Los Angeles in Four Days, Part I - Hollywood Walk of Fame, Mulholland Drive and Griffith Observatory

Originally, we hadn't planned to do anything special for our Thanksgiving Break, but the closer it got, the more we felt we should just go ahead and book flights to the West Coast. I mean why not? After all, we were a lot closer to California in Indiana than in Finland, so suddenly it just started making sense to live in the moment and splurge a little bit. True to our style, we decided to go for a road trip of sorts - LA, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, to be more exact. This post is all about the first of our four days in the City of Angels. 

This was my second trip to LA, and we actually ended up staying at the same hostel where I'd stayed on my previous visit, namely USA Hostels Hollywood. Situated right around the corner from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it's a great base to go explore the main sights of that particular area, and it's also quite affordable considering its location. There are dorms there as well as private double rooms, which we went for this time around. Breakfast is included, and there are also plenty of walking tours and other arranged free time activities available, such as a barbeque night and a hike to the Hollywood sign.

The patio of our hostel.

After having breakfast on our first day, we ventured outside to check out the many sights along Hollywood Boulevard - the stars on the Walk of Fame, TCL Chinese Theatre with the hand and foot prints of various actors on the pavement in front of it, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel where Marilyn Monroe lived for a couple of years, El Capitan Theatre, the Dolby Theatre... The Hollywood & Highland shopping mall is a great place to see the Hollywood Sign as well. 

Don't Stop Believing...

TCL Chinese Theatre.

The Hollywood Sign as seen from the Hollywood & Highland shopping mall. The church in this picture is also famous from films such as Sister Act and Wedding Crashers.

However, Hollywood Boulevard isn't all glamour and glitter. The sad truth is that it's also home to many drug addicts and alcoholics who sleep on top of the stars of the Walk of Fame, some in a puddle of their own urine with their belongings packed up in a shopping cart next to them. A strong smell of marijuana is wafting in the air, and the general vibe is that of despair rather than success. Hollywood is a strange combination of hope and crushed dreams, which is a very sad thing to witness.

Anyway, we also ended up going on one of the Stars' Homes type mini bus tours on our first day. I used to be a lot more obsessed with seeing where and how famous people live, but now the main reason why I wanted a tour like that was to get to drive along Mulholland Drive and see the view over the city from Hollywood Hills. It's really easy to go on one of these tours, by the way, as Hollywood Boulevard is swarming with tour operators trying to force their offers on you. They're quite pushy and will even follow you around when you politely try to decline. Quite annoying, I have to say. Anyway, the tour was really good and we got to see a lot of lovely places!

You may recognise this place from the film Pretty Woman!

Mulholland Scenic Corridor with Downtown LA in the distance.

The Beverly Hills Hotel.

Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive!

Another place you might recognise from Pretty Woman.

El Capitan is where all the Disney animations premiere.

After our tour, we had a quick but massive pizza slice on the street before heading up to the Griffith Observatory to see the sunset. The Griffith Observatory is famous for example from the James Dean film A Rebel Without a Cause, and there's even a bust of him up there to commemorate the legendary fight scene that was shot there. Getting to the Griffith Observatory is relatively easy - you first need to take the metro to the Vermont/Sunset station and then catch the Observatory Route DASH, which you will need to buy a separate ticket for from the driver. We ended up finding it a bit difficult to find the right bus stop for the DASH, and we also ended up waiting for the next bus for a really long time. Eventually it arrived, though, and we were on our way up for some amazing views!

Pretty gorgeous, right? Stay tuned for my next post, which will be all about Venice Beach and Santa Monica!

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