48Hours in California
California is one of those destinations that I’ve always wanted to visit, and I promise you, it’s worth all the hype it gets! For hubby and I, the eagerness to explore its various cities was a build-up of excitement created by the movies and series we’ve watched from time immemorial. My hubby was assured of a seat on the flight, being the flight’s pilot and all, but I almost did not make this particular flight since it was filled to capacity in both business and economy class, it being summer and, well, California. I had given up on the trip, only to be woken up at 1 AM (GMT+3) by the news that a few seats had opened up in business class, the flight departure time being 7 AM. We quickly booked me in and I started packing. The excitement of traveling checked in!
Disneyland and its environs, Anaheim
A 16-hour flight later, we arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the afternoon and headed straight to our hotel, The Marriott Anaheim, located about 1 hour away from the LAX airport. Little travel tip for new travelers to Los Angeles, the traffic is quite horrible and can get especially bad if you are heading to/from the airport. It took us about one and a half hours to get to the hotel. The Marriot Anaheim’s ambiance and service was remarkable. After freshening up, we headed out for a quick tour of Anaheim. Luckily, Disneyland is located a short distance from the hotel. Disneyland is quite amazing, and since we weren’t interested in going into the park we just took a stroll around it. If you are interested in going into the park, you can purchase tickets from here. By the time we were done with our stroll we headed for dinner at a Chinese restaurant just near the hotel. It was already dark by this time.
For our second day, we booked a full day tour and we were quite excited to explore the cities. We booked our tour on Trip Advisor, and we were taken around by the wonderful people at the Lux Bus America. The Lux Bus America were very professional and kept time. At exactly 9 AM (GMT-7) as promised, the bus was ready for pick up. The interior of the bus was quite luxurious with individual seat AC unit controls and a fully equipped, clean toilet (Yes, you can take your drinks in peace). Our tour guide, who doubled up as our driver, was very entertaining and informative. We picked a few more passengers on our way and when we were all on board, we officially began the trip. It took us about 45 minutes to get to Hollywood where we had 3 hours to just chill.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
So the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a public sidewalk with embedded stars on both sides of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. It would take you about one and a half hours to see all individual stars giving yourself some allowance to take pictures. We got to see quite a number of stars as we walked around, taking in more views, buildings and museums of all kinds. We were amused to see a Museum of Death and Museum of Broken Relationships. As expected in such a busy place, all kinds of ingenious businesses were taking place. There were people dressed in movie and series costumes asking to take pictures and later asking for money (sadly we fell prey to one of them), to shops selling all kinds of souvenirs.
Since we did not feel the need to hike (and I do not like hiking) to the Hollywood Sign, we decided to look for the closest road to get to it, as well as the Griffith Observatory. Besides, with the Sign being around 13.4m tall and 107.3m long, viewing it a little bit further might be the better option. We took an Uber up to Canyon Lake Drive where there’s easy parking, a park and an amazing viewing point of the Hollywood Sign. To be honest, it is just a sign on a couple of hills but it felt great to satisfy my curiosity, and it was worth every bit.
This was also highly recommended. It is free and open to the public, it has really beautiful views of Los Angeles City and Hollywood Hills. The Hollywood Sign is also visible from here but not as close as from Canyon Lake Drive. The Observatory offers public telescopes, exhibits, a cafe, bookstore, exhibits and planetarium. There is free parking for visitors but do note that there is a lot of traffic to/from the Griffith Observatory so the parking does get full at times. We still used an Uber to/from the Observatory.
Santa Monica Pier
We then headed back to the Lux Bus where we met up with the rest of our tour group and set off for our last stop, the Santa Monica Pier. On our way there we passed through some other famous places such as Melrose Avenue, Sunset Boulevard, Jay Prince, Beverly Hills, Play Boy offices (not the Mansion, unfortunately) and Fox Studios.
I was excited to get to see the Santa Monica Pier, which I know from many TV series’ and movies (Baywatch fan representing!). My hubby was excited since the video game (GTA 5) had the Santa Monica Pier concept, and the joy in his voice was pure. Apart from the beach, there are restaurants, an Amusement Park with various activities like a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel. The 2 hours on the pier felt very short, there was so much to see and do.
At the end of the day, The Lux Bus America dropped us back to our hotel safely. I enjoyed seeing the famous cities, and it was a fruitful 48 hours in California.
Traveling expands one’s ideologies, creates beautiful experiences and lasting memories.~ Lynn Muturi_Githaiga