Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sicilian Invasion of SoCal

I have been remiss in my duties as blogmaster the past few weeks so today is a good day to catch up on the activities of the last two weeks. Rather than post everything in one blog I will post by order of key events.

The first fun event was the arrival at Los Angeles International Airport of two of Sicily's brightest, best and most enchanting ladies Cecilia Mangano and Roberta D´Antona.

They were on a two week vacation having already spent time in San Francisco and Las Vegas before moving on to San Diego and New York City after two days in the greater Los Angeles megalopolis.

After picking them up at LAX, our first stop was . . . 

Venice Beach 

Our connection to Roberta and Cecilia was, of course, through our two seasons of coaching American football in Catania, Sicily.

The Elephants star Wide Receiver, Claudio Mangano, is Cecilia's brother and Roberta's significant other.

Venice Beach Skateboard Park 

We were entertained by several daredevils near the Pacific Ocean.

Sharing their first ever Frozen Banana
Roberta on the left, Cecilia on the right

If you ever come to SoCal and use me as a tour guide, be ready to eat.

A lot.

After about 90 minutes of checking out all of the, shall we say, interesting sights and people that Venice Beach had to offer, we were off to our next stop, Beverly Hills.

Rideo Drive to be exact

As famous and iconic as this high end shopping street is, I had never been there.

Bring your credit card.

"Heaven, I'm in Heaven . . ."

Shiny Things

Bling . . . LOOK BUT DO NOT TOUCH!!!

Where else but Rodeo Drive would
you see a Bugatti parked on the street?

I was surprised that they showed incredible sales resistance as the ladies did not enter even one store.


As is typical when friends from Europe come to America, Roberta and Cecilia carried a shopping list for products to bring back for family and friends back in Italy. Thus we were off to West Hollywood to find a store that sells special tanning lotions for Claudio.

We found the store
and the tanning lotion 

Only in West Hollywood

This wound up being a quick stop that transitioned easily into our next stop . . .


The famous Chinese Theater 

The theater's courtyard sports the footprints and signatures in cement of hundreds of Hollywood's most illustrious movie stars. This is a must for anyone visiting L.A.

Why the barricades? 

As it turned out, the Chinese Theater was hosting the premier of the movie Expendables 2. Thus, the closest we could get to the courtyard was the sidewalk across the street from the theater.

A bump in the road to be sure, but we could come back the next day and see it.

Time to eat dinner in East L.A.

One of SoCal's best Hole-in-the-Walls 

We shared a Manuel's Special

I always believed that this was the biggest burrito that they served full of equal parts pork, guacamole, rice and beans.

I was wrong.

The four guys sitting next to us ordered a Foot Long Burrito which was at least twice the size of our burrito. It should be billed as the Meter Long Burrito.

As Cecilia and Roberta said, they were not eating many times in a day but when they did eat, they wanted to eat "American Crazy Food."

They came to the right place.

We weren't done yet.

At Old Pasadena's Cheescake Factory

After the short drive to Pasadena, we decided that a dessert was needed.

It was oh so good for us too!

My Mother had very generously offered the ladies a room in her house in San Marino for their two nights in Los Angeles as a cost cutting move for their stay. They were pretty tired, more from their time in Las Vegas than anything else I suspect, and crashed relatively early.

Day II we awoke at a decent hour and were off to . . .

Hollywood Movie Magic
at Universal Studios 

Of course, the first order of business was the tram ride that took us on the tour of the backlots where all of the movie magic happens.


Chicks Dig Minions . . .

. . . But NOT Jaws!!!


It may have been one of the worst movies made in the history of Universal Studios but it is one fun water show at Universal Stuidos featuring water, fire, high dives and lots of very wet spectators.

"Quiet on the Set!!!" 

Biggest thing to hit Hollywood from
Italy since Loren and Lollobrigida!!! 

After a solid day at the studios, we returned to the Chinese Theater only to get shut out again due to yet another premiere, this time Sparkle. Thus they were not able to see the courtyard.

I didn't even know that they still did old time premieres anymore.

Philippe's Original French Dip

Yet another L.A. culinary landmark. We had to eat.

Olvera Street
A trademark Mexican shopping street

Again, it was look but don't touch/buy.

I was amazed.

Back at the Cheesecake Factory

Another desssert was called for. Who was I to say no?

So, our two days of fighting intense L.A. traffic were over other than to drop them off at L.A.'s Union Station early the next morning for their train ride to San Diego and their next adventure.

I had a good time. I hope that they did too.

Reading is FUNdamental!!!

I am a big fan of Martin Walker's character, Bruno the police chief of a small, rural city in France.

This is the fourth and most recent installment in the series. I loved it!

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