Thursday, July 14, 2016

Around Los Angeles in 5 Days 2016 - Travel Itinerary

R and I have been to the United States before. It was both our 3rd time in Los Angeles, both at varying years. Los Angeles known as the "City of Angels" is very known for Hollywood, its diverse set of cultures, and the place to make it!

We initially did not plan on going to the US, but we really wanted to visit and pay respects to my grandmother who lives there. And so, we finalized that our trip will be to the US...first stop LA then Alaska.

We booked our flights for this trip using SkyScanner, assuming that it helped us book the most economic flights at our desired schedule. For this LA leg, we booked with Japan Airlines. MNL>NRT. NRT>LAX.
Flight MNL to NRT (Japan Airlines JL0746 10:05-15:35 PM) Flight NRT to LAX (Japan Airlines JL0062 17:25-11:20 AM). It cost us $715 per person. It was our first flight using Japan Airlines and it did not disappoint. We enjoyed the food, I especially love that they serve food in different styles (SkyBurger by Mos and their make your own soba, and they serve unlimited wine even for economy. The in-flight entertainment is also very good, it has a lot of good documentaries and updated movie listings. The leg room is also spacious and I did not have a hard time with the flight at all. And they also serve green tea. :) I recommend Japan Airlines over our experience with Asiana Airlines. The next time we fly to the US and have those 2 options, we will pick Japan Airlines in a heartbeat. Since we had a few hours layover, we decided to look around and buy some souvenirs from Japan. We spent $64 buying premium food produce from Japan, we figured it would be a good gift to relatives in the states.

June 4 2016
When we arrived in LAX, we were met with a very long immigration line. We were there for almost 2 hours, but one interesting thing I have noticed from my last visit was, now they have these machines that register your biometrics and passport data. But even with that electronic pass, you still have to fall in line. Fast forward, our Aunt Helen and Uncle Scott met us at the greeting area. They have not changed a bit from the last time I saw them. <3Uncle Scott drove and we talked the whole ride to Boston Lobster. R and I did not know that it was Aunt Helen's birthday!!! And their friends were throwing them a birthday lunch at Boston Lobster. I got to meet a lot of cool Aunts and Uncles....and the food was one of the best! The dishes were really good and the lobster was excellent! I highly recommend Boston Lobster. Sadly I have no idea what the prices are so I cannot say anything about that. We then went to Atlantic Seafood and Dimsum Restaurant to meet with another set of Aunt helen's friends. A lot of good chinese food. We were so happy with all the lovely food pouring. Then we went to Fry's City of Industry to look for a camera that we have been looking for. Shocking that they do not have much items anymore. :( I am saddened that they do not have as much gadgets and people like before. But we still ended up buying a bunch of accessories for gifts. Spent about $160. Then they dropped us off Hollywood Hotel. We booked Hollywood Hotel via, paid $554 for 5 nights with breakfast and internet. It sounds reasonable but we were fooled. Upon checking in, we were greeted by a tall bearded man in the front desk. I failed to get his name since we were tired, but he asked a safety deposit of $100 cash and my credit card. I asked him if we will get the $100 back and he said upon our check out. Even though it sounded weird, I decided to let it slide and just rest in our room. When we got to the room, it looked decent and sufficient. We had a big comfy bed. The toilet was large and amenities were complete. We took a shower and slept. 

June 5 2016
Got up early, was picked up by our dear Aunt Helen, and she dropped us off at our friend's Kimmy's house. Kim was our companion that day since she will bring us to both Disneylands. Kim is my sister's best friend, she is so awesome and I treat her like my sister. I have known her since forever. She was so cool to bring us to disneyland and even treat us passes + lunch + ride back home. Fun fact: no selfie sticks for both parks. When we got in, our first agenda was to watch the Frozen live performance. It was worth the 1-2 hours wait. We were really lucky that after us, the line was closed. It was the best disney performance I have watched, the costumes were top of the line, the stage lights and set was superb, and the actors and actresses were great. But among all, I love how they made the movie into a reality. They tried to keep as close to the movie as possible. They were able to do the else costume transformation and the caste building. It was great! Loved every second of it. I especially adored the actor for Olaf and the costume for Olaf. They were really creative. Anna was great too. But Elsa could still improve her voice. Afterwards, we ate at New Orleans. Kim's treat. We took home the rest of the food we could not finish. Then Kim left us so that she can work. R and I rode Star Tours (R slept standing up and I barely kept my eyes open), Pirates of the Carribean, and the Disneyland Forever water and lights show. Then soon after, Kim fetched us and we bought home some souvenirs and tsum tsum for the family. Spent about $200 for this.

June 6 2016
We took the Red Metro $3.5 to bring us to KoreaTown which was were R's high school friend lived. We met her there and took Lyf around for our food trip. We started with California Donuts, I bought a mint chocolate donut. It was fluffy and very sweet. Cost $4 each. Then we went to Vons and Target to buy some groceries for the house. Spent a little over $50. Then we headed to Little Tokyo and went to Monzo to grab our soba fix. We spent $50 for 3 soba dishes. They make their own soba noodles with their glass kitchen. It was mesmerizing to watch. I got the sea urchin soba and it was yummy. I highly suggest for noodle lovers to try this place. We took Lyf and went to SilverLake to grab our MILK dessert. They are known for their ice cream macaroons, they did not disappoint. It was $6 a piece and they tasted awesome. We then went to the Staples Center just to see what it looked like from the outside. Dropped by Sprinkles to grab a box of their world-famous cupcakes to give to my Aunt Helen. Spent $16 for a box. We then went back to our friend's apartment, waiting for our Aunt Helen to fetch us. Aunt Helen then brought us to Costco for more souvenir shopping. We spent $280 for chocolates, gifts, and food. Then we went to The Boiling Crab to have a taste of their amazing shrimps, crabs, and what not. They did not disappoint, I had fun peeling through their shells and dipping them in sauce. Their prices are also not bad. It was a very great dinner with Aunt Helen and Uncle Scott.

June 7 2016
We woke up pretty late and then we went to the Metro to go to Universal Studios. It was very convenient since it was just a few stops away. Then from their we followed the signs to the complimentary shuttle to the studios. We prepaid our 2 day pass before, paid $240 for them. It allowed us to have early access to the park at 9 AM before the gates open to the public. We werent able to use it. We arrived at around quarter to 10 am, we decided to walk around the park first. Ride despicable me rides, there was no queue since everyone was at the harry potter section. We then decided to queue at harry potter just in case we wont be able to go early tomorrow. So we queued for almost 2 hours to ride the 4D harry potter quest. It was fun but I expected more based from what my friends told me. But I am happy I was able to ride it finally. I also tried the butter beer for $5.44, I did not like it so much and had to ask R to help me finish it. We ate lunch at the simpsons land, in one of the burger places there...spent $15.25. Park food is rarely amazing, it was typical comfort food. I also saw the Jurassic Park live show, I was really amazed at how lifelike the dinosaurs were. Soon after aunt Helen picked us up and brought us to Disney Campus where Kim worked. Kim showed us around her "consumers" department. It was amazing! We saw a lot of the artists with their works and how they were doing it. Disney is so blessed with the great artists that they employ. Kim also had a lot of disney stuff that she wanted to share, she gave us a lot of merchandise to give to our nieces and nephew. Everyone was giving and we had a nice time talking with them. We had to leave early since we have a reservation at Bestia. Kim knows the chef and we were able to get a reservation. We had a lot of dishes and even drinks. It was a fun night with family. Had to trick aunt helen so that we were the ones who paid. Paid around $150. The food was amazing and the ambiance was just right.

June 8 2016
We took the metro again to universal studios. We spent most of our time taking photos with the characters. It was fun. Then we ate lunch at the harry potter land, it was not so great but fun nonetheless. It felt like we were transported back in time. We spent $43 for 2 dishes. Then just walked more and waited for Aunt Helen to fetch us. They brought us to Raffi's Place, a Mediterranean restaurant. Their portions are really big and we had to split and take home majority of the meal. The restaurant had a very lovely ambiance. My cousin even met us there and had dinner with us. It was great company over good food. We officially said our final goodbyes. Super grateful for Aunt Helen and Uncle Scott for everything they have done. They are really the most selfless people I know.

June 9 2016
Check out date. We finished packing our balikbayan box and our luggages. We called LBC for pickup and checked out at the Hotel. Remember I told you we had $100 safety deposit, they did not remind us and not gave it to us when we checked out. Really hate that they fooled us... we were innocent honeymooners, they took advantage of our trusting nature. Anyway, I will never book with Hollywood Hotel ever again. LBC van came and picked up our balikbayan box. Paid $67 to get our box back in Manila in about a month's time. Our Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Rico picked us up at the hotel and brought us to downtown LA for lunch. They brought us to The Musso and Frank Grill. It was established back in 1919 and was a common place for famous people like Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, etc... They have their own private booths. The place had a very old vintage smell and the ambiance is very quiet and private. We ordered their steak, pasta, escargot, chicken pot pie, and cakes. My aunt who had a third eye says there were a lot of spirits present in the restaurant. My uncle taught us that its better to order Medium steak since if its too bloody we can still have it cooked unlike if its Medium Well cooked incorrectly, then there is really nothing much we can do. Their grilled steak was really good. The escargot was quite good since it did not have any bad aftertaste. The pasta was good as well. Chewy. We went to Hollywood's walk of fame afterwards, just strolled around with our like cousins Ervin and Eric. Soon after we went to Griffith Observatory, admission/parking was free. We took about 1-2 hours here, but the time was still not enough to walk around and see the whole exhibit. It was really big and it was cool that they have several real life meteorites that people can touch. Another interesting exhibit was finding out your weight on the different planets. There were a lot of cool facts about space. I highly suggest a visit to this place. Great place to chill and just enjoy how great everything is. Afterwards, we went to Franco on Melrose. They serve a wicked risotto. Ambiance and food was superb. Highly recommend a visit to this place. The Risotto Nero was really great. After dinner, we rushed to the LAX airport since we had to catch our 11 30 PM flight to Anchorage. Read on to know what we did in Alaska.  

Even though we have been to LA before, it was refreshing going here with R for the first time and meeting a lot of people. It was great knowing who were the people who cared and who we should take care of. We are eternally grateful for our extended "family" in LA. They are so awesome and we will always remember what they did for us.