Sat, Aug 10
This morning we arrived in the port of San Pedro, looking forward to our day in LA, but first we had to complete a face to face inspection by Customs Border Protection immigration officials. This was conveniently carried out onboard, and as we had already been photographed and fingerprinted in New York, we were quickly processed and then were free to join our excursion.
We had a very informative guide who gave us a lot of interesting facts about America’s second most populated city, located in Southern California and 130 miles north of the Mexican border. Our first stop was the Disney Concert Hall/Music Centre; featuring stainless steel curves on its striking exterior, this 3.6 acre complex is one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world.
We then went to Olvera Street; the birthplace of LA, this colourful village features 27 historic buildings and a marketplace offering traditional Mexican food and handcrafted Mexican wares. I was very pleased to discover a leather purse that I had seen in Brisbane at 1/3 of the price!
Next stop was Hollywood Boulevard, home to the Walk of Fame, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, Madam Tussauds’s and the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s) featuring elaborate Chinese-style architecture, and over 200 Hollywood legends hand and foot prints, set in the concrete of its forecourt. They were all quite close together and it was a bit difficult trying to take photos in the timeframe we had – especially with the sun in the wrong spot and just as we would go to take the shot, suddenly someone’s feet would appear right in the middle of the frame!
You could not leave LA without visiting Beverly Hills and driving down Rodeo Drive – the shopping mecca for the wealthy. Hundreds of the world’s top labels and icons can be found here. We were amazed to see a menswear store which opens by ‘appointment only’ … the cheapest item we were told being a man’s handkerchief costing $100. The owner’s motor vehicle was parked out front – a Bugatti Veleron – according to our guide worth over $2M!!
We were very pleased to have an extended tour around town – we thought we would be done by 1.00pm but didn’t get back to the ship until 4.00pm, so we were able to spend a good length of time at the Farmers Market browsing the many shops and enjoyed a great hot dog and fries for lunch. We noticed many Mexican restaurants and we love Mexican food, but just too well fed on the ship to indulge in a big meal unfortunately. We were amazed at the prices of souvenirs and clothing generally, so much cheaper than Australia.
Unfortunately we were not able to go the Hollywood Bowl, as it was closed to the public in preparation for a concert that night with Willie Nelson.
Once back at the ship, we took advantage of the free Waterfront Trolley to take a quick trip around San Pedro (not the most attractive part of town), then back to the ship about 6.00pm. The weather was warm with a breeze coming off the water … similar to our weather in Queensland but with low humidity, making for a very pleasant day.
We loved LA – we travelled on some amazing freeways, saw many landmarks familiar from movies and television – Fifth Avenue, Wiltshire Boulevard, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Paramount Studios, CBS – just to mention a few, and thought that the type of housing in the pretty leafy suburbs was very similar to ours. Instead of skyscrapers there were lots of palm trees giving the city a nice tropical feel and people in general were relaxed and friendly. We felt very much at home.
Next stop: Hawaii