Fri. Mar. 15, 2013:
Our first vacation of 2013 also marked my first direct flight. The few times I have flown anywhere there was always a layover- not this time, this time I was to spend 6 hours straight on an airplane to Los Angeles, California. Thankfully I wasn’t alone, I had a giant bag of snacks ($25 worth) from Bulk Barn, I was set. I also managed not to devour it all before even boarding the plane, yet another first. I was too distracted, playing my last game ever of Dominion on the isotropic website.
There are perks to having one long direct flight rather than two shorter ones, the main one being that you can watch an entire movie or two. Air Canada featured a great selection of movies, not so much on the food though. On a 6 hour flight we were offered no free food, not even peanuts. I wasn’t too mad about it, as I was watching Wreck It Ralph– it is impossible to be in a bad mood while watching it. Just to even it out, I watched Seven Psychopaths next.
And that was all I ever wrote in blue ink in any of my travel notebooks thus far.
As soon as we got off the plane I beelined to Starbucks (that is what it says in my notes, just to put it in context: I was running on maybe 4 hours of sleep and had not ingested my morning coffee). I was desperate to get some sweet, sweet sustenance in the form of caffeine. And real food, I was also craving that. The problem was that my only options (aside from the sugary bakery sweets on offer at Starbucks) were a bakery or Burger King. I was too lazy to give up my spot in line and look at sandwiches, thus I soon found myself trying to eat a junior Whopper while juggling a coffee and luggage. Yes, I did manage to spill it on myself, while picking the tomatoes and lettuce out of my burger at that.
We took a cab to the hotel and had our first taste of Los Angeles traffic, enhanced by a horribly bumpy highway and construction. Off in the distance we also had gorgeous sites- all marred by smog. We were staying at the Luxe hotel, which was rather quite fancy. They drove us up the hill in the shuttle car, even though it was a 2 minute walk. As usual, we dumped our stuff in the room, turned and left. We had a busy day planned, even if we had just gained 3 hours in the time zone diffe rence. We were going to the Getty Centre to look at some art. It was high up on a hilltop, just behind the hotel. Yet there was not direct route (ok, fine, hike) to it so we had to walk in a giant circle to the other side of the hill. As we walked we saw a service entrance and asked if we could just walk up there, apparently we could not. We continued on but the only problem is that not all parts of Los Angeles are pedestrian friendly. We had made it around the block when we encountered construction on one side and no sidewalks on the other, not even lawns to walk across. Our options were to turn around or walk along the side of the road. We turned around and headed back, defeated, our corneas being burned by the blazing California sun.
Back at the hotel we inquired about calling a cab and they informed us that the shuttle car that had taken us up the hill earlier would also take us anywhere we liked within a 3 mile radius of the hotel. What should have been a 5 minute drive turned into a 30 minute drive, we were sharing the shuttle with another pair. The driver was trying to make a left turn to drop us off first, we were closer, but he missed it. And so he decided to go right instead, towards the UCLA campus where the other pair was going. It wasn’t a total loss; we did get to see campus and more LA traffic, always fun.
The Getty Centre was great, the admission was free and the views were fantastic- despite how hard it was to see thanks to the smog and the glaring sun frying my retinas. The architecture of the Centre was just as cool, the galleries were contained in a few buildings spread across a nice garden and patio. It was mildly frustrating to look out and see the hotel on the next hill over given it took us almost an hour total (from when we first set out) to get there. By far the greatest gallery was the Impressionist gallery; it just does not get better than looking at gorgeous Monet paintings. In the last gallery- which we had almost missed- there were some odd people. The girl was complaining about the guy’s apartment and how childish it was and he said he had a court order stating she could not move or touch anything. Thankfully they were slow going through the gallery so we quickly left them behind.
We took a cab from the Getty Centre to downtown Hollywood. As it turns out driving anywhere in the Los Angeles area (especially downtown) is a bad idea. The slow drive and lack of sleep resulted in me falling asleep. We were going to dinner at a restaurant that was famous from the old days of Hollywood Blvd., Musso & Frank Grill; however we were not dressed for it. We did not have time to go to the hotel and change. We decided to walk by and scope the place out, see if it was fancy or not so much. I didn’t think it would be given it was on Hollywood Blvd. amidst all the tourist traps, but sadly it was. Instead we wandered the Blvd.- it is awful. Hollywood Blvd. is one of those things that you go and see once for the sake of seeing it- and then you never return to it again. It is crowded and loud, and everyone is everything handing you flyers or trying to get you on their bus. As you turn to get away from them you find yourself face to face with a guy dressed as the creepy doll on a tricycle from the Saw movies- something that will inevitably scar you for life no doubt. And if that was not bad enough, the next street performer was a guy with two pythons on his arms and neck, real, living pythons.
As we walked along trying to figure out our dinner plans, Brent noticed a crowd of people at an outdoor mall all looking in one direction. They were looking at the Hollywood sign. I must say, I had much higher expectations for it. I knew it would be hard to see because of the smog, but I did not think it was that far off in the distance. It was barely a blip on the horizon. It was nice to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we contemplated how easy it would be to install a fake one.
Sick of the crowds we headed south to Sunset Blvd. and I noticed an In N Out cup on the ground- there had to be one nearby! Back to Hollywood Blvd.- so that I could ask one of those nice tour bus people where it was. Before I could do that though, I spotted a McDonald’s, so instead Brent tried to use their wi-fi and check the address. It was being slow so I asked a tour salesperson. It was two blocks over and south, on Sunset Blvd. Rather than walk along Hollywood we turned south. There was a Fatburger there, hungry and tired we went there instead. I had wanted to try Fatburger, as I had heard that it was on par with In N Out. It is not. In N Out is much better. Fatburger does still rate quite high on my list of awesome burgers, somewhere around 4th place. I was mildly intrigued by the XXXL challenge, where you have 40 minutes to eat a giant burger (24oz of meat) but I had to resist. We were after all on our way to Pink’s Hotdogs. It was another 40 minute walk to Pink’s, in addition we anticipated a rather long line-up. That is why we stopped for burgers, but did not go all out. As we walked, the next block over there was an In N Out. I joked about stopping in for a burger.
As we made our way south to Pink’s we passed the Jim Henson Studios, complete with Kermit the Frog on the roof. The line at Pink’s was actually not that long- I had heard stories of people waiting for hours. It was just long enough to give us enough time to contemplate the menu. I must’ve changed my order 5 times at least. Right as we approached the register I changed my mind once more, deciding on the Mullholland Drive: a 9” hotdog with nacho cheese, bacon, onions and mushrooms. It was a good hotdog, super messy to eat. However by the second or third bite most of the toppings had slid off. I had to periodically grab pieces of bacon and mushroom and cram them back into the cheese. The meat was ok, nothing compared to Chicago though. The true draw of Pink’s is the sheer outrageousness of the hotdogs. Where else can you go and get two hot dogs in one bun piled high with an absurd amount of cheese, bacon and other such delicacies?
We walked back to Sunset Blvd. to catch a cab back to the hotel. As we walked we passed a wrecked car. It had jumped the curb and hit a planter, somehow missing the parking meters. The taxi ride back was less than stellar; I did get to see the stuff I had missed while I was asleep though. I slept through the entire drive through Beverly Hills, this time I got to see the sign and the huge mansions. The less than stellar part came when our driver hocked a loogie out the window at a stop light. I was really sick of riding in taxis, having spent a good portion of my day in them. Plus it was getting expensive.
Even after having eaten Fatburger and a giant hotdog (Brent did not finish his hotdog I might add) we pigged out on candy back in the hotel room. In my tired state of mind (I had been awake since 3am California time) I could not even figure out how to use the shower. I was considering going to be and it was barely past 8 o’clock.
Day 1 celebrity sightings: zero, not even any false alarms.