herald

Friday 25 July 2014

Marisa Mackle: One-way ticket with weirdos to la-la land

I WAS in Hollywood last week. Or should, I say Hollyweird. The first thing I did when I got to the airport was phone my friend in LA. "I'm coming to see you," I said excitedly. "I'm just trying to figure out which bus to get."



"The bus?" She sounded startled. "But nobody gets the bus in LA!"

Nobody? How could nobody get the bus? If nobody got the bus, how were there buses running all the time? I found the bus timetable on the internet and then I asked at my airport hotel reception where the bus was.

"It's right around the corner," the receptionist said nonchalantly.

I went around the corner. The bus came along.

"How much is it to Santa Monica?" I asked.

"One dollar."



Dollar

Only a dollar? To go to Santa Monica? Home of the rich and famous? That was good value, I thought.

Over the next couple of days, I learned that you can travel to pretty much anywhere in LA for a dollar, even to Beverly Hills. It made me think how much we're been ripped off at home.

Travelling LA by bus is an experience, though. There are so many wacky people in La-La Land and they all seem to travel by bus. People sing loudly, fight with themselves or do yoga in the middle of the bus aisle (I kid you not).

Wherever I travel to I always make sure to take a bus. As a writer I am fascinated listening to conversations by the local people. You cannot get that in a taxi.

Shortly after I got on the bus, a very attractive older lady got on. She had ash-blonde hair, pale-blue eyes, high bone structure and weathered skin. I'd say she was an absolute stunner in her youth. She sat down next to an old guy and they started up a conversation.

"How are you doing?" The man asked her with a smile. Everyone in LA seems to smile a lot and it really is a friendly place.



Homeless

"Well, I'm homeless at the moment," she said brightly. "But I've got a room sorted for the New Year, so all's good."

I was amazed by her attitude. But being homeless is quite normal in LA. In fact it's hard to find a bench to sit on because most are taken up by the homeless. Then the bus passed a McDonald's fast food restaurant with a big sign. 'We are open all day on Christmas Day. Come and join in the cheer!'

Did I really just read that?

A few days later I was on the bus again. "Will you tell me where to get off for Chateau Marmont?" I asked.

The female bus driver seemed surprised. "The Chateau?" Like I was the only one to ever get the bus to the Chateau Marmont.

I loved the Chateau. I got an upgrade to the iconic Bungalow 3. It's huge, with its own garden and private entrance. Brad Pitt has stayed here. Robert De Niro has partied here. John Belushi overdosed and died in my room. I'm sure it was haunted. Myself and my friend swam in the pool at 4am. We lunched the next day with Orlando Bloom practically sitting on our lap.

Then I got the bus home.

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