It’s safe to say that my second day in LA was nothing short of an experience. An adventure. A series of unfortunate events that were not unfortunate in the slightest (can you see what I did there? Can you? *tumbleweed rolls past* I’ll let myself out…)
It all started with my need to go visit the one place in LA my little movie loving nerd heart was desperate to see - The Hollywood Sign! (or Hollyweed, thank you New Years pranksters past and present) I fire up my new best friend Uber and within ten minutes I’m being wound through the streets of Venice Beach and heading towards my own personal Holy Grail.
Now by this point I’m too excited and busy hanging my head out the window checking out the glorious views around me (almost exactly like dogs do, except with more hair and less slobber) to fully hear my lovely driver utter the words “This isn’t the route I usually take…” So imagine my surprise when the satnav announces we have arrived, and I turn around to see a FREAKING GRAVEYARD! Funeral procession in full swing and everything!
My second, completely rational and non-panicked response five seconds later? “PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME HERE!”
Luckily Mr Uber Driver took pity on this wild-eyed, ghostly pale British girl trying to scrabble her way back into his car - he could probably tell I wouldn’t fair well having to earn my freedom back by working for the undertakers. My hair colour is far too vivid for their preferred colour scheme - and promised to take me to the sign.
And true to his word, he did… or at least as close as he possibly could. But honestly, the short but steep hike to the top was totally worth it. Seeing this beauty appear before your eyes as you round the corner made finally standing before it 1000x more spectacular:
Now just to sit on the ‘H’! Not really… well, maybe, if the opportunity ever arises!
BUT HOLD YOUR HORSES, THAT’S NOT ALL! After persuading perfect strangers to take my photo in front of the sign, I packed my camera away and went to head down the hill, when who should hike past me? SIR STEPHEN FUCKING FRY, THAT’S WHO (is he a Sir or a Mr? Quick, to Google!)
Any who, after getting mind-blown at having met the legend himself in LA of all places - we both live in the UK, why does it take for me to fly half way around the world to meet him in the flesh? - the only thing my melting brain can think of to shout after him is “I loved you in Sherlock 2!”
You know, the movie in which he is NAKED. *facepalm*
But he did nod hello at me and raise a hand in acknowledgement so I think I got away with it.
Drunk off the marvellous morning that I had, I decided I could walk all the way from the sign to the Walk of Fame. In the boiling midday sun. Anyone with a lick of sense could guess that obviously that wasn’t going to work, so after an hour I stumble across a cafe, down all their water like it was going out of fashion, and order an Uber for the rest of the way. The driver was lovely, but bless him he didn’t have a clue who the hell Stephen Fry was or why I was babbling on about seeing him. But he did go home with a whole list of movies and tv shows that he needed to watch, so I consider my work done.
The Chinese Theatre is something else to behold - absolutely beautiful and so frigging big! I know they say iconic things like this are always bigger in real life but hell, I got a neck crick from looking up at it. Plus all the hand and footprints at the base were incredible to see, I actually didn’t realise how far back in time they went - Clarke Gable, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Shirley Temple, all the greats - but of course I had to track down some of my favourites for prosperity. And yes I did put my feet in their shoe prints, it had to be done
But to anyone who has been to the Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame, you know how busy to can get there. I’m talking overwhelming, ramp packed, Oxford Street on Christmas Eve kind of busy. And for a first time backpacker, with said backpack upon my person, it turns out it’s easy for the old anxiety to really take hold just as you’re about to get to Bette Midler’s star.
Lesson Number 4 - If you’re a first time traveller (and especially if you’re travelling alone) TRY TO AVOID taking a rucksack to renownedly crowded places. For your own piece of mind if nothing else!
And I know I’ve said this a couple times already (I swear I’m not sponsored) but thank goodness for Uber… and the fact all the cafe’s seem to have free wifi. After trying to calm down next to a man and his parrot, I’m soon being driven back to relatively calmer pastures of Venice Beach.
All through the drive back, I did think it was such a shame - I did thoroughly enjoy my brief time visiting the Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame, and I’m so glad I had the courage to go and see it, but I wish I had mentally prepared myself for (or at least researched) just how busy it was going to be. Maybe heading down there mid-afternoon wasn’t my wisest decision… ah well, lesson learnt I suppose! Next time (and there will be a next time - I didn’t see nearly half as much of the Star’s that I wanted to see!) I’ll aim for visiting in the morning.
But still… There’s nothing quite like sitting on the beach watching the sunset to calm a person down.
You can’t help these things sometimes.