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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Live and Learn: Los Angeles (Part 2)


Los Angeles is awesome. There are so many things to do in and around it, but people tend to get all riled up about how crowded it is that they can’t see how much there is to entertain you. I’ve probably made 15 trips to LA and Anaheim growing up (and grown up), so you would think that by now I’d have it all down. This last trip was the longest I’d ever been in SoCal and decided to do more than make a quick trip into Hollywood for a friend’s birthday. I did one thing right: this time I did a bit of research and started my visit to Hollywood on the Hollywood Blvd, where the action is. I did a lot of other things right, but even after so many vacations to LA, there is still stuff to learn. Last week I gave you my first 5 lessons, and this week I have a continuing list.


Take advantage of freebies at your lodging during downtime. Lesson number one, make sure you plan for downtime, or you will be crazy cranky from being go-go-go for days at a time. Eventually, it saps all your energy from only getting minimal rest. This is also why I like to travel in the fall. The weather doesn’t suck and attractions usually close earlier, making it easy to plan time to go back to your room and chill. Use that time to see what your accommodations have to offer, whether it’s the hot tub, exercise room, dining coupons, movies or other entertainment. We were lucky to get two free movie rentals, which we happily took advantage of while doing laundry and hanging out and relaxing. We also made sure to use the coupons available in the lobby, one of which netted us a free appetizer at Bubba Gump’s (which was only two blocks away).


You may need to use a fancy app to find out wait times at your favorite park rides or call and change a reservation. Whatever it is you need, it will be impossible if your phone is dead. Keep your mobile charged. While this seems like a no-brainer, it can be super-hard to keep your battery from draining in 10 minutes after taking videos of all the fake movie stars on Hollywood Blvd. Turn your background data off, keep your tweeting to a minimum, bring along your car charger or bring a backup battery, just in case. You never know when an emergency will occur, or you need to call to figure out why your attractions card doesn’t work.


Freak heat wave + outside activities = super uncomfortable. So, I always assume California will be warm, but when the temperatures soar over 90, I really don’t know what is happening. Once you get to the theme park and are standing in a barely-shaded line for an hour and you get totally sweaty, you can’t just leave and go back to your room and refresh. I wish I had thought to bring along deodorant wipes and wet naps. After 3 hours, I just felt like I had run 3 miles and then rolled around in dirt. Attractive! Those two things would have been a great addition to my bag…and will be for every vacation here on out, no matter where I’m going or what the weather is going to be.


Did you know it’s cheaper to park in Los Angeles than it is to park in Seattle? This is a good lesson learned, as I was able to park all day for $10. That is less than half the rate at even the cheapest parking garage in Seattle. I was shocked and thrilled, because it saved us a ton…at least on the one day we parked in the city.


So, despite what everyone says, there might be celebrities roaming Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, but don’t expect to see any. I saw none the whole time I was there. Bummer. Not that I really thought I might see a ton, but something better than the wax figures at Madame Tussaud’s or fake Spiderman in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater. I think if you don’t hope to see anyone from TV, or don’t plan to take up residence in front of Louis Vuitton for the entire day, you should just assume you will see no one.


There’s something to be learned from every trip – some good and some bad – including the fact that I think it’s okay to hit up Weinerschnitzel for a quick meal (hello, pretzel bun!) and an extra camera battery needs to be in my bag or I will only get half a day’s worth of photos in before the first one dies. What are some of your must-remember lessons from past trips?  
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