LA Trip: Day 1
I just got back last night from a 4-day trip to Los Angeles. I went there to attend my friend Allison’s wedding. I also got to do a lot of sightseeing. My dad, who is retired and can do such things, had been wanting to go on a road trip across the country for a while, so he timed his trip to meet me in LA and we sightsaw together.
At one point during the airplane ride to California, the pilot announced that if we looked out the window, we could see the Grand Canyon. It did look very large and canyony, but since I am not an expert, I could very well have been duped into photographing an inferior canyon or other landform. So, here is an aerial image of what the pilot claimed was the Grand Canyon, and I will let you decide for yourselves:
Santa Monica Pier
Once I landed, my dad picked me up at the airport and we drove to Santa Monica Pier. I figure, if you’re going to fly out West, you have to get all the way to the Pacific Ocean or it doesn’t count. It was way too chilly and cloudy to want to swim in the ocean (a statement perhaps belied by all the people at the beach who were doing just that, but they were wrong). I did want to touch it, though, so I went close enough to put my hand in it but not so close that my shoes got wet. This was tricky because the edge of the ocean kept moving!
We watched the roller coaster go by slowly with one man on it.
Then we walked on the pier for a while, ogling the caricaturist stands, colorful restaurants, and fisherpeople. At the very end of the pier we joined a crowd looking over the edge into the water. There was a seal!* It swam back and forth, watching us as we watched it. I guess it was waiting for people to throw it snacks. I wonder if there’s only one seal and it’s always there, or if there is a group of seals and they take shifts. I would put a photo of it here, but I didn’t take a photo, because I didn’t want to give it the satisfaction.
We got lunch at a non-pier restaurant and then drove to our next stop:
Warner Bros. Studio Tour**
There are a lot of famous things about the Warner Bros. Studio, but before going there, the only mental image I really had of what it would be like there was the TV cartoon “Animaniacs,” where the Warner Brothers Yakko and Wakko and their Warner Sister Dot live in the WB water tower on the studio lot. I guess if you asked me if there was actually a WB water tower before I went there, I would say that there wasn’t — why would a movie studio have a water tower? But IT’S REAL!!
This meant that everything I’d seen in “Animaniacs” was probably real, and that I would in fact get to meet them! In fact, before the tour started, I found them at the WB Starbucks:
I didn’t want any coffee, though, so I didn’t get close enough to talk to them.
Anyway, soon it was time for our tour. The group of around 15 people piled into a large golf cart-ish vehicle and our guide drove us around. We started at the backlot, which is where the outdoor sets are, like fake streets that look vaguely New Yorky and can be dressed up with different doorknobs and street lights in order to look like different time periods. Our guide had a microphone and talked to us throughout the tour, pointing out different spots where iconic movie scenes had been filmed. Every time she told us a fact or anecdote from movie history, she would follow it up by saying “Kinda cool” or “Kinda funny.” I liked her, though. Everyone said they liked “Friends,” so she made sure to point out lots of places they had filmed scenes in “Friends.” For example, we saw the spot where Phoebe did her crazy style of jogging through Central Park, except that it turns out Central Park was just this 50-meter stretch of sidewalk next to some trees that Phoebe ran back and forth through and they switched up the extras and some bushes and stuff each time. Kinda funny.
Another spot we saw was their “Chicago” spot that they used for ER. It has the hospital exit and fake El tracks.***
Eventually the backlot portion was over and we went inside some buildings (real buildings).
One building we went into was the soundstage where they film “The Big Bang Theory.” I don’t like that show very much, but I’ve watched it on occasion, and it was fun to be standing right near the inside of Sheldon’s apartment! She taught us a little bit about the weekly schedule of filming a TV show and how they use the studio audience. Kinda cool. We couldn’t take pictures in there (“It’s actually a fire hazard,” said the tour guide. “If you take pictures, I get fired.”).
We also went into a little museum-y thing where they had some props and costumes from the Harry Potter movies. For example, they had a display of different packages of candies and treats that were created for scenes in Honeydukes and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. VERY COOL. I wanted to try to eat some cauldron cakes, but I didn’t.**** They also had a bunch of props and costumes from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which nobody cared about. I had kind of forgotten that was a movie.
Then there was the room of Batmobiles! I’m not a car person, but I did covet this one when I saw it in the movies.
I also got to flip the Bat Signal on! That was really exciting. One minor hiccup was that I flipped the lever too enthusiastically and some metal part of the Bat Signal contraption punctured my hand a little bit. I initially assumed this would mean I had Batman powers, but then I remembered he doesn’t have any powers, and THEN I remembered that I would probably just have Bat Signal powers, since that’s what bit me. But that could still be useful. You could open your mouth and let the Bat Signal shine out of it up into the night sky.
I know I’ve been going on a bit, but don’t worry, it’s almost done!
Here’s a picture from a building full of lamps, furniture, paintings, and other props that productions can check out to use in their sets.
And here’s the greatest picture of them all, where I officially became a FRIEND and hung out at Central Perk on the couch.
After the Tour
For dinner we went to a restaurant in Pasadena that is run by a chef named Bruce who recently competed on “Top Chef.” We tried a few different kinds of pasta. I have eaten a lot of pasta so far in my life, but that was the first time I tried a dish that had nettles in the pasta dough. As far as I could tell, the nettles didn’t really taste like much, but they made the dough a pretty green color.
And that was my first day in LA! Tune in next time for Day 2.
*It could have been a sea lion because, frankly, they are the same thing.
**If you think you’re going to go on this tour one day AND you have a photographic memory that renders details from every blog post you’ve ever read impossible to forget, you have my permission to skip this section, since it’ll make the tour a little less fun and surprising. If you don’t meet both of those conditions, no skipping allowed.
***ER was such a good show. I feel a binge coming on. No, Liana, keep writing your blog post!!
****They were behind glass.