April 14, 2007 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Travel, Travelogues | Leave a comment

Drove from Anaheim to Hollywood Wednesday afternoon at about 2 PM.  I never ceases to amaze me how bad the traffic really is here.  It is incredible.  I’ve purposely scheduled our activities so we would only have to be on the freeway sometime between 10 AM and 3 PM and it still feels like you are driving in rush hour much of the time.

We are staying at the Magic Castle Hotel in the heart of Hollywood within a block’s walk to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  The hotel is a small boutique hotel with some charm although a bit dated.  The staff is really nice and does lots of little extra things and we have a big spacious one-bedroom suite with kitchen and dining room.

We drove to Beverly Hills to a sushi restaurant for dinner because I read it had a good happy hour and it turned out to be disappointing.  Good food, poor value.  Must be because it was in Beverly Hills (although in a strip mall.)

On Thursday we explored the center of Hollywood, known as Hollywood and Highland (intersection of the two streets).  We started at one end and when we rounded the corner we saw our first couple of stars on the sidewalk and one of them was of course Walt Disney – record holder for the most Academy Awards received.  The kids enjoyed us reading the names on the starts. It’s also pretty incredible the amount of advertising that saturates this area.

There was a World Premiere event setting up for the movie Red Line with exotic sports cars on display and they were rolling out the red carpets.  So we didn’t get to see in the famous Chinese theater but I here it’s not that spectacular.  We went in the Hollywood Wax Museum and Guiness Book of World Records attractions.  Felt like we were at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.  The kids really enjoyed these cheesy attractions though.

 They have a really large, nice shopping mall there, next to the Kodak Theater where the Academy Awards are hosted.  We had a good lunch there and strolled around a bit.  Supposedly this area is coming back from being in decline.  If that is true, I can’t imagine what it was like ten years ago as there really is not much to see here.  The street is lined with souvenir shops with the most cheesy items you can imagine and they are all selling the same thing.  This place is good for maybe a half-day visit at most and then never to return.  But everyone should probably visit once, so here we are.

We watched the new Disney movie, Meet The Robinsons in 3D at the historic El Capitan theater which is owned by Disney.  They have an organ player before the show and then the movie characters came out and danced around.  Was a great thing to do in the area.

We went for sushi again that night since it provides the most relaxing dining experience for us with Jordan’s allergy and there is so much variety, we never get tired of it.  Found a place (Shintaro) within walking distance that was 5 times better than the place the night before.  Good value.  Saw Nev Campbell (Party of 5) come in and pick up her sushi. 

On Friday we headed to Exposition Park where the Coliseum is and the California Science Center.  The Center was packed with school field trips.  We spent a brief time there.  Strangely, there are no restaurants in the park or within walking distance (except McDonalds in the Science center which was packed.)  But have no fear, in LA, the traffic is so slow on the freeway, you can enjoy a leisurely lunch in the car while sitting in traffic, yes, even at 1 PM in the afternoon.  So we went through a McDonalds Drive-Thru and headed to Santa Monica.

Spent the rest of the day in Santa Monica hanging out on the pier, then on the beach.  The pier is pretty touristy but it’s something to do at the beach.  The weather was as good as it gets for LA.  Upper 70’s and clear blue skies.  We hung out in a park at the beach for a good couple of hours while the kids played in the sand.  It was fun watching all the locals of all ages do gymnastic moves and work out on all the equipment in the park.  They especially like to watch each other do this big ring swinging apparatus where you swing from one end to the other like a monkey.  One thing you do not see a lot of in LA, especially in the Hollywood/Santa Monica areas is fat people.  If you do, they are probably tourists from Chicago.  You can tell a lot of them are very health conscious as I saw people running throughout many neighborhoods, all this exercising on the beach, and lots of reviews for ‘health’ food restaurants.

We had a superb mexican dinner in downtown Santa Monica at the Border Grill.  I’ve determined though that there is no such thing as a “cheap” sit-down restaurant in LA with really good food. 

Instead of followng the directions on my phone from Google Maps home, we headed north out of Santa Monica to Sunset Blvd and drove that back all the way home.  What a much more pleasant drive than taking the freeway.  It was fun driving past the entrances to all the posh neighborhoods.  There sure are a lot of bright dividers, arrows, blinking lights, you name it along Sunset (moreso than any other street) as if maybe they have a historic problem with drunk rich people or celebrities driving off the road between their homes and the shopping and clubs in Beverly Hills and Hollywood. 

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