I’ve always imagined the City of Angels as the “place to be” when it comes to stars and glamour. Somehow, watching Hollywood movies, MTV (back then), and following different TV series made me think of that.
When I had a free day to go around, my cousin (who lived nearby) offered to take me for a quick tour before doing the “actual tour” via a tour bus. I know how redundant that sounds.
We first got off at the mall and then went towards the Hollywood walk of fame where the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain America, and Spiderman hung out. Somehow, walking around made me a bit hopeful to see a real TV/movie star, or at least any known personality not-in-costume for that matter. After all, I got to see a few from the show I attended the night before (here) unexpectedly. But come to think, to see one in the Hollywood walk of fame would be really unusual.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
TCL Chinese Theater
After strolling, we decided to take the Movie Stars’ Homes Tour. It seemed very promising. Pretty self explanatory, but somewhere along, we would also get to see other go-to places apart from their homes. What could be greater than that? Before doing so, I saw how the husband of my cousin (who went along with us) cringed at the idea. Maybe, he wasn’t up for it? Or had he known already that we were in for an inefficient use of time and money? I tried to brush that “cringe” off because I was hopeful. You know, the “I am in America” kind of first-time excitement. The one when you feel like trying to see everything all at once. That made me want to take the tour. And my cousin was nice enough to treat me to that.
But then again, I’ve anticipated so much. I guess I was a bit disillusioned that we would actually hop off the bus and visit at least one house and see someone famous. But obviously that’s not what went down. My sentido kumon probably dozed off & hasn’t recovered yet. Oh well, a fan-girl could dream!
We were driven around Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, got to see the houses of Mariah, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Alba, the Osbournes, the (gate of the) Playboy Mansion, and so much more. So many houses that I can’t even figure out why I had to take a photo of each of the house pointed by our guide. It isn’t like I would be able to take note of them once I put them here on my blog, right? But I guess, I was being naive, thinking I could remember them all and cross reference them with the audio I recorded with a phone that I borrowed.
I wasn’t even sure if everything mentioned was legit. No celebrity sighting too. And, no “gardener” like the one in Desperate Housewives as well.
Someone’s mansion with 8 cars in
After that, we went around and saw the go-to places to party, get a tan, have coffee, eat, etc.
And of course, the one called Rodeo Drive.
Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where prettyboy stayed with Pretty Woman
And the boutique that declined pretty woman to fit and shop
I heard this is the most expensive store in the world
And this car parked outside meant that the designer (Bijan) of the most expensive store was in
Oh, and I must mention the ROXY as well. If I would be given a chance, I’d trade the whole tour bus for a show here.
On our last stop, we were taken at the top of the valley where we could see a panoramic view of the city with the infamous “Hollywood” sign. Our guide told us that back then, being taken there (Hollywood sign) was a part of the tour. But due to vandalism, it wasn’t allowed anymore. I must agree that it’s only proper for them to keep tourists away in order to maintain it, but it would’ve been nice to be taken there.
The whole bus ride lasted for about 2 hours, and in spite of being under the sun at the peak of the summer heat, I still managed to have a good time. It made me realize a few things: that being on a tour bus is okay because you get cozy and just have to listen while looking around; first time’s always makes you anticipate more than what it actually is; and being “on tour” isn’t really my cup of tea unless it’s free, you get to walk, and it’s historic (because I really did enjoy the free walking tours I’ve previously attended). It really was an experience–the “tour bus” thing, I mean.
I am grateful to have tried it and to get to know a part of the starry LA through the houses and the shops, but if I would come and visit again, I will probably skip the bus and do more walking and yes, driving. I would spend more time in Korea Town because there’s a karaoke and I like their food as well. And who knows if those are even the real homes of the said stars? For all I know, they made up some of it anyway.
A glimpse of this side of the city wasn’t really overwhelming. All the more, it made me think that it’s more hyped and sensationalized on TV than what it really is. It’s bright, warm and sunny, and had a bad traffic on busy hours. It’s just like any other city, only it’s made popular on TV. True, there are all these big houses, these very expensive shops, and different studios, but at the end of the day, it’s a place to work for most, a city of magic for some, and definitely a home for both.
And for visitors, it’s a place of the stars who play well with “hide and seek”. 🙂
Skyline of Los Angeles
1. Skip the tour bus. Paying at least $40 isn’t worth it. Take it from me- read this blog. It’s basically here anyway and you won’t be missing much if you skipped this tour 😉
2. But if you really want the tour bus, then it’s all good. They give a few star trivia anyway, like who died in this hotel, or who played here and made it big, or where to have coffee that has a valet. But trust me, you aren’t missing much. 🙂