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Touring LA homes
Touring LA homes
Saying G'day to Jaws
Venice Beach

Outback Jack in LA

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Getaway asked Vadim Dale, also known as Outback Jack, to show us around Los Angeles.

He started off with a limousine ride around the very swanky suburb of Bel Air, home to the rich and famous. Houses are enormous with immaculate gardens and lots of security. If you fancy a peek at where they live there are literally dozens of tours and maps to choose from. The concierge at your hotel can steer you in the right direction.

Universal Studios Theme Park is a terrific way to spend a day. It's up there with Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm as "things to do" in LA.

It is a very slick operation and you get an inside look at sets and discover some behind-the-scenes secrets of legendary films. You can even be on the screen.

A train ride around the park takes you to many familiar scenes — streets you have seen in movies, Jaws leaping from the water, backlots and maybe even a movie in the making.

There are pulse-pounding rides including the worlds of Jurassic Park, Terminator and other big movies, the new Revenge of the Mummy rollercoaster and the dark, supernatural world of Transylvania in Van Helsing — Fortress Dracula, Shrek 4D, special effects stages and Water World, the hit movie coming to life.

Fear Factor Live is opening in the northern hemisphere spring, providing gravity-defying stunts in front of thousands of people and even has creatures from nightmares creeping and crawling across your skin.

There are plenty of places to eat, loads of photo opportunities and it is a most enjoyable way to spend a day.

Vadim took us to Melrose Street, made famous by Aaron Spelling. It is the bohemian heart of Los Angeles with interesting vintage stores, cafes and plenty of fortune tellers.

Krista is one of the town's more reputable readers and deals the cards at the Bodhi Tree metaphysical bookstore, a place frequented by Shirley MacLaine.

After you've been told about your past and future, Melrose is a terrific place to wander and shop. Lacy Primitive & Fine Are have pieces from the Han Shan Dynasty, Quantrain carries unique antiques and Rose Tarlow sells one-of-a-kind furnishings. The rare Italian bath line, Santa Maria Novella, is there, and Joann Smyth Pearls and Fine Jewelery has one-off pieces. Sally Hershberger, hairdresser to Meg Ryan, will give you a new look for just $600.

There's too many things to mention but you will certainly have fun exploring Melrose!

Next stop — Venice Beach. The lively ocean-front walk is always packed with jugglers, acrobats, tarot readers, hat sellers, bands and all sorts of people promoting various issues.

Bikini clad women and muscle-bound men — and vice-versa — parade along the promenade and there a examples of local artists' works everywhere.

In 1900 the stretch of coastline was a depressing swamp, and tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney took it to make his own little Italy. He drained the swamp and dug 26kms of canals, around which he built a small city.

Venice Beach has a colourful history — in the 1920s and 30s it became a community of speakeasies, protection rackets and gambling. Later in the 1900s it attracted whatever counterculture was the flavour and still has the image of free-wheeling, laid-back people just doing their thing.


The west coast of the United States


Universal Studios entry is around $67 per person.

Flight Centre has return economy airfares. Return economy fares start at:
  • Brisbane $1099 + tax $254
  • Sydney $1099 + tax $267
  • Melbourne $1099 + tax $324
  • Adelaide $1099 + tax $330
  • Darwin $1429 + tax $343
  • Perth $1519 + tax $326

    To book a flight call Flight Centre 131 600

    More information

    Universal Studios Hollywood
    100 Universal City Plaza
    Universal City, CA 91608

    Bodhi Tree Bookstore
    0011 1 310 659 1733
    8585 Melrose Ave
    Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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