🌴 One week in Los Angeles (2019)

Hi! 👋 This post is part of an informal series titled Travel Throwback Tuesdays, where I recount some of the travel adventures I’ve had in the past that I haven’t yet shared on my blog. This edition continues retelling our trip last year to the States, where we visited Seattle, Portland (Oregon), and then ended our trip with a short stay in LA and then a trip to Disneyland.

If you haven’t read my previous blog posts in this series yet, check them out!

A yellow-sand beach with small pigeons standing on the sand, all spread out. In the distance is the city of Los Angeles, with a parking lot for the beach closer to the foreground. It is a sunny day with clear blue skies
Santa Monica Beach – looking back at the city 🏙️

Upon landing in LA, we picked up our rental car and headed straight for the In-N-Out Burger joint that was closest to the airport. You get a cool glimpse of airplanes flying over. I expressed my thoughts on Twitter about In-N-Out and the majority of people agreed while others didn’t, but – the burger was disappointing! I was expecting more from a burger given the hype.

An aerial view of a city as seen from an airplane. Many clouds obscure the view
A view from the plane before landing LA
A view from a small park with a few trees and paths, with an airplane flying over, quite close to the ground
A plane flying over and about to land at LAX
A red basket tray with a couple of burgers and a handful of fries, with a small tub of tomato sauce
Our order from In-N-Out

The fries were also pretty sad-looking and not great. Understandably, people have different tastes, but I just wasn’t a fan. I don’t love burgers very much, and I tend to choose ones with more “salad” and less grease. Another popular American joint, Shake Shack, is something I’d choose over In-N-Out.

Although it would be very possible to travel around LA by using rideshare like Uber, it’s not very walkable and public transport isn’t everywhere. You have a lot more freedom with a car. And I guess that’s what a lot of the locals do – they have a car. We had been to LA in 2018 but were only there for a couple of days, so we used rideshare and caught the train once, as it would not have been worth it to rent a car for such a short period of time.

A man and woman taking a selfie and smiling. The woman is wearing a denim jacket with enamel pins and the man is wearing a dark v-neck shirt. The photo is taken in low lighting.
Waiting for a table at The Cheesecake Factory

Later that evening we went to the inimitable Cheesecake Factory (at The Grove) for dinner. 😂 I might get a few laughs as a result of sharing this. But there isn’t anything at home in Australia that has the range and the actual quality and serving size that The Cheesecake Factory has. And I like their Skinnylicious menu for portions that are not that huge and have less calories. Even if I’m on a holiday I try to be a little conscious of eating well. Haha.

A open-air shopping centre from a balcony, at nighttime. Lampposts and signage provide lighting to the stores, most of which look like they are outside of trading hours.
The view of The Grove from our table

Our hotel had access to a gym, so you can bet we went there the next morning. It was our first time in almost two weeks that we hadn’t worked out. After going to the gym and getting showered, we went to Eggslut, famous for its egg burgers.

A selfie of a man and woman in front of a backdrop of a makeshift wall of roses
Nick and I taking a selfie at a random installation in the lobby of our hotel ☺️
A woman with dark hair wearing sunglasses on top of her head, taking a selfie near a yellow neon sign on a grey wall that reads “eggslut”
A neon sign in eggslut
Three egg burgers, individually served in small brown paper bags with the text “eggslut” printed on them. They are all sitting on brown paper plates on a wooden table
Yum. Nick got two burgers 👀🍳

We didn’t have that much planned for our trip in LA – just wanted to see what the locals did and browse around. 🌴 On our last trip to LA we were only there for a couple of days. We wanted to relax and take it easy, but also see any sights we missed out on last time. So we went to Santa Monica and browsed the shops and the Santa Monica Pier, after we got Philz Coffee (which we love for their mochas and chais).

Santa Monica Beach in Los Angeles, seen from the boardwalk. The sea is on the left had side and the sandy beach is on the right. The beach has many people standing in the shallow water and many with umbrellas and sitting on the sand
A beautiful view of the tide and the beach from the boardwalk
The entrance to an amusement park, called Pacific Park. It is situated on a pier. A pizza parlour sits on the left of the entrance and a coffee and tea shop on the right. The rides inside the park, and the signage, are seen to be brightly coloured
Pacific Park, an amusement park on Santa Monica Pier. We didn’t go in!
A woman in a white shirt and light coloured shorts, with her arms folded, standing against a wooden backdrop painted in royal blue.
Me 💁🏻‍♀️
A man in a white shirt and light coloured shorts, with his arms folded, standing against a wooden backdrop painted in royal blue.
Nick with the painted blue wall! I just realised we did exactly the same pose.

We drove down to Venice Beach as well, even though it was a bit of a pain looking for a parking spot. We were thinking about how it would have been very possible to walk down the beach until we got there, but it was very hot and we would certainly have to walk all the way back to our car.

A new of a beach from a boardwalk, where you can see the sea and the sand, much of which has been wet by the sea.
Venice Beach, which does connect to Santa Monica Beach
A selfie of a man and woman, both wearing white shirts and both wearing sunglasses
We also happened to wear matching outfits. 😆
An outdoor beach gym with some equipment, and some people dressed in swimwear using the equipment
Muscle Beach, that place where all the fit people hang 💪

I mentioned Shake Shack, right? 🍔 Well we ended up going there too, haha.

A silver tray served with two burgers which can be seen to be filled with bacon, tomato and lettuce. Also on the tray is a small box of crinkle cut fries, a plastic cup of lemonade, and a small saucer of tomato sauce
Shake Shack 🍔

We also did a bit of shopping since we were in need of some new clothes. We made sure to sneak a look in the outlet stores – places like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack – and also pop into every store that Australia doesn’t have! 😁 It’s probably one of the things that interests me most about the States. There is just so much available to people there that isn’t available in Australia at all. There is definitely a consumerism issue, but, still, it can be nice to have a lot of choice and variety when you shop.

Another day, another gym workout. 💪 For breakfast/brunch the next day, though, we went to Joan’s on Third and I had a corned beef potato rosti with an egg. This was a spot that Nick sought out – it was a good choice!

A plate of cooked corned beef and potato roost, served on a white plate with a poached egg on top
Corned beef and potato rosti served with an egg, from a lovely eatery called Joan’s on Third
A view down a street in LA, partially shaded by palm trees spaced out evenly on the sides of the road. The skies are blue and have no clouds
🌴 Driving through Beverly Hills

We also did the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, which required us to drive a little bit. As we drove in for parking, the man at the security booth recognised we were from Australia and asked whereabouts we were from. He was from Sydney, in the same area of Sydney too – what are the odds? 🙂

The tour was really interesting and we saw a lot of sets for films and television shows, some of which you could easily recognise because they were so well-known, but others that the tour guide pointed out as a “did you know” or “did you recognise”. I don’t watch a lot of film and television, but I still recognised some of the sets from pop culture, and some of the props that were featured in famous films. Even though I might not have watched or seen all the films and shows that were featured in the tour, I definitely knew of them at the very least.

The front of a beige coloured house with a front porch. Some trees leaves can be seen from the top. The area is well shaded
A famous house used on many film and television sets
An Aquaman costume on display on a mannequin. The cost is metallic blue and gold with shiny detail.  His trident stands next to him.
The Aquaman costume on display 🧜🏻‍♂️
A glass display with an elf character in toga-like dress
Dobby the Elf 🧝‍♂️
A dark room with a statue of the Batman character, with a spotlight light from above. Batman is looking down towards the ground. In the background are some automobiles
The Batman museum had many of Batman’s vehicles on display

The props room was packed to the brim with a huge assortment of props. The props are created, sourced, or donated. You don’t often think about props being so important but our tour guide told us that having this warehouse of props is incredibly useful because sometimes you want a very specific prop, and there are many to choose from so that you don’t have to go out trying so hard to look for something you really want or need.

A prop of six men in suits and dark sunglasses made to resemble the same character
The props room had props from the Matrix
Two dark red leather chairs shown on display signage to be famous for their use the film The Matrix
…including these famous chairs from the film
The inside of a props warehouse with many lanterns, chandeliers and other lighting.
So many lights! 💡
A shelf of many props, most of them being models of hands and heads. Shelves in the background are full as well.
Lots and lots of props
The outside of a film and television studio, with open passenger buses parked outside. In the background you can see the hills of Los Angeles, brown in colour but dotted with many trees.
You can see the hills of LA from the studios
Mannequins on display with a couple of different characters, one sitting on a couch and the other in a ballgown. A rack of clothes stands behind one mannequin. There is a kiwi-fruit-styled cushion on the couch.
Costumes from Crazy Rich Asians

The only show that I probably watched with true dedication and saw on the tour was The Big Bang Theory. 😀 The set had to be reconstructed for the tour.

A television stage set with various props and neon signs. In the centre of frame is a large old couch with two people sitting in it, posed for a photo
I haven’t ever watched Friends, but the couch was popular with guests on the tour!
A television stage set that looks like the elevator in an apartment block, but that is not functioning. Yellow tape blocks the doors of the elevator. Two mannequins stand next to the elevator door, displaying characters’ costumes.
The infamous elevator from The Big Bang Theory that never works
A television stage set up to look like a small apartment, with bookshelves full of books and a window looking out to the city.
A reconstructed set of Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment from The Big Bang Theory

For dinner we drove up to Tacos El Venados in North Hollywood, a famous food truck with a couple of different locations. They were very popular, with some people parking on the side of the road to order food and have a quick bite. We parked around the corner and walked to the food truck. The tacos I had were the best tacos I’ve ever had. 🌮 America has ruined tacos for me – you just don’t get the same authenticity and quality in Australia as you do there. Y’all are lucky to have access to such great Mexican food.

Two plates of tacos; one with pineapple and pork and the other with beef, pico de gallo and guacamole
Incredible tacos 🍍🥑🌮

Early the next morning we checked out of our hotel and drove to Anaheim where we were staying for one night so we could have a day at Disneyland. I’d never been to this particular Disney park but Nick had when was a lot younger. We were keen to see the new Star Wars land but Nick was infinitely more keen. 🤪 It was definitely impressive, although it was a long wait for the one and only ride that was open at the time. Since it was close to Halloween, parts of the park were Halloween-themed.

A view inside a Disneyland theme park, where a large statue of Mickey’s head styled like a carved pumpkin is in the centre of the frame
Halloween-themed Mickey 🎃
The entrance to an area of a theme park, looking like a castle with turrets. Lanterns and cables suspend from the pillars.
Heading into Star Wars land
The inside of the area of a theme park with an industrial, old style. Many cables and lanterns hang from the ceiling
A low angle shot of the ceiling of a shop, decorated with a lot of neatly arranged lamps hanging from industrial chains
The ceiling inside one of the gift stores
People dressed up in white astronaut-like costumes to resemble Stormtrooper characters from Star Wars, in a theme park with several people surrounding them to take photos with them
We spotted a couple of Stormtroopers
A man walking into the entrance of a cafeteria at a theme park, which is themed to look like a docking bay in Star Wars
The entrance to the cafeteria in Star Wars land
Some people walking around in an open area of a theme park, that is themed to look like a futuristic and earthy outer-space area.
Star Wars land didn’t have a lot of shade. It was very open

The blue milk in Star Wars land was ridiculously expensive but really lovely. It tasted like coconut and blue pea flower, really, nothing particularly mind-blowing, but still nice. (You could probably make your own with enough research and trial and error.) We stayed around to watch the fireworks and ended up watching from Star Wars land. I’m not sure if it was the best vantage point but it was pretty good.

Small pink fireworks across the night sky, seen from an amusement park. The angle of the shot is from the ground upwards.
Fireworks from Star Wars land

The next day we went to Disney California Adventure Park (DCA), but we only had a few hours there because we had to head to the airport for our flight home that afternoon. It was still enough to enjoy what was there! I loved the Incredicoaster. I don’t love rollercoaster rides but this one had the right amount of fun and excitement without too many surprises, and wasn’t in the dark (which I’m not a big fan of).

A man and woman in a selfie, in front of a colourful mosaic tile wall. They are both smiling and both wearing sunglasses. Both of them have dark hair. The woman is wearing a big bow on top of her head that is black with gold spots.
I don’t love the Disney ears at all. This was the only one I liked which is actually a bow I got in Tokyo Disneyland in 2017

We went on the big ferris wheel, the Pixar Pal-a-Round, and I chose to go on the swinging gondolas, which roll on the rails of the wheel when it hits certain points on its rotation. Looking from the ground, it seemed fine, but it was definitely a little terrifying when sitting in it because you’re not strapped in. Nick and I sat on opposite sides, and I almost fell forward at times – it was like being on an actual swing but not being able to control it, and sometimes it felt like it was swinging way more than you expected. Nick hated it, he felt very uncomfortable. 😅

A man and woman posing with sad faces, alongside a person dressed in a character costume of Sadness from Pixar film Inside Out. Sadness’ costume is different shades of blue with blue skin, blue glasses and blue hair.
Nick and I with Sadness from the Inside Out film

After that we knew it was time to leave… I guess you could say that we were also sad to leave. ☹️ How apt!

To this day, Nick still reminisces about our time in LA in 2019. He really enjoyed the time we had there – it was a more relaxed trip, we sort of went with the flow of things. We had a few things planned, but enough free time to roam and explore. The weather was, well, hot – but hard to beat.

And the tacos were really good. 😭🌮

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