Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Day 20 - Our Big Break in Hollywood

Today was our first rest day since Chicago, and it felt like a massive luxury. Waking up in a hotel room without having to pack up and check out! The little things make me happy.

Our hotel is mostly lovely, and was great value for the price we got. The room is massive for a city hotel, and we have a balcony with a glorious view of the AT&T building opposite - and if you stand right in the corner on tip toes, you can even see half of the Griffith Observatory, which is quite cool. Unfortunately, though we have few firm requirements for our overnight lodgings, one of them is a hot shower and on this front the Hollywood Hotel fails abysmally. Washing long hair in a freezing shower is doubleplus unfun, and even the delicious omelette station isn't enough to make up for it.

An estate agent would list this as stunning views of Griffith Park

We had a bit of a lie-in and then headed out to Tourist Central to be tourists. As Londoners (or ex-Londoner in my case) we have high standards for public transport, and our experience in Los Angeles so far has been iffy: we took the shuttle up to Griffith Observatory last night and it was late going up and non-existent coming back (luckily we had planned on catching the second-to-last shuttle back!). Today we decided to give the LA Metro a try. The Vermont/Sunset station is only a couple of blocks from the hotel and lies on the line we wanted, so that part was easy. The ticket machines are not entirely tourist-proof, requiring random button-pushes to find the prices, but they seem to have instigated an Oyster card-type system since I was last here, which beats Oyster (for tourists) on the basis that the initial card deposit is only $1.

The platform was easy to find on the basis that there's only one line at this station, but on reaching it we were horrified to note that trains only come every twelve minutes. Twelve minutes! Even the Circle line manages better than that most of the time.

Fortunately, there was plenty to occupy those twelve minutes, as the station is decorated with model constellations!

Vulcan is over there, just below and to the right of Orion

We alighted at Hollywood & Vine, to stroll along the Walk of Fame towards Highland. I have to admit that on my first visit to Hollywood I was hugely disappointed: it's frankly a bit of a dive, and the Walk of Fame is cracked and filthy. This is my fifth visit, though, and I've decided that it's fun if you expect less glamour and more Blackpool for entertainment fans.

It's easy to spot tourists on Hollywood Boulevard: for one thing, they're the people not trying to sell things; for another, they walk along head downwards, sporting cameras and reading out names. Naturally, we stopped to photograph a few of the stars that are relevant to our interests.

Route 66 is also known as the Will Rogers Highway. We're not entirely certain why, but at least it means we've heard of him.

Chekov's brand new star, only awarded a few days ago

Tyrone Power, whose room we stayed in at the El Rancho in Gallup. He was very hospitable.

Don't even start, I won't hear a word against The Shat

Comparing hand sizes with Leonard Nimoy

We ate Khan back in Gallup: he was very tasty

Nimoy's star location is not at all worthy of him

On visit to the Hollywood & Highland Centre for an obligatory photo of the Hollywood sign, we came across our first bubble tea since Chicago!

I have never been so happy to find a bright orange drink that likely contains no ingredients found in nature
Oh yes, and the obligatory photo

As is quite evident from that photo of me, the manicures we had back in Chicago were a little the worse for wear, so we decided to treat ourselves to a little bit of Hollywood pampering and have them redone. The place we went to was called Diamond Nails Spa & Tanning, and I'd highly recommend it. Very reasonably priced, pleasant staff, and the lady who did mine insisted on adding flowers to both our nails.

Sparkly nails! And a tree.

We were then able to head back to the hotel to clean up, a massive luxury when we've got used to moving every day. In the evening, we headed out to Alhambra for Chinese with a few of my fannish friends I haven't seen in over a year (and who turned out to know each other but required visitors from England to get them to meet up for the first time in about ten years). We arrived a little after seven and stayed until gone midnight; getting geeks together is a long and dangerous business.

All in all, a fantastically relaxing rest day, and now we're all prepared to complete Route 66 tomorrow and begin the second portion of our American adventure.

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