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I (heart) California!

September 24th, 2007 at 07:11 pm

My vacation in Santa Monica was terrific! It was a perfect blend of site seeing and relaxing.

As we hoped, we made it the entire week without renting a car. Granted, we were staying in pedestrian friendly Santa Monica, but we ventured to Hollywood, downtown LA, and UCLA all by bus or Metro. I’m so glad we braved the public transportation, because it great— and I think much of Los Angeles' bad reputation for public transportation comes from people who have never tried it. Don't get me wrong- for a city of its size, LA should have a better system, but what's there is pretty good-- but also under utilized.

I used the Los Angeles Metro web site to plan our routes. Not only did we avoid the cost of renting a car, gasoline, and parking, but we were able to sit back and enjoy the sites and let someone else worry about the traffic and directions.

Friday was our first full day and also the day we did the majority of site-seeing. A few weeks before the trip I had requested tickets to be an audience member on the Dr. Phil show. I’m not a huge Dr. Phil fan, but we thought it would be an interesting experience to be on the set of a television show. We each paid $5 for all-Day MTA pass (which allowed us unlimited rides on the LA buses and Metro until 3am—typically each bus ride is $1.25 and each Metro ride is $2.50). We caught a bus just steps away from our hotel in Santa Monica to ~ 5 blocks from the Dr. Phil studio in Hollywood. The trip was ~11 miles and took approximately 45 minutes.

Being an audience member is a fun experience. Although we appeared only briefly on camera, it’s thrilling experience just to be in the audience. The topic was etiquette— mostly airline etiquette . We had two nice surprises: all audience members received a free copy of Peggy Post’s book Excuse Me, But I was Next, but the big surprise was that every audience member received a free round trip ticket on Virgin American airlines! Audience members don’t know the show’s topic until seated on the set, nor do you know if there are any surprises, so needless to say, we were thrilled!

After Dr. Phil, we caught the bus and rode about 1 mile to the corner of Hollywood and Vine St. and continued to walk down Hollywood Avenue to take in the traditional Hollywood sites, including the Kodak Theater and Grauman’s Chinese Theater. From there, we hopped on the nearly empty Metro Red Line and rode into downtown Los Angeles. From there, took it on foot and saw Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, US Bank Tower, and bought some fruit to bring back to our hotel from the Grand Central Market (and I’ll add that I paid only $2 for 4 nectarines and big bunch of grapes)! We missed the free tours of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but if you're a visitor to LA try to get there before 2pm and take one. We thought we could ride the Santa Monica Express bus back to our hotel using our MTA Day passes, but it turned out that the Santa Monica buses were exempt, so we paid $1.25 to ride the freeway express bus from downtown LA to Santa Monica. We sat on the air conditioned bus and cruised down the freeway for some 10 miles until we were back in Santa Monica. The Friday rush hour trip took about 50 minutes. As it turns out, having ridden the MTA bus twice and the Metro once, we broke even with our day passes, but at least we were saved the hassle of trying to get money out and paying fare for each ride. We were exhausted by the end of the day, but our only expense was on transportation, lunch, and some fruit at the market. Had we been driving, we would have been majorly frazzled and had a lot less cash in our wallets due to the exorbitant parking costs.

I’ll highlight some of our other feats later this week. For now, I’ll leave you with a photo:

4 Responses to “I (heart) California!”

  1. scfr Says:

    Sounds like a great trip.
    VERY cool about the free tickets!

  2. fern Says:

    if i lived in california, i would make a point to try to get tickets to see oprah or my favorite, Ellen, sometime in december, cus that's when they really amp up the free gifts.!

  3. Kikee Says:



    Good Luck getting tickets to see Oprah in California. She tapes her show in Chicago. Ellen, however, does tape in Los Angeles.

  4. threebeansalad Says:

    I LOVE Oprah, and if I ever go to Chicago, I will certainly try to get tickets (although they are hard to come by). I also like Ellen, but unfortunately, she wasn't taping on the days were were available to go. Another time!

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