A Travellerspoint blog

Los Angeles/Southern California - Day 3

Halloween. Hollywood Style.

sunny 70 °F

Well, Halloween is here so what better time than now for a TIMMY TAKEOVER! This is my favorite time of the year, so being in California I really wanted the day to be special. We took our time in the morning. We have a nice little kitchen in our unit, so Julie cooked up a small breakfast. Our resort is literally 300ft from Sunset Beach and there is also an ecological preserve close by, so we decided to take a morning stroll down the beach and through the preserve before heading out for the day. The preserve is huge, with all kinds of birds and small wildlife (apparently ground squirrels DO exist). The highlight though was the costumed kayak tour we witnessed, complete with a T-Rex trying to paddle with those little arms.

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After a relaxing morning, we headed up to Los Angeles where we had a full day planned. We were hungry when we arrived and found a cool sandwich shop called Fat Sal’s. Apparently it has been featured somewhere on the Food Network, but we weren’t aware of that until after. The menu is quite overwhelming, with tons of appealing choices. With our upcoming plans for the day we didn’t want to eat too heavy. So we played it safe with Julie ordering a chicken cesar wrap and me the ham and cheese hero. Both had their own unique extras on top and were delicious.

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With full bellies, we headed over to Hollywood Center Studios for our first event of the day: a live taping for the Halloween episode of @midnight! I’m a HUGE fan of the show and watch it every week. For those of you unfamiliar with this Comedy Central series, it airs 4 nights a week and is hosted by Chris Hardwick. Each episode features three different comedians who compete in a quasi gameshow, slinging jokes based on current trending topics. This particular episode featured comedians Moshe Kasher, April Richardson, and Kevin Pereira, all decked out in their Halloween costume best. We were sat in the second row, so we were close enough to not miss a thing and for my hoots, hollers, and laughter to likely make it on air. The show airs the night it is taped so the subject matter can remain topical. Though the waiting process to get into the show was lengthy (and this is with us having advanced tickets), overall we had a blast. The show was hilarious and it was really cool to see how the taping process worked.

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We had several hours to kill between the taping and our next event, so we decided to make an obligatory tourist stop at the nearby Chinese Theater and Walk of Fame. You always hear about the crazies hanging around this area, so what better than Halloween to visit! Expecting a ramp up in the strange department this holiday, we were treated to just that. It was hard to decipher who was dressed up for Halloween and who just dressed up for a Monday. Lunatics aside, we enjoyed looking around the sidewalks at the stars and the hand/footprints in front of the theater. Julie was delighted to find her two favorite leading men (Vin Deisel and The Rock) were placed right next to each other by the theater entrance.

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After the sights (and unfortunate smells) on Hollywood Boulevard, we decided to grab some food. On our walk we stumbled upon an outside concert taping for the Jimmy Kimmel Live show. Who was it you ask? None other than Alice Cooper! It was like a little Halloween miracle! The show was closed off to pre-ticketed guests, but we joined several people gathered outside the gate to listen and catch glimpses through the fence. We would have never noticed, but someone out there mentioned Johnny Depp was guesting on guitar. I peaked through the fence and wouldn’t you know it there was that Captain Jack Sparrow smile right up on stage. The short set finished up with an awesome version of “I’m Eighteen”. An awesome happy accident that we happened to be walking by for this. Next we headed over to Mel’s Dine In for dinner. Every year in Florida we would attend Universal’s Halloween Horror nights, and they have a replica of this diner there which we frequented. So it was only fitting on Halloween night that we hit up one of the originals. I had the three-way slider platter and Julie had the open-faced hot turkey sandwich. The food was good and the milkshakes were great.

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Last on the agenda for the night was the Paramount After Dark: Tales from the Other Side tour. Paramount Pictures is the longest operating Hollywood studio and the only major studio still headquartered in Hollywood, in their original location that was opened in 1912. They do daily daytime tours year round, but for the month of October they also conduct special nighttime tours that show a different side to the lot and also include access to the neighboring Hollywood Forever Cemetery which is usually closed to the public after 6pm. We were greeted with personalized passes and complimentary champagne as we arrived. We had about 45 minutes until our tour departure so that gave us plenty of time to read about the history of the studio, check out some of the movie props/costumes, see some actual Oscar statues the studio has won, and of course refill our champagne a few times. Unfortunately right before our tour started my champagne glass inexplicably slipped from my hand and Julie was the unlucky and rightfully unhappy target of the spill. No idea how it happened (no I was not inebriated), so as a friend of ours mentioned it must have been one of the spirits of Hollywood walking by right at that moment. Yep…I’m going with that. A few paper towels later and we were off on our tour.

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First stop was a prop room with TONS of actual film--used props, sets, and costumes that were at our disposal. Julie was especially excited about the Star Trek "lift" used in the recent movies. We could have spent the whole tour just in there, trying on costumes and playing with the props, but the tour was just getting started. We got to walk all through the dark and empty alleys of the lot and even several pitch black soundstage (including Stage 19 which is considered the most haunted), all while hearing a mix of history about the studio, some iconic and others tragic. The darkness and lack of hustle and bustle going on gave an especially eery tone to the tour. Combine that with a walk through the cemetery (which was so dark they gave us flashlights) and stories about death on the lot, and you have a perfect way to spend Halloween night.

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We were also given roses at the cemetery so we could leave them on a grave or memorial that resonated with us. Being the horror film fan that I am I just had to leave mine on the grave of Maila Nurmi, better known as tv's first horror host Vampira.

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The several hour walking tour concluded with a visit to a creepy soundstage basement where they had a dark room decorated with props from Cloverfield and Wold War Z and the best part: FREE CANDY! No matter how old you are, who doesn’t love free candy on Halloween! We stocked up on full size packages of Junior Mints, Raisinets, and Popcornopolis, and thus was the end of our tour and Halloween.

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Another TIMMY TAKEOVER in the books! Until next time... "Bad dreams, darlings." ~Vampira

Posted by juliejakicic 12:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Los Angeles/Southern California - Day 2

Huntington Beach & Balboa Peninsula

semi-overcast 70 °F

This morning we got up early and headed to Bruxie for breakfast on a recommendation from a co-worker. They serve everything in waffles!! I had the egg, bacon and cheese waffle sandwich, Tim had the egg, sausage and cheese sandwich. Oh my gosh....they were so good. They had open-air seating which was great for people watching.

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The restaurant was in Huntington Beach so after breakfast we walked a bit through town and then headed across the street to the beach and low and behold, it was a dog beach! It's the largest dog beach we've ever seen. I wish we could have brought our guys. They would have loved it. There were dogs of all shapes and sizes! I think there may be as many dogs as Prius' in California. Maybe even more than Colorado, which is saying something. We walked the beach for a while and ran into what looked to be a surf contest. That was neat, but when you don't know a lot about surfing it's hard to tell who won.

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I wasn't feeling well so we stopped back at our place for a mid-morning, much needed nap. Later that afternoon we headed to Balboa Peninsula, also on a recommendation. What a beautiful town! We strolled out onto a pier and watched people fishing. On our way back we passed some unmanned poles, one of which had a fish on and was about to go over. I grabbed it and yelled for the guy at the end of the pier (I thought it was his). He said it wasn't. I started reeling and out of the pier diner came two men running. They finished the rest - it was a little mackerel! Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

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After that excitement we headed to Main Steet to check out the shops and get some taffy for our family that recommended coming to Balboa. We had to get a little for ourselves too.....candy corn taffy, red velvet taffy, cupcake taffy, cinnamon bun taffy, maple bacon taffy, chicken and waffles taffy, butter popcorn taffy, pumpkin pie taffy. That's about it. (Name that movie) We also stopped into a sports bar for some pizza and California beer. Before we left Balboa Peninsula we drove down to the end and snaked through the streets to see the homes. So beautiful!

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On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in Huntington Beach so Tim could shop for surf brands that are hard to find in Colorado. I sat outside and petted the numerous dogs :-) I wasn't out there for 2 minutes and some guy came up to me to tell me that Jesus loves me. Weirdo. Magnet.

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We rushed back to the hotel in order to watch The Walking Dead and as it turns out, it's not on here until 9pm! That's about it for today - nothing super exciting, but tomorrow we have BIG plans. It's Halloween....you just wait....

Posted by juliejakicic 19:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Los Angeles/Southern California - Day 1

Venice Beach

semi-overcast 77 °F

Welcome to California! Home of the Prius!

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We landed at LAX early afternoon, jumped in our rental car and headed straight for Venice beach. It was a semi-overcast day but any day at the beach is better than one without. Our first stop? Fish tacos. Aside from Prius', expect this as a theme. Have you ever seen the move "I Love You, Man"? Remember the scene where Sydney and Peter had fish tacos? The restaurant exists and it's called James Beach. We quote the movie often so we HAD to stop in. Tim had the four cheese grilled cheese with bacon and I had the mahi mahi tacos. They were good, especially the tortillas, but I have to say they weren't the best I've ever had. I'll have to keep taste testing while we are here.

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After our bellies were full, we headed to the beach to walk it off. Even though there was a cool breeze and not much sun, the sand was so warm. We strolled down the beach, watched the surfers, took some pictures of the surf breaking over the rocks, checked out the skate park and saw some double-jointed street performers. We were so impressed with the street art/wall murals all over Venice! The architecture was also very pretty.

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I have to say, Venice in general was a lot dirtier and smellier than I was expecting. Maybe more eclectic? Like, muscle beach is a real thing. Really?! Since I love the show House Hunters and there was an episode in Venice, I insisted we drive down the canal section of town to see the beautiful houses and serene canals. They more than made up for the dirty beach scene. Before we left Venice, we stopped in Firestone Walker Brewing Co. for drinks. Tim has had their beer and wanted to taste what was available only in their taproom. The brewery was on a main drag, so we sipped our drinks and pointed out Prius after Prius. I think you must get one with your California driver license.

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We wrapped up Venice, exhausted from traveling, and headed to our residence for the week: Beso Del Sol in Huntington Beach. It's set up kind of like a motel but it's made up really nice. There is a nice size kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom with armoire. The bathroom has Bath & Body Works products! But the most important part, we're only a block from the beach!!! At first glance, Huntington Beach looks really nice. We'll find out more soon!

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Before we called it a night, we needed a quick dinner. Tim has been so anxious to try In 'n Out - it's a fast food burger joint. Their menu is SO simple: burgers, fries, shakes. That's it. Easy to make a decision! We can see why people rave about this place - the burgers were great and so was the chocolate milkshake. I have a feeling we'll be hitting up In 'n Out a time or two more before we leave.

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Tomorrow - who knows! The people who plan everything don't have a plan for tomorrow. We shall wait and see!

Posted by juliejakicic 21:28 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Iceland - Day 9

Reykjavik

sunny 52 °F

Well now we know why most businesses in Reykjavik are either open really late or are closed on Sundays. The "oonce, oonce, oonce" beats were going well into the early morning hours today. I guess when you oonce until almost 5am, you're not in a hurry to get to the grocery store or the mall. Regardless, this was our last morning in Iceland so we wanted to fit in a few more things before heading to the airport. After a quick hotel breakfast we headed to Reykjavik Roasters. We read about this coffee shop in several travel articles, claiming it to be the best in Iceland. It has won several awards and been recognized throughout Europe. Tim was very pleased with his Kaffi Latte.

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After the roasters we headed out to see the lighthouse at the edge of the city. Though access to the lighthouse was closed off due to bird breeding grounds, we explored the beautiful beach area. It was very peaceful and almost felt like we were back in the Icelandic countryside. I can see why many people from the city come out there to walk/bike and get away from the noise. It was also a great place for bird watchers.

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We hopped back in the car and decided to take the scenic route towards the airport through Heiðmörk, a conservation park located 30 minutes outside of the city. It was a pretty drive, though most of the landscape was just starting to bloom. I imagine it is much more beautiful during summer months.

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The road through the park dropped us off by the town of Hafnarfjörður, which is the third most populated city in the country. Located there is the "famous" Viking Hotel & Restaurant, so we planned to stop there for lunch. Unfortunately the restaurant only opens in the evening. The woman working the front desk recommended a restaurant a block away, so we looked at the interesting viking artwork around the hotel and made our way over to Von Mathús restaurant. They were in the middle of a Sunday brunch buffet, but the selections were more unique and local than what we've experienced so far so figured it would be a fitting last meal in Iceland. Cream of celery soup, fish pie, brazed lamb shank, and so on. Tim really enjoyed the soup even though he's not a fan of celery, and many of the selections were quite tasty. There was also several desserts, one of which tasted like a sweet cream cheese with black sugar rocks.

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While in Hafnarfjörður, we made a quick stop at Bonus grocery store to pick up various Icelandic candies to take home. Luckily the store was open by that point and all the ooncers were able to make it into work. The Keflavik airport is located 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik, so we hit the highway as our Icelandic adventure was coming to a close. We've noticed the street lights in Iceland are the opposite of the US. Red....Yellow....Green. I guess the yellow is to warn you the light is about to turn green? At the airport we made a point to stop in the Duty Free store at the airport. Julie had read about a delicious handcrafted Icelandic vodka called Reyka, and Habba had recommended it to us as well, so we wanted to pick up a bottle to take home. We were delighted to see that we were flying home in Icelandair's Hekla Aurora plane, their main plane in the fleet. A perfect end to a perfect trip.

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We loved our time in Iceland and look forward to going back to explore the northern part of the country, as well as the Westfjords. Every day was a unique adventure, and would recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to visit Iceland not to hesitate. Until our next adventure...

Posted by juliejakicic 06:52 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Iceland - Day 8

Reykjavik

overcast 51 °F

Well you asked for it and you got it. Due to popular demand it's time for a TIMMY TAKEOVER - ICELAND EDITION!
It was our last full day in Iceland. We grabbed breakfast in the hotel, then went out to explore. Our hotel is in the perfect location, within a short walk from most of the areas in Reykjavik that we wanted to see. After checking out a few shops (and contemplating a purchase of a Where's Waldo t-shirt) it was time for my appointment.

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I love tattoos, and several years ago I decided that every time we visit a new country I am going to get a new one from a local artist there. On this trip I was lucky enough to get an appointment with Habba Nero, an extremely talented handpoke artist who works out of Íslenzka Húðflúrstofan (Icelandic Tattoo Corp). I booked the appointment months in advance, which turned out to be an excellent idea as the shop is closed on weekends. On this particular Saturday, however, Habba and her boyfriend Boff (who also works at the shop and is a handpoke artist) came to the shop for just a few scheduled appointments. This was my first time getting a handpoke tattoo and I was very excited. I wanted to get something to remind me of my time in Iceland and thought about various ideas, but up until yesterday could not settle on anything in particular. After seeing the Minke off the beach in Jökulsárlón, I was leaning toward some sort of whale tattoo. When we were visiting the Whales of Iceland exhibit in Reykjavik, at one point I looked up and saw a Minke whale skeleton hanging above me. The view of the skull/jaw from underneath was beautiful and unique, and I thought it might make an interesting tattoo. Habba agreed and set off to come up with a design.

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After helping decide the correct placement of the tattoo on my arm and watching things get started, it was time for Julie to hit the streets. She didn't plan on just sitting in the shop waiting for me for several hours. Instead, she made a stop to the most famous hot dog stand in the country: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu. These hot dogs are made from pork, beef, and lamb. It comes with ketchup, Icelandic mustard, remoulade, raw onion, and crispy fried onion. Though Julie did not partake in the onions, she said it was delicious. After the hot dog pit stop, Julie went to the local Flea Market which only runs on the weekends. The flea market was filled with various jewelry, sweaters, food, etc. She made a few purchases then decided to stop back to check in on the tattoo progress. The shop was not far from the Sun Voyager statue, so she headed there. The statue, a tribute to viking ships, sits right along the water. From there, she looked in a few more shops nearby and picked up a snack at Reykjavik Chips, which had really tasty garlic dipping sauce.

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Handpoke is much less invasive than machine tattooing, so the after-care will be minimal and healing time shortened. After almost 3 hours worth of tattooing, it was time to see the final work. I am extremely pleased with the final product, and am so glad I was able to have Habba complete a piece for me. She and Boff may be stateside in the fall, so I might just need to find them and get some more work done.

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After several food-less hours of tattooing, I was getting pretty hungry. So it was my turn at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu. I opted for everything on it, and I was not disappointed. Super tasty, and would definitely go back for more. We stopped back into the flea market so I could look around, then headed back to our hotel. A nap was definitely in order if we wanted to stay out for our last night in Iceland. One odd observation we've noticed this week is the lack of an older generation. Almost every local we've seen has been young. One reference that came up is in relation to how the country has a "Children of the Corn" feel, especially looking at the young workforce.

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Upon a recommendation from Habba, we had dinner at Rossopomodoro. After such a great Italian dinner experience last night, we thought it would be worth trying again tonight. We were not disappointed. Who would have known that the two best Italian restaurants we've ever eaten at would be in Iceland? One thing we've noticed in all restaurants in the country is how no one takes home leftovers. Literally not one doggy bag spotted our entire trip. I guess eating leftovers here is frowned upon?

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After dinner we headed to see the Hallgrímskirkja church located nearby. This is one of the most beautiful churches I've every seen. Unfortunately it was closed and we could not go inside. So we walked around and took pictures as the sun was lowering in the sky. Habba recommended we stop at the nearby sculpture garden with works by Einar Jónsson. The work was very impressive, and in some cases disturbing, with several works dating back to the early 1900's.

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Next we stopped at Paradís, an ice cream shop nearby. Apparently ice cream is a big deal in Iceland, with most locals eating ice-cream on a daily basis. Even with the dropping temperatures, people can be seen walking around with their ice cream cups and cones. Julie was still full up from dinner, but I had no problem ordering a few scoops of caramel ice-cream in a waffle cone.

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With dinner and dessert in the books we decided to settle in at Dillon, a whisky bar on the main street of Laugavegur, not far from our hotel. We found a small table in the back, prefect for people watching. With it being our last night in Iceland we wanted to stay out for a while and enjoy the nightlife. Barring Julie's first drink of a watered down whisky and soda, we had a good time. The bar did not start getting crowded until almost midnight. That's also when the DJ started playing classics like "American Pie" that had the crowd singing along to the lyrics. It was still rather light out when we decided to call it a night at around 1am. Even after 7 days it's still hard to get used to it being light for 24 hours.

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Well that brings an end to the TIMMY TAKEOVER - ICELAND EDITION. We fly out late afternoon tomorrow, so maybe a few more sights to be seen before we call it a wrap on our incredible week.

Posted by juliejakicic 02:35 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

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