Adventures in Hollywood – Day Two

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!

Adventures in Hollywood – Day One

Nancy and Linda Fly the Friendly Skies

When my sister Linda and I first hatched our crazy plan to fly clear across the country by ourselves we actually felt pretty confident. We had no worries about enjoying the destination.  My nephew Kyle has been living in Los Angeles for seven years and my sister has been out to visit him once before. She knew what to expect and I knew he would take care of us, driving our rental car and showing us all the touristy sites.  In addition, we were not worried about our accommodations because we were staying in the same little apartment in Burbank that Linda had rented during her last trip six years earlier.  We knew it would be clean and safe and in a good location.  We didn’t even care about sharing these close quarters for a week because even though there is a 12 year difference in our ages (she the oldest of four, me the youngest) we have always gotten along famously.  We have the same personality type, decidedly introverted but with a side of adventure. We share the same sarcastic sense of humor, eating habits and taste in wine.  In fact, my brother-in-law often claims that we share a brain.

So it was with excited anticipation that we planned our adventure.  We had just one obstacle and one big worry…getting there.  It wasn’t a fear of flying that gave us anxiety.  We both really enjoy the actual flying part. . It was more a fear of arrival times and baggage claims, of security checks and boarding passes. In addition to sharing a brain,  my sister and I also share a phobia of rule breaking.  The idea that we would be late or get pulled out of line for an infraction of the security rules, which are much stricter since the last time either of us flew, had us both nervous wrecks. Linda alleviated her anxiety by scouring the internet.  Every few days I received another link to another site with tips for stress free flying. Personally,  I went straight to the horse’s mouth, or rather to my friend Donna who has flown more miles than she cares to remember both for work and pleasure.  She sent me a nice long email detailing what we could do to make the flight and check in easier.

When the time arrived for us to finally embark it felt like we had prepared all we could for our 5:45 flight out of Philadelphia. I even arranged to leave work early just in case of traffic. Our  bags were packed (although Linda was sure she was going to be over the 25 pound limit for checked bags); our carry-ons were filled with books and food (in clear zip lock bags); we were wearing slip on shoes  (in case we needed to remove them for security), and socks (because airport floors=gross);  we were without cumbersome scarves, jackets or necklaces so we could plop our stuff into those plastic bins with ease and once through security, we planned to buy large bottles of water to drink on the plane to stay hydrated.

So we were ready, right?  Worries and anxiety in check, right? Not really.  We still kept imagining everything that could go wrong.  Linda worried more than me, always has.  I think it’s a birth order thing.  Any-hoo, the departure day finally came. We arrived at the airport hours ahead of our flight, checked our bags quickly and easily (she had a 1/2 pound to spare, mine was 10 pound lighter-I know how to pack!), and sailed right through security, without even removing our shoes.

Really?!

It was sort of anticlimactic. We just looked at each other and thought,  “That’s it?” No pat down? No bag searches? No suspicious looks?  The most difficult part was trying to figure out how to print our baggage tag  from those annoying little kiosks they use now. My kingdom for a real, live person with a pen and paper!! Oh, and we also sat at the wrong departure gate for an hour (long story) but we figured it out in plenty of time.

The five hour flight was a little cramped but fine.  The flight attendant did get sort of snippy when we asked for wine.  Apparently they had to wait “till we reach cruising altitude.” Yeesh!  She obviously didn’t realize how badly we needed that wine! Anyway, finally around 9pm (12am without the time change) the lights of the Greater Los Angeles area appeared below and we began our decent.

We had been warned by several people about how crazy LAX could be but we actually found it easier to navigate than the Philadelphia Airport had been.  We found our luggage and my nephew Kyle, who had Ubered to the airport, in no time at all.  A shuttle took us to the Hertz Rental Center where we signed in and were sent to pick out our rental car.  It’s a nice idea, really, giving you the choice of all the cars in the lot but in the dark after a long day I would have preferred someone just hand me the keys.  Since Kyle was going to do most of the driving, we let him pick.  By this time, I had a crashing headache and was just ready to climb in the back seat and nap. It was probably due to stress…or the wine…or the fact that I’d mostly had wine for dinner.  I could blame it on the dry air on the plane but that’s unlikely. Anyway, my introduction to the insane L.A. Traffic and all the zigging and zagging involved was not fun and I was grateful to make it to our cute little Burbank apartment without hurling in the back seat of the rented Toyota.

Day one down.  Technically, I guess, it was already day two since it was around 1am.  Linda and Kyle decided to stay up for a while and catch up. Me,  I crawled into my pjs and into the nice comfy bed thankful for the peace and quiet. I was asleep in minutes, dreaming of all the adventures to come.

Watch out Hollywood. The Sisters have arrived!

IMG_0083

Our Burbank Abode and the snazzy rental car.