Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Heading West in an RV

San Francisco had been a fantastic city in which to start our family RV holiday, but now I was excited to start our road trip travelling in the Western United States. For most of the 20th and 21st centuries, the automobile has been the dominant form of transportation in the United States. Equally, travelling on a road to the West has for a long time been synonymous for many with the American Dream: freedom; adventure; and diverse, enticing and grand landscapes. Therefore, the road and the car both hold a revered place in the American consciousness. It was our first time in the Western United States, and we looked forward to travelling across a variety of Western cities and landscapes.

Our RV trip didn’t start that well. In the first minute of the trip, plates fell from a cupboard and shattered on the floor. But that was soon forgotten after we left San Francisco and ventured further south. Continue reading

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Best of La La Land: Top 6 Sights to visit in Los Angeles

Recent blockbuster success La La Land showcases Los Angeles in all its glory. The film uses many iconic locations that scream “This is Hollywood!” to tell the story of the film’s two protagonists and their struggle for fame and fortune. Visiting LA for the first time I was the ultimate tourist, fangirling on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, roller-skating down Venice beach, withdrawing a cupcake from the Cupcake ATM

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An Ice Cream Tour of the West Coast

As the summer begins to draw to a close, everyone is desperate to keep the summer spirit alive for as long as they can — and what embodies summer more than ice cream? A road trip down the West Coast is pretty much a perfect summer holiday, so I took it upon myself to investigate the best spots along the West Coast for an ice cream. A tough job, but someone has to do it.

I started my exploration in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver was a treasure trove of delicious treats and, sitting by the water, in the sun, with some Canadian maple syrup cheesecake was perhaps one of the best moments of life so far. It wasn’t until I reached Granville Island, however, that I found a truly fantastic ice cream. The vendors at Granville Public Market change weekly, but everyone there is known for creating fresh, delicious, artisan foods. Plus it’s situated right next to the marina, so the atmosphere and views you can enjoy while you eat are second to none.

Next stop: Seattle, where I was treated to so many ice cream shops that it is hard to narrow it down. Sweet Bumpas can be found at a variety of farmer’s markets around Seattle, and they pride themselves on using 100% fresh, locally sourced ingredients. However, it is the flavours that make them a must-visit, putting really delicious twists on classic flavours. If you get the chance, make sure you try the black rice and ginger ice cream. Your taste buds will thank you.

While you’re ice cream tasting in Seattle, make sure you pay Old School Frozen Custard a visit. You can find it on Capitol Hill, and it has become an institution in Seattle — in fact, it almost shut down once but a group of people got together to make sure that it could stay open. Now that’s dedication to ice cream. It is now owned by the people responsible for making their delicious chocolate chip cookies, so an ice cream (or frozen custard) sandwich is a must.

I’d like to give an honourable mention to Seattle Pops. Not exactly ice cream, but these popsicles are honestly phenomenal, and the flavours are amazing. Spicy pineapple jalapeno is one you won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Oregon

Next, we hit Oregon, and where better to go for an Oregonian ice cream than to the dairy headquarters of Tilamook cheese factory. Don’t worry, they serve more than just cheese — their ice cream menu is extensive and delicious. Make sure you go with an empty stomach though, as their portions are extremely generous. Treat yourself to a waffle cone, and go to town. You can even go taste some cheese afterwards, if you’ve left any room (although that is unlikely).

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Going Car-less in Los Angeles

Before arriving in Los Angeles, my friend and I had naively assumed that the public transport would be simple and easy to navigate.  How did we get it so wrong? A lack of planning.

I speak from experience when I implore you to research timetables and how to get to places of interest before straying away from the internet.  It is important to recognise just how vast LA is, as well as considering the length of time it can actually take to make any headway in the city’s condensed traffic – particularly during rush hour, which seems to go far beyond the times we would consider as peak rush hour times in England (around 5am to 11am and 3pm to as late as 9pm).  My only advice would be, if you choose to explore the sites of Los Angeles by bus, use the site below as your Bible!

http://www.metro.net/

I would suggest selecting accommodation within close proximity to bus and metro stops.  Luckily, my friend and I had.  This was more to do with wanting to be close to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but it proved to be a lucky decision transport-wise too.  In this vicinity there are two Metro stops, as well as a number of bus stops.  Unlike others staying in our hostel, we had not even begun to consider the possible benefits of renting a car for the week.  However, it is not impossible to enjoy LA without the use of a car, as I have tried to demonstrate below with the outings I went on by bus during my time in the city.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour

3400 W. Riverside Drive Burbank

CA, 91505

From the Hollywood Walk of Fame: Take the number 222 bus towards Sun Valley.  It will take around half an hour to get to Burbank, where the studios are located.

Everyone knows Los Angeles is the home of many major blockbuster films and well-known television series.  With this in mind, my friend and I felt compelled to visit one of the city’s studios and headed to the Warner Bros Studio, where we had booked a tour online a few days prior.  True, a studio visit can take away the magic of films; those dark and gloomy cities filled with superheroes that are actually made of perforated card, or that cosy coffee shop with a well-known group of friends that is actually located in an area more reminiscent of a desert than central New York.  However, being able to visit the sets of one’s favourite films and television series provides an undeniable buzz.

The majority of the tour takes place on an electric cart, enabling the guide to whizz you around to many a set; providing a running commentary as they drive.  This was combined with short periods outside of the vehicle to view costumes and props from major Hollywood blockbusters, such as Harry Potter and Batman.  If the latter is of interest, 2015 is the year to visit, as a special Batman Exhibit is currently open to celebrate the DC hero’s 75th anniversary.

In addition to driving past sets, visitors are taken by foot to working sets and to the familiar preserved café of Central Perk.  The whole tour provides visitors with a nice combination of the studio’s current role in the industry, as well as its previous importance and successful ventures.

Central Perk- author's own

Central Perk- author’s own

LA Farmers’ Market

6333 W.3rd St

Los Angeles

CA, 90036

From the Hollywood Walk of Fame: Take the number 217 bus Southbound to Fairfax Avenue.  Again, this takes around half an hour, but can take longer in rush hour.

During our few days in Los Angeles, my friend and I became big fans of the LA Farmers’ Market for food, a general explore and an evening stroll.  Unlike most Farmers’ Markets, these stalls are a permanent fixture.  Good job really, because with such an overwhelming choice of eateries a second visit is needed!

The Grove is also located nearby.  This is – essentially – an outdoor mall, but designed in a visually pleasing manner, with a free old-fashioned style trolley linking it to the marketplace, a dancing fountain and, at Christmas time, the largest tree in the whole of Los Angeles.

Familiar brand names appear in this area, such as the department store Barney’s, but with its outdoor location the shops have a different feel to your typical mall.  Although busy and still popular with tourists, the LA Farmers’ Market provides a more relaxing environment than the hustle and bustle of Hollywood.

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Sublime to ridiculous: America’s unusual hotels

1) Best Bar – Monteleone Hotel, New Orleans

Truman Capote wasn’t born here (though he’d like you to believe he was) but here’s an honest to God fact: the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone is one of the best in the world. The idea of jumping aboard a bar that continuously revolves at roughly the speed of drunkenness is pure genius. I spent the night before my wedding nursing a Southern Comfort on the rocks and whizzing around the room. The resulting photos contained a cheerful blurriness that I shall treasure forever. In a town that dedicates itself to getting elegantly wasted there is no more elegant scene of the crime than the genteel, chintzy surroundings of the Monteleone. It’s one of those places that hangs a huge portrait of the owner in the lobby, like Willard White in Diamonds Are Forever. Granted, you may not be one for alcohol but if that is the case NOLA may not be the town for you; I once witnessed a drunk driver mount the sidewalk, proceeding to run over a garbage can and wedge his car onto the tramlines. The driver of our streetcar, along with several burly passengers managed to lift the car off the tracks to much applause. No sooner had this happened than the drunk driver restarted the engine and ploughed straight into an oncoming police car. All this happened at nine in the morning! So you don’t need the Carousel Bar to have a good time in New Orleans but it helps.

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