America, Countries, Culture

California, the Golden Globes State

My preening, diffident waiter at Vanderpump’s will be ignoring another customer because they aren’t Golden Globes royalty.

But such is reality in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Hollywood www.visitcalifornia.com.

Home of the worst waiters in the world where your order will be late and wrong if it comes at all.

Unless you’re Lady Gaga, a regular at Vanderpump’s who is known to fall out of the eaterie, which I must confess I’m not.

Hello, sailor: La Peer Hotel, West Hollywood

Lisa’s food though is worth waiting for and obviously she was in the night we visited.

When we were staying as guests of Attraction Tickets www.attractiontickets.com and my favourite boutique hotel chain Kimpton’s.

Peerless

And their West Hollywood base, La Peer Hotel https://www.lapeerhotel.com/?utm_source=Google%20My%20Business&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=GMB&utm_term=lapeer.

And you’ll be able to roll up at the bar and then into the pool which I might just have tried out.

Celebrity spotting is an everyday pastime in SoCal, Southern California.

And I was fortunate enough to see and meet a host of them at the American Travel Fair www.ipw.com which was being hosted by Anaheim www.visitanaheim.org.

Natasha Bedingfield, Jason Derulo, the Beach Boys, Snoop Dogg…

The biggest stars for me though in La La Land are the living legends, those who will never die.

Such as Marilyn Monroe who still parades the Walk of Fame near her star and hand prints…

Lying with Marilyn

I spent a weekend with Marilyn: in Venice Beach and at her last resting place in LA where a very unwelcome neighbour moved in.

And the Walt Disney family… http://www.disneyland.disney.go.comMickey, the Donald, Goofy et al.

Mickey and The Donald

All of whom will throw their giant furry hands and paws open for you when you visit the Happiest Place on Earth https://disneyland.disney.go.com/?CMP=OKC-dlr_lodging_gmap_25.

Pleased to see you

Lurking though when we arrived though were some inhospitable Storm Troopers…

It was all part of the schtick with the showcasing of the new Star Wars world at Disney…

As well done as it was though I still come to Disney for a cuddle.

But maybe Princess Leia was hiding?

My Star Wars pals at Disney

Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com flies direct to LAX with pre-clearance from Dublin and Shannon.

The national airline carrier has a deal on for travel as part of a return trip between April 1 until June 15 from €249.61.

Book by January 21.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Twice Upon A Time In Hollywood

It’s probably not that different from when Sharon Tait went to El Coyote in West Hollywood in Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood.

The Mexican restaurant was where Sharon and her friends ate a Mexican meal and drank Margaritas.

Although the heavily-pregnant actress stayed off the cocktails.

Unbeknown to them when they returned home to the Hollywood Hills that it was to their fate.

Says it all: Photo by Paul Deetman on Pexels.com

At the hands of Charles Manson’s followers.

We had a separate restaurant booking when I visited in June but this caught the spirit of the West Hollywood I witnessed.

PUMP is the modern-day celebs restaurant today in West Hollywood where Real Wives of Beverly Hills’ Lisa hosts her pals.

If you get there on the right night you might see Lady Gaga fall out onto the sidewalk as she did last year.

Gaga must have been doing a stir fry at home the night we visited but Lisa was there all right.

It’s just that the star-struck member of our party couldn’t muster up the nerve to ask her over to our table.

Looking the part: Oscar anybody? At the Dolby

Of course you can see a galaxy of stars on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

It’s a little unsettling to see the attention around Michael Jackson’s star.

I preferred to pay homage to Marilyn Monroe while I thought it more respectful not to make too much of a fuss of Greta Garbo.

She vants to be alone.

And, of course it’s not just humans who are celebrated here… Disney’s family of characters also have their stars.

And Hollywood’s finest have their hand and duck imprints too.

And I’m quackers about a certain duck.

Tarantino’s new blockbuster is a great watch and deeply respectful to the memories of Sharon Tait and her friends in the parallel story he chronicles.

Hand it to them: Hollywood’s imprints

Hollywood watchers will want to try and spot the locations in the movie and you will find an easy to follow guide on www.discoverlosangeles.com.

www.visitwesthollywood.com.

Aer Lingus flies to LAX from Dublin Airport with pre-clearance. www.aerlingus.com.

I stayed at the Kimpton La Peer Hotel in the heart of West Hollywood and would thoroughly recommend it. www.lapeerhotel.com.

With a little imagination you feel that you yourself are a real celebrity.

And read https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/01/california-screamin-my-weekend-with-marilyn/

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Holiday Snaps – Dog surfing, California

They’ve been in training all year for the big event, and it’s almost upon us – Surf City Surf Dog in Huntington Beach, Southern California.

This is where Bono, the Brazilian labrador made his name (I never did hear if he also wore shades).

And the pupparazi will be at Surf City Surf Dog in Huntington Beach in numbers for the free event on Saturday, September 28.

Where there will be a surFUR expo, athletes of all breeds and pawsome fun! 

Have I forgotten something? On Huntington Beach

Earlier this summer I visited Huntington Beach to see Dean Torrence trill Surf City USA and Snoop Dogg have us dancing on the prom to his DJ set.

https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/

Get him on stage: Bandanaman

And here’s when I tried my hand at surfing on FlowRider on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/a-royal-party/

And watch out for Ireland’s surfing superstar Gearoid McDaid’s masterclass and my day on Oasis of the Seas. http://www.royalcaribbean.com.

I also had a jaunt around Barcelona in the Star Ireland’s Chic magazine out today.

Aer Lingus flies Dublin to LAX with pre-clearance. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com.

I found an economy return for the sample dates of August 31-September 7 from €321.04.

Now I’m a big fan of Kimpton boutique hotels and LOVED the La Peer Hotel in West Hollywood just up from Huntington Beach. Visit http://www.lapeerhotel.com

So I’m angling for a stay at the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, Huntington Beach when I visit Surf City USA next http://www.surfcityusa.com.. Visit http://www.shorebreakhotel.com. http://www.visitusa.ie.

And some Canaries

The origins of names can be surprising… The Canaries, for example are named after dogs (canaria) and not tweetie-birds.

The most common golden-coloured creatures on the Canaries are the sunbathers on the beaches.

TUI serves the Canaries all year round but if you’re looking for some last-minute sun…

And remembering that elsewhere if you live in the West or South in Ireland is Dublin…

From Cork to Lanzarote: Seven nights’ self-catering, staying at the 2+ Lanzarote Paradise Club, Costa Teguise, from €349pps. August 27

From Shannon to Lanzarote: The same deal but leaving on August 29.

Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie.

India… at a stretch

Would you like to go to International Yoga Day in India and can you tell me by the close of play today?

As Mamma told me, they’re would be days like this!

Big-hearted fella that I am I nominated a yoga fan to go out there to stretch and contort her limbs.

I’m too kind for my own good!

That’s why I’d keep this Travel Department break to myself.

Explore Amazing India is a 12-night TD active Holidays small group tour.

And there’s more than just yoga.

You’ll cycle through Delhi at sunrise and hike between ancient forts in Jaipur.

How about a traditional homestay, learn to cook traditional Indian food on Dausa and a Hindu aarti ceremony?

As well, of course, as the Taj Mahal and the other iconic sites.

From €1,999pp for 12 nights including return flights and accommodations and features. Visit http://www.tdactiveholidays.ie.

Full steam ahead Thomas

A plaster cast, or stookie where I’m from, is a useful makeshift bridge for a Thomas the Tank Engine track. Take note, Thomas Land.

The Son And Heir had broken an arm but that wouldn’t stop him playing with his favourite toy.

He’ll be interested then in Irish Ferries discount on a trip to Drayton Manor & Thomas Land in Staffordshire near Manchester.

Thomas Land has 25 rides and attractions.

A couple of smilers: Thomas and The Son and Heir

From €595 for a family of four (kids under 11) for three nights in the 3* Tillington Hotel.

It also includes a one-day park pass to Drayton Manor & Thomas Land and a return car ferry.

Valid until August 16. Visit http://www.irishferries.com/drayton.

A call from The Ronald

Ronald and Nancy Reagan and Mickey and Minnie

I seem to be a magnet to American Presidents, living and dead. The Donald, The Dickie and now The Ronald.

The first has cropped up across America and the Caribbean looking for selfies with me.

While the Richard Nixon Library in California invited me to a 50th anniversary of the Moon Landings with Buzz Aldrin in attendance.

Now Ronnie’s pals http://www.reaganfoundation.org want me to get out there for a talk from a Supreme Court Associate Justice.

It’s flattering but if they want me to help run their country get me on the payroll.

Mexican waves

Strike a pose: Mexico. Pic by Matthew T Rader. Pixels.com

Mexico is one place I reckon The Donald wouldn’t follow me.

But HIS loss.

Escape2 has a seven-night all-inclusive Mexico trip from €1599 including Air France flight, departing November.

Stay at the 4* Riviera Maya. Visit http://www.escape2.ie. Contact (01) 435 0005.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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My weekend with Marilyn

You’ll live for ever: Marilyn’s bench

Goodbye Norma Jean! So, this is where Marilyn finally found her rest from the lascivious attentions of the manipulative men who hounded her to her death.

Unisignposted and in an unassuming square at the back a Los Angeles office block lies the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery,

But who’s this lying next to her? Only Playboy owner Hugh Hefner who bought the drawer next door for $75,000… he was surely the last man she would have wanted to spend eternity with.

Marilyn and Hefner had history. It was Hefner who bought the nude pictures that she had posed for in her sallow youth before she became famous for just $500 and put them on his first cover of Playboy. She never got a dime.

Marilyn doesn’t deserve this company. She should be shining brightest in a galaxy of stars. And on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, she is.

The actress is one of 2,600 famous characters – human, animal and animated – immortalised on a mile and a half of sidewalk along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street.

Rest in peace: Her last resting place

Her hands and feet are outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with the imprints of a century of Hollywood celebrities. Hers are worn out from the millions who have wanted to touch a bit of her.

If you feel her presence on the stairs of the Dolby There where the Oscars are held then her spirit is playing on you as her only appearance was at the nearby Pantages Theatre. Still, we all pose for a diva’s shot in homage to her anyway.

Oscar time: At the Dolby Theatre

Marilyn seems to be everywhere I turn. I see her looking down, smiling from out of a window on Venice Beach, brightly dressed and warm as the sun. We lit our heads from our catch of the day in Larry’s diner off the boardwalk – in my case the lightest calamari – and smile back.

Jim Morrison is all swagger on the other wall.

Today’s Venice Beach has its own characters too: a rasta artist on rollerblades playing guitar, an old man who wheels his grand piano up the strand to tinkle the ivories and a randomLatino Conor McGregor who is punching and kicking the hell out of a punchbag in the square.

In Southern California, or SoCal, it’s all about the image, the ‘body beautiful’, and this is where Californian body builders come to work out, at the outdoor Muscle Beach Gym, once the home of Arnold Schwarzenegger and ‘The Hulk’ Lou Ferrigno.

There’s always a show on, even if it is only the tourists posing by a muscleman mannequin on the boardwalk. Guilty!

Who’s older: Jim and Dino

Up the road in Santa Monica the busy pier gives little clue that this is the beach used for Baywatch.

All these nuggets and more are at the fingertips of our driver Ross from Starline Tours, provided by our host Attraction Tickets Direct who tells us of a loose association with David Hasselhoff and a girl who was the Hoff’s prom date.

I would be more impressed if Ross had dated Sandy… well we do pass Rydell High.

And he shows u too the site of the party hotel, the Garden of Allah, where Joni Mitchell hung out and they ‘paved Paradise and put up a parking lot’.

A big greenie: With Shrek

You’ll find today’s Hollywood celebrities hanging out in West Hollywood celebrities hanging out in West Holywood, so where better to bunk down?

The La Peer Hotel, just a couple of blocks down from Beverly Hills, its cop shop and Rodeo Drive, is a Kimpton, a boutique hotel which is much more than that as befits West Hollywood, with its heated outdoor swimming pool as an extension of the bar.

And the comfiest suites which were welcome after our 11-hour flight, although it literally flew by on our pleasant Aer Lingus journey here.

The hotel’s restaurant Viale dei Romani serves up the best Italian food if you want to stay in-house, and I’d also recommend the wood-grilled octopus and its garden of warm potato salad, oil cured olives, preserved lemon and saffron aioli.

But there are not shortage of great restaurants to sample in West Hollywood where, best of all, you can also indulge in the favourite pastime of celeb -spotting.

And so we also visited Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump’s eponymous lounge and restaurant, Pump, where Lady Gaga made the news a few years back after falling outside on the sidewalk.

Lisa is there the night we dine on truffle mushroom chicken (well, you would wouldn’t you?) though there’s no sign of Gaga.

Perhaps the gay icon will be back the following week for Pride.

West Hollywood is already putting out the bunting for Pride when up to 200,000 will take to the streets, although in truth it is always in a state of readiness with its rainbow zebra crossings.

I’d recommend a night in one of the many friendly gay clubs, I even managed to walk rather than fall out, although a bulky cop reminded me that I couldn’t drink on the sidewalk.

There’s a shark out there: You’ll never get in the water again!

If you want to get closer to the stars, get on to the right tours and get on the sets of the TV shows and movies we all watch, our host Attraction Tickets Direct will help with pre-booking which will save precious time and money.

They will take you to Warner Studios where you can sit in the very same couch used in Central Perk in Friends or visit the Ellen set.

A day in Universal Studios Hollywood will immerse you in both movie history and the future.

Who’s king of the Castle: The Potter show

We take a coach through the sets of Pycho, Jaws, a Mexican town and through a tunnel where a scene from The Fast and the Furious is simulated all around us.

Great fun too at the Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest cinema show with vibrating seats and water mist effects, while fans of rollercoaster rides will love The Simpsons and Harry Potter rollercoasters.

I prefer to sit back and watch other take the heat, although I don’t expect to see a stuntwoman set on fire in the Special Effects Show.

All your favourite animated and sci-fi characters are here, all in great form and happy to pose up: Shrek, Scooby-Doo, the Transformers and a dinosaur, no, not me, but a ‘real’ T-Re which is trailing Jurassic World: The Ride.

Angelic: Amn’t I?

We all have our favourites but it is the Boy Wizard who always cast a spell on me.

Muggles, myself included, are beside themselves at the prospect of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure story coaster in the sister resort of Orlando.

Universal Hollywood’s Potter experience feels smaller than its Orlando World counterpart but it is still intimate and enchanting.

And its Dark Arts light how is a thundering good hope with a cascade of creepy crawlies climbing up to attack a crumbling Hogwarts Castle only for the forces of good to prevail, all against a heart-pounding musical score and moral message.

And that, it seems, is Hollywood and the LA story in a nutshell: an aspirational, illusory dream sequence where you can stand in the Hollywood Hills, hike up to the Griffiths Observatory and view the iconic letters, or take a watering job and hope to serve Steven Spielberg.

Or get your star on the Walk of Fame. It’s a a rollercoaster journey all right and you can’t ice how you’re next to, but I did spot four stars unfilled. and I’d reckon myself and my family would be deserving candidates.

Peerless: La Peer Hotel

*Jim Murty is Ireland’s Travel Editor of the Year and a multi award-winning Travel writer. See next week for part tow when he takes us to Disneyland and a galaxy far, far away.

HOW TO GET THERE

Aer Lings, Ireland’s only four-star airline operates a daily service from Dublin direct to Los Angeles with fares starting from €259 each-way including taxes and charges when booked as a return trip. The service reduces to five times weekly during winter. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com.

WHERE TO STAY

La Peer Hotel is quintessentially West Hollywood with bright, funky finishings, spacious, comfortable bedrooms and fine food, a heated swimming pool and fitness centre. Doubles from about €315 per night. Visit http://www.lapeerhotel.com.

ACTIVITIES

Deluxe Grand City Tour with Starline from €73pp. Hollywood Hills guided hike, a 2.5 hour gentle hike, offering mountain and city views and photo opps of the Hollywood signs. The tour ends at the Griffith Park Observatory (admission included). From €46pp. Starlight Dinner Cruise from Marina Del Rey’s. From €107pp (not including drinks). Universal Studios Hollywood one-day admission ticket form €96pp/Express Pass from €305pp. Visit http://www.attractionticketsdirect.ie or call (01) 649 8558; visit west hollywood.com. Visit http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com. Visit http://www.california.com, http://www.westhollywood.com.

A version of this article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in June 2019.