It's a long trip from Europe home to NZ.  Flying back via the USA it will be tiring but we decided to have a restful break in Rarotonga to get some island time and sun, before we land in Auckland to winter and the return to work.  However since Los Angeles was the necessary stop along that path, why not take the opportunity to spend a couple of days there to catch the sights and hopefully see a show or two.  We last stepped foot in LA last century... (a bit more Hollywood than just saying "in 1991").

Superwoman, Shrek, Princess Leia and dozens more, were jostling to get our attention as we took the escalator up from the subway to emerge into the frenzy of costumed characters on the sidewalk offering themselves for photos with tourists. We saw Hollywood's bizarre, look-a-lot-like Zorro, Spider-Man, Charlie Chaplin, Batman, Transformers and many more.

Continued walking down Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame, pinching ourselves that we were really there.  After many years of travel we are not jaded enough to dismiss the wonder of quarter of the way around the world in 12-hours to some place completely foreign.  We still get that buzz.  Our last time in LA was a rushed blur but also raining, so we were glad that it was sunny and warm this time.

We could have spent a few days there, wandering about town.  Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood and Highland Centre, perhaps to take a photo with the Hollywood sign, up close.  It wasn't in the correct light the time we went, but we took a photo anyway.

This shopping and entertainment complex also houses the Dolby Theatre (home of the Academy Awards) and the Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The forecourt of Grauman's represents a virtual "Who's Who" of Hollywood superstars, both old and very new. We were in the company of hundreds of tourists milling, gazing down at the stars' footprints, hand-prints and autographs immortalized in the legendary cement, taking photos and selfies. Searching for your particular favourite star could take a while.

Hollywood, a 'must do' for those who love the movies, is Grauman's as well as the other is the legendary El Capitan Theatre, another grand theatre which made its debut in the heyday of 1920's, and has been fully restored to its original lavish elegance to reflect its glamorous theatrical origins.  At the El Capitan one can experience the most advanced cinematic technology, and also the newly installed, spectacular wurlitzer organ, harking back to bygone days.

We had to try and book IRIS for that night, the resident Cirque du Soliel show in LA, featured in the Dolby (Kodak) theatre. So many theatres, so little time... Iris explored images from the history of cinema and featured elaborate choreography, acrobatics, and a variety of contemporary circus acts. The name of the show, Iris, comes from the camera diaphragm as well as from the colored iris of the human eye.

In late 2012 it was reported that Iris would end its run at the Dolby Theatre in 2013 but it will be renewed like a phoenix from the ashes, and scenes from Iris would later be incorporated into the brand new Cirque du Soleil show Paramour, which debuts in early 2016.  Cirque du Soleil has dazzled audiences the world over, and now it’s finally coming to Broadway with its boldest, most heart-soaring spectacle ever. PARAMOUR spins the thrilling tale of a beautiful young actress forced to choose between love and art in the glamorous world of Golden Age Hollywood.

Having had a grumbling tummy, we hopped on the bus going to a Farmers Market, the next day. This Los Angeles institution has a rich history and vibrant presence, and is located on Fairfax near La Brea and is packed with people.  Great place to enjoy shopping for food, tasty meals, the live music offered on weekend mornings. What should we have? Spoilt for choice, we finally decided on delicious-looking gumbo and biscuits and fresh oysters with a salad. Maybe we'd a spare spot for freshly-made crepes and ice-cream later...

We happened onto a flea market quite by accident; it was on the same route as the Farmers Market. Wandering around the market, we spent an hour or two browsing the bric-a-brac, antiques, vintage goods and collectibles. I could've spent a lot longer but, we had to fit in going in search of LA Fashion District for a looksee.

Many businesses in the LA Fashion District are dedicated to wholesale business.  But retail shopping is a vital part too; a bargain hunter’s paradise, with over 1,000 stores that sell to the general public at discounted prices.  We walked the miles of shops in LA Fashion District, trying this and that on, marvelling at the ridiculousness of high-heeled shoes. Stilletos, so high, a chiropracters dream to have every woman buy at least two; could I have a pair? [see: stroke].

And the American 'Prom Ball Gown' industry is alive and well – there are streets of shops dedicated to the formal attire for this rite of passage, not just one... the colours and shapes and styles just beggar belief, not to mention the accompanying shoes and accessories... and, remember that this is just for Los Angeles.