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From my first steps through LAX Airport, I knew Los Angeles and Hollywood was going to be like nowhere I had been before. This Australian was definitely right.
Where to stay in Hollywood
I thought for my first visit to LA I should stay on Hollywood Boulevard, the city’s heart. Banana Bungalows was a very fun hostel that fitted in perfectly with the Hollywood frivolity. I stayed in a 6-bed female dorm, which included a kitchen, table, television and a large bathroom. The hostel featured a different event every evening.
This included a comedy night at its partner bungalows in West Hollywood (the comedians were up-and-comers and pretty darn funny), ping pong championships and karaoke. I think it was a great place to stay to get the full Hollywood experience, but I don’t think I would stay in this particular part of town again.
One hostel night I met some fellow Australian girls, who were travelling with an English friend. We bonded over cheap $5 sparkling wine coolers and karaoke. Following the karaoke we stumbled down Hollywood Boulevard, walking over the classics’ stars, to attend a nightclub around the corner. When in Hollywood, right? It felt like we had stepped into a rap star’s personal club. The lights were flashing, the incoherent rap and hip hop music was blasting and the “back up dancer” girls crowded the dance floor. It was fun to just dance like the fools we are and not care about what the Drake-wannabes thought of us.
When I only have a few days in a city, I am a big believer in doing a couple of tours. I particularly enjoy hop-on and hop-off buses so I can see as much as I can and pinpoint the places I want to visit again for further exploration. In LA I did just that and loved it. I put the headphones in and listened to the audio commentary explaining the sights from the Boulevard, West Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard, Santa Monica, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills and Venice Beach.
They explained about different places and the famous people who had visited or the important moments that occurred. I spent most of the journey trying unsuccessfully to spot a celebrity. But I definitely enjoyed having a walk along the Venice Beach Boardwalk and Santa Monica Pier. I will definitely like to spend my next time in LA in this area.
The next day I had to do the Warner Bros Studio Tour. I am addicted to a lot of TV shows and being able to see where the Lorelai’s lived in Gilmore Girls; the diner from 2 Broke Girls; crew setting up an episode for Pretty Little Liars and the Big Bang Theory studio was amazing for me. I just love knowing what happens behind the scenes. We also toured the costume museum, was able to sit on the couch in Central Perk and I even got a photo of myself hailing the Hogwarts Express. This is happiness to me.
That afternoon I also decided to have some “once-in-a-lifetime-only-in-LA” fun by doing a Movie Stars Home Tour. Yeah, I’m lame, but it was so much fun! The driver and commentator were fantastic. I got to sit up the front with him as we visited Mulholland Drive, the Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills. Although I didn’t get to see any celebrities, I saw their houses. That counts, right? We also drove past a movie set for a Reese Witherspoon and Sean Penn movie.
My Hollywood experience
Hollywood Boulevard was a collision of noise, people, shops and stars. As you make your way down the street you are greeted with many a-souvenir-store selling Hollywood memorabilia, from t-shirts to postcards to photo frames to Oscars. There are people lining the footpaths, shadowing the Walk of Fame, selling all types of tours, similar to the ones I did and so much more. I had heard previously how the Walk of Fame is not as exciting to witness first-hand as people might believe, and I, unfortunately, have to agree.
Although it is such a huge accolade for a celebrity to receive a star, it is just merely their name written on the ground for thousands of people to walk over every day. Some were marked, dirty, scratched. Not a perfect reflection of the artist’s work.
At Kodak Theatre you have the clothes shopping experience as well as photo opportunities out the front with people dressed as different types of characters, including MJ and Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.
I personally enjoyed the bargains I found at the shops, but the crowds were a bit too much. So I escaped to the Farmers Markets and the Grove on my last afternoon for some relaxation in the sun. I can see why this is a popular celebrity hangout.
In conclusion, I loved seeing for myself the hype that is Hollywood. But if I was to find myself in La La Land again, I would spend my time in Santa Monica by the beach, or at the Farmers Market celebrity stalking. Or maybe I will be rich enough to go shopping on Rodeo Drive. Only time will tell.