Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Contiki Vacation Cont'd

July 20

Got up at 8am, now I am not sure why I did as the tour ended and I had till Noon to get out of the room if I did not then I would not have gotten to Claudia at the time I did. So I left my luggage in the room and grabbed a taxi to Enterprise and got my rental car. Went back to the hotel and picked up my luggage and checked out – as there was no way I was going to bring my luggage to enterprise on the taxi and besides I did have the room till noon so it all worked out good. 

Took a while for my GPS to find any satellites but it finally did and then I was on my way ;-) On my word I can not believe I am driving in Los Angeles… It is not as bad as people say it is, except for Downtown is a nightmare but on the Freeway’s, Sure there is lots of traffic but it is not overly a lot. 

Got my luggage and checked out – Set out for Glendora and picked up Brooke. Then we were on route for Anaheim.. Contiki offices here I come, to introduce myself to Claudia (the one who interviewed me for the TM position within Canada. Just wanted to introduce myself that is all) Now I just have to go to the Toronto Offices… ;-)

From there we went to Newport Beach… I love this community, area of California ( it is probably one of my favorites). But man oh man it was so hard to find a parking spot. Walked around and there was some places for sale, took pictures of them with my blackberry (since I no longer had a camera, but a blackberry camera is very good quality, so i did not mind) One place is on the market, believe it or not for 3 MILLION dollars, private dock, private beach… it is a very nice looking place. Found a place to eat off of the Balboa Pier, Now they know how to fill your plate – I could not eat it all though but it was very good. 

Driving back to Glendora.. was not to bad, Traffic was as what you expected it would be but everyone is still moving at a decent speed. Only thing is if when you are in the car pool lane and your GPS says turn right in so many metres… it was hard to get over so later I just stayed on the far right so it would be easier. Car pool lane does not make any difference. It goes a little faster but not much. 

Went out for Thai… (Brooke and I first went out for Thai when we met eachother in San Francisco on our Contiki Tour, so she only thought It was right)….  Thai Derm Cuisine

Played Beer Pong for the first time… how do you cope after a contiki tour? Lol 

July 21 

That beer did not have a good after taste in the morning, so much beer… I think my drinking days are starting to get behind me and ready for a career… Wait did I just say that and I am only in my 20s… 

Today is the day… tonight show with Jay Leno, that was the coolest thing ever. The stage seemed smaller than how it appears on television. I sat right across from the band – very good band if I might add. Was rocking out during the breaks. Some of Jay’s jokes were funny but overall not that much. Sorry Jay leno. You are still an awesome person. Burbank California easy enough to navigate around. 

Afterwards we went to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (this cemetery, the oldest in Los Angeles was established in 1899 and by the 1930s, it was the hot resting spot for Hollywood’s movers and shakers. In 1926 when Rudolph Valentino’s casket was c arried into the mausoleum, 80,000 fans jammed the grounds to get a glimpse of the fallen idol. Other residents include Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Cecil B Demille, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Jayne Mansfield, “Alfalfa” and “Darla” from the Little Rascals; and Mel Blanc, whose famous epitaph reads “that’s all, folks.”) 

We had no idea who these people were so we went on our way and drove the roundabout road up to Griffith Observatory by the time we got up there it was dark enough to seen Saturn. It would have been better if we went during the day that way we could actually see everything, it was too crowded with kids. But really it was my brothers type of thing not mine. 

Damien drove the car back to Arcadia Mall (where we met to go to Jay Leno Taping) as he had to pick up his motorcycle and because I am not used to driving downtown Los Angeles at night, it is already pretty bad during the day, I could only imagine it at night. As we got home we were all pretty tired and tried to stay up and watch Jay Leno to see if we could see ourselves but we were all falling asleep so we shut the television off. 

July 22 

Six Flags … Bought a ‘go big go six flags cup’ where you get refills ALL DAY for free which was nice because I needed a lot of water – as we were in the desert, it was quite warm out. Rode most of the maximum thrill roller coasters which weren’t really so thrilled but they were still a lot of fun.

That night we went out to a Piano Bar... PianoPiano Dueling Pianos! in Glendora.

Afterwards went to IN n OUT Burger... I liked it better when i was in San Francisco and i literally went In and Out of the Burger Joint. I just do not eat meat anymore.
July 23

Got back to the Hotel at check in time (1pm) so we just chilled and relaxed in the morning. I just ended up keeping the car till Monday as by the time I got to the hotel and got my room and tried to find the enterprise in west Hollywood to return the car it was closed, driving Downtown Los Angeles is very confusing. So I kept the car in the hotel parking ground in self park. It was a very nice room. Big double sized bed with a flat screen television where I watched movies and slept. 

It was just a take it easy day.

July 24

Actually got to sleep in somewhat, do not think I have done for a while. Later went down to the computers and learned that Tim got to the Hotel a little too late after his tour left on the coach, so we met up and walked to union station and to the beginning of Chinatown. Found where all the homeless sleeps – on top of Los Angeles Mall (so now you know here to avoid). Union Station is neat… went back to the hotel to use the computer and found the nearest Tmobile so Tim could get a sim card. As we were walking, did you know there is a wedding chapel 2 blocks away from the Contiki Hotel (Kyoto Grand Hotel). Then met in the hotel lounge for drinks where I had my third and final Bradhattan on the trip, being my last night in Los Angeles. Then the Contiki Tour Manager showed up in the lounge and Tim got to sign up for his optionals… met another contiki traveler.. 

While using the computer, Matthew came in and I was about to head up to my room when we started talking and ended up back at the lounge (he was on the grand southern , finished around the time I finished my tour) So you could say I had met more people this contiki than my first Tour. So every time I tried to go up to my room that night to relax, I got distracted and ended up talking to someone. 

It was just another take it easy day.

Overall it was a great time <3 Defiantly a different pace from a New Years Tour.

Next Trip: London & Paris New Year Contiki ... 5 months!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

La Explorer... Contiki Holiday

July 16
Waited for the supershuttle for a long time for the downtown shuttle, many shuttle's were coming and going but not the one I needed to take me to the Kyoto Grand Hotel – if it was not so damn expensive for a taxi, it would have been somewhat quicker to take a taxi, but not really.

Walked into the Kyoto and boy was it a nice hotel… Went up to the front desk and checked in – my roommate was already there and Richo – so I just dropped off my luggage and met up with them. Went down to the Hotel Lounge and had a drink. I made the bartender make me a Bradhattan... I had to instruct him how to make it! Others started to arrive – George was like, ah people that look familiar.

We all stayed in the lounge until 7pm when Kelly our Tour Manager showed up (yay our tour manager showed up, last Contiki our TM didn’t. Sorry Monte). 26 people in the group so another decent sized group for a Contiki tour. Monte only had 9 people on his tour, poor Monte.

After the meeting, some of us went to LA live by hotel shuttle and ate at WolfGang Puck Bar & Grill for a late supper. Across from the Staple Center. They do not put much on your plate, kind of disappointed. 5 round pasta for $17.00 and it did not even fill me up and I am not a big eater to start with.
July 17
7:30am – had a walking tour with Mike the Poet. Well done. He really knew the city. I would show you pictures from the walking tour but unfortunately my camera got lost. But it is okay I am over it. As soon as fellow tour mates post up pictures I will “burrow” some of theirs. 

10am – We got on the coach and John took us ALL over the city. (And Contiki is going to get rid of the TM position next year and only have a Hotel Rep? Nooo!!! We need the TM) the one day on the coach is only way we got to see the Entire City of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas… Hollywood… West Hollywood… Beverly Hills… Santa Monica… Venice Beach…Rodeo Drive (man that is an expensive place to shop, some stores you do not come out without spending at least 10,000) It is hard to see them all other wise! As we were rolling into Venice Beach, Kelly warned us that we might see people dealing drugs or smoking a joint. So as we got off the bus, what did I see, yes that is right someone smoking a joint. You either like Venice or you Hate it, and i am not fond of the place. Not very good first impression it brings. But do not take my word for it, visit it for yourself. It is still worth experiencing. We had to leave one fellow behind in Venice Beach because he was late and did not show back up at the coach. We had about an hour and a half to get ready for Dinner and the Pub Crawl. Oh My Word… was that fun, went to four clubs in total and at the second club, i also had to instruct the bartender on how to make a Bradhattan! I really enjoyed the last club we went to... Rooftop, pool, dancing, private booths, etc… real Hollywood style. (Belinda and I wanted to leave, but George wouldn't allow us to and bought us a drink)

July 18
Movie star homes – Sorry to say but it was not worth it. Everyone’s house is covered in trees and their driveways are blocked off with gates. The Van Driver was like over there is David Beckham’s Chimney, and over there is Jennifer Aniston’s Roof. Not very exciting. Some of the fellow tour mates were scrolling through their pictures afterwards and it was pretty much gate after gate after gate, not remembering whose it was so delete, delete, delete they went.

The Hollywood Sign was cool but not overly awesome... the Tour bus from movie star homes did not get us that close to it. But it was still cool to see it.

Found Johnny Depp's hand and foot prints <3 at the Chinese Theatre... So i "touched" his hands :-) I had a picture but now all i have is the memory of "touching" Johnny Depp.. ha ha

Ate lunch at Johnny Rockets (old diner style) with Ruth and Sarah. Then walked around and got Ruth a SD card so she could take more pictures.  Hopped onto Hop on Hop off Hollywood bus…yah with the being on the coach with Kelly pointing out all the spots, do not really need to do hop on hop off Hollywood. Driving down Hollywood and was like I know... I have seen this stuff 4 times already and I know whose club is whose and who started out at the Laugh factory, etc. Santa Monica Hop on Hop off was more beneficial.
Ruth, Sarah and I hopped off at Santa Monica. It was yet another very long day... and by the end of it I was getting super tired so I left the two girls on Melrose Avenue and grabbed a taxi and went back to the hotel.

July 19
Universal Studios… Oh man, so much better than Disneyland. I had no idea the Studio lot was as big as it was. Studios Tour was my favorite. There was actually a filming going on… but not sure for what but the cast was waving and of course I waved back. 

We arrived at the park as it was opening so we were able to purchase the front of line pass – if you ever go to Universal Studios, buy it! It is so worth the $72.00 and you get to skip the line ups and do the ride quicker. Jurassic Park Ride was fun especially on a hot day because at the end of it there is a large splash that gets everyone wet. Went on that about four times, as it was a very warm day and that was a fun way to get cooled off. Simpson’s Ride was fun “Maggie don’t put the tourists in your mouth” so as she spit us out, “spit” water came flying out at us. Mummy ride, had no idea what was going to happen, so dark! Shrek 4D was not worth the time to see, Studio tour took 1 hour but so worth it. NBC universal, the experience where you go behind the scenes of Universal's film legacy in this interactive exhibit featuring authentic props, wardrobe and artifacts from past, present and upcoming universal productions. Remember from Little Fockers, where Greg helps the new drug Surtango, well the box was there on display, so that was cool to see)

Studio Tour – New York set, London set, Wild West set, etc and what I really liked as we drove through the different sets they showed on the TV screens the movies that were filmed at each location on the lot so that way you could see how it was brought to life and gather a glimpse of it all. Got to see a demonstration of how they do fast car scenes (like the one in fast and the furious). Desperate housewife set, which was really cool to see. 

Shopped a little for souvenirs by the end of it. Left the park at 3:30-4pm. Where we arrived at 9am so we were there for a Full day’s worth. 

Tanya and Richo went to the Grammy museum; I stayed behind to rest up as it was a long day in the sun. And at 9pm we had our Tour’s departure drinks in the lounge. Sad how short the tour is, meet so many great friends in a short period of time and then have to say good bye so soon.  Majority of the group went out to sunset and Hollywood to clubs… I stayed behind (and had yet another Bradhattan, and still had to instruct the bartender how to make it) and sat with Emily and the others who stayed at the hotel.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Plane Ride to LA

Saturday July 16 - 8:22am flying over the mountains

9:13am - by the looks of it we have cross over into the states

Airplane washrooms: sink you have to hold button with thumb while you wash your hands with soap, it does not stay running.

Water and cold airplane not a good combination, especially if you have the the window seat.  Were almost to San Francisco.

10:14am - making our way into San Francisco Airport
Time change really affects you in the air even if it is only an 2 hour flight, which is really three hours Edmonton to San Francisco as we turn our clocks back an hour mid air.

11:13am - boarding flight B767-300 3 cabin it is torture having to walk through first class and business class. flat screen about 12" for each seat and we get a 6" screen maybe even smaller. we are getting screwed. Found a Buena vista cafe in the airport but i did not have enough time to try a Irish Coffee so when i return I will make sure i do.

12:00pm - noon - back in the air on route to los angeles. Still no see Golden gate bridge - damn overcast weather. 53 minutes to los angeles. and the douche in front of me put his chair back... F him! LOL. There isnt much leg room to begin with.

12:33pm - dozing off and on in the plane very uncomfortable. I bet business class and first class are enjoying their leg room. Flying side by side pacific ocean. what a sight, first i got to drive it then i get to fly it.

15 mins arriving in los angeles and it is 12:40pm

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Day 9 (until i leave)

Well folks we have made it through the countdown... It is officially down to the single digits. I will try and hold my excitement in while i write.

Step One in the packing process...

organizing your clothes.. No it is not packing, it is Organizing.
Laying out your clothes, making certain outfits that you see yourself wearing each day on vacation. That way you pack enough.


Print out bus maps of the certain area you want to see. So you know where you are going.


Make sure your electronics are charged. Camera, Ipod, etc that you plan on taking with you.
My ipod have been dead for the longest time, thats how often i use it. So i plugged it in the wall this morning making sure its full of battery power.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Day 10 (until i leave)

Another day closer... what else is there to do you may ask! You may not think there is alot to do but it all depends on how well prepared you want to be and what type of traveler you are.

Make sure you do not lose your international sim card... I had a mini "heart attack" thought i lost my sim card but it turned out to be in my Contiki bag.. whew!! Then i was able to get back to sleep.

Decide on how you are going to get around the city/town. Train, Bus, Taxi. For an example, Los Angeles Taxi's are EXPENSIVE. $50.00 not including tip, from LAX to downtown Hollywood. That is why i booked my spot on the from the airport to the hotel (Kyoto Grand Hotel).

So speaking on that matter, make sure you know the bus schedules. I am googling LA Metro and pulling up all the bus maps and schedules so i know where i am going on certain buses. Does not hurt to plan ahead. Sure it is a lot more work but you will have so much fun if you do.

Another neat thing you can do, which you have not always been able to do but now that technology has advanced so much. Download Google Earth and you can actually walk around the city/town you are planning on visiting, just to give you an insight of what is there ;). It'll make you a better and safer traveler, knowing what to expect.

Enjoy <3

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Day 11 (until i leave)

Exchanging your money into the currency of the country you are going to. Earlier i was at the bank exchanging my canadian dollars into american dollars. Thank you USD for being weak, giving me more money in my pocket.

Another important thing to consider especially if you are planning on renting a car, make sure your license will not expire.
Earlier i just renewed my license. Hoping the plastic version will get to me before i leave. If not my temporary license will work just fine for driving. But that means i will have to use my passport for when i go out to the clubs which i really did not want to do but you got to do what you got to do.

Lastly, Reserve your car rental with the company you choose to rent the car from. I chose Enterprise, after searching a week for car rentals in Los Angeles. And if i stay in the state of California it is unlimited mileage, perfect and also 24 hour return, even better.

Well that seems like a enough things done for a days worth before i leave. I better go hide my US money now so not even you will find it. ;)

Monday, July 04, 2011

Day 12 (until i leave)

Day Twelve and counting down.

Bought my travel size shampoo, shaving cream, hairspray, sunscreen, toothpaste and deodorant yesterday.

Packing my amenities. Toothpaste, tooth paste, necklaces, earrings, makeup remover towelettes, feminine stuff, make up, etc.

Althought it is still a week away to your trip, you do not want to pack your clothes just yet. But what you can pack is the evening dresses that you plan to wear out to clubs. (it is Los Angeles, always got to look your best every night, never know when paparazzi is out and accidently snaps a shot of you ;) oh okay i am dreaming but it does not hurt to dream).

Booked my spot on the supershuttle from the airport to the hotel today. Was going to call Enterprise car rental but as it was ringing and no answer then i realized it was a holiday... my bad!