USA – Texas

Big flat and nothing like on TV is what I describe this place.

The stereotypes of people from Texas you see on TV did not exist on my visit. No cowboys, no horses, nothing more than a civilised city with big freeways, and citizens driving large trucks for no real reason. The only “stereotype” was the thick Texas accent you typically associate with this state.

I had family here, so I spent a lot of time with them. I stayed primarily in San Antonio, but made a day trip to Dallas. Even still, I could not be convinced there was a whole lot to do here…

The riverwalk in San Antonio was “neat”, but not much else stood out. Dallas was just another city, but there was not much there. A great place to eat is at Chama Gaucha which is a Brazillian Steak House. Definitely some of the better meat I had in the US! – http://www.chamagaucha.com/

USA – Las Vegas

After our initial stay in LA, we moved onto Las Vegas.
First thoughts, it’s hot. Second thought, what a party town.

It’s amazing to see how much money casinos are able to bring into a town, and it’s ability to develop such an entertainment hub in the middle of nowhere. We stayed at the Monte Carlo.

Shopping at the South Premium Outlet was great, plenty of brands and stock to choose from. Food was very hit and miss, but I would have to give American Fish (in Aria) a wrap as the food there was by far the best.

The days were spent shopping or lounging in pools, and the nights were spent gambling away or watching shows. The three shows we saw were “O” – Cirque De Soleil, Penn & Teller, and Phantom of the Opera. I would recommend all three of these shows, and you may be able to pick them up cheap off the strip from the stalls that try to sell last minute tickets.

George Clooney shooting ad for Mercedes Benz in Beverly Hills

In Beverly Hills, we had lunch at Villa Blanca, the reknown restaurant owned by Lisa Vanderpump. It so happened that an ad for Mercedes Benz was being filmed at the time.

After some inquiring, we heard that George Clooney was to star in this commercial. We decided to hover around for a bit, to see if he might show up. Sure enough, he arrived in his black Mercedes, was escorted into the car to be featured in the ad, and driven again after a few minutes of filming. What a life!

George created much buzz and interest. It was like nothing else mattered!

George Clooney filming an ad for Mercedes Benz outside Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills

George Clooney filming an ad for Mercedes Benz outside Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills

USA – Los Angeles

LA is a big and flat city, you need a car to get anywhere. It is why many tourists say LA is boring, there is simply a lack of public transport.

Things to do in LA: Beverly Hills – Rodeo Drive, Hollywood – Walk of the Stars, Universal Studios and Disneyland, and shopping of course.

In Beverly Hills, we had lunch at Villa Blanca, the reknown restaurant owned by Lisa Vanderpump. It so happened that an ad for Mercedes Benz was being filmed with George Clooney. More here. Other than spotting George, there was not much to actually “do” here.

We moved on to Hollywood, and I have to admit this place is nothing like what you see on TV. The place is dirty and run down. The walk of the stars offers about 10sec of excitement. You can walk around a bit, and see what you stumble across. We had a quick look at the Kodak Theatre, where a lot of red carpet movie launches occur.

If you are looking to trek to some outer suburbs, Santa Monica and San Deigo are two good places. Santa Monica is where you see all the roller skating scenes on beaches filmed in movies. It is a also a good place to soak in some real local atmosphere. San Deigo is a very much a South American feel town, and is a great change in atmosphere.

Universal Studios was a very cool experience. If you haven’t done anything like it before, it is great theme park to hit. The guided tour around Universal Tours, and some of the rides are amazing (I liked the Simpsons ride). You will probably spend a day here.

Disneyland is another cool experience. You need to be into the whole Disney thing back when you were younger to fully appreciate this. Those who do, will have a magical time here. There are rides, character photos, and shows. There are two Disney theme parks – Disneyland and Disney Adventure Park. Disneyland is where the Parade occurs each night, and the Adventure Park is where the Magic of Colour watershow occurs.