A tour for a day in la la land, september 30, 2022

We scheduled an all-day tour in Los Angeles for Friday the 30th and were picked up at the hotel at around 8:30am. We managed to squeeze 14 into a smallish van and off we were to a whirlwind tour of La La Land. We started down a major highway in search of downtown Los Angeles. The driver, who served as our “tour director” talked to us all the way with highlights and even lowlights. “On your right is such and such and on your left is this and that.” To be honest, he was very informative. Unfortunately, he seemed to be on a loop and repeatedly told us the same information; not just one extra time but 2, 3 or even 4 more times.

I thought, incorrectly, that we would be stopping frequently for photo shoots but that was not to be. Our first stop, in Griffith Park, the largest urban-wilderness park in the United States, was at the Griffith Observatory. I loved the movie La La Land, and could just imagine the scenes filmed in this location. Here are a couple of shots taken from the top of the Mount Hollywood where the observatory is located. The first is of the iconic Hollywood sign in the distance and then the observatory.

Here I am shooting in the down the hill into the valley.

I liked this shot of JoAnn and Barbara. Picture anyone?

Our next stop was for lunch at Mel’s Diner, made famous in the TV show “Alice” which aired from 1976 until 1985. Even though it may be a tourist trap, lunch was very good. I had a house turkey sandwich which I really enjoyed.

From there we were on our way to the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard and a walk among the stars embedded in the pavement.

We even stumbled upon the star for María Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez, better known as Lupe Velez. She was a Mexican beauty who starred in silent, and later talking, motion pictures. She was known to have dated Gary Cooper and for having married Johnny Weissmuller. Her unfortunate death in December 1944 is the stuff of legend having been recounted and made famous by Roz in the first episode of the TV show, Frazier. Apparently according to Roz, Lupe, who was unhappily involved with yet another man and with child, decided to commit suicide by consuming Seconal and brandy. The plan was to die resplendent among her satin sheets. Since the Seconal and brandy didn’t mix well with the spicy Mexican dinner she had as her final meal she made her way to the bathroom to vomit, tripped on the way and drown face down in the toilet. If you are interested you can find an excellent write up about her on Wikipedia. Here is Lupe’s star.

When we arrived outside of La La Land on Hollywood Boulevard our driver couldn’t find a parking place and drove around the corner so we could pile out to walk among all the other tourists in search of the rich and famous. He told us we had about 45 minutes and he would meet us in front of the timeline. And then we were on our way.

Our first stop was La La Land, a souvenir shop on Hollywood Boulevard. Once inside I captured this photos of an Elvis effigy standing along side of what is reputed to be his customized Cadillac Eldorado.

Next was Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It was built over an 18 month period and opened in January 1927 with the premier of Cecil B. DeMille’s “The King of Kings.” I captured these photos as we visited this historic site.

I liked this photo of Marilyn Monroe, which is to the left of the entrance.

And, this one of Barbara and JoAnn as they studied the hand and foot impressions of famous film stars.

Here are a few photographs taken on the boulevard.

Then, it was time to mount up and move on. As I said, we were to meet at the timeline. Problem was, the driver didn’t actually tell us where the timeline was and none of us realized that as we left the van 45 minutes before. So, we did what any reasonable person would do, we asked a cop, “where is the timeline”? As luck would have it, he had no idea; nor did a local vender or even our driver’s partner from the same tour company driving another company van. We were stuck in Hollywood with out a paddle. What to do? JoAnn, using better judgment than our tour director, decided to call the company and ask, “where in the world is the timeline on Hollywood Boulevard”? They didn’t have an cue either but told her they would call our driver who would call us back. And he did. Why, oh why, didn’t he just say he would be across the street from La La Land?

Well, once back on the van, we explained what happened and that we didn’t know where the timeline was and, notwithstanding asking others from the area for directions, couldn’t find it. We weren’t alone, there were others on the van who also didn’t know where the timeline was either. It was at this point that the tour director decided to explain a timeline to us. He didn’t just explain it, as if we were grammar school children who were learning something for the first time. No, he told us over and over and over. He told us to google it. He was like a dog with a bone, he wouldn’t let it go. On and on about the timeline until someone in the back, an anonymous soul, suggested he take the timeline and . . . Oh well, you get the idea.

Then we were on our way to Venice Beach, via a drive by Santa Monica. Venice Beach is a colorful and interesting place. Let the photos describe it for you. A picture is worth, as they say, a thousand words.

I liked this particular mural.

And, before we knew it we were on our way back to the Hyatt Regency. Just one little incident on the way which I feel compelled to recount since it is kinda out of the ordinary and made us all laugh. We were traveling on the interstate from Venice Beach to Long Port. After a modest amount of time the tour director exited the highway to, I assumed, travel the rest of the way on local, uncongested roads. So, imagine my surprise when he turned into the lot of a Denny’s restaurant. Unusual, but in the scheme of things on the tour, especially considering the timeline incident, not particularly surprising. I expected him to say we were stopping for a coffee break (he kept talking about his love of Starbucks the entire time we were traveling with him) but no, he had to make an emergency toilet stop. He confessed to too much coffee while in Venice Beach. No photo allowed. Now, we get to number Denny’s among the sights.

Back at the Hyatt and soon to be ready for dinner which was at a pleasant Mexican restaurant not to far from the hotel.

Tomorrow we board the Discovery Princess for a seven day cruise along the California coast. See you on Saturday.

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