July 2011

US diAry Entry 23 – Day 21

Oh, did I forget to do an entry?

Well, we’re back in Australia. Sydney, presently. The last 2 days of LA and the US was a whirlwind.
On the verge of running out of coin, we kept it simple:
The most expensive seats to see Harry Potter Part 2.
The cinemas have a seating system called “D-Box”. It’s motionesque type seating where if there was an explosion, the chair shook. If there was flying, the chair tilted. Etc…
It was nearly as close to a massage as you could get. The cinema wasn’t packed, but when we went back later on that evening, the entrance was filled with Harry Potter characters.

After the film, we walked a little more up and down the stretch and saw more stars.

On the final day – we had nothing planned, so we checked out X-Men: 1st Class. Afterwards, more walking until we exhausted ourselves. We then went to the motel and waited for our airport shuttle to arrive. But Reece had an ace up his sleeve…

The bastard ordered a limo! So we went to LAX in style.
Just before we boarded, Pete felt queasy & was ill in the bathroom. He recovered enough to get on the plane. Upon arriving home, we were informed Pete’s dog, Sally, passed away a few hours beforehand. She was 14 yrs old.

So I’m dedicating the trip to my Aunt Cheryl (she helped with the flights and we saw Copperfield on her behalf. She passed away 2 & 1/2 months before we flew), and our beautiful dog, Sally.

We miss you both so much. XXX

Location:Taber St,Menangle Park,Australia

US diAry Entry 21 – Day 19

Today, I got my nerd on and we headed to KIIS FM – hope of Ryan Seacrest.

That’s not the reason why we went, though. Honest.

Because of my radio passion, we ventured there for a tour. 5 radio stations in the one building. They also have views of NBC Burbank, Disney, and the hillside where Michael Jackson is buried.

We went for another walk along Hollywood Blvd to check more stars.

And found the head office for Capitol Records

We headed to the store, grabbed a 12 pack Heineken, and survived the walk down Hollywood Blvd without being robbed or murdered. Phew. We then jumped in the hotel pool to cool down.

Tomorrow – an unplanned trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain!

Location:N Sycamore Ave,Los Angeles,United States

US diAry Entry 20 – Day 18

Is it over yet?

WHAT A DAY!

First thing – up for free breakfast, then prepared ourselves for Warner Bros Studio Tour in Burbank at 9:40am. We were greeted by our tour guide who showed us a 10 minute movie about the history of Warner Bros. We then ventured onwards in tour carts to the Backlot, where our guide showed where some movies were filmed in what sections. My favorite was seeing the building from The Mask – one of my favs. Stanley Ipkiss’s apartment:

Look Ma! I’m roadkill! ha ha HA!

The area where a scene from Goldmember where they wedge the Mini under the Godzilla display:

The Cuban Pete scene from The Mask

The cinema from Drew Carey Show where they do the Rocky Horror Tribute

And a few of the cars…

The FRIENDS set

And the Daily Planet from Lois & Clark

Afterwards, we headed to CBS studios for The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. The episode we sat in was with Julie Chen (the host of US Big Brother), & Joss Stone.

We had 2 nutbag taxi drivers, and both nearly had 4 car accidents in total, just trying to get to and from our locations that were 10 minutes away. We made it to our hotel safely…

Tomorrow, KIIS FM tour.

Location:Franklin Ave,Los Angeles,United States

US diAry Entry 19 – Day 17

There was something in the water today. Woke up at 7am, then passed back out again. Woke up again at 8:45am and had a shower and got ready for the hotel breakfast. Pete and Reece were still passed out when I ate, so I woke them up, ate then went back to sleep, waiting for the other 2 to eat and get ready. But I was out like a light until 11am. Turns out they went to sleep after breakfast as well, so I woke them up and we hit Hollywood Blvd.

It was quiet, so we walked in to Madame Tussauds, next door to the Kodak Theatre. We spent about an hour looking around, then headed to Hard Rock Cafe for lunch.

With time to kill, we strolled across the road to the Guinness World Records exhibit. What a waste of $18. It took us 5 minutes to walk in and walk back out. Nothing special at all.

So, taking to the Blvd, we checked out the pavement for stars. 1/2 of the names I didn’t even know as they were “behind the scenes” or old names. But one I did get a kick out of:

As we walked around more, we could see the Hollywood sign through the shopping centre.

It was about 3:30pm and for some reason, we were all tired, so we walked back to the hotel and chilled in the air conditioning, eating and drinking from the mini bar that was complimentary.

Tomorrow – Warner Bros Studio Tour and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson studio audience! Better be more exciting than today.

Location:N La Brea Ave,Los Angeles,United States

US diAry Entry 18 – Day 16

Nothing much happened today. All we did was check out of San Fran at 8:30am and hung out at San Fran airport until 1pm. It was a 2 hour check in, and the place was PACKED! So glad we checked in early.

When we touched down at LAX, we went to the baggage claim, and amazingly, our bags were already there before anyone else’s. It turns out because we were at San Fran airport early, they put our bags on an earlier flight, so we beat the baggage stampede.

As there’s lack of decent public transport, we caught a taxi to our hotel, roughly a 30 minute drive. Concerned about the fare, it turned out that from LAX to Downtown was a flat rate of $46.50. The driver was Nigerian, and after 10 minutes, he started saying “you Aussie? I have a friend who lives there – but he’s dead now!”. We went quiet, then he said his mate was Steve Irwin. Bad joke.

The second part to the drive was that he was speeding through the roads. I think a permanent speed camera flashed him. As we got closer to the hotel, we discovered that he couldn’t turn left where the GPS was indicating. So he went up the road a bit and did an illegal U-turn. He hopped on the right road and went to the entrance of the car park.

Well, he thought it was the entrance. It was the exit of the car park.

There was a car trying to leave, so he reversed out. But on reversing, there was clear signage that said “WARNING: Wrong Way. May cause severe tyre damage” – about 4 signs.

He was persistent in getting us to the entrance, so he drove in through.

Then the hissing and thudding started. All 4 tyres were popped. Reece and I looked at each other, confused as to why the hell he did such a stupid thing. The driver hopped out and examined one of the tyres, continuingly saying “Oh No!”

Oh No indeed.

I told the guys to get out of the car and grab their stuff. The driver popped the boot open and we took our bags out. The driver apologized profusely saying he was concerned that he didn’t drive us to the entrance. I gave him $60 and told him that he should be more concerned about all his tyres.

We grabbed our bags and walked to the hotel. As we were walking, Pete informed us that his license expired on 7 July – 3 Days ago.

FAIL!

Location:N La Brea Ave,Los Angeles,United States

US diAry Entry 17 – Day 15

I’m not sure what it is, but I think I’m feeling the pinch. The pinch being I’m kind of missing home a bit. Only because I’m sick of flying and I just want a day where I can stay in my room and do nothing. When you’re in a hotel room, you have no choice. If you’re indoors, you are wasting time and you should be exploring. Or the fact I’m missing Kelly.

Our last full day in San Fran was exhausting. We did the stupid thing and walked to Alamo Square Park. What’s so good about this place?

Other than the houses in the background (they’re called The Painted Ladies), it’s the scenic spot for the opening credits of Full House, where they have their picnic. It’s also the spot where Charlie (Mike Myers) breaks up with Harriet (Nancy Travis) in So I Married An Axe Murderer. And it may have appeared an many other movies and shows that are based in San Fran. The walk took us just under an hour to do, walking through some seedy areas. The lingering fog made us cold, but the jumpers kept us warm.

We got back to the hotel and reassessed the next spot – Lombard Street. Famous for being all zig-zaggy. We attempted 5 times to catch the tram there, but it was full so many times. We walked up and down the hilly streets, and half hour later, we were there.

We were pretty much fatigued, so we climbed up the hill and took a tram back, which was an interesting ride. You have to hold on to your dear life while the controller slammed on the handbrakes every 10 seconds. It was 3:30pm by the time we got back, so we passed out and woke up at 6pm to have dinner and watch Harry Potter on tv.

Next stop – LA!

Location:W Field Rd,San Francisco,United States

US diAry Entry 16 – Day 14

“G’day Mate!”

If I had $1 for the amount of times someone has said that to me here in the US (with a really bad Aussie accent put on by them), I’d have about $15 + tax.

The flight from Vegas to San Fran was rough to take off, but smooth when we touched down. After trying to work out the transit system (BART), it took us 30 minutes to get to Powell Street station, and from there we carried our luggage to our hotel on Bush Street. Little did I know that Bush street is 1/2 way up the famous hilly area of San Francisco. But then again, San Francisco IS known to be very hilly. If anything that the TV show Full House has taught me, is to take the bloody tram everywhere.

We checked in at 2pm, too early for our actual check in to the room. So we had more burgers at a cool little bar called “Oz”. When we arrived back at 4pm, I pretty much passed out, waking up at 3am to go to the bathroom then go back to bed.

5am on Day 14 – the alarm went off. We were up and ready, have breakfast at Roxanne’s Cafe around the corner from the hotel. Meat and cheese omelette went down a treat. We were all set for our Alcatraz tour. It was 8:20am and we had to be at Pier 33 at 9am for our cruise. As we walked, it turned out that what I thought would be 20 minutes to walk, ended up being 40 minutes. Reece was sick with a sore throat and headache, but he was pushing on. It was 8:50am and we were only at Pier 7. So we sprinted the rest of the way, and checked in at 8:58am. We hopped on to the ferry at 9am, and rested until the boat took off to the isolated island of Alcatraz. We learnt all about the history of the island and prisoners, such as Al Capone, “Machine Gun” Kelly, and the famous escapes of Alcatraz. The 1 & 1/2 audio tour was amazing, and the island freely available to walk around in most areas. The air was fresh and clean, and the flora and fauna so beautiful. With derelict buildings looking amazing to study, it’s odd to believe that it was the ‘inescapable’ prison for hardcore criminals, only being a 2 mile swim to San Fran itself. If they attempted to swim, you’re guaranteed to freeze or drown.

We walked further along the pier, and found the Soup Man (Soup Nazi) and Jimmy Rockets restaurants to have lunch,. The soup was so damn delicious, and we had the chocolate malts from the 1950’s themed Jimmy Rockets. After lunch, we casually walked back to the hotel, heading through Chinatown, walking up the steep hills. We got back to the hotel about 4pm, rested, and now I lead up to this post.

Reece is still feeling under the weather, so I’ve pumped him full of headache and cold & flu drugs, while trying to organise dinner – pizza it is.

Tomorrow, I hope to get to Golden Gate Bridge and check out Lombard Street.

US diAry Entry 15 – Day 10 to 13

I’ve had to cram in the Vegas trip into this one post due to lack of wifi where we are/were staying. This could the beginning of a whining entry…

After touching down in Vegas at 9:45pm at night, after a 4 hour flight from Orlando, we caught the taxi to Worldmark Resort in South Las Vegas Blvd. Our “room” was huge! I should change “room” to more of an apartment/unit in this place. 2 large rooms, full kitchen, combined lounge/dining area. With built in laundry and 3 bathrooms. Score!

However, it’s so far south of the strip, there’s an hourly courtesy bus which crams in the entire resort in. The bus trip takes 15-20 mins to get there. If we walked, it would take about 1 & 1/2 hours in the desert.

Our first day, we travelled in and checked out the area. All the well known casino names were there: New York New York, Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, MGM Grand, Excalibur, Luxor etc…

That night, we checked out a burlesque show at Luxor. A basic show costs about $65. On the way there, there were a shitload of people standing on the footpath, keeping their mouth shut, flicking their hand with a card and trying to hand them to you. Due to strict laws on prostitution, there’s only promoters handing out call-girl cards for women “desperately wanting to meet” us. You give those people the same courtesy as you would do in New York – ignore them. They get it all the time. Don’t even acknowledge they are there.

As we were there during the day, the Bellagio puts on a fountain display every hour. Every man and his dog stood in front of this water fountain to catch the display shooting water out in sync with a classic croon tune that Vegas is known for.

For dinner – decision making was hard, not what to have, but where to have it. Vegas is a cesspool to buffet restaurants. Depending where you go, there’s buffets ranging from $20 to $35 for all you can eat. The first night out on the strip, we hit the buffet at The Luxor for $20 each. It wasn’t bad either.

Our second night involved David Copperfield at MGM. He was pretty cool, but he looked like he was tired and was so sick of doing the same routine over and over again. Unfortunately I worked out one of his illusions as we were down front. He was entertaining though and funny.

Our last day, we walked to the Stratosphere. (desert – big mistake). We went to the observation deck and checked out the view.

Reece and I also rode the xScream, which works like a see-saw over the edge of the deck, so we hang over the side for about 10 seconds each time. It wasn’t as nerve racking as one thought.

Our last night was all about Blue Man Group at the Venetian.

It was a part show, party concert. We had the front row poncho seats and were splattered lightly by Twinkie custard and non-toxic paint while wearing the ponchos. But we got stuck when it came to playing the song “Last Train To Transcentral” by KLF. There was recycled paper everywhere. And where did it end up?

The 1 & 1/2 hour show was phenomenal and brilliant. Even the meet and greet was wicked.

I couldn’t have been a more happier man.

Off to San Francisco now!

Location:W Oquendo Rd,Las Vegas,United States

US diAry Entry 14 – Day 9

Oh, hello!

Today was our last day in Orlando. Our check-out time wasn’t until 11am, so we slept in until 8am. Our actual wake up time for the last few days was 5am, so it was great to exploit our check-out time. We did some laundry, before we packed our bags and moved everything into the lobby.

After leaving our items at reception, we casually walked to CityWalk again, in the hot sun. It was about 11:20am, so we killed time and saw The Green Lantern. Time to pick the most interesting chocolates… Cookie dough bites!

It wasn’t the biggest and best comic book movie, but terrific CGI. 3/5. That was followed by lunch at NASCAR theme restaurant, where we chewed down the burgers and drank the beer until 2:45pm.

With more time to kill, we headed to the games room and wasted $10 on arcade games. Next thing you know, 4:30pm came and our taxi was waiting. Now, we sit at Orlando and wait… For VEGAS!

Location:Jeff Fuqua Blvd,Orlando,United States