The Stars Are Calling
The morning after our flight, fortified with eight plus hours of sleep I awoke to my first daytime view of Southern California. I was struck by two things; the immense blue, blue sky, and the mountains. These weren’t like the mountains in upstate Pennsylvania, the kind I was used to, all green and rolling, surrounded by miles of emptiness. These mountains, crispy brown with scatters of scrub bushes appeared suddenly and incongruously at the end of a city street or grew along the side of a six lane highway. This place was different and I was ready to explore.
Now, if you happen to be an “old Hollywood” fanatic, like me, and you find yourself in the Greater Los Angeles’ area your first sight-seeing stop is pretty obvious: Hollywood Boulevard, home to Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Walk of Fame, so that’s where we headed. The trip from Burbank was only fifteen minutes and even though the traffic was insane, it wasn’t nearly as scary as the ride from the airport. Maybe it was the daylight or the lack of headache, but I also noticed that Los Angeles drivers accepted the fact that you couldn’t travel without cutting across multiple lanes and squeezing in and out of spaces while doing 70. Kyle zig-zagged in and out without attracting rude gestures, horns or squealing breaks, not at all what I had come to expect in Jersey!
Arriving downtown, we realized that Hollywood Boulevard was blocked off for a movie premiere, something Kyle said happens quite frequently. We had to park a few blocks over and walk to the theater which was fine because we passed Mel’s Drive-In, the Wax Museum and several other really cool sights on the way. By the time we reached the famed footprints in front of Grauman’s, I was positively giddy!!
The Theater, and me enthralled by the footprints!
The outside of the theater itself is quite beautiful. It is a style of architecture that recalls a forgotten era, very ornate and over the top. The courtyard, in front, was much smaller than I had imagined it being (and believe me, I’ve been imagining it ever since I was a teenager and got hooked on Hollywood’s glamorous hey day). I moved from one to another totally in awe, these awkward cement squares, some of the older ones held together with metal frames, crammed together in no particular order. Each one bore the footprints or handprints of famous people who only seemed half real to me. I searched for my favorites; Jimmy Stewart, (whose hands and feet were twice the size of mine), Paul Newman (barefoot?) and Joanne Woodward, Cary Grant and Clark Gable! They had been in that actual spot and written those actual words! Geeky, I know but I was star struck!!
After that, it only got better. We strolled up the street checking out the stars on the Walk of Fame, while side stepping both people trying to give us free music tapes and costumed entrepreneurs charging money to pose for photos. We saw a Captain Jack Sparrow, Spider-Man and Batman in the span of one block! There were also several types of food for sale, being cooked right at the curb on portable grills. You couldn’t have paid me enough to try any, but it did smell really good. I didn’t realize there could be so many colors and music and interesting people all in one place!
Stars and the mall complete with a set piece from D.W. Griffith’s film “Intolerance”
Kyle said he knew a good place from which to view the Hollywood sign (also at the top of my list) so we headed into a courtyard shopping mall with elevators that brought us up to a bridge looking out onto the Hollywood hills and there it was! So cool! See how excited I was…
For the rest of the week, it was hard for me to get used to seeing it every time you turned a corner. I’m pretty sure Linda and Kyle got tired of me shouting “Look! There’s that sign again!” After our photo shoot on the bridge, we strolled along Hollywood Boulevard a bit more checking our the many gift shops and purchasing the first of many souvenirs. Linda has seven grandchildren so she needed a lot of souvenirs!
Kyle doing his best Spider-man pose and me channeling my inner Fay Wray!
When we were finally done with all that excitement, Kyle showed us his apartment in the Los Feliz section of the city, then took us to one of his favorite restaurants, Spitz for an excellent Mediterranean lunch. The fries were amazing, covered with some decadent secret sauce and the wraps were so big that Linda and I took half of ours home in case we wanted to finish them for dinner.
That, as it turned out, is exactly what we did a few hours later exhausted and tucked away in our Burbank nest. Kyle had Ubered home to his apartment, claiming that one night on that couch was enough to last a lifetime. Linda and I carried our wraps and our much needed glasses of wine into the living room, put up our feet and planned our next adventure!