Oct 7, 2013
26.09.2013 - 13.10.2013
We had a very busy day ahead of us. Our first decision was to decide which studio tour to do. We had 3 to choose from - Sony Pictures, Universal or Warner Bros. Universal and Warner both seemed pretty pricey, as well as long and we didn't want to spend hours and hours doing a tour. So we settled on Sony Pictures which was a few hours...but that was for later in the afternoon...first stop...
Venice Beach. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to check ahead at what was in Venice Beach and we totally missed the canals and other great areas...instead, we walked along the beach a ways, then walked back along the boardwalk. This had to have been the biggest disappointment of the trip - but totally my fault. The waterfront was nothing but t-shirt stores, 'get your medical marijuana license' shops and just plain old tackiness. Not to mention the people who pester you for 'donations' or to buy their CD...really, I'm a middle aged white woman - do I want your CD full of rap music...uh...no! The beach itself was lovely, and I really wish I would have looked at my notes - I left Venice Beach with a feeling of disappointment, which carried over a little during the rest of the day. What looked like it would have been fun would have been to rent a bike and bike along the beach, but I was too worried about getting to Sony to get one of the few tours available each day.
Again, what can I say about LA traffic...stuck again...and we programmed to GPS wrong and ended up in a different Sony lot - then when we asked a guard and got it figured out (we weren't even close) we had a hard time finding the correct spot - circling the block. For such a huge building, it is kinda off the main street, but there is no signage at all to let you know where it is. And then we turned into the area where they do the filming...asked the very friendly guard and he directed us - right across the street to the underground parking area. Free parking with the studio tour - which was great. Into the huge building, but the next tour was sold out, so we had to wait until, I believe it was 2pm for the next one...so we had a few hours to kill. But it was lunch time so we wandered out and down the road and found an A&W and then wandered back and checked out the movie memorabilia in the lobby area. Time to get our photos done! One thing I will say, for the least expensive of the tours, they give free parking and a free souvenir photo, which we've had taken at other places that wanted $15-20 for the 'memory' photo. I was a little underwhelmed by the tour...the tour guide was very nice, but we got to see an 'old' main street, the Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune studios (snore), the area where Adam Sandler has his offices (no AS tho) and sometimes plays basketball, told where a lot of things were filmed in the warehouses, got to look into one to see the garage from 'The Goldbergs' and just kinda general - 'this is where a lot of stuff is/was filmed' but we didn't really see anything exciting - the highlight was seeing the RV used in Breaking Bad, along with Jesse's car, Walt's Aztec, the car from that Will Ferrell racing movie and maybe some kinda 'famous' guy who no one knew his name...not even the tour guide - so maybe he's been in a movie or tv show, but not 'movie star' famous. I know it is a working studio lot, and people just can't wander onto sets, but...meh...
So...back thru the traffic...this time, we were heading to Griffith Park and the Observatory. It being a Monday, we didn't realize that the Observatory was closed. But we really went up to have a look at it and see a view of the city - and the Hollywood sign - which I didn't realize you could see from there (or maybe I read you could and forgot...?). We were lucky enough to snag a parking spot as the lot was quite full even tho the Observatory was closed. And we were there at the 'golden hour' - perfect light for taking photos - and the Observatory was lit with a lovely golden glow. There was a bit of a haze (smog?) in the air so the Hollywood sign wasn't crisp and clear, and you could definitely see the haze over the city. We stayed about a half hour and admired the views and I think if we ever got back, I would for sure like to go into the Observatory itself. And I think we'd try to find the time to hike up to the Hollywood sign - you never know - we may get back someday!
So we found ourselves with a hour or two to kill so we decided to head way back across town to the Santa Monica Pier. We took side roads as opposed to the highway - I'm not sure if it was faster or not, but at least it was more interesting. By the time we got to the Pier area, it was dark and we were having a little trouble finding a parking lot - we found one, but then noticed the sign that said it was closed at 6pm or 7pm - anyways - it was after we arrived - my only guess is it's for residents after a certain time...so we left there and drove around for another 10 min and finally parked at a large mall a few blocks away. The Pier was mostly closed up for the night unfortunately - the amusement park itself was closed (a few of the restaurants were open) - but the Ferris wheel was still lit up so we watched the changing patterns for a few minutes, hit Bubba Gump's to get a t-shirt for my sister back home, and then walked back up to the mall to get supper from the food court. Back to our accom to get ready for the next busy day!