It was a Friday. The Friday after Thanksgiving; Yes, Black Friday! While most of USA shopped, we decided to hang out at one of the most happening places on the west coast of the United States – Hollywood Boulevard.
It was a sudden trip; an almost last minute one with little planning, so to speak. We had two days in Los Angeles, and ‘Hollywood Boulevard’ was one place we weren’t going to miss. Not wanting to cram the day, our itinerary had just 3 bullets: Walk of Fame, Madame Tussauds and the Chinese Museum, apart from trying to catch a good view of the Hollywood Sign. It turned out that the day was more action-packed than we expected.
It was almost 11 in the morning when we made our entry at the palm-tree lined destination. We had just come up Vine Street and had seen some of the stars of the famous Walk of Fame. When we got onto Hollywood Boulevard there were more stars. The place seemed rather quiet. There weren’t very many people out on the streets and nobody seemed to be doing any Black Friday shopping there. In fact, most shops still had their shutters down. It was almost noon, yet it was only a couple of tattoo parlours and some souvenir shops that were open for business. As we walked another two blocks westward, there were more gift stores, more display windows, more people and even more action. Before we knew it, we had walked into a sea of people and and a busy street lined with shops that sold everything from curios and weird wigs to flashy boots and colourful toys. There was even a medical marijuana outlet. There were mannequins in skimpy clothes and tour operators fishing for our attention, desperate for a good catch of tourists.
Just as I was taking in the sights and sounds, and all the energy of Hollywood Boulevard, I noticed something for the little ones in our group: a Mickey Mouse sitting before Donald Duck’s star (of the Walk of Fame). After a few pictures with the popular Disney character, what must we see across the street — walking-talking figures of none other than Minnie and Donald himself. Wait, there was Cookie Monster too and his yellow beaked friend. And there were pirates who looked like they had just walked off the sets of Pirates of the Caribbean.
That apart, we had briefly caught sight of the Hollywood Hills and its famous sign and also spotted Jimmy Kimmel’s studio, Hollywood Boulevard’s Hard Rock Cafe, Kodak Theatre, Chinese Theatre and Madame Tussauds. And we had even walked past Ripley’s and Hollywood Guiness Museum, when the big boys (read dads) finally gave in to a desperate operator who promised to take us on a one-hour ‘Superstar Homes’ tour. Why not? We were just a few miles away from the affluent Beverly Hills, that we had heard so much about.
So off we went to the neighbourhood where the stars dwell. The Beverly Hills tour is a story for another post. After we were done with that, we went and had the better-late-than-never lunch and made our way towards Tussauds, a place we had to see before nightfall.
Over the years I had come across pictures of several pieces of work from this reputed institution and I just had to see Madame Tussauds’ for myself and see if my eyes had been deceiving me. You have to see it to believe it. There was George Lopez, Conan O’brien, Jamie Fox, Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie … and the list goes on. I’d give full marks to the figures of Joan Rivers, Tiger Woods and Bruce Willis. My other favourites were Mr. President in the Oval Office, Will Smith, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Morgan Freeman. Even Halle Berry and Micheal Jackson looked real. It was also great seeing Charlie Chaplain, Simon Cowell, Madonna and Lady Gaga up close and personal.
By the time we star-struck tourists exited the wax wonder-house, the sun had set and the Hollywood boulevard that greeted us was a different one. The lights were all on and there were lights of every colour. The stars on the lamp posts shone bright and the activity on the boulevard had hit its height: there were song-and-dance performances on the sidewalk, a person showing off some tricks and serpentine lines of people trying catch the late evening show of the Muppets. I believe that was Hollywood Boulevard in its full glory. It had ‘showbiz’ written all over it.