After exploring the USA’s West Coast two years ago, we felt like we had to pay a second visit to fill in some blanks.
We left Antwerp Sunday 7AM to touch down 25 hours later in LAX, after an eight hour cross-Atlantic flight to Newark and a six hour overlay waiting for a connecting flight.
We were welcomed by a rental car salesman who strongly advised us to upgrade to a bigger SUV which would give us tinted windows since it’s gonna be hot, you know. After politely blowing him off, we drove off to our first hotel. Arriving at an airport motel, we got to check off the clichés with a lost empty beer bottle in the room, and us playing ‘the stained carpet is lava’.
We started off our first day with a real American breakfast; eggs and steak. Saturated, we continued our path to the California Science Center, driving through LA’s colorful suburbs. Arriving there, we found the highly welcomed Space Shuttle named Endeavour in its retirement home. We also visited the IMAX theatre, which is always worth your while. This time we got to see Blue Planet. We followed this up with a small lunch at LA’s real farmer’s market.
Yesterday we took part in a Warner Bros VIP tour. With a group of only eleven, the guide did a great job making the tour a lot more intimate than the one Universal offers. Cruising through the outdoor sets, he emphasized once again how fake everything is. A small patch of grass serves as Central Park; outdoor stages can be stripped down and rebuilt to go from 18th century San Francisco to nowadays New York in a couple of days; leaves are plucked from trees to make it Winter and sewed back on to fast-forward to Spring; cracks are drilled into new pavements, and patches of tar are put on, to make them look worn out. Besides the outdoor stages we got a close look at the Big Bang Theory set and the retired Friends props, we even got to sit on the famous couch. Our final look behind the scenes went to the retired car museum, which was a real treat for me as a Batman fan, since it housed all Batmobiles, even the Tumbler.
After that, we drove up to Hollywood Boulevard, to be washed over by thousands of tourists walking around Hollywood’s two most famous theatres - the Dolby (former Kodak) theatre, and the Chinese theatre – just to stand where the stars once stood.
After nightfall we drove up to the observatory, just to put the size of LA in perspective. We were also hoping for some romance, but so were hundreds of others apparently.
Today we left central LA for Santa Monica and Venice Beach. We started our boardwalk in Venice Beach, embracing beach culture: street performers, medical marihuana offices, hustlers and amateurs pumping iron at Muscle Beach.
Next up; San Diego.