A Flying Visit to L.A. (And a New Job!)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I don't think I have mentioned this (unsurprisingly, as I have been terrible at updating my blog recently), but I've started a new job! Still in travel and still in writing but a much more creative role and some fabulous new colleagues. Plus, I got an early introduction into the heady world of "fam" trips for the first time.A week before I started I received an email with the title "Trip to California" - promising start to an email - telling me I was off to California for 4 days in just over a week! 

Just 10 days later, I was watching the sun set over Santa Monica beach, Los Angeles. 

We flew direct to L.A., arriving just after lunch time Los Angeles time. There was time for a quick change and a brief tour around L.A.

Turns out there's not a lot to be seen in L.A, but the warm weather, blue skies and the sight of the beach on the horizon made the 12 hour flight worth it. Santa Monica pier is probably not the nicest part of the beach, but the lively atmosphere and people watching opportunities make it worth a visit, particularly in the evening when all sorts of characters seem to come out of the woodwork.

Plus, there's a fabulous sunset over the beach!

Jet lag was kicking our butt by this point, so we gorged on American sized pizza portions and retired to the Universal Sheraton for some much needed shut eye in preparation for the next day.

The next day, we were up bright and early for the main purpose of our trip: a VIP tour of Universal Studios California. If you're like me (and I promise this was before I started my current job...), you're not even aware there is a Universal Studios in California. Well there is! And if you love films this is the better Universal to visit. Just check out that red carpet....

Universal is mainly known as the park for teenagers and adults as it tends to have bigger, more complex rides than the Disney parks and, obviously, a bigger focus on the film themes than the characters.

The VIP tour allows you to see sets from your favourite films and TV shows...it was so surreal wandering around Wisteria Lane and posing for a picture outside Susan's yellow house! It was also really nice to be on the VIP tour as it's something I couldn't afford to do normally and we definitely all soaked up as much of it as we could.

One of the best parts of the tour in my (rather geeky) opinion was getting a chance to see the Universal Studios props department.

It's like the most insane Aladdins cave that you could imagine. Imagine every type of phone from every era you can think of. Yep they've got it. Rubber arms, hands, faces? Yup. Chandeliers, Victorian tea lamps, ET dummy? Yup. IT. IS. INCREDIBLE. I wish I had brought a bigger bag...

We also got to see the costumes department, which is still in use today by stars having fittings for Universal's films so you really feel like you've seen behind the scenes. 

After the tour I got to experience another once in a lifetime opportunity...a Minion cuddle!! Even though I'm 25 and realize I'm hugging a tiny strange man or woman in a costume in this photo, I did make a beeline for a photo. No regrets.

We spent the rest of the day riding the rides as many times as we could. Just for the record, I am not a huge scary rides fan and I still had an amazing time. The rides at Universal Hollywood are all fairly manageable, even for a scaredy-cat like me, which is in contrast to the Universal in Orlando which has huge terrifying coasters like Hulk. 

The worst thing I went on was the Jurassic Park log flume coaster, which features an 84 foot terrifying drop to round it off. After I came off, I was trembling from head to to and the photo from the ride made me look like my face had melted off, such was my terror as the camera went off. My colleagues found it hilarious. So if you ever need something to break the ice at work, I'd suggest doing something that scares the bejeebus out of you whilst wearing a ridiculous plastic poncho. 

More trip highlights to follow! x

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