Sunday, June 12, 2011

Los Angeles on a budget (going back in time)

When we landed in Sydney, everything was essentially a blur and I had no time (or energy) to blog--thus the delay.

But rainy Sydney is providing a nice backdrop for blogging right now.

We were in L.A. for four days, four very fast paced days!

Here's what we did for a total of $320 (plane tickets not included).

Day one:

We said goodbye to family at Greenville Spartanburg International Airport and stopped for a layover in Chicago.

In Chi town, we had a quickie McDonald's lunch and then made our way to LAX.

At the airport, we caught a shuttle to the Enterprise desk and picked up a yellow Chevy Aveo. After shopping around online, we found a good deal for a rental car: four days for $118.

The Enterprise employee even gave us a free quarter of a tank of gas! That goes a long way in a fuel-efficient vehicle.

We drove to Ryan's house (our Couchsurfing host) near Koreatown. He wasn't home yet but some of his housemates were there cooking dinner. They offered us a wonderful meal of salad, rice and chili and sweet potato fries--yum!

That night we jetted out to the discount grocery store for some lunch and breakfast items for the next couple days. At the Food 4 Less we spent about $11.

Day Two:

I woke up earlier than I intended so I hopped in the shower and made a phone call home to check in.

We drove to Hollywood Boulevard for Shania Twain's star ceremony. We parked at the Highland garage for just $2 (with validation). We had our parking validated at the Highland Center coffee shop: two coffees and a large, very good croissant for $8.50.

The star ceremony was very "Hollywood." Usually I could care less about celebrities and Hollywood drama. But, it's kind of fun to watch such well-known people do their thing.

Press at the star ceremony were fun to watch too. They kind of behaved like modeling photographers instead of journalists. "Great smile, Shania," was a surprising comment coming from press row.

Before going back to the car, we took in the sites at the Grauman Theater. Notably, we found the signature and hand prints of Dick Van Dyke who we saw later at the taping of Craig Ferguson.

At Craig Ferguson, we parked at the Grove and walked to the CBS Studios. After about a half hour in line, the crowd was ushered into another waiting area. The snack cart was closing so the man gave away the leftover hotdogs: score!!

The warm up comedian, Chucky B, was pretty funny. Inside, he had a lot of interaction with the audience and asked who had a tattoo (not sure why he asked). I raised my hand, and of course he wanted details so I explained I have a guitar on my hip.

The Goldberg Sisters (Adam Goldberg's band) taped a song for an upcoming show. The band left a guitar pick on the floor when they finished so, fittingly, Chucky B gave me the pick as a souvenir.

Dick Van Dyke and Kristen Gore (Al Gore's daughter) were on Craig Ferguson promoting their new books. They were both pretty funny, and Craig was, of course, very entertaining!

Most talk shows that tape in front of a studio audience give away tickets for free. Many shows in L.A. use an agency for ticket distribution. We went through 1iota for the Craig tickets.

After the taping, we buzzed over to Melrose Avenue for dinner. We dined at Melguard Public House (free parking in neighborhood close by).

Melguard has a great happy hour: buy a beer, get free pizza. Considering many beers in L.A. will cost you $7 or $8, six bucks for a drink and pizza isn't a bad deal!

We tacked on a Spinach Artichoke Dip and came out under $40 for dinner.

Day Three:

Another fairly early morning. We drove to Venice Beach to enjoy the sun and have a look at all the boardwalk performers and market stalls.

Street parking was sparse but free.

We had iced coffees from a restaurant for $5 total. I have to say, the coffee was delicious! We sipped our lattes while watching the skateboarders at the skate park near the beach.

Then, we took the short drive over to Santa Monica. We booked a hotel room ($128) and walked on the pier. The pier was like an permanent county fair, cheesy but fun.

On the pier we spent about $17 at the arcade and on snacks.

After a pre-dinner nap, we were charged up for a good dinner.

Big Dean's was the local recommendation. Located underneath the pier, Big Dean's is a dive bar with tasty food.

We had the fish tacos and a couple beers for about $30.

Day Four:

Our breakfast at Bru's Wiffle was a top meal. The walls were a bright yellow--if you're not awake, well you are now!

And the food was just as alarming--in a great way.

Jen had waffles with strawberries. I had mini waffle sandwiches with bacon, egg and cheese. All that, coffee and cucumber water for $33. Definitely something we splurged on but it was so worth it!

One more walk along the pier and a visit to the town's Camera Obscura, located in the senior center. The camera affords views of the pier, the beach and city (and it's totally free!)

Before we headed to the airport we drove over to Burbank (sort of by accident) and popped into In and Out Burger for dinner.

We checked in at V Australia's rock star desk and played the waiting game at LAX.

And the rest is history, which shall be another blog...

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