Journey to the stars

The heart of the American film industry, LOS ANGELES exists in a world of its own.

WOrdSZ Alan Morrison

Strangely enough, the city that's home to Hollywood and a century of American cinema isn’t full of familiar landmarks from famous movies - go to New York if you want that sort of thing. But as you drive around the city and drive you must, as no two points of interest are within easy walking distance - it's the street names and city districts that become immediately evocative. Sunset Boulevard, Mulholland Drive, Santa Monica Freeway, Wilshire Boulevard; Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Venice and Watts.

At one point, you're beside the epitome of glamour huge mansions behind imposing security systems; then, later in the same trip, the seedier side of Hollywood peeks through as you pass the faded glory of the Chateau Marmont, the site of John Belushi's demise. You drive through the worlds of Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy, but try to avoid real-life flashpoints in South Central and East LA. Then you realise you're on the same stretch of road where crime and celebrity met in bizarre circumstances when OJ. Simpson made his desperate dash along the freeway.

More than half of the inhabitants of Greater Los Angeles speak Spanish as their first language; there are also strong African-American, Korean and Asian communities. At a glance, it seems like the city doesn't make the most of this rich ethnic mix, preferring to keep its diversity in separate pockets rather than build a multi-cultural whole. One by-product of this is that


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California dreaming: downtown Los Angeles

although racial tension is indeed a problem, it's not one that's often visible to a visitor as most residents keep very much to their respective neighbourhoods.

There's no point in being aloof here. To enjoy what the city has to offer, you’ve got to cast shame aside and embrace the tackiness of Tinseltown tourism. Ogle the homes of the stars on special bus tours or buy your own annotated map to check out Mel Gibson's pad. Find out which bars, restaurants and supermarkets are prime candidates for celeb spotting. Release your inner child as Bruce the shark jumps out at you on the Universal Studios tour and scream yourself silly as the Jurassic Park water ride makes its final splash. If you keep remembering this is a city founded on an industry of make-believe, you'll have the time of your life.

Stating the obvious

Universal Studios State-of-the-art thrrll rrdes (the Terminator attractron has the most awesome 30 footage you've ever seen) Slt close by a workrng studro envrronment, where new frlms starrrng er Carrey and Eddre Murphy are currently shootrng. 700 Universal City Plaza.

Mann's Chinese Theatre The crty’s most famous Crnema rs strll a good place to catch a movre, provrded you can squeeze through the tourrsts

East meets West: Crustacean

gawprng at the legendary hand and footprrnts captured rn concrete slabs. Sean Connery’s are a recent addrtron. 6925 Hollywood Boulevard.

Shopping You can get more for your shopprng dollars rn the States than for therr equrvalent exchange rate back home. Rodeo Drrve’s boutrques are strll a brt out of most people’s range, so head for the malls at the Beverly Center, WestSrde Pavrlron or the Glendale Gallerra.

The Comedy Store Many years ago, you mrght have caught a hot young stand-up called Robrn erlrams here, and many others have made therr names rn one of rts three rooms. 8433 Sunset Boulevard

Venice Beach Even rf you don't want to rrsk lettrng the Calrfornran sun’s rays drrectly onto y0ur skrn, rt’s worth a trrp here for some people-watchrng. The werghtlrfters and skaters won't be the most brzarre srghts around.

The List alternative

The Viper Room It's probably not the programme of lrve bands that w:l| entrce yOu here, more the fact that the venue rs owned by Johnny Depp and rt’s where Rrver Phoenrx spent hrs frnal hours. Catch other grgs at Spaceland and the legendary ‘.«Vhrsky A-Go-Go. 8852 Sunset Boulevard

Crustacean One of the hottest restaurants rn Beverly Hrlls, rt serves outstandrng Euro-ASran cusrne to some of the Crty's mu: famous faces. The aquarrum whrch flows beneath y0ur feet rn the bar rs worth seerng rn rtself 9646 Little Santa Mon/ca

Mojave National Preserve After the buzz and the smog of the crty, escape to the desert mrle after mrle of barren erderness, Joshua trees and red drrt plarns.

J. Paul Getty Center Retreat from Hollywood excess to the real culture

Hemingway away

If lvlrchael Palm has whetted your appetrte wrth hrs Hemrngway adventures, why not take a look for yOurself? All fares are for departures from Scotland

Vamoose aSevrlle? Return fares from £195 plus £25 tax

Game on for Kenya7 Return fares to Narrobr from £340 plus £48 rncludrng fOur day lvlasar lvlara safarr from £195. Florrda Keys? Return fares from £201 plus £55 tax wrth car rental from £155 per week rncludrng rnsurance and unlrmrted mrleage

Cuba? Return fares to Havana from £452 plus £40 tax.

The Wrndy Crty? Return fares to Chrcago from £218 plus £55 tax Remember, for the month of November, STA Travel are promotrng Latrn Amerrca as a destrnatron. The frrst 40 people to book a speCral offer tOur 0r flrght erl recerve a fantastrc Travel Health Krt STA Travel suggest Central Amerrca as the antrdote to those wrnter blues Wrth rts year round sun The pr:strne beaches, crystal clear waters and superb drvrng of Mexrco, Belrze and Honduras are rdeal for a spot of relaxatrOh Alternatrvely, drscover the hrdden treasures of the Maya wrth a three week escorted crrcurt of Guatemala, Yucatan and Belrze from £36 per day fully rnclusrve, when booked rn conjunctron wth a week’s language EUrtIOl‘. Operated by Kumuka, thrs trrp uses local transport and combrnes off the beaten track adventure wrth vrsrts to unmrssables, such as Trkal, Lake At-tlan and Caye Caulker.

found wrthrn the walls of thrs new Center for the Frne Arts, desrgned by chhard Merer. Contarns the Getty Trust's collectron of 13th—19th century Western parntrng, plus much more. 7200 Getty Center Drive.

Mulholland Drive It's a vrew you've seen rn plenty of movres the lrghts of Los Angeles twmklrng down below rn the dark Take a car up Into the hrlls and stop off somewhere between Coldwater and Laurel Canyon Roads.

Getting there

STA Travel offer return flrghts to Los Angeles for travel January—mrd Aprrl departrng from Glasgow from £222 plus tax (approx £55), free stopover permrtted rn New York Restrrcted to under 26/students. They also offer an open fare vra Amsterdam from £234 plus £55 tax for travel January—mrd Aprrl.

STA Travel are at 184 Byres Road and The University of Strathclyde, 90 John Street Glasgow. Tel: 0141 338 6000

27 Forrest Road, Edinburgh. Tel 0131 226 7747 o 30 Upperkirkgate, Aberdeen. Tel 01224 658222 0

134 THE lIST l8 Nov—2 Dec 1999