Back in the USA
18.01.2012 - 24.01.2012 10 °C
So after the days we spent down south in Ushuaia, we had a complete change of scene to come. After a day and a bit in transit in Buenos Aires (in which we did very little other than lounge by the hotel pool), it was up to Los Angeles.
Having decided (only just) that we were getting too old for Disney, we went to the barely more grown up Universal Studios instead. And we loved it! After three months of travelling through South America and enduring the long bus journeys, lack of choice of food, and indifferent service, the contrast couldn't have been more stark.
We saw all the main rides: Jurassic Park (a dino-themed log flume), The Mummy (roller-coaster in pitch black), The Simpsons (a surprisingly nausea-inducing simulator), and many others.
In the afternoon we went on the Universal Studios tour. It's actually a bit of a misnomer it turns out, because you don't get to actually see the inside of any actual studios. You do get to see a lot of the outdoor sets though, so it was pretty interesting nontheless. We got to see Wisteria Lane (of Desperate Housewives fame), as well as the motel and house from Psycho. Most impressive however was the wreck of a Boeing 747 which was apparently used to film War of the Worlds.
All in all, some good relaxing fun. Yay!
In the rest of our time in LA we were able to cover some decent ground, thanks to our trusty rental car... a Ford Mustang (at $10 per day to upgrade from a Fiesta, a bargain). Looks great, but drives terribly. After finishing with Universal Studios we took in Hollywood Boulevard, to have a look at the film celeb stars on the pavement, and the hand prints in the cement in front of the Chinese theatre. James was disappointed with the prints as he'd misremembered and thought they were going to be face prints in cement...
After that we went for a cruise through Beverly Hills and Bel Air - mainly to gawp at some truly monstrously vulgar houses. We didn't get any photos for fear of being tasered/shot by the people in the private security vans, but suffice it to say there were a lot of neo-classical houses the size of a small school.
And finally we had a chance to cruise along the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway, taking in Malibu and Venice beach. Again, a load of movie actor houses, but these ones at least actually seemed nice. And we saw the beach from Baywatch (we think) - sadly they weren't filming at the time...
After that it was on to Death Valley national park - the hottest place on earth (though not in the middle of winter!), and lowest point in the USA. We stayed at a motel just inside the park, and sadly fell for the standard tourist prank on the first night - we asked what the stuffed head on the wall was. A jackalope they say... turns out it's a made up animal (a rabbit with antlers to be precise) which has been used by no Ronald Reagan to prank reporters no less!
We had two days there; on the first day it was pretty overcast (and raining/snowing at times) so we didn't get the best views of the scenery. The second day was bright sunshine though, and after a long drive we say some pretty impressive scenery. Rather than bore you with details and place names, here are some pictures we took.
Next up, Las Vegas. Hopefully you'll be able to read about it all in an upcoming blog post; if not then we've probably lost the laptop at the poker tables! We leave you with one final shot of our Mustang...