So we’re back in West Hollywood. Kinda like catching up with an old friend really. You know their quirks, you know what you have in common, you by pass the touchy subjects and jump straight into reminiscing.

We covered the bulk of the West Hollywood stores previously here and here, but just to quickly recap, Flightclub LA and Sportie LA are always good stops for consignment/pre owned gear, though some of their prices are starting to get a little greedy. If you worry more about how good you look while skateboarding than how good you can actually skateboard then you might wanna pop your head into the stores of
Supreme, Diamond Supply and Crooks and Castles. Each trying to out do each other in hipster arrogance and poor service. What’s worse is none have the inventory to back the attitude, with limit range and sizes, give the glorified check out chicks a miss, there’s nothing you cant buy online or at another store for cheaper.

Flightclub LA

Sportie LA

Johnny Cupcakes is always worth a stop in for in store exclusives. A recent subtraction from this cluster of shops is Loyal Army, sadly they pretty much upped and closed their store overnight with very little notice. They are however still selling online and from their San Francisco store in Haight.

Japan LA

On the plus side, JapanLA has moved on to Melrose not too far from their old location to a newer and bigger store. Still the same good selection, abundance of Hello Kitty merch, friendly staff, sale items and now also sporting a small gallery room at the back with works from local artists.

Meltdown Comics

Last stop in West Hollywood was Meltdown Comics. Easily one of the biggest comic stores we’ve seen in awhile. Huge selection of comics and just as big selection of collectibles, figures, toys and plushes ranging from movie/comic based items to urban vinyl collectibles and blind boxes. They also have the complete range of So So Happy merchandise, which means if you’ve got a sweet tooth for the sickly cute and colourful you’ll no doubt go into a diabetic coma here.

Pop Killer

While you’re there, pop over the road to Pop Killer. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling of vintage and vintage styled new items. Mostly clothing but also a range of accessories, knick knacks, novelties and house hold items.

Mulholland Drive

As the sun slowing slipped away at a leisurely 8pm we took a drive up to Muholland Drive. Just follow the road up to the lookout (with fixtures and signage, not just dirt!), even though there are spots before this, parking is a little hit and miss as is the view. Don’t forget to take a jacket as well, those mountain breezes are very unforgiving! The view here is mostly of west LA, to see more of downtown follow the road around and head east through the tiny residential streets. You will eventually go over the mountain and start heading down, half way down on a rather Mt. Akina style of road, there’s a dirt spot to pull over to get your cityscape pano on.

LA cityscape (click for big)

Next up, we hit the downtown area where dodgy and awesome go hand in hand like Jesse James and Kat Von D!

Los Angeles 2011 part #1 – Arrival, Melrose Trading Post
Los Angeles 2011 part #2 – West Hollywood shopping, Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles 2011 part #3 – Downtown shopping – Fashion District
Los Angeles 2011 part #4 – Downtown shopping – Japantown
Los Angeles 2011 part #5 – Steel Panther @ The House of Blues 17/5/11
Los Angeles 2011 part #6 – Hollywood sign, Farmer’s Market
Los Angeles 2011 part #7 – Peterson Automotive Museum
Los Angeles 2011 part #8 – Greater LA area shopping
Los Angeles 2011 part #9 – Hollywood sight seeing with Orbic Air
Los Angeles 2011 part #10 – Driving in Los Angeles/California

Complete Los Angeles 2011 photo gallery here

So you’ve shopped yourself silly and you’re tired of trekking for hours and not getting anywhere. Time for a bit of relaxing sight seeing, and if you do it right, a lot less wallet intensive.

If you’re staying in Times Square then its an obvious first stop. Try to see it during the day and night for some vast contrasts.

Photo tip: If you wish to get a less cluttered shot at night or some long exposures you’ll have to wait till after midnight, closer to 1am before the bulk of the crowd has left. Worth it to keep the weirdos from standing in the middle of your frame staring at you and messing up your shot.

Ferris Wheel - Toys R Us, Times Square

Our faves in Times Square were of course the Toys R Us and M&M’s World stores. Even if you’re not a fan of toys or chocolate, in which case you may want to consult your local physician, both stores are a must see and are conveniently open late. Toys R Us sports a full sized 60ft Ferris wheel, Jurassic Park T-Rex, Empire State Building Lego replica complete with King Kong, a life size version of Barbie’s two story doll house and many more comic and movie characters. There are also plenty of hands on demos and lollies/candy section.

Lego Buildings - Toys R Us, Times Square

M&M World Times Square

Across the way, is M&M’s World, which, you guessed it, competes with Hello Kitty for the title of the most licensed products. Tees, mugs, stationery to collectible NASCAR models and shower curtains, it if it has a space for a logo then you’ll probably find it here. Also see the great wall o candy and stay on the look out for the M&M characters. Say “wassup” to Blue for me (:

Just in case you didn’t get enough of a sugar fix, a couple doors down is the Hershey‘s store, for those that like their chocolate sweet AND salty. Considerably smaller but just as busy, Hershey’s has the same deal but with Kisses and Peanut Butter Cups instead.

A few blocks north is “Top of the Rock” which, as the name suggests, the top of Rockefeller Plaza (aka 30 Rock, yep, the TV show in which its filmed along with other faves like the “Today” show). Whether you go here or to the Empire State Building is more a personal preference. For us the pluses over ESB were:

– cheaper
– only one security check point
– lines and wait time were almost non-existent
– no additional fees to go to higher levels
– no crazy stair climbing
– 1 enclosed and 2 open air levels
– only a couple stories shorter than the ESB (completely unnoticeable when you’re up there)
– the view is the same
– you get to see and photograph the ESB (frame it right and you can get the Statue of Liberty or Brooklyn bridge in there as well)

Try and get there about an hour or 2 before sunset to beat the rush, find a nice spot and watch the sunset and the city light up. We were fortunate to have decent visibility when we went, but like any big city, be prepared for smogged out days with dirty brown sunsets.

Regardless of which vantage point you chose remember its really high up so as soon as the sun sets it can get quite cool, so bring a jacket. Times 2 plus beanie and gloves if its in the cooler months.

NYC view north from "Top of the Rock" (click for big)

NYC view south from "Top of the Rock" (click for big)

If you chose ESB, you’ll only be a couple blocks away from Grand Central station. The location of many a movie scene’s meeting point, abandonment and “we’ll lose em here” ‘s. Check the Sky Ceiling in the main concourse for zodiac art painted by Frenchman Paul Helleu.

Main Concourse - Grand Central Station, NYC (click for big)

If you want to jump on a train then this is the place to do it, there’s a line that will take you pretty much anywhere and on the chance that you rush and catch the one heading in the wrong direction its only a matter of getting off at the next stop and crossing to the other side of the platform, just make sure your Metro Card is topped up.

One stop that may not immediately ring any bells is Bowling Green, right near Battery Park on Manhattan‘s southern tip. Here you can have a relaxing day in the park, no doubt very popular in the warmer months with is sea side location, but for us it was to take the short walk to the South Ferry Terminal for the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty.

Now you can easily spend big bucks for the countless tours to see the ol’ girl but at a cost of not just money but time in queues and security, not to mention when you get there, Liberty Island (the island its on) is very small, so photos are all upskirts and internal access is limited, so no, you cant climb into the crown and blast Jackie Wilson, Ghostbusters 2 styles. Another misleading note from the same movie is the misconception of its actual size. Its less than 50m high so its not Godzilla or even the Stay-Puff man.

That aside, if you want the cheapest and least competition from other tourists, then the Staten Island ferry is the way to go. It’s a commuter ferry so mostly business/everyday types. We had no problem getting a spot for some photos on either the front or back decks.

Photo tip: Leaving Manhattan the statue is on your right (starboard) side. Take a long lens for a nice tight level crop

Not long ago, you could actually stay on board the ferry and just wait for it to “reverse” back to Manhattan, however now they ask everyone to disembark. Make sure you don’t leave the terminal otherwise you will have to pay, instead just circle back round to the entrance side. If you got a couple minutes to kill, grab a bite to eat in one of the eateries or fresh fruit vendors in the terminals. If not, don’t sweat it, there’s food (and beer) available on board the ferry.

Statue of Liberty

Back on the mainland, head back to Fulton St. station to visit the World Trade Center.

That whirlwind run was all we had time for in Manhattan before we hitched a subway ride to Brooklyn.

New York City 2010 part #1 – The flight in…
New York City part #2 – Shopping: Midtown
New York City part #3 – Bronx Zoo
New York City part #5 – Sight Seeing – Brooklyn Markets and Gardens
New York City part #6 – Shopping: Soho

New York City photo gallery here


Toontown panorama - click for big

Disneyland 2010 part #1 here

On to something a lot more innocent and pretty much a must when hitting Disneyland… the Teacup ride, as part of Fantasyland! So simple yet so fun, even the most motion sickness prone will have no problem on this ride as you can control how fast the cup spins, via a “steering wheel”. Wait time was around 20-30min.

Tea cup ride

Also in Fantasyland you’ll find the Matterhorn Bobsleds, the grand King Arthur’s Carousel and of course the renowned Disney castle. With the success of the current remake the Alice in Wonderland movie, the ride based on the original animated version had about a 40min wait but worth it for a bit of nostalgia. Just ignore the kids asking where Johnny Depp was *facepalm*

Alice in Wonderland ride

Hang around the castle entrance for song and dance routines from Disney classics like Mary Poppins and later in the evening for the closing fireworks.

Mary Poppins show

Try as you might but you’ll be hard pressed to escape Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Pixie Hollow features without a set of fairy wings or a fluffy glitter wand!

Heading towards 12 o’clock on the Disney map clock is a place that would have WHS and building code inspectors in fits but I’d be damned if I don’t want a curved house, rainbow coloured with oversized tiling and supports! Mickey’s Toontown, is the home to all the Disney toon characters, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and friends and their wonky architecture buildings where you don’t know whether they’re real or drawn on!


In the streets you’ll also see objects and fixtures perfect for a holiday snap, there’s even signs to guide you where to take the photos. Completing the warped world of toons are random objects like mailboxes and telephones that talk! I don’t know who was on the other end of the line but I was pretty certain if I slammed the phone down hard enough it would explode at the other end.


Toontown is also the opposite stop to the main entrance for the Disney Railroad.

Continuing on is Frontierland. For some, the highlight would be the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad rollercoaster, for others it would be the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ – an all you can eat meatfest, but alas that too had a wait time of 45min, so it would be best to get in early if you want something to fill you up before you hit the bobsleds.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

The rest of Frontierland, namely the riverboat and pirate features were closed for maintenance. So, again, if there’s a particular ride you want to go on, make sure you check the schedule for maintenance days before booking.

Adjacent lands are Critter Country with “can we go, can we go, can we go to..” Splash Mountain, Adventureland with Indian Jones and more Tiki and tribal paraphernalia than a New Zealand drum and bass gig and New Orleans Square celebrating the deep south in the 1800’s minus the slavery with another staple attraction, the Haunted Mansion.
Photo tip:If you’re up for taking photos inside, you’ll need fast glass, super high ISO and slow shutter. Try to meter on the holographic ghosts as anywhere else is pitch dark so the holograms will be completely blown out. Be ready at the end of the ride for a shot of yourself in the mirror with a new friend 😉

Ghosts in the Haunted Mansion

By late afternoon, you’ll more than likely will be seeking refuge from the crowd and from being on your feet all day, then what better way than to spend 20min or so on the Disney Railroad. The train circles the whole of the park and makes 4 stops. To liven up the journey between the “behind the scenes” areas, there are 2 recreations, one of the Grand Canyon complete with wildlife and the other of a prehistoric era with a variety of dinosaurs, both very impressive and look very realistic. They come up and go by rather quickly (depending on the enthusiasm of your driver) so have your camera at the ready.

Grand Canyon scene

Prehistoric scene

At the end of the day you can choose to fight the rush at the souvenir store at the main entrance, hang around for the closing parade and fireworks or you could pick up your gifts through out the day and choose to get back to West Hollywood for more shopping, then you’ll want to beat the rush and step out a little early.

If you’re on a “tour”, you should still have a couple departure times to choose from, which you will be told when you are dropped off, or will have it as part of your itinerary. Also remember that the bus will make multiple stops so check with the driver if you want to be dropped some where other than your original pick up point to save on redundant traveling. If it’s a little out of their way don’t forget to be a good American and tip them for their troubles 😉

So that concludes a big day at a big theme park and the end to the Los Angeles stop. Next up, its time to start spreading the news, we’re going to wake up in a city that never sleeps to find we’re king of the hill.. A number one…. NEW YORK CITY.

Disney castle

Complete Disneyland gallery here

If you missed the first part of our LA adventures, check them out here

Sunset Blvd

Keep on cruisin down Melrose and you’ll come across a skate shop – few less cliché skate items/brands and a few Nike SB items; Fat Beats for your hiphop music needs; forget trying to find the Footlocker, its gone but is still listed in directory searches; plenty of little boutique clothing and jewellery stores; then a few metres right, into N Fuller Av is JapanLA. As the name suggests, they stock cutsie Japanese inspired fashion, mostly Tokidoki but with more variety and generous sale items. There’s even boxes of clearance items at the back, hello Gloomy Bear figures for $7. The staff are very friendly and very easy on the eyes 😉 They also stock Mr. Egg and Mr. Toast! ^__^
Shopping in between season means you get winter bargains like Tokidoki hoodies for $30-40US. Winner!

The vinyl obsession continues a couple doors down with Munky King. This store is set up more like an art gallery than a retail store. Minimal lush fittings and an art space towards the rear of the store. They stock a big range of the usual Kidrobot and associate style vinyls as well as a few other more obscure designs and artists. There’s also a small selection of apparel. Definitely the place to visit if you’re getting sick of Dunnys or Labbits.

On the subject of vinyls and similar toys/action figures, be ready to pull them out of your carry on at American customs, especially those with small parts like Revoltech figures. Thanks to the unusual shapes and small parts, under the x-ray machine they tend to come up as “unknown”.

The shops start to thin off after this, but hook a left into La Brea for a couple of LA’s colourful landmarks. First is Pink’s Hot Dogs, no, not the singer but just as famous with many celebrities choosing to pop in for a quick bite and also being featured in many movies and TV shows. We weren’t disappointed when we walked passed and saw a banner “Pink’s welcomes David Hassellhoff“. Sure enough, The Hoff was there slingin dogs to a line half way down the block. Though a long line up is hardly out of the norm and is classed as part of its charm. We didn’t have time to sample the cuisine but all reports say its worth the wait.

Pink's Hotdogs on La Brea Hollywood

If you didn’t want to wait for food there’s a few fast food places including Macca’s as you head north on La Brea. Couple blocks on, you’ll also come across a Best Buy (like a cross between Office Works and Harvey Norman) and a group of shops including Target. In this centre, if you walk up the stairs to Target, there’s a landing where you have a clear view of the Hollywood sign. Perfect if you aren’t going up in the hills to check it out. Photographer’s tip: for a nice big shot of the sign – point and shoot users – you’ll need at least a 10x zoom; dslr users – 200mm is ok but 300mm if you want to fill the frame. Another photo op is available on Sunset Blvd at the intersection looking west at sunset (they don’t call it that for nothing!) against a backdrop of the clichéd palm tree lined street.

Hollywood sign

A block and a bit further you’ll come across everyone’s favourite tattooist, Kate Von D and her famous LA Ink store aka High Voltage Tattoo. If you’re familiar with the TV series, the store is just as crazy in real life with wall to wall decorations of memorabilia, varies knick knacks and art pieces. Even if you only have a passing interest in the pierced and painted, simply hanging round the store sees all matter of subjects from the quirky to the down right weird! Good luck getting an appointment on short notice tho!

If you’re Google mapping, search for “High Voltage Tattoo” which is the actual store, “LA Ink” shows up as its studio which is further down the block.

LA Ink - High Voltage Tattoo on La Brea, Hollywood

Beginning of Hollywood walk of fame

About 4 blocks after that and passing Jim Henderson’s Muppet Studio, you’ll hit Hollywood Blvd, which is the start of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and home to iconic landmarks such as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe it or not and Capitol Records Tower.

Hollywood Blvd

There are also plenty of tacky tourist shops on this strip, but the pricing for the most part is reasonable and you can pick up multiple souvenir tee’s for $10US. Just check their quality first, even though the design might be the same, the consistency of the shirts tend to vary.

Hollywood Blvd

By now you’re probably just about spent but if you’ve still got a couple bucks left in your wallet and the shopping bags haven’t completely severed your fingers off, jump in a cab and head to the Beverly Center
On the cheap: find a bus that goes all the way down N La Brea to W 3rd St then get another that goes from there out to La Cienega Blvd.

The Beverly Center is probably the closest you’ll find to Brisbane’s own Myer center. Couple large higher end Department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s and then the countless specialty shops with the majority leaning towards female shoes and apparel. There is a cinema and food court on the top level but the real reason to head here is for the view. There’s an outdoor courtyard on the top level with a nice broad 180 degree view of LA.

Photographers tip: bring a tripod to set on a chair to shoot over the glass partition or a point and shoot to sit on top of one of the frame if you’re shooting at night to get pass the reflections, unless of course you carry a black bed sheet around!

LA at night - view from the Beverly Center (click for big)

In the way of sneakers you have a choice of 2 sporting stores Champs and Finish Line and 1 specialist (on the top floor level 8 ) Shiekh Shoes and Footlocker (floor 6). While only Shiekh Shoes has a selection of slightly more obscured models and colourways the real benefit is they all have a good selection of items on sale at great prices. 2 pairs of Adidas Attitudes for $50US? Don’t mind if I do! The Footlocker here is quite large as well so there’s a chance you’ll find a few extra colourways.

Useless fact: In the movie “Volcano” they have scenes when the center was still under construction.

By now, you’ll probably be as broke and broken as we were. We contemplated paying $50 for a cab back to Santa Monica but with a bus stop on the corner, we caught one up La Cienega Blvd to Santa Monica Blvd, got some booze and aspirin from the CVS drug store and then another bus all the way back out to 4th street in Santa Monica for a fraction of the cost.

Back in Santa Monica we hit the hay so we could hit boardwalk the next day.

Next up… Santa Monica and Venice Beach!
Los Angeles holiday photos here

Los Angeles part #1 – West Hollywood
Los Angeles part #2 – West Hollywood(pt 2)
Los Angeles part #3 – Santa Monica and Venice Beach Shopping
Los Angeles part #4 – Santa Monica and Venice Beach Sightseeing