Sunday, November 11, 2012

Star Struck

We completed our trip to the US directly diagonal to where we started (thankfully), in Los Angeles, and had to give our beautiful car back.

Hollywood Boulevard
Rodeo Drive
We took one of those Hollywood tours with a guide whose life revolved around occasional run-ins with the rich and famous. For instance there was the time that he put his coach in the way of Nicolas Cage parking his car. Nick came out all upset with two poodles in tow while the coach occupants came out snapping away with their cameras. He could not understand why Nick was so upset. I had a few ideas.








R2D2 and C3PO on the Walk of Fame
Then there was the time he saw John Travolta jogging and sweaty trying to get back into shape to revive his career. He had half a dozen stories like this and gleefully pointed out the hotels where Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, John Belushi and River Phoenix died. He even stopped at an intersection on Rodeo Drive where two innocent people were about to cross the road, exclaiming 'Are they famous?'. As we all stared at them he determined that they were just 'ordinary' people. In the end it all seemed a bit sad, I guess the rich and famous are not my cup of tea.


Venice Beach
We got to see Hollywood Boulevard and the footprints of my heroes R2D2 and C3PO, wildly dressed and coloured poodles on Rodeo Drive, the hotel used in Pretty Woman, the Hollywood sign, Venice Beach and much more.









A day was spent at Universal Studios, and trust me a day is not enough, as several things we still wanted to do we ran out of time for. Of all the rides my favourite was 'Transformers the ride 3D', a 3D simulator that also moved and spun around the complex. It came with a back-story where you were helping to evacuate the allspark by being extra eyes and ears for the evacbot (which you were in). The graphics were immense and immersive, truly feeling like you were flying, falling, being shot at etc, complete with physical water, heat, flames and air blowing for a 4D experience. It was so good we did it twice.







Whatever you do, DO NOT turn around...
The other standout was 'Jurassic Park the ride'. We had been in other water rides before that took you around bends to an eventual drop and splash, but none like this. Surrounded by jungle infested with robotic (I assume) huge dinosaurs of all types coming from all sides trying to get at you the ~30m drop at the end saps the breath out of you. Then there were the shows, which included a Waterworld themed extravaganza with explosions, water battles and even a plane that came over the top and crashed into the water.








Now that's a thin building
The roof collapsed
and a tanker fell in...
The famous Universal Studios Tour did not disappoint as it took you through the backlots, explaining movie tricks and becoming a ride itself driving through a 3D 360 degree King Kong simulator, the Jaws town complete with Jaws, a subway that exploded with the road falling in and a water main exploding among many other things. Universal Studios was awesome, worth the trip on its own.
Waterworld, the show.
















As we say goodbye to the US I can say that we have had a much better time than expected. Especially driving (I LOVE cruise control) through the magnificent countryside where the scenery was beautiful, mountainous and varied. The roads were generally good, the speeds were awesome (top speed of 121 km), most restaurants were gluten aware and there was plenty of gluten free stuff in the supermarkets. The people were friendly and helpful and the places were all they promised to be and then some. We only came to the US because, well, we hadn't been here before so thought we should, but it now is certainly on our list for further exploration.

LA at night
Keep watching the cars.