Thursday, January 26, 2023

Seeing L.A. a new way: fun small bus tour offers sights, delights


Hooray for Hollywood, where the famous letters stand in a well preserved forest near
Griffith Observatory.  A day on the road with Hollywood Bus Tours is strongly recommended.

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
stroll the famous Santa Monica Pier.



WE VISIT Los Angeles six or seven times a year, but we'd never seen some of her most delightful sights.
So on this last trip, with a quiet day between plays, friends and museums, we booked a half-day jaunt with Hollywood Bus Tours.
Our comfy, small tour bus took us all over the city, to
highlights ranging from Santa Monica to the Hollywood sign.

Hollywood's famous Wall of
Fame includes stars from long
ago, such as the great Italian
opera great, Enrico Caruso.

We were so glad to discover this fun tour.  What a delight the day was.  Our tour guide Jeff, a San Francisco transplant, now a devoted Angeleno, has an amiable nature that set the tone for an easy-going day with congenial, global people.
The drive aboard Hollywood Bus Tour takes curious guests
through Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and varied neighborhoods.
Jeff's comfortable, joking nature encouraged conversation and new friendships in a tour both informative and fun.  He took us through Hollywood and Beverly Hills, where we saw dozens of expensive autos and lavish gated homes of stars past and present.
WE TOURED both familiar landmarks and undiscovered parts of the city in our "Taste of L.A." It took us past Hollywood's famous bars and nightclubs, Beverly Hills with its five-star hotels, mansions and parks, Rodeo Drive with its gorgeous shops, and on to both iconic and little known corners.
THE TOUR takes a leisurely look at both the city's hot spots and its quiet treasures which was a pleasure for us.
Los Angeles, "City of Angels," made room
for two more potentials, Bruce Meyers
and Christene "Cookie" Meyers,
at the Griffith Observatory.

Jeff threw in tales about movie shoots and stars' deaths, including that of the great comedian John Belushi who died of a drug overdose at Chateau Marmont in 1982.
While Hollywood is only a part of Los Angeles, it's what most tourists come to see because of its connection to glamour, money and power. It's the show-biz capital of the world, home to famous television and movie studios and well known record companies. Jeff drove us past a half-dozen of these.
EVERYONE KNOWS of Santa Monica Pier, perhaps the west coast's most famous.
Farmer's Market offers shops
and pleasant places to relax.
We walked to the end of it, past the roller coaster and cafes, enjoying an ice cream as we watched fishermen and tourists mingle.
We were thrilled to visit Griffith Observatory, that stately treasure at the city's top. We stopped there for a splendid view of the famous Hollywood sign and the valley that became Los Angeles and hoe to Leonardo DiCaprio, Elvis, Madonna, Tom Cruise, Marilyn Monroe and countless other stars. The observatory is a popular tourist attraction. Besides those splendid views, it boasts and an extensive array of space and science-related displays, all thanks to its benefactor, Griffith J. Griffith. Admission has been free since the observatory's opening in 1935, honoring Griffith's will.

It's fun to walk the Santa Monica pier to its peaceful end.

WITH LEISURELY stops for snacks, photos or a restroom, we never felt "trapped" in the small bus. We enjoyed Jeff's banter and history lessons, delivered with wry humor and a genuine respect for his adopted town. He has become somewhat famous for his "jokes of the day,"  received each morning from his dad via email, and shared with amused tour passengers. 
While Jeff had plenty of anecdotes about the town's glitz and glamour, he also paid homage to its humble, 
Hooray for Hollywood -- and Hollywood Bus Tours -- which
takes visitors through neighborhoods in colorful Los Angeles.
agricultural roots. He described the Los Angeles of more than a century ago -- long before it became the sprawling city we know today.
 A stop at the famous Farmer's Market, founded in 1934, revealed the city's  long, close connection to agriculture, with rows of beautiful stalls lined with the best produce in the state.
WE STOPPED for a beverage, some sunshine and live guitar jazz at this sprawling, historic market.  Families, couples and singles young and old walked their dogs and lingered between a meal or shopping for refreshments and lovely music.
Besides the pretty displays of fresh produce, the market features an impressive range of trendy shops, cafes and gourmet grocery stores.
WE MADE new friends on this spirited tour, exchanging contact information with folks from Portugal and Berlin, learning new trivia about a city we thought we knew well, and enjoying iconic sights on a sunny, southern California day.
Hollywood Bus Tours with its lively narration and variety offers three tours -- each a memorable way to see the fascinating sights of one of the world's most famous cities.
+1 (213) 986-7688

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers stopped for
a photo in the fortress village of Valenca, Portugal. 

UP NEXT: Come with us to discover the charms of a quiet, little known Portuguese village. Most travelers to Portugal don't visit Valenca, often confused with Valencia, Spain. It's an impressive medieval town whose imposing fortress overlooks the River Minho. We spent a few days soaking up the atmosphere of this laid back village. We found intriguing museums, elegant boutiques, and inviting eateries that didn't break the bank. We saw pilgrims on the famous Camino de Santiago -- the way of St. James. A network of paths lead to the shrine of the apostle Saint James in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galacia in Northern Spain. As a border town, it's a great place to sample both Portuguese and Spanish wines.

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