Today we enjoyed a much needed sleep in, before saying goodbye to Anaheim and transferring across to Beverly Hills. Anaheim is a long way south of the other LA sights, and we wanted a base closer to them. My best friend from school days now lives in LA, and had kindly offered to be our tour guide for the day. We were able to check into our room early, which was a huge help as we could get rid of our luggage before going exploring. In hindsight there was probably a reason that room was already free, but more about that later!
Karen picked us up from the hotel and we headed to Hollywood Boulevard via Sunset Boulevard. It was great to have an LA local to point out all sort of landmarks along the way. We had a good look around Hollywood, checked out the Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame and some of the fun shops. We didn’t realise you didn’t have to be human to get a star – just be nominated and sponsored by someone who has a lot of cash! So along with obvious people like Donald Trump and Walt Disney, we also had the likes of Kermit the Frog and Shrek.
Some of the shops were typically American, some were imports from other countries and some were an eclectic mix of all sorts of weird stuff.
For lunch, Karen took us for a real local American experience at “The Griddle Cafe”. Their specialty was enormous pancakes. Even before we ordered, we knew we would never get close to finishing the meal, but it just seemed wrong to share and we were all keen for different flavours. Matt’s were filled with crushed Oreos, Anna had chocolate chip (they melted so she was able to enjoy some chocolate!), Karen had raspberry and lemon and mine had apples and cinnamon baked into the pancakes. They were all delicious, but we were all an abysmal failure at making much of a dent in them. It was like being presented with an entire birthday cake each and seeing how much we could eat. We boxed up the leftovers (actually some of the leftovers as they wouldn’t all fit, even though the box was huge!) really just because that’s what you do, more than thinking we would actually eat it!
Our next mission was to check out the Hollywood sign. It’s quite a challenge to get close to it, but local knowledge came in very handy again. We drove to a dog park somewhere in the Hollywood Hills (via some very fancy houses on Mulholland Drive) and got great views of the sign and also back towards LA.
Karen dropped us back at the hotel and we were able to have a bit of a rest before heading out for dinner. The kids were keen on “California Pizza Kitchen” just up the road and towards Rodeo Drive. We didn’t realise until we were inside that it was the original CPK which opened in 1985 – now there are over 200 branches. The kids wanted pizza but I was craving veggies, fortunately CPK does a lot more than pizza so we were all happy.
After dinner we walked up to Rodeo Drive to check out how the other half live. It was a pretty classy place for a wander, but we were really surprised how quiet and calm it was. There were very few people around, although there were plenty of expensive fast cars to keep us entertained. The shops were all appointment only and virtually none of them had either customers or staff. We’d forgotten to make any appointments so had to settle for window shopping. We walked back to the hotel via a supermarket and grabbed some juice to wash down our dinner. It turned out to be a pretty nasty fruit drink with the first two ingredients being water and high fructose corn syrup – we should have read the fine print!
It’s amazing how you notice noise more at night. When we returned back to our room we realised that we had been blessed with the room that backed on to the elevator shaft and electrical room. The previously quiet hotel was now super busy and that elevator was working overtime as the other one was out of order. It was a bit like being inside a theme park ride with the stopping and starting of the motor. I was closest to the noise so took the easy option and downed one of the sleeping tablets I had for the plane. The kids decided to live with the noise, they were really too tired to care!