Photography

USA road trip, day 16, a day in Tinseltown

USA road trip, day 16, a day in Tinseltown

Great start to the day today. Matt meets us and takes us to his local English pub, Ye Old King’s Head on Santa Monica Boulevard, just off of Ocean Drive. Think not England, more like Benidorm. That said, breakfast was good, full English and the Premier League was on the box inside. Today was all about sightseeing and getting to see as much as we could of LA after yesterday’s fun and games. First stop was Beverly Hills. Can’t help it but the very first thing that pops into my head is Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop driving down Rodeo Drive with Stir It Up playing on the radio. So we park up and take a stroll down the ultimate consumer destination making sure to window shop only. Gucci, Prada, Versace, Vulgari; they’re all there, such excess in such a very short street. Felt like we were on a film set as well, quite odd. All the window shopping had taken its toll on Matt and he had to stop for a snack and a drink. As the party tried to grab an outside table at 208 Rodeo Restaurant I popped just over the road to take some snaps of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, hoping I’d bump into Pretty Woman. After getting some snaps but not seeing Julia I hopped back over to the group to find they’d just been seated. My timing was excellent, the beers had just turned up so not standing on ceremony I got stuck in. Not all managed to grab a beer on the first pass and the waiter was dispatched tout suite to get some more. When they hadn’t turned up as smartly as they were ordered the poor chap was told in no uncertain terms that they weren’t required to be chilled, they were wanted now! And make it two!!!! I felt for him. The waiter took it in his stride as well 🙂 Back then to pick up the car from where we’d left it, the wide palm tree lined avenue North Beverly Drive at the top of Rodeo Drive, and head over to the HOLLYWOOD sign to see and snap the iconic image of L.A. Turns out that taking in the sights on Sunset Boulevard, such as The Viper Room (River Phoenix spent his last ever night there) and the world famous Mel’s Drive-In Diner (I’d have much rather gone there for lunch), takes a hell of a lot longer than it would do on the freeway, it was at least an hour to get there. But if we’d gone the quick way we wouldn’t have seen the bizarre sight of mounted police trotting along the busy three lane Sunset and maybe end up where we were supposed to be going. Matt didn’t need a satnav, he was local you see, but somehow we had ended up at the observatory in Griffith Park (7 hours early!) instead of the HOLLYWOOD sign. So we didn’t get to see the sign up close and nobody wanted to go to the observatory except me… which I wanted to do later that night and get the shot that I’ve used for today’s cover image. After a quick whizz round the outside of the beautiful art deco era observatory and seeing downtown L.A. from the hills during daylight hours with no twinkly lights, we headed back to Venice Beach to take in the sunset, on the front, in a bar having a beer and relaxing on our last night. Or so I thought. Should have known better as Matt decided we didn’t want to see that, no, what we wanted to see was the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and he knew just the place for dinner. Quite amazing how many times he needs to eat a day. After some Italian treats the sun was going down and it was time for me to head back over to Griffith Park to get my shot of all the now twinkling lights layed out before me from my vantage point at the observatory. I was on my own, surprisingly nobody else fancied the hour drive there and hour back. As I set off from where we’d parked I nearly ran over Michael Keaton. No word of a lie, I’d nearly squashed Beetlejuice. If looks could kill I’d be six feet under. Taking the freeway was considerably quicker than Sunset Boulevard and I got there in about 40 minutes. Took an absolute age to park though, going round and round and round as the fuel needle was going deeper into the red zone with every lap. Had to park about half a mile away and hike up to the observatory. Got my shots and headed back to the villa. The freeway at that time of night was absolutely mental, I don’t mind going fast but this was crazy fast and you had to keep up with the traffic. Eventually got in about at about midnight after a very busy and tiring last full day.

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