March 11th, 2022
The Alarm clock went off really early on the morning we were leaving the Island. We had an 8:00 am Flight out of Honolulu airport and with all the disruption and problems surrounding travel wanted to give ourselves as much time as possible at the airport.
When we woke it was still dark and the City really quiet. We called down to the desk and got them to bring the car around for us. A few last-minute checks and we headed down to the VAelt. We hopped in the car and the sky was just starting to lighten as we headed off for the airport.
Arrival at the Car Rental Center was trouble-free, and a huge improvement over the old location which had you trawling around the back streets of Honolulu! We then hopped on a Shuttle bus and off to the terminal.
Check-in and bag drop were hassle-free and there were basically zero restrictions, the first time we have traveled like this for a while. Security was quick and easy, and we were through to our terminal in no time. Just enough time to grab a quick breakfast at Starbucks and then head to the gate.
Hawaiian Air A330 – Honolulu to Los Angeles
The flight out here was a complete nightmare really, many due to our poor booking decisions. But we were utterly exhausted yet unable to sleep and we basically received zero services for the entire flight. This was odd and Hawaiian prides itself on being the poly domestic US airline to provide free food. Yet on the way out we got ZIP
However, coming back things were different. After the Snack service, which is charged, we had a meal service that consisted of Teriyaki Chicken and Rice, which was reasonably pleasant. We also got a small cup of rum punch which was pretty horrid, but at least we got a sip of alcohol!
The flight overall was far better than our flight out, which was really rough noisy, and just unpleasant. It was also really very short and we were on approach to LAX before we knew it!
Los Angeles International is not our favorite airport, but as we are flying domestically the journey through the airport was fairly easy, we did have an incredible distance to trek through the terminals however and when were finally surfaced into the bright Los Angeles Air we still had a huge slog down the drop-off area to the Rental Car Terminal Buses.
We had booked a car through AVIS which is not our usual approach to hiring a car. We usually use an aggregator site but the prices at the minute are so insane and we have taken to more creative ways of securing a booking. This time a direct booking through AVIS came out far cheaper than most of the comparison sites, $550 for 7 days was still pretty savage, but it was better than the $1000 plus quotes we were getting.
We had booked through the AVIS preferred reward program which is a simple sign-up process and free, but gets you priority cars and in this location a separate check-in. The queues at the regular desk were 30-45 mins long, at the preferred, there was no queue!
Our agent quickly got us sorted out and handed us our keys to a Hyundai Elantra. We don’t get these in the UK so we’re a little unsure. Honestly, it’s got some pretty quirky looks but we really liked it. The interior is really Driver Centric and feels a bit like a spaceship cockpit. We never figured out what half the buttons do and couldn’t find the “Take-Off” switch, but it was super smooth.
Honestly, we considered for a moment whether it was electric it was that quiet and smooth. Super low to the ground and just a great cruiser. Ok, we wouldn’t buy one, but as a rental that was to spend most of the trip in a parking lot, it was great!
We headed out of the Aiport and slung the hotel’s address into the GPS and poof!.. our 30min drive became 1:30 just like that. Thanks, L.A. Traffic!
Google really tried hard to get us around the hold-ups and really we think may be too hard. As we were led on a wild goose chase around L.A. residential districts and suburbs. Annoyingly we would probably have been a lot faster if Google had taken into consideration the HOV(High Occupancy Vehicle (2+ People per car)) Lanes we were eligible to use but it’s not got that feature yet!
Still, if the journey was to take 1:30 we would prefer to see a little of the real L.A. rather than be sat still on a freeway. Eventually, after the grand tour of the City, we arrived at Hollywood. It is always a thrill to roll down Hollywood Boulevard, no matter how many times we visit it’s still just cool to be in Hollywood. Even if it’s still really run-down. We were not staying however as we had our hotel booked just up the road in Burbank, the real Hollywood ready for our Universal Studios Tour Tomorrow.
Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City
Again, due to some pretty obscure pricing strategies in the City at the minute, we really struggled to find a perfect hotel. W search for that blend of value/location/luxury. We love staying down in Santa Monica, but the prices were obnoxious currently, and we were seeing things mainly up this end, so it did not make much sense. Venice is a bit iffy right now, and we would again be at the wrong end of the city, there were some cheap options in Hollywood but there were pretty rough.
Finally, we stumbled across the Hilton, overlooking the park. The prices were really quite reasonable considering the convenience and pretty high end of the hotel, so we plumped for 3 nights right next to the park.
At check-in, the Clerk was really helpful. We explained our trip and how we were seriously messed up with jetlag etc and asked really nicely if we could get a park view, which we had not paid for. She seemed to really try and sort us out with one, even disappearing in the back to discuss options with the supervisor, but nothing was available, she seem really sorry, but we were fine, we hadn’t paid the extra and were just hoping. Still, she got us a great room right up on one of the highest floors with great Sunset views overlooking North Hollywood, Burbank, and the San Gabriel Mountains.
We headed up to the room and settled in. It was already 6:30 pm and things felt a little weird, we had not really done anything today but felt exhausted and jetlagged pretty bad. We had planned a short sightseeing trip up to the Griffith Observatory, but it was way too late and we were way too tired.
Universal City Walk
Instead, we just decided to head over to the Universal City Walk, grab something to eat, explore a bit then grab an early night. It was going to be a big day tomorrow!
After a good look around we ended up in Margaritaville, a terrible tourist trap but it’s nice and consistent. We grabbed a couple of their excellent Margs and tucked into some tacos and Shrimp Mac And Cheese. The Fish Tacos were great but the mac-and-cheese was pretty disappointing, small portion and just creamy pasta with some prawns on!
We then slowly headed back, the Hilton is a 5-10 minute walk from the park so we took our time exploring the various shops and sights in the CityWalk area. It’s all very touristy but exactly what you expect. while we were looking around shops actually started shutting on us which was really a cue to get back to the hotel and called it a day.
It really was an odd day, we had done next to nothing but it had seemed to take us all day, the jetlag was having an effect, we never like traveling East, and we were lucky we were so tired we could pass out despite if still being quite early according to our body clocks.