Day 63 – Los Angeles & Being Touristy

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We took it fairly easy and didn’t get going until a bit later as we didn’t have a massive amount planned for the day. I wanted to go to downtown LA as I’d read that there’s some nice restaurants and bars there, but on second thought I realised we weren’t that interested in seeing things like the Staples Center and LA Live as it is all just big buildings after all. We rather decided to do the other touristy things, like the Hollywood Stars thing and Chinese Theatre etc. Once again our location was absolutely spot on for this, and we didn’t have to drive very far all day and it was overall easy driving with no more traffic than you’d expect in any city – actually a lot easier than London! We started at the Chinese Theatre and got some shots of famous people’s hand and footprints (incl Robin Williams’, ironically saying Carpe Diem), as well as the stars – but that soon got old and the whole area is very busy anyway. In order to get cheap parking we had to shop in the shopping centre where we parked the car, so we ended up with two coffees and HUGE croissants for brunch.
We drove through Rodeo Drive, having a quick look at the shops and then up through Benedict Canyon Drive, to connect to Mulholland Drive, which we followed along the mountains, stopping occasionally for pictures. You can see the Hollywood sign from the last bit of Mulholland Drive, but we headed to Lake Hollywood Park, where you are closer to the sign and get much better views. We got the obligatory pictures of us and the sign, and then headed back towards the hotel via the Miracle Mile that includes Museum Row.
Back at the hotel we were hungry and thirsty so set off back towards the Farmer’s Market for a quick happy hour beer before dinner. We decided the night before to have a burger at Umami Burger after looking at the menu, a small-ish chain that definitely should expand a lot more as the burgers are delicious! The restaurant is in The Grove shopping centre, which is right next to CBS Television City where The Late Late Show is filmed, and we kept an eye out for James Corden but didn’t spot him! The presence of the TV studio definitely explains the shopping centre and the upmarket feel of the neighbourhood, with fairly expensive restaurants and shops everywhere. The burgers at Umami were perfect; I had the Umami, with parmesan frico, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomato and caramelised onions – what really made it stand out is the Umami ketchup. Brian had the Manly, which has cheddar cheese, bacon lardons and smoked-salt onion string on it. What really stole the show was the onion rings, they were absolutely gorgeous – crispy and not too oily and just very more-ish. I think there may be an Umami in Vegas so will have to check it out when we get there!
After dinner we headed back to trusted EBs (not just because their name is my initials!) for another couple of drinks as I discovered the day before that they had reasonable wine at $3.50/glass, which is ridiculously cheap! On the way back to the hotel Brian insisted on popping back into Trader Joe’s to stock up on more dark chocolate covered raisins, while I got some pomegranate seeds covered in dark chocolate for myself. We spent an amazing and relaxing day in LA, with brilliant weather (not too hot, not too cold) and a lovely dinner, and I was well impressed by LA! Not everyone may have the same experience or impressions of LA as I had, as I think we were very lucky with where we were staying and never having bad traffic, but I really loved it; there is just something about the vibe of the place that is really nice. Even the motel, though it gets very mixed reviews, was perfect for us and I slept very well there. Not everyone will like it as it is not posh at all, but like I keep saying, we have fairly low standards when it comes to accommodation and you can’t expect too much for $114/night in LA!

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