Around the World in 13 Days: Downtown Discoveries and Star Spotting
Onward to downtown LA! We stayed in the Westin Bonaventure that looked like a scene from the Jetsons’ or Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. 4 circular columns stretch up the sides of the hotel, each having its own elevator that breaks through the roof of the lobby, giving you views over downtown LA from 33 stories high. Not your average elevator!
Hot Tip: The Westin has an indoor running track and a new concept called Pack Light- Get Fit. They supply you will your whole gym kit… so unfortunately there are no excuses when it comes to keeping up your pre-holiday training.
We needed to ensure we ticked all the boxes while in LA, and what ensued was 2 days of non-stop sightseeing. Best part is that all this sightseeing can be achieved with a $5 day pass on the Metro! Here is my advice for a top-notch tour around downtown LA:
California Science Centre: I cannot believe that something so interesting and so engaging is completely FREE! This piece of history is an outstanding experience, especially considering that the Science Centre is now home to the Space Shuttle Endeavour. It was a beautifully unique experience beneath this vast machine that been to space and returned to tell the tale. Fascinating beyond words.
Starline Hop on Hop Off: There is one in every major city in the world, but none that take you to such iconic places as Beverley Hills, Rodeo Drive, The Beverley Wilshire, and Santa Monica. At one point we thought we saw Matthew Perry; we were sadly mistaken, but it was fun to think, at least for a short time, that it really could have been him.
Mondrian West Hollywood: Like falling down the rabbit hole, this hotel is very LA: white, chic, mirrors that work as televisions, and a rooftop sky bar. The highlight has to be lunch in their “Asia De Cuba” restaurant, located on their rooftop terrace overlooking Hollywood. I sat their eating the most amazing platters of food with excellent company, one of the many “pinch yourself” moments I had on the trip.
Hot Tip: Try the Carrot Cake. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Trust me.
We hopped off for the last time at the Farmers Market, even though we had just stuffed our faces with carrot cake. It was just what it said on the tin: a Farmers Market opened in 1934 home to 101 stalls selling everything from hot sauce to tacos to handmade peanut butter. Simply delicious.
Just over the road was The Grove, a New England Inspired shopping village. We readily enjoyed a little retail therapy in Abercrombie & Finch and headed to Mixology for a much needed cocktail. We also got another chance to go celebrity
stalking spotting, after the Dancing on Ice Stars held their wrap party in the bar. This was a lovely afternoon and something I would highly recommend to everyone.
Universal VIP Tour
You can’t go to LA without visiting Universal Studios, just like you can’t go to a Californian beach and not surf. It’s just the done thing. The amazing Doug severed as our personal Tour Guide, or “The Don of Universal” as he later became known as showed us around.
There was no waiting in queues with Doug! Straight to the front of The Simpsons ride, Shrek, Mummy, Jurassic Park, King Kong, and Transformers.
A walk around the sets meant walking up the steps of Town Hall from Back to the Future and a meander around Wisteria Lane. We also got a tour of the props and over 1 million costumes that they store at Universal. I will never watch a film in the same way again.
Hot Tip: No trip to LA is complete without a visit to Universal Studios. I know I’ve already said this, but it’s so true!
One last chance to Celebrity
stalk spot as Universal were holding the premier of The Fast and the Furious 6. A real Hollywood Moment filled with paparazzi and screaming fans.
To end the day in style 3 rather (shall we say) “brave” members of the team (I admit, including myself) sat at the front of the show Waterworld, and got drenched just in time for us to head to the airport and catch our plane to Auckland…
Keep an eye out for more of Gemma’s diaries from her round the world trip!