Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An "Esotouric" Bus Adventure Weekend

This adventure began last Friday night, September 23, 2011. I had planned a special surprise for my husband Mike's birthday. To start off we had a nice dinner at a neighborhood italian restaurant.

"Cheers Mike, hoping your year ahead is filled with great adventures!"

Once home it was time to open gifts. My gift was a surprise mystery tour which is scheduled for the next day. The one prerequisite (and clue) is that we must watch the film "Double Indemnity" this night...and so we did.

"Double Indemnity" starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred Mc Murray

What Mike doesn't know is that I've gotton us both tickets for a special tour of Los Angeles through a company called "Esotouric". They specialize in very inventive, themed tours in the "City of Angels- Los Angeles". The tour we are taking on Saturday is called: "The Birth of Noir: James M. Cain's Southern California Nightmare. Cain was a novelist who penned several books that became popular films in the "film noir genre". They were, "Double Indemnity", "Mildred Pierce" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice". This tour will take us on an adventure through the streets of Los Angeles to various locales for these films. We will also visit places were Cain would frequent to feel the pulse of the city and learn more about its inhabitants, who became the models for some of his characters.

We were to meet up with our tour guides in downtown Los Angeles at noon. We were given great and precise directions on when and where to meet. The mystery began for us in chinatown where we parked our car. We arrived an hour early and had time to wander and explore.

This funny little shop had so many trinkets and oddities including neon signs.

Oooh I was so excited for our tour to begin. The word Esoteric is defined as: "Intended or understood by only a few ...not publicly disclosed, confidential." I love the play on that with the name of this tour "Esotouric" what a fun adventure. We certainly are on the brink of something confidential...all the little secret places with hidden stories about to be revealed as we board the Esotouric Bus!

We are met by our tour guides who happen to be the owners and founders of the company, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave. see their website for more information on their varied themed tours: http://esotouric.com

They are so personable and friendly and extremely enthusiastic and welcoming. The large 50 passenger bus pulls up and we start to board exactly on time.

Philippes famous french dip restaurant located at the corner of Ord and Alameda is our meeting point. We plan to have dinner here at this iconic L.A. eatery after the tour. This is located one block from Union Station (the train terminal) and a few blocks from Chinatown and Olvera street. So there's plenty of interesting sites in all directions.

Here's a little youtube clip you might want to see which gives you some insight into film noir. Our tour guide Richard Schave is seen in a few scenes. Both Richard and Kim are well regarded in their knowledge of this genre of film as well as extremely respected experts in the special interest stories about the city of Los Angeles history and architecture.

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DRYeH9wjwklw%26feature%3Dshare&h=OAQDI_Wg_AQAZFTBTLypIJHQXqh7Mx5dMLjEnCJPpASz22Q http://www.youtube.com/

Glendale Train depot

I don't want to give away the tour details but I will include some photos of places we were taken to on this 4 hour adventure. If you are visiting L.A. you might consider booking one of these tours. I suggest checking out their website listed above. This is not your ordinary Hollywood tour bus. Here you will learn many "inside" stories and be driven to truly unique parts of Los Angeles. I consider myself practically a native Angeleno and there were so many surprises on this tour. I recommend this heartily for those who also live in this city. Fascinating and so much fun to be a tourist in your own town! You will be surprised at what you see and learn from and the places on the tour.

Here are the very knowledgeable guides for Esotouric adventures: Richard and Kim
They are full of great stories about L.A. and how various places fit into film scenes. There are monitors on the bus which will show you a film clip and then the next thing you know you are parked exactly in front of the place you just saw in the movie. Often you will get out and walk the area and Richard will point out unique little bits of side stories about the actors or the film or an aspect of architecture or some interesting historical tidbit about what you are looking at.

So much to see as the bus winds down a Los Feliz street following the exact path of Fred McMurray as he is about to commit an evil deed in "Double Indemnity".

Here we are getting some behind the scenes stories on "Duck Baby", the little statue

at Forest Lawn...YES we are at a cemetary in Glendale! I can't tell you about Duck Baby or Frog Baby. You'll just have to go on the tour to find out.

On to Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles. This is Mariachi Plaza which has been the meeting place for hundreds of Mariachi bands since the 1960's. Fascinating cultural experience in the heart of Los Angeles that many Angelenos have never seen.

Here our guides have arranged for an opera singer to perform a lovely "Aria" on the steps of Mariachi plaza. There exists a special association between Opera and Mariachis in relationship to the author James Cain but you will have to go on the tour to find out all about that.

I'm going to end here by telling you that there were many more surprises that filled this great afternoon. I felt like it was as much a gift for me as it was for my husband. I mean how often can you say I had a really fun adventure where you can be swept away literally to unexpected places and told secret stories about things that happened long ago in your own city?

Truly a fun experience for Mike and me! Somedays you just get lucky!


nancyhol said...

What a fun birthday Mike (and you too) had! It sounds like a great tour!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Fun trip!
I always love traveling on tuesdays with you!

Anonymous said...

Wow - what a wonderful day for the two of you. Lucky Mike to get such an amazing birthday gift!

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