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Los Angeles–The Stuff

Posted by gck Friday, January 27, 2012

Well, we had to do stuff in between meals. Neither one of us was really up for a big touristy weekend, so we mainly did a lot of walking in different places. More walking = more space for food, right?

[Santa Monica Pier]

Our first little walk was through downtown Santa Monica down to the Santa Monica Pier. We walked through the shopping area (I made a Sephora stop because my skin needed more lotion than I had anticipated… stupid 3oz liquid/gels rule) and stumbled upon the Farmers’ Market. On the beach next to the pier, it looked like some sort of ultimate frisbee tournament was going on. There were all these straight lines of backpacks forming field boundaries on the sand. Cirque du Soleil was had its tent up, but the show wasn’t opening for another few days. The pier itself was full of tourists, but it’s still fun to see something like that full of life and energy (in contrast to Seattle Center’s now defunct Fun Forest).

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[Venice Beach]

Okay, maybe it’s just me, but when I used to think of Venice Beach, I imagined a crowded beach full of sophisticated California movie star wannabes. Something like Waikiki in Hawaii. Laugh all you want. Yeah, it’s so not like that. The boardwalk is more like the most touristy street in a Mexican resort town, except with a lot more drugs. You’ve got all the T-shirt shops selling things that I can’t imagine anyone actually wearing in public. Then all the weird (and occasionally good) art. And finally, all the marijuana doctors, offering you a medical marijuana card for something like $40. Excellent. We did see a rather funny incident. Probably peeved by all of the “doctors” making offers to him as he walked with his two young children, a man finally stopped and talked to one of them. He asked if he could get cards for his two kids because “he has back problems and she’s psychotic.” Haha. Well, Venice Beach is a nice place to watch the sunset or do a beach walk, but I’m not sure I’d want to hang out there on a regular basis.

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[Getty Center]

The last time my family was in Los Angeles, we visited the Getty Villa, but not the Getty Center. So it sounded like a good thing to do on this trip. One nice thing about both of these attractions is that they are free, and you only have to pay for parking (or take public transportation). Perched on a hill, there are great views from the gardens of surrounding areas, and the gardens are well crafted and peaceful to walk through. There were a number of buildings housing galleries of paintings, photographs, decorative arts, etc., organized by time period. There was also an interesting temporary exhibit called Pacific Standard Time, featuring art from Los Angeles in the period following World War II.

[I put together a video of textural pictures I took, mostly in the cactus garden]

Our final attraction was the Huntington Library, which we visited mainly for the purpose of seeing the botanical gardens. It’s a real pity we didn’t know about this place when my family was here because my mom would have loved it. Even though it was wintertime and many things were not blooming, there was still a lot to see. Mike’s favorite (and I can see why) is the Cactus Garden, which is full of succulents from around the world. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a huge space, and there’s such incredible variation in the plant life that it’s difficult not to be amazed. The Japanese Garden was under construction, but we visited the Chinese Garden, the Conservatory, and observed a few blooming roses in the Rose Garden. There are also a few art galleries in the main buildings, but we wanted to spend our limited time in the gardens. In a few hours, we probably still left with more than half of the grounds unseen.

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[Huntington Library Botanical Gardens]

While I’d still say that I’m not very well suited to living in Los Angeles, I can definitely understand the appeal to those who choose it as their home. Beaches to enjoy all year round, beautiful gardens, and plenty of good food and culture. We didn’t see any movie stars (Mike spotted plenty when he lived there), but they were probably all preparing for the Golden Globes.


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