Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Saturday - The flight home....

Our flight home was supposed to depart at 21.20....... when we got to the airport we were told there was a 3 hour delay until 00.15.......
We hung around the cafes on the floor above the check in desks until we felt hungry enough to cash in our $9 courtesy food vouchers BA had issued. $9 does not get you much in LAX!!!!
Anyhow, we went through security expecting (as you would with a large international airport) a whole host of shops. How wrong we were. There is sweet FA beyond security at LAX. There was a tiny duty free where Minty got her gin and we both got a selection box of smellies but our garden shed at home is bigger than this shop!!!!
Also, there is nowhere to grab a beer or something to eat... you can get drinks from a vending machine, but only soft drinks.....

So, we get called to the gate at about 11.30, and they have to bus us to the plane! It’s a bloomin’ 747 transatlantic jet and they can’t provide a gate anywhere near the terminal!
Now we are on the plane and it is past the delayed time... the pilot comes on the intercom...... engine problems – they can’t get one of the engines started and the engineers are coming out to have a look. Minty is by the window and can see the kurfuffel going on.... 1 man can’t fix it, 2 men can’t fix it... in comes a 3rd man......... 20 minutes later they get the engine started but by God there is an almighty puff of smoke!!!!
So, 1 hour and 15 mins after our delayed time (so 4hrs and 15mins late) we finally get airborne and fly at 39,000 feet. We are just behind the sunrise across the central belt of the USA.....
Dawn breaks across America
The crew are mean though and make everyone close the window blinds so that the rising sun doesn't wake the sleepers up!
But they come around with a free bar, then served a dinner. The Beeb, being a veggie had pre-ordered a veggie meal... which was actually one of the choices for everyone on the flight – veggie lasagne. This is what he had with his $9 voucher at the airport too.

The Beeb's dinner
Minty opted for the chicken curry, which was actually very nice. A few gins, a couple of glasses of wine, an episode of Doctor Who, The Beeb fast asleep, Minty settled down to watch “RED” again... and promptly fell asleep herself.
Minty's dinner!!!
The Beeb didn't sleep for long as the German passengers congregated at the back of the plane for some quite loud conversations together!
The flight was 9 and a half hours and just as we were heading towards the North West coast of Scotland, breakfast was served and Minty woke up!
Over the UK countryside on the approach to Heathrow
The engine is the one which refused to start!
After a few circles just west of Watford, we touched down in Heathrow at 7pm, coming in from the West. It's a shame we didn't come in over London and the River Thames as this would have provided some great pictures in the fading daylight.
Final approach into Heathrow
 After a bus journey from the airport to the car park that felt longer than the flight, we picked the car up and it was onto the M25 back to Hemel Hempstead...and a plate of beans on toast and a right proper brew!

We'll never forget this holiday for hundreds of reasons. The generosity of everyone we met with their time for us...you can't put a price on that. We went on holiday with high hopes, and they were exceeded a thousand times over. Thanks to everyone we met...you know who you are!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Saturday - Day 10 LA

Alarms were set to make sure we didn’t sleep in as we still had a bit of packing to do before we checked out of the hotel.
Our last LA breakfast was taken in our usual haunt, Uncle Johns and Minty opted for their trademark special – the spicy pork chops. The Chinese lady who ran the cafe had remembered we were leaving today and she wished us well.
Instead of walking up the steep hill back to the hotel, we opted for a ride on the Angel Flight express train!
Angels Flight station
It was a steal at 25c a go for the short climb to California Plaza.

The short track for
Angels Flight

We finished packing and then checked out of room 917.
We managed to fit the 2 bulging cases and 2 hand luggage bags into the boot of the rental car and set the Sat Nav (GPS) to take us to Luxuria Music studios, in Frogtown. No-one has been able to tell us why it’s called Frogtown (apart from the fact that there was a lot of people hopping around town.)
As we pulled up outside the studio,  Andrew Sandoval was also arriving, and The Beeb made up for the fact he had not had the opportunity to speak with Andrew during Sunday’s party in the next half hour. We also found a good home for a CD of a great Scottish duo, The Wellgreen as we felt he would appreciate the harmonies in every song.
Following a recent pledge drive, where $12,000 was raised to keep the station on the air, listeners were given the opportunity to sponsor articles in the studio. The names of the “sponsors” were attached to each of the articles, and we spotted some of our friends’ names..... Clara for the light fitting, Kiki for a chair, Katie for the door (and a chair). The lounge had a great painting of Brian Wilson, which you can see part of below.......
Andrew Sandoval, Minty and The Beeb

At 1pm on the dot, Chuck began his musical introduction to Heroes & Villains, with Minty and The Beeb as special guests. We thought we would just sit there and listen and watch, but Chuck had other plans, and in between records (including the awful Brian Wilson Rap song, which was played accidentally!!), The Beeb recounted the tales of our LA experience – Our tour with Chuck, the party at Dom & Becky’s, the day with Darian & Nelson, the visit to the Sunset Strip, the chance sighting of Brian Wilson at the deli....... The hour whizzed by and before we knew it, the show was coming to an end.

Chuck Kelley hosts Heroes & Villains

As Chuck was wrapping up, another Luxuria DJ, Steve Stanley popped his head around the door to say “Hi.” It was great that he was able to come out to the studio so we could meet him.

Steve Stanley, Monty & The Beeb

Steve suggested we “follow him” to Rockaway Records which was just around the corner! That’s the last time we follow him – we ended up with another 6 CDs!!!!!!!
On the wall of the record shop was a signed acoustic guitar by legendary surf guitarist(sic) Brian Wilson, from 2005, for a $600 price tag, and in the display cabinets there was a lot of Beach Boys memorabilia, including a copy of the Surfin’ demo for a cool $350. There was also a CD signed by Mike, Brian and David Marks for $40 but we resisted the temptation.

The loo wall posters in
 Maui & Sons

After our splurge on the CD’s, we said our goodbyes to Steve and then headed off to Hollywood Blvd for some last minute gift shopping and some lunch. We ate (quite fittingly) in a surf bar – Maui & Sons where tunes by Link Wray and the like were playing. The toilets were pretty cool too, with old gig posters up, including two with The Beach Boys! These guys get everywhere!!!!
After lunch we headed to Alamo to drop off the car. We hopped on the courtesy bus to the terminal and then found out that our flight was delayed by 3 hours... instead of leaving at 9.20pm, it was delayed until 00.15. Now, we know we don’t want to go home, but we would have preferred being stranded in LA City and not the airport!!!! British Airways very kindly issued $9 vouchers for refreshments but that doesn’t buy you a lot here and the choice of veggie options for The Beeb was almost non-existant!!!!
And so out holiday draws to a close.
Some things we learned along the way....
  1. It’s illegal to get out of a NYC cab other than at the kerb side
  2. NY has the greatest coffee shops
  3. Most restaurants in LA only have one single toilet for each gender (not a set of cubby holes!!)
  4. Lemonade is NOT fizzy
  5. You can turn right at a junction on a red light
  6. A fire hydrant in NY is called a Johnny Pump
  7. Americans drive on the wrong side of the road
  8. You need a mortgage to use a mobile
  9. LAX is a great place to arrive, but the pits to try and get out of
  10. You can’t get a beer after the security point in LAX!!!!

Friday - Day 9 LA

Another lazy lie in this morning. Today we were meeting up with poet, songwriter,  recording artist and raconteur Stephen J Kalinich. But not before finding some time to sit by the hotel’s rooftop pool and try and catch up with this blogging malarkey. This was actually the first time we’d actually SEEN the pool!
We had just planned on having a coffee with Stevie K, but Stevie being Stevie had other plans. He wasn’t sure where we would go, but he was going to take us off the beaten LA track and show us the non-touristy side.
We headed out towards the hills in Glendale, and ended up in the scenic town of La Canada, pronounced “La Can-yard-a” as the Beeb kept on reminding us in a Peter Sellers French accent. This was a gorgeous town set at the foothills surrounding LA. Although it was a sunshiney day, the skies were threatening a bit of rain, which we tried to capture with our photo!

The skies above La Canada
We had a lovely lunch in a very classy cafe called Penelopes that also doubled as a book shop and art gallery. The owner of the place obviously knew Stevie and they had a chat while our lunch was ordered. Minty had a toasted cheese and ham sandwich and has never seen so much ham in a sandwich before – about a quarter of a pig!!!

The Beeb and Stevie K, with the wonderful backdrop of the mountains

After lunch we went for a drive as close to the hills as was possibly before a tour round some stunning houses just off Chevy Chase Drive. Stevie thought it was hilarious the Beeb thought the street was named after the actor. Apparently the US has a more famous Chevy Chase!
It’s always great to see Stevie, but once again it was even nicer being able to spend some quality time with someone for a change. Then it was time to head back to the hotel.
At this point Minty caught up with a bit of blogging again, while the Beeb took a stroll down to the Grand Central Market  and Theatreland in Downtown LA.

Downtown LA - one
of the old theatres
He was delighted to find a big guitar store almost immediately. Unfortunately there was no-one there who seemed to speak English. Either that or Mexicans don’t watch enough Taggart on the telly. He found a second, then a third and fourth music store...ALL with the same result. Not even a bit of Spanglish to be found.
It’s still an eye-opening part of town though. It’s clear to see it was once a thriving area of theatres. Sadly they’re all closed now and have been turned into jewellery shops and guitar shops where no-one speaks English!
The plan for tonight was for a meal with Dom and Becky, and Lina and Rory. The convoy arrived at the hotel and we headed off to Mexico City. That was the name of the restaurant, not over the Mexican border.
Once again the Beeb suffered because of his accent. He ordered burritos and was brought fahijas instead! He even ordered in his posh Sean Connery accent this time. At least it was veggie and he was able to scoff it down with the help of some Mexican beer.
After dinner we headed out to visit Luxuria music DJ, Kari Kaos. She lives in a really old part (by LA standards) of town, in a little narrow street. The whole area was an arty/bohemian type place. And  Kari’s gaff was no exception.
This place was like walking into an LSD trip. There can’t be another house in the US like it. In fact we found out it was featured in the new edition of some style magazine. Every room had a different theme, and each was filled with all kinds of Barbie dolls, 60’s ornaments, artifacts, pictures, furniture......you name it, she had it. Anyone walking in immediately found themselves part of a 60’s Psychedelic movie. Her walk in closet was something else too!

Kari at the bar in her awesome TV lounge......
We stayed for about an hour or so, and by then it was past midnight and the tiredness was starting to set in. So reluctantly we said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel. At this point we also had to say farewell to Lina and Rory, and for The Beeb, it was like parting from a long lost sister. If he wasn’t such a tough Scotsman you know, he would have had a tear in his eye.
Dom & Becky dropped us back to the hotel, but not before they had a discussion about keeping us in LA for a few days more. Unfortunately we DID have to say our goodbyes to them. Hugs all round and we headed up to our room.
So ended our final night in LA........ time spent perfectly with the two couples who had made such an impact on our time out there. Thanks to you all.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Thursday - Day 8 L.A.

Again we had been promised a cold and wet day in L.A.but the sun was shining through when we woke up and drew back the curtains.

Today we were meeting up with our UK friends Mal Young and Mari Wilson for a spot of lunch so we drove up to Coldwater Canyon to meet them.

Thier home in L.A. was once a party spot for The Beatles and is an impressive building.

Mal took to the wheel and first stop was Laurel Canyon where Jim Morrison and also Jimi Hendrix had lived. The whole area is very hippy and you can understand why Harvey Kubernick was inspired to write his book "Canyon of Dreams".

Minty, Mari and Mal - Jim Morrison's house in the
background where all the pink flowers are

Jimi Hendrix lived above the laundry

We went around the Yukka trail which is a very narrow winding road which takes you to breathtaking views of the City no tourist buses go. Hell, we don't even know how the binmen manage to empty the bins up here!!!

Mal then took us up Mulholland, that Bette Noir film road which winds around the Hollywood mountains. Stopping off at a viewing point, we finally saw the Hollywood sign (at last - that's 8 days in LA and we hadn't seen this iconic landmark yet!!!). The view was really fantastic, despite the haze that was covering the City.

The view of Downtown LA (the skyscrapers in the distance)

Mari, The Beeb, The Hollywood sign, Mal
The next stop was lunch - at Mal and Mari's local deli, which is also a usual eating place for Brian Wilson and they often see him there in the morning. It was 2.30pm so the chances of seeing him were remote at best.......

We were tucking into our lunch when Mari and Mal both said "there's Brian" - we looked up and sure enough Brian Wilson had come in, and sat in his usual booth at the table next to us! Mari and Mal were both in hysterics as The Beeb's face was a picture. His fork stopped in mid-air for about a minute, as once again his jaw hit the ground. You can't make this stuff up! The Beeb said he was going to buy a lottery ticket as our luck is with us right now!!!!

One thing we do know about Brian is that he is a very low-key individual so we never intruded to say hi or anything. About 5 minutes later, he got up and shuffled out of the door and was gone! We think he's heard about our blog and just trying to get  a mention!!!!

Well, our jaws were right on the floor and we needed to be pinched! Mari and Mal found it so amusing, and for the rest of the day we just looked at one another and shook our heads in disbelief! Every now and again we would just start laughing at the thought of it all.

Mari had to dash to American Idol and Mal to a business meeting so we said our goodbyes and headed back down Coldwater Canyon.

As we had the car, we took in a bit more of Sunset Blvd, browsing through a couple of guitar shops. In Sam Nash, the sales guys could not have been more different from the New York ones! The Beeb had a great conversation about White Falcons and the guy was even getting to the point of ordering one in for him, pormising it would be here the next day!!!!!

Across the road was the Guitar Centre. They had a really great "hands of fame" in front of the store, with the handprints of many famous musicians, such as Brian Wilson, Jan & Dean, the Wrecking Crew, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Slash, Def Leppard to name just a few!

Minty finds Dean Torrence's hands are bigger than hers!

Minty in the handprint of Carol Kaye

Jan & Dean and Brian Wilson

The Beeb with Amoeba as the backdrop

We took another trip to Ameoba records on Sunset. This time we came out only with 1 CD - the new Smithereens CD, which was a steal at the equivalent of less than £8.

After that we headed back to the hotel to freshen up, as we were hoping we could get into the Imelda May gig at the El Rey Theatre that evening.

A $20 taxi ride and we were outside the El Rey Theatre at 5515 Wilshire Blvd. Luckily we were able to get tickets on the door and we headed in. The theatre is a really lovely venue, and we found a good position on the top of 2 steps up from the "mosh pit" with a pretty unrestricted view. Man, the beers are expensive in there! Oh, and The Beeb was asked of ID this time.

At the El Rey Theatre

The support act was Omar & The Stringpoppers - a local band which we found out later had been to the UK to play at the annual Rockabilly Rave. They were a good band - the lead, Omar, was very Elvis like, even down to the way he dressed and the band set up was just like Elvis early days. Theirs was a very tight set which really boogied.

Daryl plays a White Falcon
Right on time at 9.30, Imelda May took to the stage. The first thing the Beeb spotted was her hubby, Daryl, playing a lovely (and high-end, e.g.expensive) White Falcon.

Imelda just rocked. She looked terrific, her voice was just great and she looked like she enjoyed performing as much as the crowd enjoyed watching her. She is a real bundle of Irish energy.

Part of the show involved a famous ex-Burlesque dancer strutting onto the stage for a quick twirl. We found out later her name was Angel as we got talking to her after the show. She was a real character.

Imelda May

One guy in the band was Imelda's equivalent of Probyn Gregory in the Brian Wilson band - multi instrumentalist and very versatile. We never knew LA had such a good Rockabilly scene.

Imelda May and her fantastic band

After the show, we found out that the band had to come out of the front entrance, so we hung around for a bit along with some others which included a young lad with his parents. It was a while before Imelda came out and before then, the boy's parents had dragged him away so he never got a chance to get Imelda's autograph on the picture he was holding. There was also a family from France who had seen Imelda play in France and, like us were on holiday and heard she was playing and had come along on the chance of getting tickets!

When Imelda emerged, she looked stunning (she is also tiny), and she very graciously stopped to chat and pose for photos with her husband, Daryl.

Minty with Daryl and Imelda
This was the end of another typical day in LA for us. A day filled with magical moments and another one we will never forget!

Wednesday - Day 7 L.A.

The day broke with a cloudy sky and the prospect of a rather dull and cold day.

We got up with the alarm and had breakfast in our usual haunt, Uncle Johns, before we were due to meet Darian Sahanaja, and Nelson Bragg, both from Brian Wilson's band (but also great musicians in their own right) outside our hotel at 11am. Before we met the guys, we popped into the chemist and The Beeb found an interesting product on the shelves.....

We have NO IDEA what this is for!!!!
Anyhow, the day was brightening up as the sun broke through the clouds, and we set off with Darian and Nelson to be Beach Boys "geeks" for the day. Today we did the Hollywood and Beverly Hills haunts, and started at a small parade of shops that used to be the site of the Goldstar Studios where Phil Spector produced his "Wall Of Sound," some Beach Boy music was recorded. We moved on to the Capital Records Tower on Hollywood Blvd. This is very much an LA landmark, although apparently most of the building is now actually empty. Hope they don't tear it down.

The guys goof around with the Captial Tower backdrop

Darian, The Beeb and Nelson outside
Ocean Way studios

Next up were the recording studios on Sunset Blvd - starting with Ocean Way where Brian Wilson and his band have recorded many of the albums over the last few years.... Getting In Over My Head, The Christmas Album, Gershwin........

The old Western Studios are now EastWest Studios and Nelson blagged his way through the door. Inside it is quite impressive albeit different from the days when Brian Wilson recorded there, but we were told by the receptionist that the actual recording rooms have been unchanged.

Reception at EastWest!

Unfortunately we could not get into Western 3 where Pet Sounds was recorded, and settled for Western 1, which is the studio Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was recorded, and the mixing desk is the same one that Qunicy Jones had specifically built and installed for that recording.

In Western 1
The receptionist was really helpful and gave The Beeb a promo DVD package which charts the history of the studio and also very kindly let us pose for photos!

Nelson, The Beeb, Minty and Darian inside East West

Next up was Sunset Sound, on Cherokee - this is where Love and The Doors recorded and also Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE was born here. This is truly an iconic album among Brian Wilson fans, and it was good to hear Darian's tales of Brian taking the bumper off Princes' car!!!.

Minty and The Beeb outside Sunset Sound

Darian and Minty outside Sunset Sound

Next on the trail was a drive along Melrose Avenue and past Fairfax High which is where Phil Spector went to High School. A spot of lunch at Farmer's Market and then we headed off to see The Troubadour while the Welsh band, The School (loved by Minty) played on Darian's IPod. Nelson was really impressed by what he heard too.

Next to the Troubadour is the restaurant, Dan Tana's, where Phil Spector had eaten on that fateful night of the shooting.

The guys walk by Dan Tana's

Outside The Troubadour
Unfortunately the Troubadour was closed at this time of the day so all we could get was an outside shot. Brian Wilson apparently came to see Tony Rivers play here one time, with very funny consequences!

Heading up into the canyons, we took a trip to Laurel Way and the house Brian Wilson once owned, known to the fans as The Pet Sounds House. Security up here is tight and within a couple of minutes of us arriving, a black SUV was on site, with a guy and a walkie-talkie obviously checking us out! Nelson surreptitiously took our picture before we got chased off!!!!

Incognito at Laurel Way!!!!

Then we saw the Bellagio House - the home where Brian Wilson spent a lot of time in his bed!. This is a gated house so we couldn't get up close!

The Bellagio House
Next up was a drive up into the mountains, up Mulholland, the road many Bette Noir films were shot, and where many a car has undoubtedly gone over the edge!!! The views here are awesome and although we didn't go to the side where you get a view of downtown LA,  we got a great view of the San Fernando valley (dontcha know, more Porn is produced in this valley than in the rest of the world put together!!!).
Darian, Minty and Nelson overlooking San Fernando Valley
Our last stop on this tour was a quick stop to have a peek at the recording studio Darian and fellow Wondermint Nick Walusko have built in collaboration with their musical friends Marizane. It's coming together very nicely. It looks like it could be the Headquarters from some Gerry Anderson TV programme. To top things off, Nick even popped by to say hello whilst we were there. Even the recorded sound of the piano in the studio sounds amazing, and it will be great to hear the future CD's  that do come out of here.

It was an amazing day with Darian, Nelson and Nick. Not only did we get to see some historical places in LA, but we learned a lot about Nelson's historical drinking haunts!
Thanks guys.... we really can't thank you enough for giving up your time to be Beach Boys geeks with us!!!

Back at the hotel, we got in touch with Domenic and Becky and we spent the evening with them on the Sunset Strip. Domenic had a great book, "Riot On Sunset Strip" published a couple of years back and he is really an authority on the whole Sunset Strip era and can rattle off dates, places and names like there's no tomorrow, which is really impressive. The Strip at night is something else, with loads of lights and is a really bustling place.

Dom drove up the Strip and we saw the Roxy Theatre, Whisky A Go Go, the Viper Room and infamous Chateau Marmont where James Belushi died. Dom also pointed out the site (traffic island) where Pandora's Box was located.

Dom & The Beeb at "77 Sunset Strip click, click"
We had a light dinner at Le Petit Fours (well The Beeb had a homemade pudding rather than a dinner) and then we took a walk along some of the Strip.

Whilst many of the businesses on the Strip have changed since the 60's, the architecture is basically the same. The Beeb remembers the TV programme "77 Sunset Strip" and had his picture taken with Domenic at the site the show was filmed (which is not 77 by the way - no. 77 has never actually existed!).

Mel's Drive Inn has the typical 60's architectural structure, especially in terms of the slant of the roof. A few band's were put together here too.

Mel's Diner

Next up was a trip to Canters, where we met up with Mark London, a graphic designer - he designed the "Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE" album cover and packaging. He had very kindly arranged for a couple of Pet Sounds CD's to be signed by none other than Brian Wilson, and he gave us these treasures. Mark is working on a new book just now, and it sounds as if it's going to be a real cracker.

Whilst we were with Mark, our jaws dropped again when we were joined by non other than Rodney Bingenheimer - The Mayor of Sunset Strip, who used to run a well known club on the Strip called English Disco. Our jaws had been pretty much on the floor since Sunday's party and spending the day with Darian & Nelson, but this was a really surreal experience. Sitting having a chin-wag with Rodney Bingenheimer on Sunset Strip, listening to his stories of Elvis, The Beatles and everyone who was anyone in the music business. Who'd have believed it?

We ended our night in a Pub out in Silverlake where some bad Karaoke was going on!!! After 1 beer we were all really tired - it was past midnight, so Dom and Becky dropped us off at our hotel.

So ended night no 7 in L.A. Moregreat  memories to keep for a lifetime. Thanks again to Dom and Becky for yet again entertaining us.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Tuesday - Day 6 L.A.

This was going to be our lazy sunshine day. After breakfast it was into the car for a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. It was a gorgeous day again, and the intention was to shoot up to Santa Barabra. We underestimated the time it would take to get there. We were thinking the PCH was like an Interstate highway and didn't rekon on having to drive at 30mph for parts of it.

Still, the scenery we took in till we got as far as Pleasant Valley was well worth the drive alone.

On the way back we stopped off at the un-aptley named Paradise Cove. Well actually the cove itself IS nice enough. This is the one featured on the cover of the Beach Boys' "Surfin' Safari." The problem is, as soon as you turn off the road into it, you're into a car park with a barrier that costs at least $25 if you don't eat there. Straight away that gets your heckles up getting ripped of like this, even if you PLANNED on eating there.

Paradise Cove - the shot on the cover of the Surfin Safari album was done here

There was a 30 min wait to get a table outside and this gave us the chance so sit on the beach for a while.

The Beeb on the Beach avec lobster!

Minty with her Diet Coke in Paradise Cove

When we were called to the table, the girl took our order then told us she was going for her break and Josh would be our server from then on. Minty ordered some kind of toasted cheese sandwich, while The Beeb had corn on the cob with chips. We think they must have gone to milk the cow before making the cheese by the length of time it took to arrive. Josh was the most surly server we have ever seen - he never once let a smile reach his face and he didn't even acknowledge us.

Absolutely terrible service, and not what you expect from a place like this. They obviously rely on passing trade and don't have many regular customers as we can't see many people wanting to go back!!! Anyway, this is the only place we've been to where there was no tip left.

Then we headed back on the road to spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach at Santa Monica. The Beeb finally made it into the Pacific Ocean for a swim.

The Beeb hits the Pacific Ocean Blue
Surprisingly the water isn't quite as cold as you'd image. After getting walloped by head high waves it doesn't take much to get used to it. You do realise the power of the waves as they knock you off your feet though.
Minty paddled on the shore line

Minty paddled on the shoreline!

When the sun started to set, it got a bit cooler so we headed back to the hotel. Following a quick change, we headed off to Pershing Square and got the metro up to Hollywood and Vine and discovered the world of Amoeba Records. The metro was quite packed, and had some characters on it. Minty was a bit worried about coming back on the same route - if it was like this at 7.30pm, what would it be like around 11pm!!!!

Amoeba Records is a HUGE record store, and after a serious browse, we came out with some goodies. Minty got Jan & Dean's Carnival of Sound CD for a fraction of the price that would need to be paid from the UK, as well  Brian Setzer's first solo album from 1986 for approx £6 when the UK amazon price is upwards of £20!!!! Unfortunately the CD's The Beeb was interested in were full price and are actually much cheaper from Amazon in the UK so he was very restrained.

When we got to the tills to pay, the guy asked us where we were from and gave us back our $3 discount cards to re-use, and also threw in 2 t shirts and a heap of stickers, fridge magnets and postcards for FREE!!!

By this time it was around 10.15pm and most of the places to eat were closing. Feeling a bit peckish, we headed up Vine and found Cafe Was which advertised a "full menu" until closing time (which was 2am). What a little goldmine this place was......from the outside it looked like Hard Rock Cafe, with the neon sign and the prospect of burger and fries type menu. How pleasantly surprised we were, when upon entering, we saw a Grand Piano taking up centre floor with tables around it, and further tables in booths on a raised level just overlooking the piano. What a set up. The waitress told us that usually they have live music every night, but they couldn't book anyone for this night (hence why it was so quiet) but Jeff Goldblum (he of The Fly) plays piano every Monday here......

We had Macaroni Cheese and chips and then headed back to Downtown, via the (much quieter) metro back to Pershing Square and then a short walk to the hotel.

So back at the hotel.... night no 6 draws to a close... and Minty is all excited as tomorrow we spend a bit of the day with Darian from Wondermints........

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Monday - Day 5 L.A.

Well, there was no way on earth, Monday was going to top Sunday, so having readjusted our expectations of the day, we had our usual breakfast in Uncle Johns and then headed onto the Metro, to get to LAX and pick up the rental car we had booked.

We had considered this route on Saturday to get as close to the Marina Del Rey for Adam Marsland's gig before getting a cab, and the hotel concierge had advised strongly against it (bad part of town, you have to change lines etc). We had no problems what so ever and the changing from the blue line to the green line was simple.

We got to LAX and decided that as we were already on Aviation Boulevard and the number of the building next door was not too far from the number of the car rental place, we would walk......... After about 20 minutes we conceded defeat, and stopped at a restaurant where they called us a cab. This was just as well as the rental place was much , much further than we had anticipated.

Picking up the car was not a pleasant experience. The guy behind the counter lost his charm certificate somewhere in his life and when Minty insisted on reading the document put in front of her prior to signing, he got the biggest hump on his shoulder. He grunted something about "line 4" and sent us on our way.....

Outside, in the lot, we found someone who was aplogetic about his colleague's demeanour and showed us the choice of cars we had.... The Beeb picked a sporty little Dodge Caliber and within minutes we were on our way....... with a Sat Nav (GPS for our American friends).

The Beeb and the car

Now, driving in the US is not easy and with Mrs Sat Nav to confuse you.....well, the fun begins!!!! When the Sat Nav tells you to "keep right", it doesn't necessarily mean that you will end up turning right and when the Sat Nav tells you to "keep left", it really does mean keep in the furthest left hand lane otherwise you end up being railroaded onto a slip road (ramp) you never intended to take!!!!!! After a number of false starts we were finally on I110 and then onto I10 to Santa Monica.

Minty outside Chez Jay's
It was a glorious day (well into the 80's we think) and we found a $6 parking lot right next to the beach and took a wander.

The Beeb on Santa Monica Pier
Neither of us were dressed for the beach so we just wandered along the Santa Monica Pier, then we wandered onto Ocean Avenue had a peek at the menu at Chez Jays (the hang out of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson) which held nothing for The Beeb to eat (it was all fish or meat) and then walked a mile or so along the beachfront to Venice Beach. Half way, we stopped at a beachside cafe for a bite to eat - the food was not very nice to be honest.

The Beeb at Pacific Ocean!
Venice Beach was really busy, with many street artists selling their wares and happy hour being made full use of by many beach goers in the bars.

On the beach front walkway
Knowing we had to meet a friend later that evening, we turned around and headed back to the car and then headed back to LA........
Eventually we made it back to Downtown LA and found a lot to leave the car overnight, where the attendant didn't charge us anything as he was about to shut up shop and we could "sort it out with the attendant in the morning".

Back at the hotel, a quick change of clothes and then we walked down Grand Avenue to the LA Live area on Olympic Boulevard to meet fellow Beach Boys / Brian Wilson fan, Mike Walker (also over from the UK) for a light bite to eat and a few drinks in Trader Vics.

The area was very quiet tonight, and the bar was almost empty. But we spent a few hours chatting about just about anything! Mike had not been able to make it to the party the day before which was a shame as he realised just what a treat he had missed.

Mike and The Beeb
The hint was taken when the staff started to disappear, and the tables and chairs outside were being chained up for the night, so we left and headed "home".
So ended our 5th day in LA. It was great to meet up with Mike, and we were glad we had got to see the beach and weather permitting, intend to get back there and spend some time in the sand and sea!