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Harvey and Abbie were brilliant... please tell them!
Keep up the good work and looking forward to my next travel with you!
Excellent, attentive, personal service
I wouldn't use anyone else to book our holiday/flights. From luxury holidays to daughter's gap year flights. Joe Orton sorted everything. He found us an upgrade to First Class and the BA service to Santiago was very impressive and was definitely worth doing as it's a 15 hour flight. But we flew back from Buenos Aires and the BA business class was very disappointing, as was the food. Very poor.
Marshall a superstar as always
Everything went well
We were disappointed with our seat allocation on Iberia
As always, very efficient and helpful.
Tristram as always was excellent. I always recommend
Many thanks again to DialAFlight for a professional, competitive and first class service throughout. A special mention to Troy who from start to finish gave us his best attention and made the whole experience enjoyable.
The flights worked out OK, apart from being split up on both flights down to Argentina. Next time I would only travel British Airways both ways - Iberia was mostly Spanish announcements and the service/refreshments were not as often or good.
All first class
Amazing trip. Great service. Thank you Reid and his team
As usual, excellent service by my favourite agency! Thanks a lot!
Our cancelled flight was well handled. We await response from AA for the downgrade refund Don't advise transit through Miami. Hellish queues and delays
Excellent service out of hours when we had to change the flight due to an accident in Brazil. The lady was most helpful and understanding at that difficult moment
Thanks to Ashley Homewood for booking our flights. Much easier than dealing with Avianca direct.
Your travel adviser was excellent…with the trip and the follow up…
All was great, thank you. Special mention to Gareth Carver who was always helpful and quick to assist.
Easy to book, changes to flight notified and flights were good. I had confidence that if there was a problem it would be sorted out!
Darryll Hansford was very good
Poor Iberia airlines flight experience. Will never fly with them again and advise all to avoid Iberia.
Simply the best.
Saf was very helpful and efficient in dealing with our flights.
Very efficient and helpful. I appreciated the call to wish me bon voyage!
Very happy with the service
As always, perfect
We had a brilliant time in Columbia and would thoroughly recommend the country. The only hiccups were the many changes of flight times and the lack of arrangements for late checkouts when we had evening flights which we had to arrange for ourselves. Fortunately our guides were lovely and worked with us to help out.
A tall woman wearing a blonde wig and a low-cut red dress pursed her scarlet lips and asked if I’d like to be photographed with her.
‘Who are you?’ I asked. ‘I’m Marilyn,’ she said. Of course!
But she could have been Jayne Mansfield, Jean Harlow or Madonna. A man has to be careful.
I was on Hollywood Boulevard, where the good and the great of cinema have been imprinting their hands, shoes and signatures in the pavement for almost 90 years.
This is the epicentre of the tourist vision of Tinseltown, where you can see the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Dolby Theatre, Madame Tussauds, the Roosevelt Hotel and souvenir shops.
Lookalikes of Michael Jackson, Spider-Man, Zorro, Darth Vader, Robin Hood and Batman were on duty when I arrived, and have become part of the attraction.
I duly snuggled up with Marilyn and slipped her some dollars. But this wasn’t the Hollywood I was here for. I wanted to see the hidden Hollywood, the hip Hollywood - the places frequented by the people who make the movies.
I’d visited LA numerous times over the past 40 years but had never done the ‘homes of the stars’ tour. I bought a Hollywood City Pass for $59 (£34) that gave me entry to some attractions as well as a Starline bus tour.
I’d wrongly assumed that these tours visited the homes of stars from all eras, but the focus was very much on the big names of today. The first five houses (in order) belonged to Jason Statham, Quentin Tarantino, Sacha Baron Cohen, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars.
The bigger the star, though, the higher the wall. Too often I was left with glimpses of rooftops or upstairs windows. Nevertheless, the two-hour tour served as an introduction to the layout of Hollywood from Mulholland Drive and Rodeo Drive to Laurel Canyon and Holmby Hills.
At the Dolby Theatre, home of the Oscars,I didn’t think there was anything I could learn in a 40-minute tour. I was wrong. I learned that storefronts outside the theatre are draped on the night to hide any advertising, that an Oscar costs £300, and all statuettes are numbered because they’re presented unengraved and are often mislaid in the bar.
We were taken up the theatre’s sweeping stairs. ‘They’re made for women with high heels,’ said our guide. ‘They’re wide and shallow - the stairs that is, not the women.’
In the bar we were shown an actual Oscar (in a glass case) and finally we went on to the stage itself, where we could imagine giving our acceptance speeches.
Something else I didn’t know was that actors must apply to have their stars on the pavement of Hollywood Boulevard. The Chamber of Commerce decides who fits, and it costs the applicant £21,000.
But all this was a long way from the true heartbeat of Hollywood. The people who write the scripts, direct the action and act in the movies live elsewhere.
I asked my friend Bobette Buster, an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, and a consultant to studios such as Pixar, Fox and Disney, to draw up an itinerary of cool venues.
So I stayed at the Avalon on West Olympic Boulevard, in a residential corner of Beverly Hills. It was once the Beverly Carlton, and home to Marilyn Monroe. You half expect Frank Sinatra to saunter in, flanked by a couple of heavies.
Rodeo Drive is just a walk away from the Avalon and jammed full of top designer clothing and jewellery stores. One of them, Bijan, is believed to be the most expensive store in the world. You enter only by appointment and the average customer spend is £60,000.
For Hollywood’s hip creatives, one of the favoured spots is in the Hollywood Hills on Franklin Avenue between Argyle and Bronson.
The 101 Coffee Shop on Franklin Avenue has a juke box, pebble-dashed ceiling, faux rock wall, and prominently displayed framed family photographs.
It attracts the likes of Brad Pitt, Nicolas Cage, Minnie Driver and Quentin Tarantino to its leather booths.
The biggest attraction on the block was the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre. Comedy shows play every night.
Rivalling what locals refer to as Franklin Village is Silver Lake, to the immediate east of East Hollywood. The highest concentration of cool is both sides of Sunset Boulevard.
Here I found high-end specialist shops - Vacation Records for vinyl, Secret Headquarters for comic books, Clementine for flowers.
The clothing stores are similarly specialised; Ragg Mopp for vintage, Surplus Value for military cast-offs, Bucks & Does for jeans and shirts.
Downtown LA is the latest area to be infiltrated by artists, film-makers, musicians and writers.
They are taking over old industrial spaces and lofts in an area designated the Arts District, resulting in an edgy mix of poverty, creativity and refurbishment.
The Urth Caffe on South Hewitt Street, where you can drink organic coffee and eat home-baked pasties, is around the corner from skid row.
Back in Hollywood, Bobette recommended that I check out the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Santa Monica Boulevard. It’s making a name as a music-show venue.
‘They also have outdoor movie events,’ she told me. ‘It’s a very cool scene there among the tombstones and crypts of legends such as Rudolph Valentino, Jayne Mansfield and Cecil B. DeMille.’
The big event while I was there was El Dia de los Muertos - the Mexican Day of the Dead. I’ve never had such a good time in a graveyard. Mexican music boomed, Aztec dancers shook their feathers and people painted each other’s faces to look like grinning skulls.
Johnny Depp recently turned up at Hollywood Forever for a Johnny Ramone Tribute (both Johnny and Dee Dee of the Ramones are cemetery residents).
The irony is that most of Hollywood’s cool ‘new’ places have already been cool, in the past.
Downtown was Raymond Chandler’s patch, Jack Kerouac headed there on his first Californian visit in 1947 and Silver Lake was where Walt Disney established his first studio in 1926.
Hollywood is elusive. Just as you think you’ve found it, it pops up some-where else. ‘It’s not really a place,’ Bobette said. ‘More a state of mind.’
First published in the Mail on Sunday - January 2015
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