are less than two weeks into our trip, we had our next location and accommodation pre-booked before we arrived in the States, so, we had to stick to our check-in dates to not lose a day. The original plan was to never rent a car at all and travel around using public transport but that plan didn’t work out too well for us. Have a plan B, C, D, & E, just in case.
So, on arrival to Sacramento, we realised there was a 2-hour delay in our flight which isn’t bad and the airport here was super quiet. I don’t think I have ever got through security so quickly so we just went to the bar/restaurant, got a drink and a pizza… With all my brains and always thinking of my stomach, I realised we would get into LA very late and we wouldn’t be eating again. I decided to keep some of my pizza for when we arrived to our LA accommodation… great idea!? There is a story here……
Arriving into LAX late at night, not knowing where we were going was a bit manic! There are different underground levels to the airport where you get public transport into LA. We figured out that we needed to get a FLYAWAY Bus into Hollywood where we were staying. There are various buses and taxi services available. We double and triple-checked that we are on the right route by asking the driver/attendants/people on the bus and we even popped it into our google maps so we knew when we would be near where we needed to get off. All very fast paced here! Ok, we got off in Hollywood..now to find our accommodation.. 4 young girls tugging luggage around after them, looking for our apartment, in the middle of the night: AVOID THIS. Such a stupid idea!
We made it close to our accommodation while being greeted by the owner of the apartment. He was very sketchy! He just handed us the keys and told us the room number within the apartment complex. We then spent the next 30 minutes trying to find the entrance of the building, climbing a couple of flights of stairs to the level that had an elevator, tensions were very high at this point and we were FINALLY on our way up to the 6th floor. Starving was an understatement now, but I had carefully balanced my pizza from the airport, on top of my suitcase all this way, so I couldn’t wait to get into the apartment and tuck in! I noticed a note in the elevator outlining that renting out apartments in this complex for holiday purpose was strictly not aloud… no wonder the rental guy was sketchy!
As the elevator door opened and I could see the apartment entrance, at last, I rolled my suitcase out of the elevator where it got caught and my pizza slide off my suitcase down the corrider out of the box and onto the floor… I could have cried! I know very dramatic but then the apartment was a huge let down too, it was so dirty. One double bed and one single blow-up mattress is all there was which was not as advertised! I had to share the single bed with my sister, slept on my travel pillow and a hoodie because I was not going near the sheets. Mad, mad day!
Ok, its a new day we were here for 4 nights, so we hit the shops and got a few cleaning supplies to make the place a bit more comfortable! A hole in the bathroom sink, having a shower would make the sink in the bathroom and the kitchen begin to flood and vice versa! It was actually disgusting but after a clean up it was a lot better and the interior was lovely as you can see by its listing here: Hollywood Urban Executive Suite. We also saw that we were literally around the corner from the Walk of Fame so the location was 100%. €650 for 4 people for 4 nights, you can make your own judgement on that.
WHAT TO SEE & DO:
First up, we decided to go on the Ultimate Hollywood Celebrity Tour. By doing this first, we knew that we would be driving around the city, helping us get our bearings and decide what else we would want to see. The tours depart every hour and you must be at the office to check in about 15 minutes beforehand. I would recommend this tour, we saw numerous A-LISTER houses including; Michael Jackson, Jay-Z & Beyonce, Elvis Presley, Jennifer Laurence and so many more. Some you see the actually houses, some you see just the gate entrances.
If you are looking to do some serious shopping for luxury items then Rodeo Drive is where you need to be. This boulevard is full of designer, high end fashion retailers and jewellery shops. Even the shop windows ooze wealth! We drove through here as part of the Hollywood tour and the driver shared stories of celebrities who rent out the store for themselves at night. Our guide also showed us popular cafés, restaurants and their highlights and stories of Los Angeles! You have to tip the guide at the end of the tour, our guide told us how much he expected.
Hollywood Boulevard is where we spent some time strolling around. Here you will see the Walk of Fame, celebrities hand and footprints embedded into the pavements. Here, the famous Dolby Theatre lies within a shopping complex and also the TLC Chinese Theatre known as the movie palace! Madame Tussauds is also located on Hollywood Boulevard! This street is bursting with activity, street performers and places to explore. Everything seems to be packed onto this street.
Paramount Studio is one on the oldest and longest operating studio’s in Hollywood. This studio offers 2 types of studio tours: A STUDIO TOUR (2 hours, see location sets, behind the scenes) and A VIP TOUR (4 hours, exclusive access to archives and backlot & gourmet lunch). Today, Grace and Frankie’s successful Netflix show, Dr. Phil and many more call here home. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Godfather Trilogy, Titanic, Saving Private Ryan, Indiana Jones, Monk, Transformers, Wolf of Wall Street & Glee are to name just a few of the productions which have come to life here.
Warner Bros Studio is a major motion picture and television studio. There are 3 studio tour tickets you can purchase: A Studio Tour, A Classic Tour (Take a step back in time with this tour) or A Delux Tour, all tours offer something different. This studio has the real set of Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Ellen, ER, Jokers costume and so much more.
Sony Studio also offers studio tours daily.
I didn’t do any of the above but I did arrive at Paramount Studios for a really early start to join the audience of DR. PHIL. We were seated in the front row and stayed for two episodes. This was a crazy experience and I would highly recommend getting onto a live set if you can. We picked up the tickets while walking around Hollywood Boulevard, they were just being given out. So lucky. If you are planning your trip months in advance, you can try request audience tickets here for very popular shows such as The Ellen Show or read more here on this.
Obviously, the Hollywood sign is a must! We used UBER to get around the city and UBER drivers have great advice! Tips from locals is always the best! The hike up to the Hollywood sign is amazing, it is tough in the heat and the paths are sandy. CAUTION RATTLESNAKES signs are everywhere which was very unnerving for a friend of mine that has a serious fear! A couple of Coyotes even crossed our path! It was later in the evening time and very quiet (September) when we did this and it was great. We headed back to Griffith Observatory and watched the sunset over the city!
We met a promoter and he set up a night out for us at Murano’s. This was an amazing mirrored club in West Hollywood, our promoter met us at the entrance, lead the way where he had a table ready for us and rapper The Game was playing. This was very exciting and we loved it!
We headed to Venice Beach and this is totally different to the inner city! The vibe here is very laid back and carefree. The famous Muscle Beach, known for its outdoor gym equipment where very ‘buff’ muscley people can be seen in plenty. We decided to rent bikes here, we used the Metro Bike Share. There are numerous Bike Share Docking stations around LA and other parts of California. This gives you 24-hour access to this form of transport as you do not need to enter a shop to rent them. You simply go to the docking station, enter your information, $5 for 24 hours, clip the bike out of the dock and away you go! “It’s easy like riding a bike”. I would suggest downloading the app to check for other docks to return in your next location or bike availability.
To Santa Monica —>
Venice Beach to Santa Monica is voted one of the best and largest boardwalks/coastal walk in California. To walk this would take you about 45 minutes (2 miles long) but we cycled and according to Google Maps it would take us 22 minutes. Add extra time here as we kept stopping along the way to look at various skate parks, take some pictures etc. There was a big part of this route that was highly populated with homeless people. It is awful to see and very sad, this was the worst area suffering with homelessness that I have ever seen 😦 You will see from a distance, the famous Santa Monica pier emerging. Once we arrived to Santa Monica, we had a lot of issues with returning our bikes. The docking station here is not on the pier at all you must go in the opposite direction to the pier, straight through the intersection and to the end of the street. Bikes are heavy!! I experienced the craze that is LA here in Santa Monica, a guy in his underwear dancing in the street filming himself, someone cycling around doings laps in great conversion with themselves, another moved all the cones that security laid out for a concert that was taking place that evening, another kept hassling people for cigarettes. This actually became so persistent, to the point we had to move away from this area altogether and quickly made our way back to the pier. Here, I wasn’t really feeling this location and then multiple helicopters including NEWS choppers, whirled above our heads, all went quiet and about 15 squad cars and SUVs came skidding through the intersection. The guy in his underwear was loving all the action, I, on the other hand, thought this madness, coupled with my hangover was all a bit too much crazy for my liking. Turns out, this was a full-speed chase for a murder suspect that committed crimes that week.
Once we got back to the pier, everything dialled back a bit, the pier was lovely to walk through, the amusements and Ferris wheel are easily accessible, the pier marks the end of Route 66 and we ate at the legendary Bubba Gumps.
We got an UBER back to Hollywood to our accommodation, our UBER driver was a very interesting guy, an artist on Spotify with millions of views on his track ‘loveheadshot’ and he was also a movie producer. It is here we learnt that survival in LA comes by an insane work ethic, working 4-5 jobs and battling extreme rent costs.
TIPS & TRICKS:
- Read reviews on your accommodation!! If it still works out bad, just make the best of a bad situation!
- Use UBER to travel around if there is enough of you to fill a car or ‘UBER share’ with other people. Rent bikes using Metro Bike Share as it is only $5 for 24 hours.
- Search for people that are giving out audience tickets on Hollywood Boulevard.
- Club promoters interact with you in Hollywood on the street or online=cheaper night out.
- Embrace the craziness of LA!
This ended up being a very long post, I am sorry but to give you the real LA experience I had, I wanted to bring you along my trip there with me. The funny parts, the uncomfortable parts, the hards parts and the great parts.
Looking back now, I just laugh at this location, its Hollywood after all, its LA.. the city of Angels! Would I go back? Most definitely, I would visit different places to see some more of the LA craze!
If you have any question please just ask me on my instagram page @meraki__travel or send me an email here.