Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ — this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin.’ This quote from Pretty Woman has stuck with me forever so when a road trip in America was booked how could we not pass by Hollywood?
It seemed fitting for our first stop to go see the Hollywood sign. We drove past the lavish homes of the rich and famous in the Hollywood Hills on route. Apart from the rather different change of scenery the hill up to the sign was reminiscent of a drive up the Law Hill in Dundee or any country road on a Greek Island, swirls and roundabouts. That world famous sign getting closer the further we advance up the incline.
We declined the valet parking and opted for a park on the hill as many others had done before us. A bit like visiting Taj Mahal, finally seeing that famous sign in real life that has followed you only in images until this moment is quite spectacular so multiple photographs were taking to ensure it was all fully captured. There is an option for a hike up so can see the sign from behind looking down onto Hollywood but instead we decided to visit the Griffith Observatory that is so conveniently located next to the viewing point.
Entry into the Griffith Observatory was free and there are also free demonstrations throughout the day. You do however have to pay if you wish to go into the planetarium to see the shows. We were happy exploring the free area learning more about our planet, solar system and the elements. As expected there is a café which has a patio area with a panoramic view of LA and a shop for your souvenirs. I was surprised to see a sculpture of James Dean outside the observatory and have since discovered that work on this piece of art began on the evening that the actor died and was placed there in honour as the movie ‘Rebel without a cause’ brought a lot of attention to the area.
From here we drove down to see the walk of fame that I imagined to be very seedy thanks to its portrayal in ‘Pretty Woman’. Once parked up I warned my travel companion to hide his wallet as I suspected there would be a big pick-pocketing potential here. We arrived at around 4pm and were prepared for heavy crowds but were pleasantly surprised that we had chosen a rather quiet time to visit and I could relax on worrying about my purse just ever so slightly. You really do have to remind yourself to look up when you get caught up in the ‘spot the famous star’ game and make sure you are actually seeing what is going on around you. There are a few buskers around, one which gave us a lovely compliment of ‘what a beautiful couple, can I come to the wedding?’ which made us laugh and feel very good for the rest of the day.
When we arrived they had cordoned off some of the road and it was not until we were staring at the famous gold statue that we realised they were actually setting up for The Oscars. How lucky are we? So many a photo was taken, guard let down a bit and I am afraid to admit we fell prey to one of the CD sellers, who are trying to make a career in music and approach you telling you about their work and slyly ask for money once they have handed you a CD of their music. For once we decided to pay up but certainly one to watch out for.
As night crawled in, those dressed as the characters from famous movies started to appear but after a quick stop for some tacky souvenir purchases we were happily on our way back to the hotel in Santa Monica happy we had ticked off Hollywood on our list.