City of Angels

We set off down the coast for Los Angeles with a brief stop at the “Spanish Colonial Revival” building that is the Santa Barbara Courthouse. Once you get over the fact that it is only eighty three years old you have to admit that the decoration is pretty impressive and as our visit fell on a Sunday we were able to have a look over the interior and see the celebrated “painted courtroom”.

Now, I’ve visited Lancaster Castle in Northern England, a much more magnificent twelfth century stone structure, the great square walls of which still contain a working prison and a high security courtroom. I wondered at the time what it would be like to be tried in a location straight out of a tourist brochure and the same thoughts returned to me as I looked at these rather well executed floor to ceiling murals depicting the history of California. I suppose it might help a bit with all the boring procedural stuff.

Our accommodation in the City of Angels was two nights at the Century Plaza on the Avenue of the Stars. For most of the group staying here represented a highlight of the trip but I was just horrified not to be able to make my early morning tea as there was no kettle in the room. As we were leaving breakfast a junior manager with more teeth than the inhabitants of the shark tank at the Monterey Aquarium asked whether everything was all right. Sandy was mortified when I complained loudly about the tea, but it turns out that you have to ring for room service, even for hot water. We were fawningly told that tea making equipment would be set out for us but when we returned later in the day and found a beautifully presented selection of teas, a personalised card from the head of housekeeping asked us to ring for hot water when we needed it.

The Hollywood tour which concluded our trip wasn’t as bad as I’d feared, probably because Dennis knew his stuff and Eddy, our driver, knew how to get between the destinations without spending too much time stuck in the legendary Los Angeles traffic. A full sized tour bus is not allowed to drive around the residential districts so it turned out that I was mercifully spared some of the worst excesses. Instead, an engaging young man took us around part of the Sony Picture Studio (formerly MGM) where many of our group were thrilled to visit the set of one of America’s longest running game shows. Our guide was an aspiring actor/producer and of course he had several projects in the early stages of development. No wonder they employ them so young.

It was fun to stop on Hollywood Boulevard and see Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. You are not supposed to photograph the hustlers dressed in costume on the sidewalk outside without paying for the privilege but two Darth Vaders, a plump Spiderman hanging for a lamppost and the mysterious “trouser man” were pretty irresistible. Fortunately I am quick on the draw and attention was mainly focused on the many visitors queuing up to pose with them.

Nowadays the Academy Award Ceremony takes place in the nearby Dolby Theatre and we had a surprisingly interesting guided visit; I’m not sure whether this particular guide was an aspiring writer but he certainly knew his film history. No pictures were allowed inside the theatre but we poor mortals were presented with a special souvenir postcard “Not available anywhere else”. Sandy gave me hers for my granddaughter’s collection and I wonder if I dare post a photograph of her holding it?

By the time we reached Santa Monica Beach I was nodding off but I made the effort to pose with the Route 66 sign as I also have a snap of myself posing at the other end in the freezing Chicago winter. Then it was time to fall asleep on the promenade. Sandy took a hilarious sequence of photographs of me as a flock of Japanese tourists investigated this possibly homeless person, pronounced her safe and one by one sat down to take their rest beside her.

Categories: North America

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