We rented an apartment in West Hollywood from a great recommendation by Ian Ziering who is living in LA. Our main objective for the coming days was to see the downtown and shopping areas as well as visit Universal Studios.
We found out quickly that we were perfectly situated for this purpose, as our first project of Universal Studios was only 5 minutes away.
As we wanted to see as much as possible in the day we assigned to the park, we decided to treat ourselves with a VIP package. That meant to start off at the valet service, enjoy a nice breakfast and then be on a small private tour throughout the day. We have to say that we did not regret that decision when we realized that we learned a great deal from our guide and we never had to wait in line for any entrance or ride. The best part was though that we could step onto different movie/TV show sets and even walk around the prop division and the house/set of “Parenthood”. We had great fun and recalled many great movies throughout the day.
The next days we walked around the city, did some shopping and enjoyed strolling around in the Grove. It is hard to beat having a lunch by the fountain and then end the day with a good movie in the Pacific Theater.
Ian Ziering and his wife Erin invited us for lunch at the London West Hollywood hotel. It was really a pleasure to get to know Erin, but also a new experience to dine with a real celebrity. We did not notice but apparently a group of guests had been following our lunch from a distance and the moment we stood up to leave they came over to be photographed and chat with Ian. He was remarkably cool about this and the rest of us just stood there and waited for it to pass.
This hotel was actually a frequent setting in the TV series Beverly Hills 90210 as this was apparently “Dylan’s” hangout place.
The next morning we met up with Ian again at a breakfast place called The Griddle on Sunset Blvd. He brought his cute little girl Mia and she was just adorable. When she had finished her fair share of a pancake she put down her fork and announced “Daddy, I am ready for Vegas”. This was just so funny to hear from such a small girl but she was right, they were headed for Vegas later that day. We were happy that we had not started our TR90 transformation already, as this was the “all American breakfast” – delicious but probably the unhealthiest meal we have had in years.
When arriving in LA we rented a car for a month with the intention of driving along the coast to San Francisco, then to Salt Lake City, through southern Utah and to Las Vegas and finally back to LA. After a few days in this city that we are determined to visit more, we headed North for our first leg of the road trip.
We came to Santa Barbara late morning, stopped on the beach to have an early lunch and enjoyed the sun and sand. We didn´t really take much time in Santa Barbara, due to our travel plan, but we are sure we will return soon again.
The area North of Santa Barbara along that Western coastline is a real agricultural area and we saw groups of people on the fields in many places. About an hour before we came to Santa Cruz we drove through an area that had not seen rain in a very long time. The air and ground was so dry that it felt muddy in the air. We had no desire to stop even for a coffee and basically drove past as fast as we could. Santa Cruz was interesting and reminded us of Tarifa in Spain. It looked more hippies and older than Santa Barbara, but quite charming. We drove from Santa Cruz on the coastline, towards San Francisco and we enjoyed one of the most spectacular sunsets we have ever seen.
We arrived to San Francisco after dark, checked into our nice Westin Market hotel and looked very much forward to seeing the city next day. The first thing we did was to hop on one of the Hop-on/Hop-off busses that took us through the city and down to the pier area. On the pier we had lunch and spotted a Segway rental. We quickly decided to go for a three hour Segway tour with a guide. This tour was just fantastic. Not only do we really like to ride the Segway´s (Gudrun and Benedikt did that last year in Budapest), but our guide had a great way of telling about places we would never have learned about on a bus or by walking ourselves.
This was only a short stop in San Francisco but we feel like we know the city a bit better and know what to look for next time we come back. We were up early next day to start our long drive from San Francisco, crossing the whole state of Nevada and over to Salt Lake City in Utah.