Sunday, 10 April 2011

First week of LA

A lot has happened in our first week in LA, I'm not too sure where to start!
We arrived at the house in North Hills at around 10pm and we were exhausted after a 5 hour flight and 3 hour time change. We are staying with a group of freerunners called Team Tempest who George met at various freerunning competitions. The team has 11 members but we're staying with three of them, Paul 'Diddy' Darnell, Victor 'Showtime' Lopez and David 'OJ' (I can't remember his last name!). Here is a photo of Paul and Victor with George and our friend Albert (who calls himself Spyder):
L-R: Spyder, Paul, George, Victor

They are all around 25-30 years old and are really nice guys! They sort of keep themselves to themselves which is nice, as it doesn't feel like me and George have to try really hard to be friendly with them. But they're very kind in giving us lifts to places and enjoy hanging out with us when they're not busy being stunt men or freerunning!
David is currently Andrew Garfield's stunt double for the new Spiderman film coming out later this year/next year and Paul is stunt doubling the new Superman movie which is in production. We asked if we could go on set with them one day, but because they are both big budget Hollywood films, the sets are very tightly closed. They are giving me a really good insight into the film industry though, and helping George understand being a stunt man, if he ever wanted to pursue that as a career one day. 

Anyway, the night of our arrival was very eventful! We managed to pull the fridge door clean off and spent a good half hour trying to re-attach it while trying not to wake Paul and David from their sleep! 
The next day though, we were invited to have a look at the new freerunning academy Team Tempest have built which was about to be opened on the weekend. It is an amazing facility! Very similar to a gymnastics gym with sprung floor and a trampoline which is attached to a foam pit, but very different as it has lots of walls and platforms which you can run and jump between:

Each section is inspired by urban areas that are commonly used by freerunners and EVERYTHING is usable! There is not one surface which is out of bounds and their are no rules! If you want to jump from one wall to the next, it is up to you to decide if it is safe enough to do so. The highest platforms are marked with red tape and are for experienced freerunners and gymnasts only, and you must sign a liability waver before you use the gym. Parents must accompany under 18s and the team are always on hand to help you out. It is a brilliant facility which is fun for everyone and is not specifically for gymnasts and freerunners, but a place for adults and kids alike to play, have fun and get fit! I wish we had something as fun as this in every city! 

The next day was Wednesday and we decided to go to Hollywood and explore the sights! We are relying heavily on public transport, so we sussed out our options and gave it a go. The LA public transport system is cheap and works pretty well for us. The bus from the house in North Hills to North Hollywood Metro station takes about 45 minutes, whereas driving there takes 15 minutes so thats a bit of a nightmare. But it's helping me to practice patience!! The metro from North Hollywood Station to Hollywood Blvd is really easy as its only two stops. And there isn't a ticket reading system like there is in Paris or London so it's really easy to get away with not paying for tickets! And us being backpackers and all, we thought we might give that a go occasionally! 
Hollywood is a much smaller place than I imagined! on Hollywood Blvd, there is Grueman's Chinese Theatre, the Kodak Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame and...... that's it. Everything else is tacky gift shops and places to eat. We were shocked at how run down the place looked and how little there was! But what we did see was great!

 Chinese Theatre
 Alfred Hitchcock's star
 Spielberg's hand and foot prints. It'll be mine one day!
 Helen Mirren's hand and foot prints. Still wet as they'd only been done a few days ago!

We then took a trolly tour of the Hollywood area which was great fun! We went to the Hollywood Bowl (our tour guide did a rubbish impression of a Liverpool accent when telling us the Beatles played here):

 We went up into the neighborhood and got as close to the Hollywood sign as possible:

 And we took a whistle stop tour of the local production companies such as Warner Bros and:
Paramount Pictures!
It was a fun day! We ended it with a phosphate drink at the Disney Soda Bar!

The next day, I was desperate to see Sunset Blvd and Santa Monica Blvd to celeb watch, so we decided to get the metro to Hollywood Blvd and just walk! little did we know, that Sunset Blvd is almost 3 miles long and there is nothing on it. Not a sausage! There are plenty of places to eat and bars and clubs, but because we went on a Thursday afternoon, it was pretty much dead! But instead of heading back, we kept walking and walking down the Sunset Strip and found ourselves at an intersection onto Santa Monica Blvd. We walked down and found ourselves a post office! So we posted our Hawaii postcards because we hadn't found a post office before! Then it started to get to dinner time so we walked onto Melrose Drive and found what we thought was a cute little diner and had a burger and a salad. But, it turned out that this little diner (which looked a lot like the one in Pulp Fiction) was full of the weirdest people in Hollywood! Old ladies with blood red fake nails as long as talons, fat, greasy men who smelt of B.O and worse, and I had a very surreal experience with an old lady in the toilet which I will not go into detail with as it is horrible. Lets just say, she didn't close the cubical door...........
After that awful experience and all the walking we had done but to no real prevail, we felt really down and very very tired. We Just walked back to Hollywood Blvd and got the train and bus home. It's safe to say, we will never go out again without a proper plan for the day! Oh, and we did see ONE celebrity going into a restaurant but I can't for the life of me remember her name or what film I've seen her in! So that was rubbish!

Friday, we had a chill out day and didn't get out of our pyjamas until 4pm! but we needed that! 

Saturday was the Grand Opening of the Tempest Freerunning Academy!
The day was great, George was asked to perform with the Tempest guys, showing off the facilities and his freerunning skills. A lot of the freerunning community knew of George and he was asked to sign a few t-shirts which was surreal for me to see! Very proud of him! I took lots of photos of the event and here are some of the best:

 Members of Team Tempest
 The crowd getting ready for the teams performance
 The gym filling up with fans and freerunners!
 Me and the gym from the Press stand!
 The press on the press stand
 A special area for beginners is called Mario Land and is based on the Nintendo video game. This is me popping out of a pipe!
George on the press stand!
 Grand Opening balloons
The outside of the gym

That evening we had a bit of a party with some of Tempest's friends. It was nice to meet people and chat and drink cheap beer! 
That sunday we chilled!

The next week is much more eventful. New post to come!

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