Friday, May 7th (Continued)
When we boarded the plane to LA, we discovered, to our dismay, that the flight had had open seating – there had been no assigned seating and people were allowed to sit wherever they like. Tay and I made our way to the very back of the plane where a few middle seats remained – I settled in between an Alaskan Airline pilot and a large black woman who I would soon learned was named Nedra. Upon observing the situation, Nedra offered her seat to Tay on the condition that he could get the guy in front of her to move to the middle – Tay tentatively began to make the request but seeing the disinterested look on the passenger’s face quickly forfeited his request.
I pulled out my book (…Ties the Knot), which I hadn’t gotten the chance to read very much of while in Vegas, and began to read. Next to me, Nedra pulled out her cell phone – the phone call provided me with really only two pieces of information – 1) that her name was Nedra and 2) the reason the flight was delayed was because the flight attendant was late.
It was after 5 when we finally took off; shortly after we experienced pretty rough turbulence that soon had Nedra wrapped around the armrest that we shared. I calmly read my book while she moaned and cried out – at one point she looked at me and somewhat resentfully said, “This don’t bother you?”
I shrugged, nonchalantly said, “Not really” – though by now my own stomach was somersaulting; we were up and down like on one of those rickety 3D rides at Canada’s Wonderland. Briefly I pondered our likelihood of crashing but moments later we smoothed out, Nedra stopped moaning and unwrapped herself from the armrest. “You can have this back now,” she said graciously and I tried not to laugh. “Thanks,” was all I could manage.
A little while later the flight attendants came by, wearing, I noticed, polo shirts and walking shorts, and distributed sodas and honey-roasted peanuts. The pilot next to me, who had mostly been sleeping, gave me a wink and a smile and dropped both his packages on my tray.
“What, he don’t want his?” Nedra inquired from beside me.
Again, stifled laughter. “No, would you like them?”
“For sure,” she said, already stuffing them into her purse.
* * *
We landed very shortly after – quite probably the flight from Las Vegas to LA was the shortest flight I’d been on, we deboarded and went down to the luggage carousel, hoping amongst all hope that our luggage had made it – which it had, thankfully. We grabbed our bags, headed outside to grab a shuttle to the rental car and then we were off to our hotel -our weekend in LA had finally began.
We found the hotel very easily -despite the fact the hotel was in the process of undergoing renovations (the hallways and elevators left much to be desired – the elevator hadn’t been inspected since 2001!), our room on the third floor was tastefully decorated with feather pillows and duvet, a bathrobe and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries in the bathroom.
(The next night we would discover our bed turned down and on the pillow a midnight blue box of chocolates – a star and a moon that Tay and I would subsequently eat the next morning. “I ate the moon!”, I would say around a mouthful of chocolate.)
We settled in with relative ease- I had a quick shower and changed and then we headed out for dinner – we had seen a Grand Luxe at the intersection just up from the hotel so we decided we would just eat there – it was late and we were too tired and too hungry to search for an alternate place to eat. We had to wait a while for a table – as we did, Tay observed how popular jeans seemed to be with Californians – indeed, I looked around to see most people adorned in some shade of denim. But soon we were eating – with his dinner, Tay ordered a rather large Pina Colada that I feared would knock him out and on the server’s enthusiastic recommendation I went with the salmon – which was served with vegetables on a bed of rice. Easily the best meal I had on our vacation – I’d poke very gingerly with my fork at the salmon and it would fall apart. Absolute yum.
We returned to our hotel after dinner – stopping only at the convenience store for Vanilla Diet Coke for Tay and water for me and then soon we were in bed – exhausted and worn out from a day of too much excitement.
Saturday, May 8th
Saturday morning came too quickly, but after a good night’s sleep – the bed was crazy-comfortable-cozy – we were up and eager to go. We (or I) took my time getting ready – after such a hectic schedule in Vegas it felt good to just slow down and soon we were off – we’d decided to spend Saturday at Universal Studios. We got out to Universal City just before 11 – by twenty after we realized that instead of breakfast we could definitely have lunch so we grabbed a couple of cheeseburgers (mine had chili on it, pretty tasty!), and an order of fries. We quickly ate then zoomed on in to Universal Studios after a brief discussion as to whether it was going to be worth the extra cash to get front of the line passes. (Which, ultimately, was a good idea as we never had to wait in line and in a result, we got to enjoy all the attractions in the 8 hours we were there). We did most of the things we had wanted too – the coolest by far was T3-3D, I was enthralled with how realistic it all was and the spray of cold water that added effect was cool too :). Of course we went on a studio tour, saw some neat sets (Jurassic Park), and some houses that still stand (from the Leave it to Beaver house to the home of Norman Bates and his mum – who would have ever thunk they would exist in such close proximity to each other! :).
After the tour we did some other attractions – Shrek 2 3D, Back to the Future, BackDraft, Waterworld, the Jurassic Park water ride. It was definitely interesting and a lot of fun – not sure it was really worth the money we ended up paying, but was entertaining, to say the least. And we definitely left the park feeling tired and satisfied after a very busy day. We debated briefly having dinner at City Walk but it had been taken over by throngs of people – every restaurant seemed to be filled with noisy patrons – we quickly gave up on the idea of eating there and went back to the car to try and figure out our best bet for dinner. Finally we got back on the freeway, only to get off at Sunset Blvd. – down the famous street we drove while still pondering our dinner options until finally we just drove all the way to Westwood where we knew there was an Olive Garden – a restaurant that I had expressed much interest in while we were in the States.
(For the record, it’s been almost 8 years since I have eaten at OG – I have since realized that my tastes have changed dramatically since then – where before I was naively impressed with their menu, I was now only marginally impressed. My soup was good, and my breadsticks yummy – but my cannelloni was only average. And the OG we were at was not a very nice one at all – we ate in the upper level which was windowless and had a scattering of fake plants. It looked more like a restaurant at a Holiday Inn then an OG. But once again, we were almost too tired to eat so our dinner choice was almost oblivious.)
After dinner Tay asked if I wanted to walk around a bit, but I passed only because I was feeling sleepy – regrettable that I decided not too, as the area looked very trendy and lively. We got back to the hotel around 10:30 – I chatted back and forth with Stacy on the phone as we had decided to cancel our Vegas reservation at the Nugget and wanted to stay closer to the strip – however the closest we were able to get was the Orleans as everything else on strip had higher than average nightly rates. 11:30 or so we made it to bed – and once again slept solidly.
Sunday, May 9th
Sunday morning we got up and once again had a leisurely getting-ready – by 10 am we had made it up to Hollywood Blvd (near Mann’s). We parked the car and wandered into a old fashioned diner called Mel’s – once we were settled into our booth we both ordered smoothies and then our breakfast – New Orleans Scrambler for me (scrambled eggs with sausage and green peppers and a side order of red beans, rice and sausage -so New Orleans tasting that I was in heaven!) and Tay had pancakes.
After breakfast we walked over to Mann’s Chinese Theatre and walked around looking at the famous footprints with their accompanying signatures. I found Jimmy Stewart’s (of course!) and had my picture taken alongside his name – and we looked for Lucy’s but was unable to find her’s :(.
From there was went to the museum (can’t remember the name, Tay might know it) but it had the Cheers bar as well as the Captain’s seat from Star Trek and Mulder’s office from X-Files so that was pretty cool – and we wrapped up the tour doing a demo Foley soundclip, which was fun. (I did the footsteps and Tay rustled a coat (and something else too, but I forget!)
From there we headed back up Hollywood Blvd, once again examining the stars (I looking for Jimmy Stewart, Tay found The Simpsons and posed) and then into the Kodak theatre to look around – it was there that I was able to take my one (and only shot) of the Hollywood sign, but it was very cool to see it way off in the distance, nestled into the hills. We walked some more along Hollywood Blvd – I bought a map to the stars which we ended up doing a bit of – I got us a little sidetracked in the first leg of the tour but shortly after I was able to figure out the map and took us to a number of houses, including the Osbournes MTV house, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Marlon Brando, the Godfather place and Prince’s old house. To get to Brando’s house (actually we only saw the end of his street, the rest was behind a very large gate) we ended up driving high into the hills which eventually led us to Mulholland, so we drove along there for a bit – a very winding road that other drivers drove very fast along – it was crazy to see all the cars just zipping along!
We ended our star tour shortly after that (Oh ya, we also saw the infamous Hugh Grant-Divine Brown corner! 😉 as it was getting late and we still wanted to get out to Santa Monica – so we headed down Rodeo where I was able to see the Beverly Wilshire (Pretty Woman!) and we also saw the Saks where Winona Ryder was arrested :). From there we went to Santa Monica – I was SO anxious to get there and see the ocean, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. And finally, after much impatience, road eventually ran into water – we parked the car and then headed up to 3rd Street Promenade – our plan was to walk along it for a bit, then down to the Santa Monica Pier. And by then we were hungry so we stopped and had slices of pizza (Can’t remember the name of the place, but it was damn good pizza, I had garlic, basil and tomato) and then along the street we walked. (If you haven’t been, 3rd Street is a shopping area that is closed off to traffic and street performers perform in the streets – it’s so perfect and picturesque, very quickly I decided that we should live there!! 🙂 ). After 3rd street we wandered into the mall that was at the end of it – we were looking to get Tay some OJ since he’d been leery of a cold all day and was hoping to ward it off – we ended up finding him an Orange Julius so he stocked up there on Vitamin C while I found a Mrs. Field’s and stocked up on little bite-size cookies which were very tasty indeed!). From there we walked down to the beach and joined the throng of people heading to the end of the famous pier – it was fabulous to see the place that I had heard and seen so much about.
The pier at Santa Monica very quickly became my most favorite thing about California, I loved every moment out above the water – I was enthralled by it all, from the scenery and the ferris wheel to the people fishing over the side.
Finally I had enough on the pier and we headed down to the beach so I could go for my determined splash in the water – I thought that it was going to too cold when we originally planned the trip but there were tons of people out in the waves so with only a slight (slight!) hesitation I plunged into the surf, eventually soaking the bottom of my dress in the process but it was worth it to feel the sand between my toes and the Pacific around my ankles. Hoorahhh!! Eventually I joined Tay back on the beach – wrote him a message in the sand with my toe :). At one point I turned to find a little kid bent over a sand castle except that he was losing his shorts for the most part and I couldn’t help but lose it, and so I laughed and the more intent he got on his sand castle the more his shorts headed south. So I laughed some more as the surf kissed my toes and Tay videotaped me and we were newlyweds on our honeymoon and everything was so absolutely perfect that I wondered when I would wake from the dream that I was sure I must be having :).
And then, after we decided we’d seen and done enough on the beach, we began making our way back and THEN I saw the carousel at the beginning of the pier and as I gazed at it with child-wonder I realized that the perfect finish to a perfect afternoon at the beach would be a ride on the carousel – and it cost only $1!! I tried to convince Tay to ride with me, but he chose instead to videotape so I got on by myself and around and around we went and I wanted to burst with happiness because it was just such a great, great afternoon. Hoorah!
After the carousel, we wondered back up to 3rd Street, planning our evening – we figured we would have dinner and then head to the Comedy Store to watch some standup. Along the promenade we saw a guy that was doing anime sketches – Tay looked at some photos of his work and decided that he would have his likeness drawn anime style. I sat and watched the guy work – and when I saw how well Tay’s turned out, I decided that I had to have mine done too but only if the guy doing the drawing met some very important conditions – he had to give me lots of cleavage, make my then-wind-blown hair look very cool and to NOT draw my overbite! He did a great job – and though I protested, he drew in my freckles and noticed my dimples at the last moment but both mine and Tay’s drawings were absolutely terrific – a great souvenir from our day in Santa Monica!
From there we headed back to the car (stopping briefly at the Houston’s that we had seen there – we really like Houston’s! – but the wait for a table was 45 minutes so we headed out of Santa Monica and back to Beverly Hills where we drove around looking for a place to have dinner – one place we went to Tay had heard good things about except when we pulled in the valet told us that they were doing a set menu that evening for Mother’s Day so we quickly left – steak was like $60! Finally we ended up back at the hotel, freshened up just a bit and then we went to a place called Berri’s right around the corner from the hotel. And we were pleasantly surprised by how nice it was – there were only 2 other tables being served so we were quickly ushered into a booth where our server stalked us somewhat until we finally ordered (I think she was really bored). Tay had a calzone and I ordered the linguine – the pasta was fabulously good and the bread and pesto they brought out before hand was too die for, it was SOOO good. We had an elderly gentleman that was assisting our server – he brought our drinks to us (our sodas were served from the can, and when we wanted more we weren’t charged for the additional cans, which was a first for me!) and he was very gracious and really added to my enjoyment of the meal. The other thing I really liked about Berri’s was that it was the only restaurant that I have eaten at that didn’t provide salt & pepper on the tables because you didn’t need it, the food was that dead-on. Absolutely delicious!
After we finished dinner we headed over to the Comedy Store on Sunset – Tay had called earlier and was told that often, on a Sunday or Monday night somebody famous shows up – sure enough, after we had watched about 4 comedians do their routine, the host announced that Damon Wayans was there and would be coming on stage. So he did and he held the stage for close to an hour and a half. Some of it was funny, some of it was not-so-funny (he’s a bit of a discomforting homo-phobe), but most of it was interesting to say the least :). When he finally ran out of things to say, he revealed that his brother, Marlon, was in the audience so after much coaxing he managed to get him up there and Marlon, who soon revealed himself to be very drunk also proved himself to be very funny. We laughed :). Then one more routine – a loud woman in red leather pants that grated ever so slightly on my nerves and then we were out of there – it was late (1ish, I think?) and we had an early flight the next morning.
Back to the hotel we went, where we packed up our suitcases and then crawled into bed – it was 2am and we had to be at the airport fairly early the next morning. The next morning we sadly ate the moon and the star – neither of us were really ready to leave as we had just settled into LA and were just getting used to everything – but then the thought of going back to Vegas helped ease the sadness so we grabbed our bags, piled into our Neon rental and back to the airport we went.
Part Three – Vegas Concluded.