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Published: August 7th 2016
The DIY tour view of the Hollywood Sign.
To our dismay we looked out of the window in the morning and it appeared that the cloud has been following us from San Francisco. The sky was drab and grey and not what we were expecting from August in the city that brought the world Bay Watch. Not that it could make the early morning view from our hotel any more depressing.
We watched a bit of the Olympics coverage whist we were getting ready for the day. Needless to say it was focused around the American athletes (but then I suppose any Americans on holiday in the UK will be making a similar complaint) although the plucky Brits did get a mention or two.
For our first full day in LA we planned on going to Hollywood, starting with the sign. My daughter had wanted to see that for years and I suspect it is the main reason we are in California - that and bumping into someone called Kim Kardashian.
A bit of in-advance Internet research seemed to show that a road called Mulholland Drive was the best way to get views over LA, including the Hollywood sign so we headed there and then drove
Hand and foot prints outside the Chinese Theatre.
the length of it to see what we could see. It was quickly obvious that we were on the right track as there were loads of tour buses driving around as well. There were several great views, but only the last one, the Hollywood Bowl Overlook, covered the Hollywood sign. There were very few parking spaces, but by complete fluke we managed to pull in behind someone who was leaving.
We saw lots of flash sports cars, but didn't recognise any of the drivers. No sign of this Kim woman.
It was a great view of the sign, but it was a long way away. There were also views of the downtown area, but that was just clouded in the famous LA smog. The sky was starting to clear, so the cloud is obviously just an early morning thing before it is burnt-off by the sun.
Whilst not mentioned in any of the "places to go for views of the Hollywood sign", my Internet research included checking the map of LA and I had my own theories of where to go. We headed to some streets that appeared to be nearer. It quickly became obvious that they
One of the hundreds of stars on Hollywood Boulevard.
are sick of tourists driving these streets looking for that sign. We had to ignore all the "No access to the Hollywood sign" signs and the "This is a residential area" signs and we eventually ended up at Lake Hollywood Park, along with a lot of other people. That was a fantastic find and seemingly out-of-bounds for the tour buses. It was a lot closer and had a much better view.
There was also a lot more parking there, along the side of the road, although it was still pretty chaotic. So chaotic in fact that there was a "Parking Enforcement Officer" (or "Parking Fed" according to our daughter) patrolling to make sure that everyone is considerate to the people who live there. This included telling some stupid Brits not to park where the curb is painted red - but at least she told us rather than waiting and then giving us a ticket, which you would expect in the UK.
Lots of people were trying to get even higher, but it was clear that the Parking Fed was being even stricter up there. The park seemed like a much nicer location anyway as it was very sparse
Distribution centre and railway line - a great hotel view.
and dry up there - in fact there were signs warning that it was a "Fire Hazard Zone".
After doing the sign to death, we headed to Hollywood itself. On walking out of the carpark on Vine Street we walked straight on to the stars on the street outside. We were honestly surprised how many there are. We followed them along Vine Street for a while and then headed down Hollywood Boulevard. It was considerably more crowded along there and it got increasingly harder to see the stars. Walking along checking them can get really hypnotic as you focus on reading the stars and not on where you are walking. Lots of people bumping into each other.
The other surprising thing is that we had not heard of about 98% of the people. Also, we were sure that there are some people who are there two or even three times, namely Nat "King" Cole, Angela Lansbury, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. We were not looking that closely at the icons that indicate what they are famous for, so maybe each is for a different reason!?
We couldn't find one for the Kim woman. We also couldn't find the one for Donald Trump. That was really disappointing as we had been dreaming-up inventive and imaginative ideas for photos disrespect that one. Maybe we're just of the many who have a similar idea, so it has been removed.
We found the Chinese theatre with all the hand and foot prints from many older stars. These all had messages addressed to someone called Sid. Apparently he is Sid Grauman who created the Chinese Theatre. It was almost impossible to get any decent photos of the writing and prints as the whole area was just way too crowded.
There were loads of people touting tours of the stars houses. That didn't really appeal. Whilst we were driving back we drove right past Beverly Hills, so we were very tempted to take the kids on our own DIY tour of the stars' houses, they won't know that the houses didn't belong to Justin Bieber, Snoop Dog, or that Kim woman.
We saw a Beverly Hills police car, which made my wife's day as she loved those movies. On the freeway we also saw a California Highway Patrol officer on a motorbike. Another iconic programme. I just need to encourage the others to go and visit the even more iconic Bay Watch beach now.
Also on the way back we thought we would drive down Rodeo Drive, which is apparently where all the movie stars shop. It was evident that the shops on this street are well out of our league (not that different to Heathrow Terminal Five) and there was still no sign of that Kim woman shopping. There was a bright yellow convertible Rolls Royce that everyone was having their pictures taken with. I've got no idea who it belonged to and the "Bi Jan" registration plate didn't give us any clue either
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