Hollywood: City of long traffic, Expensive fuel and Division of rich and poor. 

I realise that my blog title sounds blunt and negative, but its a fair comment to note about ‘famous’ Hollywood. I’ve been travelling through California for four weeks now, passing through Ontario, San Bernardino, Victorville, Gardena, San Diego and we stayed in Los Angeles for 14 days. But before I discuss this sour title, I want to make it clear that I absolutely love Los Angeles. It’s a city designed for film nerds and aspiring film and television makers. Los Angeles is the city I want to live in one day, work in, learn in and develop my film profession in. I actually feel really at home in this beautiful city. Well, in some areas of the city.

I want to share you with you the sights and attractions I visited, as there is so much to explore in Los Angeles. Believe me, I was there for 14 days and there is still so much I want to see, so I would recommend visiting for two-three weeks. This does depend on your personal interests and likes. Hollywood is driven by the media and the entertainment industries. Its centred around stardom, celebrities, fans, by films, television: it’s the entertainment capital of the United States. If you don’t feel the drive and passion to be involved in this culture and this environment, I would recommend a shorter visit.

The first place I have to recommend and you all know it’s coming, it’s the famous Hollywood sign. I don’t think you could visit Los Angeles and not spot the Hollywood sign, it’s like visiting New York City and not seeing Times Square. Unfortunately, you can’t visit the Hollywood sign close to the eye anymore (unless you want to take a helicopter ride), so instead I would recommend visiting Griffith Observatory. The observatory is accessible by car, the grounds offer free parking and it is beautiful up there. Not only can you spot the Hollywood sign from up there and take your perfect picture spot, you can also see what Los Angeles has to offer as a ‘skyline view’. This is what I love about Los Angeles, it is a beautiful city but the skyline is minuscule compared to other big cities like, New York City or Chicago. The observatory though is stunning! View of the Hollywood sign, view of Los Angeles and a view of the observatory.

If you are planning a trip to Los Angeles, then the next place to tick off your bucket list is Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Again, it’s a must. The Walk of Fame actually covers 1.3 miles of sidewalk, so I would recommend picking up a local leaflet to see where each celebrity’s star is placed. You would be surprised how long the street is and how spread out the stars are. The stars are quite spectacular though, I would take a camera, find your favourite celebrity and snap away!

For those of you who are interested in the Film and Television world, and would love to be apart of this environment one day, I would recommend a few visits to Hollywood’s Production Companies. The studio tours are great fun, really informative, nostalgic and engaging. I started with the Warner Bros Studio tour, which goes on for about two hours and the admission is $62.00 (dollars). With your own private guide, you can tour the grounds of Warner Bros and feel a sense of nostalgia as you see props, costumes and furniture from your favourite television shows, or pose next to Christian Bale’s Batmobile in The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan to feel a sense of valiance and heroism. My favourite part of this tour and call me an absolute dork if you wish, is the F.R.I.E.N.D.S set in Central Perk. That’s right, you can sit on the famous sofa and drink coffee in Central Perk! Alongside this, I loved the last section of this tour, in Stage 48: Script to Screen. I took several photos and notes in this section, as you can learn the key process of how a film starts on a piece of black and white paper, and travels it’s way to Warner Bros, and the big screen. To finish up, there is a gift shop at the end of the tour, which offers memorabilia and merchandise from the Motion Picture Studio Warner Bros. I won’t go into detail about the other tours I went to, but I also visited Paramount Pictures Studio. Again a two hour tour and this one is cheaper, starting at $55.00 (dollars). And lastly, I visited Hollywood’s Universal Studios theme park and included with admission is the Studio Lot backstage tour. These tours are a fantastic way to feel part of the excitement, and entertainment that we all know, love and cherish.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to attend a TCL Chinese theatre tour. The Chinese Theatre is along Hollywood Boulevard (same place as the Walk of Fame). The theatre is a movie palace and has been for many years, holding film and television premieres, ceremonies for imprints and film festivals. If you go online you can find out times and prices to attend a tour and if you do, please, I would love to know what it’s like and I will visit on my next trip to Los Angeles! The theatre itself is beautiful to visit, really stunning architecture.

If you don’t fancy the TCL Chinese Theatre tour, then I would recommend a visit to Hollywood’s entertainment venue the Dolby Theatre, home to the Oscar Ceremony awards stage. The guided tour only lasts around 30 minutes and costs $20.00 (dollars). It’s an informative tour. You’ll find out information about setting up the glamorous red carpet, where the Academy winners stand to receive their Oscar’s and behind the curtain. You can see an exact replica of an Oscar Statuette weighing 8 1/2 pounds and stands at 13 1/2 inches. Incredible! To conclude the tour, you have access to the theatre itself where the awards are held, American Idol is filmed, film premieres are shown and continuous forms of entertainment take place. Great tour, nice and quick.

We didn’t spend too much time visiting Los Angeles white sandy beaches, but we passed through Santa Monica and Venice beach. Santa Monica has a pier you can visit, quirky shops, fairground rides, and a beautiful view. If your planning on driving Route 66 (which we did- a story for another day) then there are two ‘End of Trails’ Route 66 signs in California. One is located along Santa Monica pier and the other just off the pier. Start by seeing the historic Route 66 begin sign in Chicago, Illnois and finish with the end sign in Santa Monica, California.

Our mum came to visit us in Los Angeles, Anaheim for a week and we were lucky enough to visit Hollywood’s Disneyland park and Disney’s Adventure California park. Disneyland is celebrating their Diamond anniversary of 60 years this year. So the park was even more spectacular and filled with magical moments. We visited Hollywood’s Universal Studio’s on the 11th April, four days after the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Lastly, we visited Knotts Berry Farm Theme park, which is America’s 1st ever theme park! And we also stayed at the joining Knotts Berry Farm hotel. These experiences were great fun and really thrilling. I would recommend them all.

If you’re interested in watching a live TV show, sitcom or talk show being filmed, then I would recommend looking on 1iota.com and tvtickets.com. All you have to do is pick your flavoured show and apply for tickets. With 1iota.com, you’ll be put on a waiting list and tvtickets.com, you will receive tickets straight away and seats are distributed on the day at the venue on a first come first serve basis. We were lucky enough to guarantee priority tickets to see James Corden Late Late Show at CBS Television Studio’s. We arrived early, and had priority seats in the second row! And we also booked tickets to watch a live recording of Baby Daddy at CBS Studio Centre. Baby Daddy was a night full of entertainment, the crew provided pizza, sweets and water. They interacted with us in the audience, played games, gave out free merchandise and we had the opportunity to call over the director, producer’s or any member of the cast & crew to ask questions. A fantastic night and it was completely free. We didn’t even have to pay for parking.

So I’ve listed quite a few activities and sights to see in Hollywood, places I loved and would recommend. I now want to touch upon my chosen title.

Los Angeles is so beautiful but, it is driven by power and money. I stayed in two locations- Anaheim, South of Los Angeles and Hollywood Boulevard, in the centre of Hollywood. Driving round Los Angeles, you will drive by a respectful clean street. Take a left and a street can be broken down, with broken pavements and swarmed with people who don’t have a regular dwelling and shelter. It’s really quite difficult to see and comprehend how a city can be so torn between the rich and the poor. We drove through Beverly Hills and it’s like falling down a hole to wonderland. The streets glisten, no garbage on the floor, no billboards scattered around. The grass is bright green and the mansions just boast money. It’s a division which defines what Hollywood is about.

The traffic is crazy. Honestly, I’m from the UK and if you’ve ever heard of the M25, this road is notorious for traffic. Los Angeles puts the M25 to shame. Everyone drives in Hollywood, public transport is non-apparent so people drive instead, making traffic quite long and tedious. With this said, I do recommend hiring a car on your visit as Los Angeles is so vast, each town is widely spread out, so the best way to get around and visit all these places is via your own transport.

I previously visited the East coast before the West coast in the United States, and the East coast is cheaper in many ways to California. We picked our first car up in Atlanta, Georgia and the price of gas started at 1.50/1.60/1.70. In comparison Los Angeles starts at 2.50/2.60. My sister and myself have been staying in accommodation via Air BnB, which is a fantastic site. We have generally found that accommodation in California has cost double the amount to other states and in some areas of California we have found it merely impossible to find accommodation as it is so steep. So in general, California is extensive!

That’s all I have to say for now. I’ve mentioned a lot of activities I loved in Los Angeles and I haven’t touched upon everything I did here. I love Los Angeles. Although I highlight a few flaws of this city, don’t let that scare you. Everywhere in the world has flaws! Enjoy this city and everything it has to offer.

Ask me any questions, I welcome any feedback and comments please. Also recommendations! If you’ve been to Los Angeles, I would love to know what you did on your visit. Thank you for reading and bye for now.

Sadie Chillingworth,
27. 04. 2016.

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