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City of Angels
Jun 22, 2007 06:12 PM 1669 Views
(Updated Jun 22, 2007 06:29 PM)


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Earlier this month I got the opportunity to visit Los Angeles(the City of Angels). Most people go the normal route via pacific but well I have to be different so my friend and I went via the Atlantic route. So our first stop was New Ark(the liberty international airport). As per the US federal laws one has to do all the immigration formalities at the first port of entry. As we entered the immigration area I was surprised(to say the least) to hear the announcement about the baggage. Well you would say what’s so surprising about a baggage announcement. Well it was being made in Hindi(YEEESSS the announcement was in Hindi). Never having expected this in the US at first I couldn’t believe my own ears and then it was like “We’ve got THEM talking OUR lingo”. Granted that it did sound as if a foreigner was speaking the language but it definitely was our very own Hindi.

After getting finger printed and photographed, I went in search of my baggage. After getting through the customs, we went to another terminal to get our next flight. Liberty International or EWR has a sky train so it’s very easy to get from one terminal to the other and also to the Train station. I have to mention here that most of the US carriers on the domestic route don’t serve any meals. Its mostly soft drinks and juices. So like us if you have to take a long flight(EWR to LA is a 6hr flight) it would be best if carry your own meals. When we finally got into LA it was after 1.00 am.

The first day mostly vanished in sleeping and getting over exhaustion. As we were staying with a friend, we did what was best for the tired body and soul…. SHOPPING! Before that we went to the Metro stop to get some information about getting around LA.

The next day we went to the Universal studios. LA has a good transport system. We would get a bus just outside the house to get to center city and then from there could get another bus or train. If you have more than 2 connections it is better to buy the day travel pass. It’s USD 3 per day and you can use the metro bus/ train route or rapid bus service to get around the city. This works out very economical. Otherwise each journey costs USD 1.25. The driver has the day pass and you can buy it in the first bus and be on your way.

Getting back to Universal studios. We got off the bus and the driver directed us to where we would get the Universal studios shuttle. The studio sends down the shuttle to get the visitors up to the studios. The setting is beautiful. Please note that you can take water bottles and soft drinks inside but chips etc is not allowed. The entry for the studios is USD 61. Once you enter the studios there are a lot of attractions. There are masqueraders … so don’t be shocked if a mummy suddenly reaches out or a Frankenstein is following you. Do the touristy thing and get pictures clicked with Spiderman, Shrek etc. There are lots of attractions like viewing the Shrek 4-D. This was a very cute experience. Then went for the “Back to the future” ride…which takes you through the space and more earthly neighbourhood.  The universal studios tour is a must. This takes you through the studios. The different sets used for different films and serials. You have a TV monitor in your tram and your guide gives a commentary and the best thing is as you are passing a certain set they tell you which film was shot and also show you the shot so that you can correlate. It takes you the whole day and some to see the universal studios.

Next we decided to visit Hollywood. The Hollywood train station itself is worth a dekko. As you get out of the train station you find yourself on the Walk of fame. Just keep following the stars and you will reach the Kodak theatre. It’s here that the Oscar awards are presented. It’s been planned in such a way that it frames the Hollywood sign in the center. This is the place from where you get your first look of the Hollywood sign in the Hollywood hills. Right next to the Kodak Theatre is the Grauman Chinese Theatre. This is where you find the Hand/Foot prints of the well known personalities of Hollywood. From outside the Kodak theatre you get sightseeing tours. For a combination of the sightseeing Hollywood and a tour of star homes situated in Beverly Hills and Bel-Air. This costs you about USD 47. The first part of the tour lasts for an hour where you are taken to the Hollywood Bowl. This open theatre can seat a cool 18000 strong audience. It has cubicles so that you can carry your own food and wine and enjoy the show. Then you are taken to the point closest to the Hollywood sign so that you can get a picture. Getting back you get to see all the studios along the way and the Capitol records building and then the Hollywood boulevard. Then you get onto the next tour which is of 2hrs. That takes you to Beverly hills where you see the mansions of the rich and famous. It’s interesting to note that as they want to keep this place very exclusive there are no side walks. So that one can hardly get around walking. Each road has it’s own one tree theme ie. On one road only Oak trees are planted. You won’t find any other kind. There are no ugly telephone poles in sight. Even the jail is a beautiful building(ofcourse we saw that from the outside). Unfortunately for Ms. Hilton she went driving outside Beverly hills and hence had to go to a detention center outside. Oh what a pity! We had a very chatty guide and hence got to know of a lot of places where Ms.Taylor got married, where Lindsey Lohan’s car crash took place, how designer B Jon whets his clients…. Ha ha… it was quite amusing. Can’t vouch for the veracity but rest assured that you enjoy the tour while being fed on the latest Hollywood gossip.

One can’t not go to the Disneyland while visiting LA. So of course that was the next on our agenda. Getting to Disney takes a long time. It was almost on the otherside of LA and took us nigh on 3hrs to get there. I guess that’s the reason why many prefer to take weekend packages and stay in the hotels near Disney and visit both Disney and California Adventures. This is the place where the child in you comes to the fore. It’s where you can be carefree again. Once you get in(after shelling out USD 63 for entry into Disney only)… you can just walk around. Right from a Ghost house…. Canoe rides…. roller coaster ride… to the Disney castle you have it all. The highlight of this visit is the Disney parade that is put on at 1500hrs/1830hrs and another later in the evening. Most of the tourist gather around the main street to see all the characters from the Disney films and comics. It’s a very beautiful…. the dancers are so graceful. It’s definitely worth your while. After picking up your quota of Disney souvenirs it’s time to return.

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