LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles officials announced Monday that the City of Angels set a record of visitors with 45.5 million in 2015. This past weekend, my college friend and Dallas native, Janelle Marshallick and I, joined the record-setting numbers. The trip westward had been almost eight months in the making buying our flight there in July of 2015.
The flight from Philadelphia to LAX, included a layover and de-icing in Denver, Colorado. The seatmate next to us, who was going skiing with his brother in Bolder told us as we landed, “It’s funny, I live in Philadelphia and this is the first snow I’ve seen all season.” He was right, it was the first snow we’d seen too.
We finally got to LAX around 3 p.m. PST (6 p.m. EST) on Jan. 7. We kept our eyes and ears open for celebrities in the airport, but we weren’t lucky. The airport wasn’t as hectic as people build it up to be. We had to take a shuttle about 2 miles off airport grounds to get to the rental place — where the line was out the door. After waiting until close to 4:15 p.m. we got our Nissan Sentra and went to check in at our hotel.
Janelle made it a point to take scenic street routes around LA, I preferred the freeways. Thankfully, we took Holly, my GPS to help us out. We drove past the Forum and the California Science Center among other little small towns – reminding us of home.
The first real impression we had of Los Angles, and California in general, was our hotel. We decided Stay on Main in downtown Los Angeles. We checked in around 6:30 p.m. Thursday and the hotel staff was incredibly nice from the moment we walked in to the time we checked out — 5:30 a.m. Monday.
We were ready to explore from the moment we got off the plane, so after freshening up at the hotel, we decided to go to Taste Chicago, in Burbank. It’s run by Jo Williams and Arlene Vrhel (the wife of Criminal Minds actor, Joe Mantegna). It’s a corner place, very Chicago-centric. Deep dish pizza and stuffed shells later, we were off to a great start.
We decided to tackle the nearly-two mile Walk of Fame at night. I was supposed to talk to Ana Martinez, media relations for the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in person, but thanks to the de-icing in Denver, we had to email. Nonetheless, she was very gracious.
“I really had no idea what the Walk of Fame was” Martinez said about when she started 27 years ago. “It wasn’t as popular as it is now. “
We saw some of Janelle’s favorite’s stars: Celine Dion and Fleetwood Mac.
Then we found mine: Kevin Spacey, Joe Mantegna and Judy Garland.
It’s definitely a small world at the Walk of Fame. Janelle and I ran into Shickshinny natives, Heather Hufford and Kathryn Kalbach, who were also visiting LA.
“The star is the only award a celebrity can share with a fan. It is out in the public, not on a mantle or bookshelf,” Martinez said. “It is here that their fave celeb may have stood back in the day.”
Friday brought more sightseeing. Janelle and I heard a lot about the Grove, which is a shopping area, similar to the Shoppes at Montage, hosting stores like Michael Kors, Topshop and American Girl. We decided on the Metro, LA’s public transit for the 10-mile venture. After lunch at The Original Farmer’s Market (next to the Grove). That night, we spotted the Hollywood sign, the Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Wilshire, Rodeo Drive and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s $70 million estate.
Janelle and I split up on Saturday. She went to a few beaches, I went on a tour of the University of Southern California, with Sarah Twilley, a friend of mine who goes to USC. Not doing my research, I didn’t realize the Shrine Auditorium was next to USC. Thumbs up for running into things I didn’t expect. I took the car and did a bit of sightseeing for the afternoon going into the Sherman and Thousand Oaks parts of California. A driver of local I-81, the six-lane freeways in California are a bit terrifying.
Sunday was our biggest day: We had tickets for a taping of “The Price is Right.” Unfortunately, I can’t say much about the taping, except we had fun and remember to look for us on April 14. After spending the majority of the day at the taping, we decided to do what any 20-somethings would: dinner at Pink Taco then we stayed up all night looking for celebrities. The Golden Globes were happening after all. We saw Rob Lowe, Julie Chen and Leslie Moonves, and my personal favorite, Rami Malek.
Our whirlwind California vacation drew to a close and at 3:30 a.m., we packed up, checked out and went to the Bob Hope Airport. We had a layover in Las Vegas and were back on Pennsylvania soil by 6:30 p.m. Monday evening.
Thankfully, the weather wasn’t cold or rainy, as it had been days before our arrival. It was 60 degrees and sunny (except for the 10-minute rain shower Saturday night).
Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko