referred to in all stories will open a new browser window
the Rails in Los Angeles
by James Reilly (iFlyLAX.com)
Who said L.A. has no public transportation?
Although the Los Angeles area hosts an intricate
network of freeway and surface street bus routes, riding buses
in any American city seems to rank below hitch-hiking (don't even
think about it!) as the preferred way to get around town.
But did you know that you can get from LAX to
downtown Los Angeles quietly and comfortably in less than an hour
for $1.60 !? Yes, the L.A. Metro rail network is ever-expanding.
Take the short shuttle bus ride from the airport's Central Terminal
Area to the Green Line Aviation Blvd. station, and board
the little light rail cars toward Norwalk. Enroute, at the Imperial-Wilmington
Ave. "Rosa Parks" station, you will need to switch
trains (easily done) to the Los Angeles (northbound) Blue Line
to complete the journey. (Should I mention that you could also
go southbound to Long Beach and the Aquarium of the Pacific.)
downtown terminus of the Blue Line is underground at 7th Street,
just a short walk from Arco Plaza and the historic Los Angeles
Public Library. (The Pico station, just one stop before that is
where you would get off if you are heading for the L.A. Convention
Center or the Staples Center Sports Arena.) You'll
also have the option at the 7th Street station to jump onto the
Red Line, on which you can ride over to Union Station or into
Hollywood and Universal Studios, and beyond.
The cars and platforms are clean and well-patrolled
by Metro Security officers; and you had better mind your "p"s
and "q"s, as there are stiff penalties for smoking,
eating, drinking or creating any kind of disturbance on a train
or platform. Tickets can be purchased from machines at every station
and are used on the "honor system"... Again, stiff penalties
for freeloaders. There are no express trains, so expect many stops;
but relax, the only time you won't find a seat may be during rush
hours on a weekday.
The connecting ride from LAX to downtown passes
through parts of the city that tourists might usually avoid, but
does offer an air-conditioned glimpse of how the other half lives.
No worries... just keep a low profile and blend right in with
the locals. You can bring your luggage with you if necessary,
but I wouldn't recommend dragging along more than a roll-aboard
and shoulder bag.
Is there a down side to riding the rails in L.A.?
Well, it would be nice if there were a more direct line
from the airport to downtown or Hollywood (It would have been
even nicer if they hadn't torn out the old "Red Car"
lines to the beach in the '50s); and the fact that the Blue Line
changes from an elevated / right-of-way train to what is essentially
a "street car" as it approaches downtown adds at least
ten minutes to the ride.
So, no more complaining about how LAX is isolated
and seperated from the heart of Los Angeles by an expensive limo
or taxi ride; or an agonizing, endless bus ride (as is still the
case for ground transport to Santa Monica, UCLA or the West Side).
In fact, I'm writing this story on a west bound Green Line train
at this moment, while returning from a business appointment downtown,
to the last stop at the "Marine Street" station (where
my gas-guzzling SUV is parked in the free "Park & Ride"
lot) not far from my home a few miles south of the airport. Happy
Visit the Los
Angeles MTA website for more information on rail and bus transportation
in the L.A. area.
John Travolta Spreads Good
Will Across the Globe
by Toyu Kernlander
John Travolta Spreads Good Will Across the Globe July
2, 2002 Actor John Travolta, a trained pilot and self-professed
"airline geek", unveiled his personal Boeing 707 at LAX on June
24, 2002, repainted in classic 1960s Qantas livery. The event marked
the start of his two-month good-will tour, on behalf of Australia's
Qantas Airways to promote international tourism. After the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11, tourist travel has declined significantly worldwide.
Travolta aims to restore confidence in the public to take to the
"Certainly after Sept. 11 happened and my favorite
thing in the world, which is the airlines, was used to do something
so completely destructive, it saddened not just me but everyone
else in the world," Travolta said
Appointed as "Ambassador-At-Large", Travolta will
pilot around the globe himself, with his family as entourage. The
retrofitted 707 is furnished with luxurious trappings worthy of
a five-star hotel. It will definitely not be a trip on coach seats
and plastic tray meals.
"I'm undertaking this tour to extend the hand of
friendship to reach out, to cross borders, make contact, rekindle
friendships and make new friends," says Travolta, who came to the
event dressed in a pilot's uniform.
"Spirit of Friendship" tour will visit 13 cities in 10 countries,
starting from LAX to Auckland, then to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth,
Singapore, Hongkong, Tokyo, London, Rome, Paris, Frankfurt, New
York, and finally back to Los Angeles. The around-the-world tour
will cover more then 35,000 miles and 80 hours of actual flying
Qantas Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director
Geoff Dixon presented Travolta with his official "wings" during
the media event at Qantas' cargo facility. "It's no secret that
John is an avid fan of aviation," says Dixon, "He is also a keen
and talented pilot, and supporting his Spirit of Friendship tour
is a fantastic way to showcase Qantas in its major overseas markets."
Travolta's repainted 707 was a well-guarded secret
in the days prior to the unveiling. It flew into LAX during the
middle of the night, and was kept hidden in a closed hangar for
several days until the morning of the 24th.
By James Reilly
many years of neglect, downtown Hollywood has been reborn, and the
new Hollywood & Highland project is the cornerstone of that
One of the anchors of the new Hollywood
& Highland complex is the Kodak Theatre, operated by an
Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) Company. It is Southern California's
new home for the best in fine arts, live theatre, concerts, award
shows and special events, and is the permanent home for the annual
Academy Awards show (appropriate enough, since the very first Oscar
night was held at the Roosevelt.)
The 180,000-square foot theatre is the centerpiece for TrizecHahn's
640,000-square-foot Hollywood & Highland retail/entertainment destination.
One of the most ambitious real estate developments in the world,
the $615 million Hollywood & Highland project is the catalyst for
the extensive renvation that is currently taking place in Hollywood.
A combination of unique shops, restaurants, clubs, live theatre
and even a Hollywood costume museum, it was completed in November
2001, a massive, spectacular project that occupies almost two city
blocks in the heart of Hollywood. And prime territory it is, just
across the street from the rejuvenated El Capitan Theatre, cattycornered
to the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and actually surrounding
the legendary Mann's Chinese Theatre.
The Hollywood and Highland Complex is a soaring, multistory development
with grand stairways, imposing archways and Hollywood theming, including
a spectacular Babylon Court, featuring mammoth pillars topped by
marble elephants reminiscent of D.W. Griffith's classic "Intolerance"
set, and a towering archway framing the Hollywood Sign in the distance.
The project cost a whopping $615 million dollars. To put that in
perspective, the massive Mall of America, the largest enclosed mall
in the world, cost roughly the same to build. Disneyland's new theme
park, California Adventure, cost just twice as much.
The entire Hollywood & Highland project has been designed with
the Academy Awards telecast in mind, so it's not surprising that
they have planned a grand, dramatic entrance for the celebrities
who arrive on Oscar Night. The stars will exit their limos on Hollywood
Boulevard onto a red carpet that runs from the curb, through the
complex, to the Kodak Theatre. To their left (west) will be bleachers
full of fans. To their right (east) will be the press area for interviews.
They will pass through a splendid glass archway and will follow
the red carpet up Orchid Walk through crystal hallways to the dazzling
lobby of the theatre. Beneath the red carpet will be a permanent
red "carpet" of red terrazzo flooring (the same material used in
the Walk of Fame stars) so the general public can enjoy the same
path the rest of the year.
Every year, some 10 million tourists come to Hollywood Boulevard,
but stay for less than 20 minutes because, until recently, there
has simply been nothing much to do there. Hollywood & Highland fills
that need - in a very big way. It provides a spectacular center
of focus for the neighborhood, creating an automatic tourist Mecca
(next to the landmark Chinese Theatre) that will no doubt be visited
by just about everyone who comes to Hollywood.
Highlights of the new two-block, 640,000 square foot complex
The Kodak Theatre:
This 136,000 square foot theatre is the first permanent
home of the Academy Awards show in the 73 years since
the first Oscar Night was held at the Roosevelt Hotel
across the street. It will also be the world's only live
broadcast theatre. As such, it has been custom-designed
for the special needs of Oscar Night and other live TV
The Grand Ballroom:
A rooftop Grand Ballroom in which the Academy's Board
of Governors Ball will be held following the Oscar Night
telecast. Decorated in Art Deco style, it will boast catering
by Wolfgang Puck and sweeping views of Hollywood.
The Hollywood Motion Picture Collection:
Over the years, actress Debbie Reynolds has amassed
a huge collection of movie memorabilia, including 3,000
costumes, furniture pieces and entire sets from movies
spanning half a century. It will now be housed in a 20,000
square foot museum on the top floor of Hollywood & Highland.
The multi-million dollar collection includes Judy Garland's
gingham dress from ''The Wizard of Oz'', a pair of her
ruby slippers, and Marilyn Monroe's billowing ``subway
skirt'' from ''The Seven Year Itch''. On display will
be entire sets from movies like "Planet of the Apes,''
"Gigi'' and "Hello Dolly'' (1969), and of course films
that Debbie herself starred in, such as "Singin' in the
Rain.'' Accompanying the sets and costumes will be video
clips from the movies, with Reynolds doing voice-overs.
Former rival Elizabeth Taylor has donated a suit of armor
worn by her late ex-husband Richard Burton in "Cleopatra'',
and has agreed to join the board of the foundation. The
museum is slated to open in March 2002.
Restaurants and night clubs:
100,000 square feet of dining space includes 11 restaurants,
night clubs and a food court. Already in the works is
"Q's Juke Joint", a cafe and club built by Quincy Jones,
which will showcase live American music. Also set to open
is a branch of The Grill restaurant, Highlands night club,
a new 120-seat restaurant by Wolfgang Puck, California
Pizza Kitchen, Sisely, Trastavare and more.
Exclusive retail shops:
230,000 square feet of retail space features a 42,000
square foot DFS Galleria (featuring luxury boutiques such
as Dior, Bvlgari, Celine, Fendi, Polo and Louis Vuitton),
plus separate stores from Tommy Hilfiger, Aveda, Bebe,
Banana Republic, Bennetton, Gap, MAC, Origins, Sephora,
Swatch, Victoria's Secret and Ann Taylor.
The Renaissance Hollywood Hotel:
A 22-floor, 640-room luxury hotel, operated by Marriott
Mann's Chinese Theatre:
The new project has been built around the historic Grauman's
Chinese Theatre and its renown forecourt of stars handprints
& footprints in cement. The Chinese has been given a face
lift as part of the project, and an additional six modern
cinemas have been built to the east of the existing theatre.
Parking and subway station:
The Hollywood & Highland center sits atop a 1 million
square foot, six-story underground parking structure which
can accommodate more than 3,000 cars. In addition, it
also sits atop a brand new MetroRail
subway station, making it easy for tourists to come
& go from Universal Studios or Hollywood & Vine or downtown
Pair of sites have lowest airfares
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (edited)
and Travelocity consistently
provided the lowest airfares among six independent travel sites
on the Web, a study concludes.
The analysis was conducted by the Travel Letter, in conjunction
with Consumer WebWatch. The six sites surveyed were Cheap Tickets,
Expedia, OneTravel, Orbitz, TravelNow and Travelocity. The Travel
Letter hopes to compare airline sites in future surveys.
The study also found that Expedia and Travelocity had the best
customer service and privacy and security policies. Orbitz,
which is owned by the five major airlines, also provided low fares
and viable flights, but was edged out in most of the tests by Expedia
Highlights of the report are available free online at www.consumerreports.org/travel,
and the full report can be purchased and downloaded for $3.95. Consumer
tips on how to get the most out of travel Web sites are available
free from Consumer WebWatch at www.consumerwebwatch.org.