California 1990 (Pt2)

Universal Studios 1990

Ticket in hand, I found myself at the Greyhound bus terminal in San Francisco as one does! I’m told it’s moved these days, but back in 1990 it was a bit run down it has to be said! The décor wasn’t my problem though. Apparently the bus drivers were out on strike and the whole of the US system was running on a skeleton service! Great! Eventually after much chaos I found myself on a bus heading south to L.A., sat up front near the driver, map in hand, as he hadn’t driven there before, it wasn’t his usual route. I was to be map reader! True story – hard to believe but true. Overnight we travelled, and at day break we pulled into what I remember as the Hollywood station. I naked man banging on the door, as apparently someone had stolen everything he had, apparently including his clothes! He got shuffled off somewhere, I and a few others stayed on to the downtown LA stop. Perhaps a mistake!

If you can imagine a young kid from rural England landing in the middle of 90’s downtown LA – These days part of me laughs at it, the other half in disbelieve that I did that! I ended up in the Cecil Hotel because it was a short walk from the then LA Greyhound bus station. *Only a few weeks ago I happened to catch a trail on Netflix – I shouted out “Hey I stayed there once!” If you have a few moments may I suggest you google the hotel ..  Ohh my god!! All I can say is the outside still seems to look the same, the inside is absolutely nothing like I experienced! It was dark, run down beyond belief, and yes, there was certainly an atmosphere there! I was given a towel at the check in desk, once I had paid. The room had a window, and the toilet flushed – that’s about all the positives I can give. I had the distinct feeling I was being watched. I’ll say no more. I got something to eat, decided I’d be better off, off the street, so watched the TV and went to bed.

Next morning I didn’t have far to go to find a film crew in action – they were right next door! The wall of the Cecil Hotel is in the background!

Filming next door to Cecil Hotel

Somehow I’d figured out the bus service and got myself out to Universal Studios, Hollywood. Did all the usual things that a movie obsessed kid would do. I took the Studio Tour, even managed to catch glimpse of “Amblin Entertainment’s” home, as well as Jaws, Psycho house and “Back to the Future Square” Brilliant.

Back to the Future Square, middle of shot!
New York on the back lot
A typical movie house!
Uncle Buck’s Car
even Frankenstein’s Monster seemed to be in cheery mood!

Another day I took myself off in the other direction to Anaheim and Knott’s Berry Farm, about which I knew nothing,  only a line from the film “Poltergeist “  – “so this is your Knott’s Berry Farm solution is it?” I had fun.

Knotts” Entrance
another hotel
… wait is that a gunman?
Trouble at the Post Office
but soon sorted

Same journey next day, slightly further as I remember it, to the must see – “Disneyland” What can one say… creation,  colour, music, fun, thrills, I love it. I remember staying there as long as I could, in fact I might well have been the very last “guest” to leave that night!

Cinderella’s Castle

My last experience of LA on this trip was typical of the start. There I was sat in the Greyhound station, at night. Packed place, with all manner of people there. I ended up sitting next to a man, I’d guess in his 30’s sharpening a huge knife… “Do you believe in God?” he asks, I can’t remember how I answered, but it must have been the correct answer as I lived to tell the tale. Night bus took me back to San Francisco –  ahhh… and breath! I had one more day to re-visit my favourite spots then next morning it was yet another minibus back to the airport. What a trip – contrasts, entertainment, nature, architecture, life! What an adventure, I absolutely loved it! My first, but not last trip to USA.

If you missed it – you can read Pt1 here!

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