Labor Day has come and gone and so has my trip to Los Angeles with Claire. We were actually in Anaheim for Labor Day weekend so that Claire could run the Disneyland Half Marathon and complete the Disney Coast to Coast challenge. Since we were in the LA area anyway, we decided to make it a mini vacation. I used a whole bunch of my points that I’ve accumulated during the past year for this trip so that we could stay at the Hilton near Disneyland in Anaheim and to rent a car so we could head out to some different locations in the LA area for some fun away from Disney. And status does have privileges let me tell you, I was upgraded to a King Suite while at the Hilton! Now thats how you travel 🙂 OK on with the activities!
We took the trip on a Friday morning so when we arrived in LA it was still morning. We had one single celebrity sighting when we were trying to get out of the airport but other than that there were no other famous people sightings. We headed over to Hertz to get the rental car and I was hoping that I wouldn’t get a POS since I used my points and did not actually pay for the rental. To my pleasant surprise I was greeted with a blue Toyota Camry SE. Now that I had an awesome car for the weekend, we decided to head out to some old staples in LA that we visit. First up is lunch at Pink’s Hot Dogs in Hollywood. We have been here before and we love the chili dogs so we decided to get some lunch. As usual the hot dogs didn’t disappoint. We ate too much while we were at Pink’s but I think that was because our eyes were bigger than our stomachs since we didn’t really have anything to eat while on the plane. Eventually after eating a large lunch, we headed over to Beverly Hills for some Sprinkle’s cup cakes. This was a place that Claire found a couple of years ago and the cup cakes there are awesome so naturally we had to make a stop while we were in the area. Since it wasn’t the holidays, parking was a little easier this time around but we didn’t have a lot of time to spend there since we had to go to Anaheim to check in so we could get Claire’s race packet.
Dinner we decided to go to a Japanese place called Yamashiro which was in West Hollywood I think. This place is on top of a hill so it has excellent views of Los Angeles. The directions to Yamashiro were a bit confusing and even my trusty GPS was having a difficult time finding the place. Needless to say, I eventually found it and was quite impressed with the setting. We sat in an inner courtyard that had a Japanese garden with the tables all around the garden. I took a few pictures but I haven’t posted them yet. Being the Asian that I am, I decided to take pics of the food as well. I don’t know what the appetizer was called but it was totally awesome. Claire ended up having the crunchy roll and I had the Darth Vader roll (it’s really just a spicy tuna roll that they did up to look all black but it still tasted awesome). Dessert had to be the best part of dinner. They had a sushi dessert on the menu and we decided to try it out. It was fruit made out to look like pieces of sushi. Needless to say, this dessert was finished in its entirety. I have pics but I’m too lazy to put them up on this post right now. Maybe I’ll supply a link later on. Day 1 complete! HA!
Ahh Day 2, this will be a little shorter than Day 1 considering we stayed in the Disney area the entire day. Anaheim really isn’t all that big of a place. I drove around it a little bit and besides Disney and Angel’s Stadium, its really mostly residential areas all around. I haven’t been back to Disneyland in at least 20 years so I was anxious to see what changes have been made to the place. The goal of the day was to ride any rides that were not available at Magic Kingdom in Orlando and I think we were able to accomplish that in about half a day. The reason being is that Claire had to run a half marathon the next day and she couldn’t get too tired before the big race. The three rides that really stand out for me were the Matterhorn Bobsled ride that is still only available at Disneyland, Pirates of the Caribbean which is way better at Disneyland compared to Disney World, and the new Indiana Jones ride. The Matterhorn hasn’t changed in all the years since I’ve been to Disneyland and the Indiana Jones ride was truly awesome! That is one ride that they need to port over to Disney World at some point unless they’re keeping it a Disneyland exclusive so people will go to that park instead of Disney World. One of the really neat things that I thought was awesome were the wait times. It was even Labor Day weekend and the longest line we stood in was only for 40 minutes. Totally unheard of when you’re at Disney World where you can wait upwards of 2 hours for a good ride (which is why I use fast pass on all the awesome rides anyway). The only ride I really wanted to go on that wasn’t available was the Haunted Mansion. It was closed down for renovations while they got it ready for Halloween. Too bad, I really like that ride!
The rest of the day was pretty much a relaxation day with not a lot of walking around. I didn’t get tickets for California Adventure but I can save that for another trip to LA or something. We took a quick loop around Downtown Disney and then had an early dinner since we had to get up early for the race.
Day 3 – Race Day!
This day is the reason we came to LA in the first place, so Claire can run the Disneyland Half Marathon. As with all running races, we had to get up before the sun was up so that everyone could go and line up for the race. I thought that the Disneyland race would be as impressive as Disney World but it was but a shell of what Disney World did for their marathon weekend. I was able to spot Claire a number of times on the race course this time around. The one at Disney World was so massive I wasn’t able to spot her in a crowd. This time I saw her at the start gate, during the first stage of the race, and near the finish line. The great part about this race was that it wasn’t bone chilling cold. I did end up walking around Disney for quite a bit since I had about two hours to kill before Claire finished the race. She was able to get her third medal out of the deal which was pretty awesome. By the time she finished and did her cool down routine, it was time for some lunch. The place for our special after race lunch??? None other than Bubba Gump Shrimp! I’ve been wanting to go here for a while now but I’ve just never had the opportunity. We had shrimp for appetizers, and shrimp for the entree, I don’t think we could have stomached anymore shrimp and I’m sure they would have offered us shrimp for dessert if that were even possible. However we needed to save up our appetites for dinner with my cousin on Sunday night.
Sunday night brought us back to West Hollywood after picking up my cousin from her aunt’s house in Los Angeles. There was a place that Claire found called Ketchup that was right on Sunset Blvd that served American comfort food. It was on the second floor of a building and had open windows so you can see down to the street and hear all the street noise and the nice evening breeze. The most challenging part was trying to find appropriate parking. There is very little parking on the street and I had to go up and down the street a few times in order to find a spot. I think at one point one of those stupid traffic cameras caught me while I was racing through a yellow light to find a parking space. The food was actually pretty good and it came out nice and quick. We were able to get a table by the window so I could see the street and everything too. It was also nice to see my cousin who I haven’t seen for a few years, probably since the birth of her son a few years back. After dinner, we headed back to Anaheim to start packing up for the trip home.
Day 4 – The return home!
Ahh Labor Day itself, a day to be lazy and to fly back home to FL to begin work anew and to move my crap to my temporary apartment. Labor Day was a bit on the lazy side because we didn’t leave the hotel until about 11AM. The flight home wasn’t until 10PM that night so we had plenty of time to burn between the time we had to fly home and when we left Anaheim. Claire and I decided to spend the day roaming around Los Angeles to look for neat little places that are on the map that may or may not be open. The first place that we went to was the Farmer Market in LA. For one thing, I didn’t think there would be a Farmers Market in the middle of Los Angeles but I’ve been wrong before. I was able to find it without too much difficulty and the Farmers Market was pretty neat. There was an outdoor mall too that we went to just for kicks and so I could pick up the photo adapter for my iPad so we could view all the photo’s we took during the trip. After the Farmers Market, I thought we could go and take a studio tour and the closest one was Paramount Studios. Unfortunately you need to make reservations and they were closed for the day so that was a slight disappointment but expected since it was Labor Day. I wanted to give going to Mulholland Drive a shot to get some excellent pictures of LA and the Hollywood sign. Finding Mulholland Drive was the first challenge since my GPS was getting confused in LA but I eventually found the place. There were even some scenic spots on the way up where we could stop and take pictures which I definitely took advantage of. We didn’t head too far up, just far enough to go to a park that was on top of the hill and then back down. After all that, I figured why not do a little more driving and head on down to the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu. We drove all the way down to Santa Monica (I really should have gone to the pier but it was packed and there was no place to park anyway, and headed up towards Malibu. At around this time we started to get hungry and Claire had the genius idea to go get some ramen noodles in Little Tokyo all the way back in LA. We stopped in a small shopping complex in Malibu and the Back to the Future car pulls up complete with Mr. Fusion. Now this was super awesome to see, I just had to take a picture of the car before I headed over to Little Tokyo. The way back we got to see some nice scenery and take a better look at the Santa Monica Pier before finding our way to Little Tokyo.
In Little Tokyo, the ramen place where we wanted to eat was closed so we had to go searching for another place. Little Tokyo has a pavilion area with shops and what not so we also decided to see what they were selling just to kill some time before we ate. We each had one bowl or ramen and man was it huge! I wasn’t even able to finish it all because there was so much soup. After eating and looking around a bit more, we headed to Chinatown to see if there was anything interesting over there. I didn’t see anything particularly interesting while driving so we didn’t stop and kept on going. Eventually we hit Dodger Stadium but it was closed too. Dodger Stadium is on a hill and to get there you had to go through the parking gates which were closed. Being not too disgruntled that I couldn’t see a baseball stadium in LA, I decided to finally head on over to the airport. I took the local way since the highway was all messed up even for Labor Day and turned in my awesome Toyota Camry. All in all, I drove about 350 miles over 4 days. Thats not too bad, at least I was able to only use one tank of gas for the entire weekend.
The real clincher came when we were going to fly home. I am currently Platinum on Delta and Claire is Silver, I was worried I would get upgraded and she wouldn’t but as it so happens, not that many people fly to Florida from LA on a Monday night. We both were able to get upgraded to First Class but we slept through most of it but at least we were comfy flying home. So that in a nut shell was the entire Labor Day weekend in LA. I would normally put pics with this post but I already posted them to Facebook 🙂
This single post has taken days to compose since I haven’t been concentrating on it. My next one will be significantly shorter.