Thrills and spills in Los Angeles

First published in Travel & Days Out

WITH the sound of Phantom Planet's California Here We Come ringing in our ears, we hopped aboard our flight to Los Angeles.

Wandering through the home of Hollywood's a-listers feels like you are strolling through a film set.

With its tall palm trees and brilliant blue skies, most of our pictures look like we have been super-imposed on an unfeasibly bright background.

Our first stop in LA was Universal Studios Hollywood.

The film studios theme park has a new addition to its movie-based rides; Transformers 3D.

If 3D cinema was always like this I could be persuaded to part with the extra £3 more often.

As the Transformers battle it out in front of you, the car you are strapped into throws you from one scene to another before you plummet down the edge of a skyscraper.

Staff clapping you as you come off the ride feels rather cheesy but it is not often you sit on a ride that even feels close to deserving a round of applause.

I am always going to draw the line at high-fives however!

Our tickets from Attraction Tickets Direct meant we could quickly nip past the entrance queues but you will be lucky to avoid waiting for the Transformers ride. My tip is to head their fist. The rest of the day was spent cramming in as many rides as possible while being snapped with characters like Frankenstein and Scooby Doo.

Our particular faves were The Simpsons ride, which mocks all things theme park in a way only Matt Groening and his team of writers do best, and The Revenge of the Mummy ride which speeds you away from scarab beetles before you hit a dead end and go through all the twists and turns again but this time backwards.

We rounded off the day with a Dodgers game in downtown LA. Tickets are sold in the club shop in the Universal Studios’ City Walk and a free bus is provided from the Union metro station.

Despite the car park holding more than 16,000 cars we were relieved not to be driving as traffic was bumper to bumper, even 30 minutes after the game had started.

Our stay at Banana Bungalow on Hollywood Boulevard meant the Walk of Fame began just a few pavement slabs away but once we had our fill of being pestered to join star home tours we headed to Santa Monica.

This felt like the real LA.

With its white sand peppered with Baywatch-style lifeguard huts and blue sea and designer shops and cafes, this felt like the place we would spot a Hollywood star grabbing a low fat latte and poppy seed bagel.

But instead we came closer to bumping into a mountain lion as news broke that one had been roaming through the Santa Monica shopping mall just hours earlier.

I suppose it goes to prove how many sides there are to LA, glamorous and chilled out but always just one step away from something a bit more wild.

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