Movie stars, their homes, the hype
Hollywood Travel Blog› entry 3 of 13 › view all entries
February 4th, 2006 – by: clearviews
Today is our tour of Hollywood and some of it's games. Again the mini bus picks us up from the Venice Beach Cotel and whisks ua off to the tour office to swipe cards fro payment. Different areas of thsprawling city of LA are pointed out. At our first stop an Italian speaking woman eventually rejoins the tour 20 mins after the stated departure time. Her husband tried to raise her on her mobile but with the loud music from an Indian dance troup and a South American marketplace she doesn't hear it ringing. In perfect English she sullenly declares to the bus driver that she doesn't speak English and doen't understand. On up into the hills of Hollywood and homes of the stars are pointed out until I have noted less than 5 % of them. Names like Mick Jagger, Madonna, Brittany Spears, Johnny Weismuller, Walt Disney, Lucielle Ball. As many of the homes are built on ridges in less than stable ground they are affected by mud slides, earthquakes and bush fires. Back at the hostel and Suzanne arrives a little later to take us out for a Soul Food meal. She is accompanied by her nephew who helps her locate the hostel. We drop him off and Suzanne takes us to a restaurant and tells us to order whatever we want. I order fried catfish, black eyed peas, potato salad ( it is mashed and delicious), corn bread. Andrew has the turkey wings, mashed yams, corn in a salsa sauce and we taste Suzanne's collard greens.. Not quite able to finish it all she calls for takeaway containers to take up the leftovera! We drive to another Soul Food restaurant to pick up some Peach Cobbler as they do the best and we have ours for a delicious breakfast. Our Suzanne is a treasure and the chance meeting on the plane has given us a wonderful friend and a generous one too. Wish we could bring her back to Australia so she can experience a Christmas as she was so surprised to find that ours falls in summer time! Next day we have another early start with repacked suitcases as we are going to try to forward one of our suitcases to Washington DC for collection at the end of our time here. We have learned that a taxi to the Amtrak depot would cost about $30 but the bus will take us there for $1.25 each so we go for the bus option although we have two suitcases, two backpacks and a large zip up bag. We collect our booked tickets for San Fransisco and take the lift up to the luggage department and a very laid back, helpful staffer says that with our Amtrak tickets they can certainly send on the suitcase though there might be a storage charge of $1 per day for it. This is still a bargain as we now dont have to lug our summer clothes and gifts for our friends in the UK with us for the next 30 days. The woman says that she is going to hold the bag in her office for a while to reduce the amount we will pay at the other end. She is so lovely!. The train departs at 10.15am. The coach carriage is comfortable with plenty of leg room, big viewing windows, reclining seats, leg rests and a drop down table. Our journey takes us along the ocean's edge and we get wonderful views of the coastline. We follow the lives of fellow passengers around us. There is a lounge car which has movies from time to time or just a place to go and sit or play games with other passengers. There is a dining car and a cafeteria. We book dinner and it is a fair meal with wine or beer available. Our arrival time of 9.25pm is blown out and we arrive at Oakland Station several hours late. An Amtrak coach takes us into San Fransisco giving us a spectacular view of the city by night. We take a taxi to the Union Square Backpackers and arrive minutes before midnight. It is down a small laneway that has a massage parlour on the corner called "Les Nuits de Paris" complete with flashing neon lights. I see a rat or a cat scuttle into a drain outside the door and we press the buzzer at the locked gated door to the hostel. The desk person checks us in with a banter of jokes but takes a long time to process our credit card.
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