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Los Angeles San Diego

13th August 2010

The Wealth of Beverly Hills, Glamour of Hollywood, Space in Griffith Park, and Blues on a Cruise

A Beverly Hills House
A Beverly Hills $20M+ House
Dan Posing in Beverly Drive
    Dan and I set off to explore Beverly Hills area. We took the same route I took up Sunset Boulevard yesterday, but took a few turn offs in the Hills area and had a walk around streets, with grand houses and mansions locked behind electronically operated gates, bristling with video cameras and signs indicating that the buildings were protected by such-and-such security company who operated an armed response.
A Security Sign
    Quite a few of the grounds were being tended to by teams of Mexican gardeners. Where the fronts of the houses met the kerbs, the grass was carefully manicured, with precise borders ending exactly 5mm from the kerb stones. This was a different world to the one I came from. I stopped at one such mansion and cheekily asked the gardeners what the particular building would sell for. "More than $20M", they replied.
    We walked around a few more roads, stunned by the immaculate gardens with 'precision' lawns. One barbed wire fence protected an exclusive golf course behind it, with billiard table greens. Continuing on, we drove to Beverly Drive to admire yet another road too good to be true. Once we were saturated by all this opulence, lest we should be tempted to join this jet set league, we headed up through Sunset Strip and parked up so that we could explore Hollywood Boulevard.
Fred Astaire Star
Marilyn Monroe Star
Hollywood Boulevard
    The street was awash with people, and it still retained its original appeal and charisma. Glamour caressed every yard of its length. We walked up the only pavement in the city that was cleaned six times a week, the Walk of Fame. There were over 2,000 polished marble stars set in the Walk.
Gregory Peck Impressions
    On the north side of the boulevard was Mann's Chinese Theatre, opened in 1927, with the premiere of Cecil B. de Mille's King of Kings. In front of the theatre was the famous patio with hand and footprints of stars set into it. This brilliant publicity stunt was dreamt up by the creator of the theatre, Sid Grauman.
Kodak Theatre
Mann's Chinese Theatre
    Near the Chinese Theatre was the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars were held. Dan and I walked up the stairs through the foyer to the actual entrance doors of the theatre. Sadly, we were not given the red carpet treatment, and the doors to the theatre were locked, but we, like dozens of others, posed at the entrance. The paparazzi shunned us today.
Hollywood Sign
    Having been denied stardom, we drove up to Griffith Park, a 4,000 acre wilderness of rugged hills, forested valleys, and green meadows in the centre of Los Angeles. Griffith J. Griffith was a Welshman who emigrated to the US in 1865, and made his fortune in mining speculation. He donated the land to the city in 1896. Today, the park was a popular place for hiking, picnics and horseback riding.
Downtown Los Angeles
    On Mount Hollywood itself was the Griffith Observatory, which offered commanding views of the Los Angeles basin far below, as well as a sideways view of the 45' high Hollywood Sign. The observatory contained the fully functional Zeiss Telescope, as well as a planetarium and a Hall of Science. Dan and I could have spent hours here, but we had an agenda to follow.
    Dan had booked a Blues Cruise for us both around the Marina del Rey, which as well as the blues band, included a buffet. It was a fair trek across to Fisherman's Village where the cruise departed from, and since we would have to drive around five different freeways to get there, I decided to set off early. To our surprise, the freeways were surprisingly fast moving, once we got onto them. I had learned that the only way to survive driving in Los Angeles was by commitment. The trick was to decide where you wanted to be on the road, commit to a manoeuvre to get there, and with due caution and nerve, just go for it knowing that crossing five lanes of traffic would involve cutting a lot of drivers up. Everybody did it, so nobody beeped their horns. It was accepted Los Angeles practice. The important thing was not to dither; it was the ditherers who caused accidents.
Dan at Fisherman's Village
    We arrived at our destination with time to spare, and had a walk along the front of the Fisherman's Village; very pleasurable as the sun was going down. We located our cruise vessel, and milled around until it was time to board it.
    We were invited as individual groups on board the boat, presented with a glass of champagne each (which I had to decline since I was driving) and shown to our reserved tables. Our table was right next to the band, with a large loudspeaker pointing right at my ear. The ship departed on time, and no sooner had it left the quay, when the band started playing. Fortunately, the music was not loud, and also since we were right by the band, we got a first class view of the proceedings.
    Then, almost immediately, we were invited down to the buffet; a splendid selection of salads, roast vegetables, and cooked meats. Desert for later was strawberries and cream with a selection of cholesterol loaded cakes. The food was delicious, and the service from the bar waiters was second to none.
    Dan and I got chatting to the couple at the next table; a lady who emigrated to America from Israel 30 years ago, and her son. We talked about our trip, and our immediate plans. Once we mentioned that we would be attending an American football match the following day, we got the rules and scoring system explained to us by the son. That could be very useful!
    All the while the band carried on, and they really were an excellent band, the Phil Gates Band. They read out a list of all the birthday celebrations taking place on the cruise that night, and welcomed the group from China and the two folk from England. The vessel just sailed around the huge marina complex all evening, while folk ate, drank, listened and danced to blues music. It really was a splendid evening. I was ever so chuffed that Dan had arranged the outing for me.
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Los Angeles San Diego

Uploaded from Great Western Hotel, 5525 Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles CA on 14/08/10 at 08:05

Last updated 16.8.2010