Thursday, May 21, 2015

[LOS ANGELES] Universal CityWalk

The plan was to go to Universal City, but knowing myself too well I knew that my to-do list would always depend on my sleeping habits and how willing they are to cooperate. I flew to LA without a plan, and it worked just fine for the last few days. What happens is I would sleep until 4 PM, then take a shower and have some snacks before my friends pick me up to go somewhere for the night. Tonight was no different, and the destination was Universal City after all. At least I ended up somewhere, right?

This being my third Universal Studios experience, I can tell you that the rumors are indeed true. They all look alike, pretty much like how Disney Parks all tend to resemble one another. I couldn't give a good assessment of the park itself, though, because going inside was not part of the plan. Besides, it was already closed for the day when we arrived so there was no chance. In any case, the walk to the park is similar to those in Singapore and Osaka, except that Universal City is not called a “city” for no reason.

Yes, the theme park exists and serves as the main draw, but Universal CityWalk itself is littered with restaurants, bars, and many other attractions that make it a good place to go to if you want to socialize with friends. Unlike the one in Singapore or Osaka where people tend to go to just see the park itself, the one in LA also caters to locals who just want to have a good shot of alcohol or ride a mechanical bull at Saddle Ranch, perhaps all while rocking the dance floor with good old friends.

The usual suspects are present: Hard Rock Café; the big globe with the giant Universal Studios sign; that shop where you can die happily of candy overdose; and all the neon lights you can enjoy in a dark but peaceful evening. I guess what we are trying to say here is that Universal CityWalk is an attraction in itself where you can have a good time EVEN IF you don’t enter the theme park. I don’t think such is the case for those in Osaka and Singapore. Okay, how redundant could I get? Point taken, huh!

After parking her car, my friend and I went in for some sightseeing, and to hunt for the other friends meeting us there somewhere. We were greeted by a good view of two scantily-clad Samba dancers putting on a show to attract customers. The resto-bar where they work is aptly called Samba, where you can have unlimited barbeque for around USD 40 each, if I remember it correctly. All I can recall is that we agreed on how pricy that would be, which is why we ended up at Saddle Ranch.

There is an indoor skydiving thingy close to the parking lot. I forgot how much it costs but I don't remember overreacting or anything so the price must not be that prohibitive. I would have tried it any other day, but we were all hungry and I think I prefer the real thing over the simulated experience. We then went ahead and walked by a big stage with a giant monitor playing music videos. Next to it was the cinema ticket booth. This is where most people take selfies because there is a big open space for crowds.

I turned down my friends’ offers to take a photo of me in front of the globe. I think I already did that in Osaka and Singapore. Well this is LA, but to me it’s just the same globe. Instead, I took the been-there-done-that selfie in front of the arc which says Universal Studios Hollywood. With half a dozen pine trees serving as the arc’s bodyguards, there is no doubt that we are in California, despite the not so legible “Hollywood” label, what with its relatively smaller size.

I feel like I should not be blogging about this California trip because this is more on catching up with friends and relatives, so I wouldn't really say that I came here for tourism. But what the heck, who am I kidding. This has always been a “look!-I-did-this-and-that-here-and-there” kind of blog. This is about the personal experience, not the view count, and definitely not about the how-to's. That’s what Wikitravel is for, and they are already doing a really good job at it.

The Saddle Ranch was almost empty. We were wondering why, but rather immediately deduced that it’s because of the Memorial Day Holiday on Monday. Most people just take Friday off to have a longer weekend, so most people who would normally come were most likely already on their way to Vegas or somewhere else. In a way, it was a good thing, because we absolutely enjoyed the quiet ambiance and lack of partygoers. Wow, we are getting old indeed, hating on noise, teenagers, and shit.

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