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Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Reserve123 Tours (Part 2)

While I was on vacation in L.A., I had the opportunity to try yet another tour through Reserve123. With all the normal sightseeing we had planned, Reserve123 set us up on a Los Angeles by Night tour with VIP Tours. This isn’t the first time we’ve driven with VIP Tours either. We went on two lovely city tours with them while in Hawaii and had a great experience. We were pretty excited to see L.A. in a whole new way.

Robin picked us up at our lodging in Anaheim, where we introduced ourselves and learned we were the only two on the tour that evening. This has happened to us many times on tours. Maybe we’re just lucky, or it’s because we often go on mid-week tours during the off-season, so there’s more chance of it being mostly empty. Either way, Robin was excited to show us his Los Angeles and we were able to do a personalized tour. He said we could see more if we didn’t actually stop at many places, which we agreed to, as we’d been pretty much walking non-stop for 7 days.

Our drive to the city included learning about Robin’s background and how his history interweaves with that of L.A.’s history. He’s lived there almost his whole life and knows more about Los Angeles than I know about pretty much anything. Los Angeles is the only major city separated by mountains and the only one where the main water source (the L.A. River) drastically changed its course. The river was prone to overflowing and flooding the city, so an aqueduct was built to make it twice as wide and twice as deep. This greatly improved the flow of the river and the safety of locals.

Photos of Echo Park, Los Angeles

This photo of Echo Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Echo Park Lake under construction
On our tour, Robin taught us about the people who the major streets are named after – Mulholland, Bandini, Crenshaw, Pico and Sepulveda. We then drove to the Echo Park area where Hollywood started with movies like Keystone Kops and Charlie Chaplin’s first film, Making a Living. In this area, known as Edendale, is the park where the show Gilligan’s Island was filmed. While I wish I had gotten to see it in the daytime, I was able to get some great glimpses of the island with the tropical trees that was the main set for one of my favorite classic shows. At the moment, the park is under construction and they are planning to turn it into a great hang-out spot for locals that will enjoy its former glory mixed with modern touches, including nearby shops and restaurants. It gives me an excuse to return to Hollywood in the future.

Robin took us to some fantastic Hollywood hotspots, including the El Pollo Loco where Brad Pitt once worked as the guy in the chicken suit to bring in patrons and the beginning of Hollywood that is marked by five lovely Hollywood mavens: Mae West, Dolores Del Rio, Dorothy Dandridge and Anna May Wong are topped by a tiny Marilyn Monroe. We then passed by Paramount Studios and Century City, which is where Fox Studios resides and you can see the bridge from Planet of the Apes and the building where Die Hard was filmed.

Building where Die Hard was filmed
Riding along with Robin was like hanging out with a friend. He told us about the good old days when Hollywood was just starting out and execs moved their houses to the city from New Jersey, so they could film year-round and asked us questions along the way, so the tour was more of a conversation. When we had our own questions, he would answer them in a way that it turned into a story and then segue it back to what he was originally talking about. Because he used to make successful documentary films years ago, and was also in the theater, he had an inside view of the inner workings of the studios and their owners in the early days.

We had a wonderful time on our tour and were a little sad to see it end. We learned more in three hours than we did in three days and I would highly recommend taking it or a similar tour while in Los Angeles. Reserve123 did all the work for me in setting it up, all I had to do was call and confirm with VIP once I arrived in Anaheim. They have the same tour that picks up at different points in L.A. as well. If you have a large travel group, this would be an excellent activity, but it’s also great for just a few of you. We always have fun chatting with other people on our tours – if there are any.

Jim Henson Company
Reserve123 only works with reputable tour companies and once you book your tour through them, all that’s left to do is confirm directly with the company closer to your tour date and have a good time. Bring your camera for all the fun stuff you’ll see along the way. Also, with the holidays coming up, a unique city tour makes a great gift for the person on your list that seems to have everything. If you aren’t sure which one they would like, you can even buy them a gift card to use at Reserve123.com. With Christmas right around the corner, you might want to book a tour or activity to get yourself or your relatives out of the house for an afternoon, so you aren’t spending 24/7 with friends and family that may be driving you a little crazy.

We plan to book more tours through Reserve123, not least of which they are awesome, but they are also affordable and there is a huge variety to choose from in each city. If you missed my last review of how we were tourists in our own city on the Historic Portland Boat Tour, make sure you go check it out. I’m eyeing the Food Cart Tour next and will likely check out Reserve123 first when we travel in the future.

If you want to see the extensive list of tours and activities available for your home area and your vacation destination(s), check out Reserve123’s website. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: I received a free tour for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

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