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To Hollywood

Saturday (continued...)

As the train wound its way onward I got a chance to chat with the people I had dinner with. I was seated with a guy and his daughter, he pointed out places that we were passing - Pismo beach, a good sunbathing spot, was something I would have liked to have seen but alas it was a day excursion by bus.

Sunset from the train

The sun set and the many lights of the off-shore oil rigs lit up the dark ocean like a christmas tree. I decided to relax a while and take stock.

Santa Barbara came and went; eventually the end of the line approached - my stop. LA at last! The car staff were good - the lady who was looking after us had been on a several-day train journey from LA to Seattle and now back again, and she made it clear that she didn't care whether we got off the train or not - she was getting off anyway! In the darkness I could see the stark outskirts of LA: large buildings, school bus depos, XXX live nude shows, all that you would expect really. When I finally got off the train I wasn't entirely sure how to proceed. I knew I had to get to Hollywood Boulevard, via the subway. A scary experience, it was eerily quiet down there to begin with but as the subway train got on its journey so the people crammed in, until eventually it was like rush hour on the London Tube. Most seemed to be working people, yet it was after 9pm; I guess they really do work late!

10pm, and I arrive out of a hole in the ground on Hollywood Boulevard. It is dark, there aren't many people about, and it looks like the wrong side of town. Oh dear. The hostel was cunningly disguised as an old appartment block - no wait, it WAS an old appartment block! The front desk was behind re-enforced glass and the warden there looked very nervous indeed. I checked out the kitchen and living room areas - a strangely small kitchen which looked kind of grubby (yet people were bravely cooking a chicken stew), and a big screen tv being watched by some leather-clad smokers. I went to bed. The dorm was along a bare-boarded corridor, the lift stopped working that very evening, and the dorm window wouldn't shut properly; the bathroom didn't work at all and we had to use one along the hall in an empty dorm, I gather the place was in mid-renovation. With the sound of police sirens blazing away somewhere in the distance and a slight feeling of insecurity, I tried to get some sleep.

Sunday

Hollywood Boulevard In the morning I left as soon as I could - this place gave me the creeps! But where was I? This didn't look like in the movies. I surmised that it must be along this way as I had come from the other direction and there it just seemed to turn into a freeway. There was already a warm breeze blowing.

Eventually I saw a bus load of tourists all pointing and looking at something far off in the hills - a familiar land mark at last! In one direction there was a freeway, and the other...

Hollywood

Hollywood! This was the first famous American landmark I had seen on my trip so far, and it re-affirmed that I was in fact in America and not some obscure never-ending metropolis. Hang on a sec...!

Chinese Theatre The bus driver kindly gave me a ride into the main tourist part of Hollywood Boulevard, most likely the only part of Hollywood worth seeing with the exception of some celebrity homes and movie studios, a glorified industrial estate. I walked along the 'Walk of Fame' with all the stars in the pavement, saw the sights that were there to be seen for free - Black Hawk Down was showing at the Manns Chinese Theatre, but I couldn't be bothered sitting in a cinema - checked out a few of the souvenir shops and then sought a way out. My ruck sack and bags were becoming quite heavy. I discerned from a shop keeper that the bus out of here went to Santa Monica, some 25 miles through LA towards the coast. I managed to get the next bus and the ride was a long one - two whole hours or more I sat, stood, changed buses at Pico, all the while heading in one direction - South West - towards the coast. We passed through many different areas; in some streets the houses had bars on all the windows, in Beverly Hills most had key-coded gates and lush green lawns (a lot like Fresh Prince of Bel Air). When the bus stopped I was amazed at what I saw...