Tag Archives: california

Los Angeles 2013- Day 3

Sun. Mar. 17, 2013:

As it turns out 11 hours of sleep will leave you feeling well-rested. Which is not to say I was in no need of caffeine, no sooner had I rolled out of bed I was on my way to Starbucks. I needed food too of course. A few steps away from the hotel and already there was no sidewalk. I had to jaywalk to the other side, hoping that the sidewalk would not also abruptly end over there too. First I stopped at the gas station, it was small and crappy and had a terrible selection, but it wasn’t that bad: they had Cherry Coke Zero and Pop-Tarts. The LA marathon was happening later, and all the runners were at Starbucks fueling up with coffee. Wearing my usual vacation gear (cropped black athletic pants and running shoes) I blended right in- except for my giant purse. And the birthday cake pop I was eating for breakfast. The sun had still not come out. I had it on good authority from The Ramones that California was known for sunshine. I rescinded my earlier complaints about my retinas being fried- I missed it now, I wanted the bright glaring sun back.

We took a cab to the Huntingon Library and Botanical Gardens because if we took transit it would be over 2 hours, not counting the delays caused by road closures for the marathon (where else would the marathoners run? There are no sidewalks anywhere it seems). Plus the Library was all the way out in San Merino. We passed by a hotel in downtown LA that had a giant Coca-Cola ad down the side of it that read Drinking In LA. It made me giggle, but it didn’t make up for the fact that the cab ride still took 40 minutes. At some point I thought we were never going to get there and that we were horribly lost, especially when driving through a residential area- which is where the library is oddly located.

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I thought that this would be the smaller of the two places; after all it’s a library- how big could it possibly be I thought? Turns out the place is giant and I have yet to learn my lesson about misjudging a place (cough, Shelbourne Museum, cough). The Huntington consisted of a few buildings spread out over acres and acres of land, spotted throughout with various botanical gardens (desert, Australia, Japan, China, rose, herb). We there less than 5 minutes and already it was easily one of the best botanical gardens we had been to. There was a small green bird sitting in a tree, picking off petals and dropping them, just over and over. He would stop, look at me cockeyed as I photographed him, and continue in a mildly-OCD manner. It was as cute as it was confusing. We started off in the desert garden which delivered exactly what was promised: lots of cacti and lizards. The first lizard was really cool, it was unexpected to just see one sitting on a rock in the sun (unexpected because it was not really afraid of me). Then we saw another one, and another, and a few more throughout the day in various gardens. Turns out these lizards are rather commonplace. Much more interesting was the hummingbird drinking nectar from a cactus flower. And how well the hummingbird blended in with the surroundings, it took us a few minutes to realize it was there- and more than a few minutes later when I was looking over the photos (I had no idea why I had taken them until I saw the hummingbird).

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The first gallery we went to was set up as Huntington’s house had been, with fancy living room and lots of portraits. There were only 2 or 3 paintings that weren’t of people. And one of those was the crown jewel of their collection (at least in my opinion). After years of going to galleries, I finally found what I was looking for: a painting of a disappointed horse. It was magnificent and glorious and it alone made the trek out to San Merino worth it. And just when I thought things could not get any better, in the Japanese botanical garden there was a Bonita tree. The botanical gardens provided a nice interlude between the galleries, which in turn provided a nice break from the sun (which had finally come out and was threatening to burn us).

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One gallery featured what the curators thought were the Library’s gems (why the horse painting was not in there, I will never know). Some of the stuff was just over my head and really only cool because it was old. There were first editions of Shakespeare’s plays (even harder to understand than modern versions). The most interesting one hands-down was a copy of Vesalius’s book on anatomy. It was opened to a page with an illustration of the human body (for story-telling purposes let’s say it was a diagram of the circulatory system). There were also some terribly boring (but very old) items in the collection, such as an inventory of what ship passengers had brought. It did not even make any sense; I had no idea what it said. Partly due to the language and partly the fancy chicken scratch (this was true of almost all the hand-written texts they had). The rose garden was rather anti-climactic, as none of the roses were yet in bloom.

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I had seen a squirrel, but in my sun-drenched hungry state, called it a weasel. Then later I saw what I thought was a squirrel (and called it so), disappear quickly into a hole in the ground- like a weasel would. It was clearly time for lunch in the shade. We split two paninis (steak and bleu cheese; chicken, pesto and tomatoes) out on the patio. I had one bite of Brent’s and demanded a trade-back. Tomatoes are gross. A male scrub jay flew down from the trees to eat the crumbs after a family left, he was so pretty, his colours so bright.

We finished off the rest of the museum and gardens and headed out. Even in San Merino we weren’t free from the lack of sidewalks. We had to walk along the road to even just leave the grounds, resulting in many perplexed looks from drivers. Thankfully once we got out there were sidewalks. We passed a few orange and lemon trees, however the fruits were not hanging low enough for me to just reach up and grab one. It was yet another of those 30 minute walks to ride a bus for 10 minutes. At least I had an excuse to buy a green tea: we needed change to get on the bus. As it turns out that section of the bus route is on Route 66 (it had been repurposed as a regular city street, all that remains is the Historic Route 66 sign and apparently an old hotel).  Being on a bus, passing by unaware of the sign, I did not get a chance to take a picture.

The Norton Simon Museum was much smaller but just as cool. We fulfilled our usual quota of religious paintings; it was curated very well, not a very large collection and not too crowded. Of course we were drawn to the Impressionist gallery- spending a considerable amount of time there, in awe of the talent. Especially given that they had an unfinished Rembrandt portrait, so you could see how he worked. I was happy to see a painting by Ed Ruscha, as I am only familiar with his photographic work; it made me appreciate his talent that much more. As if this was not enough, they also had some Giacometti sculptures! I can never get enough of his weird tall elongated figures (even though I sometimes get sick of Degas’s dancers).

We couldn’t find the business card with the phone number for the cab, so we walked down the street to see if we could hail a cab. It seemed that all the cabs had just disappeared into thin air, we went back to the museum to make change (a great excuse to buy a Dr Pepper) to take the bus. It seemed like forever before the bus finally arrived- and even longer just sitting on the bus. We were taking it to the end of the line and it was unbearable at times. There were so many weirdoes on our bus: the mother who did not want to sit with her daughter, a gangster drinking diet Dr Pepper, people constantly choosing to sit beside others rather than getting to sit alone (we decided this was because they didn’t want to sit sideways on the bus), the guy that smelled really bad.

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We almost missed our stop because it was not announced, but we recognized that we were on Hollywood Blvd. It was so insanely crowded with people bar-crawling for St. Patrick’s Day. Thankfully it was still relatively early in the day so they were still half-sober. We saw some more stars on the Blvd, including one for Thomas Edison and Kevin Bacon’s star too. I demanded that we stop at H&M so I could buy flip-flops and socks (some of my socks had worn out since I wore them last summer and were sliding down my foot- driving me nuts). We went to In N Out to get burgers for dinner, to eat later in the hotel; there was no way I was going to leave the hotel again for the rest of the day- I was exhausted. We got on yet another bus that was supposed to have taken us right to the hotel, but instead it decided to short-turn on campus leaving us with yet another 30 minute walk. We walked right past another In N Out- our burgers could have been a tiny bit fresher. We stopped at a gas station to stock up on soda and snacks. I found a weird Mexican apple soda, weird rolled up Doritos and gummy Starbursts.

Walking back was less than stellar. It was starting to get dark, I was getting hungry and I was not looking forward to having to cross Sunset Blvd through a construction site. I perked right back up when we got back to the hotel and settled in for burgers and Amazing Race. At In N Out I ordered a double-double (2 patties, 2 slices of cheese) because that is the original. This time I did not screw up, I made sure to say no lettuce or tomatoes (lest my burger get contaminated). Even 3 hours and 1 bus ride later, the burger was delicious, it held up very well. The bag, not so much, it was greased through. While watching Amazing Race I ended up laughing so hard I got myself into a coughing fit.

Day 3 celebrity sightings: another goose egg, we did see a guy who looked like Braeden walking a dog, but that does not really count.

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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel


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Los Angeles 2013- Day 2

Sat. Mar. 16, 2013:

I failed to wake up at my usual ungodly early time; I blame it on the lack o f sun. That is right, in California the sun was failing to creep through the blinds awaking me as it had last year in Arizona. Our second day in California was a cloudy day! Insert shocked face here. We walked half an hour to catch a bus, for a ride that would last 20 minutes. It was well worth the irony as we were heading to the La Brea Tar Pits and the Los Angeles County Art Museum (heretofore referred to as LACMA).

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The tar pits were awesome, they actually bubbled! It did not look or smell as I had imagined. The pits really just look like a lake, at first we thought it was a lake- until we saw a giant black bubble pop- and then the faint smell hit us. As a child I had been terrified of tar pits- I was a huge fan of The Land Before Time. It was only recently that I became intrigued by the tar pits, after listening to a podcast about the fact that they have the largest collection of dire wolf skulls. I wanted to see just how many of these skulls they had (clearly I did not pay enough attention to the podcast). It was just as I had imagined! Rows and rows of skulls! It did not make dire wolves look too smart though, especially relative to other skeletons found in the tar pits. You can’t blame them though, the tar pits look like a lake and seeing a mammoth struggling to get out is just too much temptation. How bad could it be? Mammoths simply can’t swim. Have you seen how big a mammoth actually is? They are giant, epically giant.

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Behind the Page Museum (that is what the place is actually called) they have a c urrent excavation site set up so that you can gaze in and see it in progress. It is not at all what I had pictured, they dig through solid layers. There is no mucking around in the tar pit itself, with all the bubbling and the slowly-sucking-you-down-to-your-demise-ness.

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The LACMA was conveniently right next door. More importantly, they had a café- yet again I was in desperate need of my daily caffeine fix.  At first the museum seemed giant, we wondered if we would get through it all in time. Those fears quickly dissipated, the west wing was closed for renovations and most of the size of the museum was due to it being spread out over a few buildings. We started off with the exhibit we were most excited about: the Stanley Kubrick display. It ranks near the top as one of the best exhibits I have ever been to and it further reaffirmed my love of his films. It was amazing; I got to see props from The Shining, including the typewriter and axe. It also provided more insight however, beside the display of the twin girls’ dresses, there was an explanation that he had been inspired by one of Diane Arbus’s photographs of creepy twins- I was now doubly freaked out by the twins. The exhibit also consisted of copies of the scripts with Kubrick’s notes. One of the pages from a notebook was just filled with variations of the title for what was in the end: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It was all the same words just rearranged. Easily one of the greatest items on display was the tiny bible and suicide pills from Dr. Strangelo  ve. The tiny bible was just so cute. It was quite alarming to walk into an orange room and be face to face with the suit from A Clockwork Orange. Equally alarming was to see the star child from 2001: Space Odyssey just laying there on its side in a display case.

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From there we took our usual route through the galleries, starting with the oldest stuff and working our way towards the contemporary galleries. There were lots more Jesus paintings to be seen, because we still have not seen enough paintings of the Madonna and Child. We did realize that you hardly ever see paintings of the Last Supper (as opposed to Jesus’ birth and death). This could not have all been because of Leonardo da Vinci painting it so beautifully and thus no one else even wanted to compete. Somewhere out there is an enormous collection of Last Supper paintings. I am sure of it.

In the contemporary gallery we encountered our favourite art piece: the polymer plank leaning against a wall by John McCracken. This wasn’t even the first time we had seen it that day. There was one in the Kubrick exhibit as well, which put it into context as possibly having inspired the obelisk in 2001: Space Odyssey. The version of it in the contemporary gallery was a bright pink, so at least the colour was new to us.  As we went to the third floor in the contemporary gallery we could see the Hollywood sign off in the distance. Well, barely see, it was very smoggy then. Brent had read that there was an observation deck so we got in the elevator to go there. I pushed the button above 3, logically the roof button- it was the call button. We ran away. I was now even with Brent. I had laughed at him earlier when he set off an alarm, by going behind a wall to a darkened space. He thought there was a movie playing. No trip to an art gallery is complete without: Jesus paintings, the plank and much confusion about what is going on in the art world (a lot of: how can this be art?!). The last exhibit we saw was 2000 pieces of wood all over the floor. We had met all the requirements; we were done with the gallery.

We used the free wi-fi in the gallery to get directions to In N Out Burger. As it turns out, we had passed right by it on the next street over. I was hell-bent on ordering off the secret menu, nothing regular. I paired my burger with my fries, asking for both of them done animal style. For the fries this entails topping them with cheese, thousand islands dressing and fried chopped onions. As per the burger: extra sauce, pickles, chopped fried onions, and a mustard grilled bun. I was so embarrassed about asking for stickers that I forgot to say no tomatoes and no lettuce. I was stuck having to pick them out of my burger, my sad one patty burger. I do not know what I was thinking ordering a single. The only downside to the animal fries is that the toppings sit on top, so once you get about halfway down they are just regular fries. While at In N Out I saw some cheerleaders and it just reminded me of Bring It On, making me crave the movie for the rest of the day. Waiting for Brent on the patio I witnessed the cutest (and smartest) dog ever. His owner was eating a burger and he kept whining and begging. She ignored him. He put his paws on her lap and whined some more. She gave in and let him have a piece, just a piece, of an In N Out burger. That is just mean. The dog knew this, he begged a few times but to no avail, so he instead took to barking. When he saw that it was not working, he started going over to the next table. A smart dog with good taste.

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We walked back to our hotel through the UCLA campus. It is a very nice campus, though they have a lot of fraternities and sororities. I lost count. There was on that had a spanking paddle holding the window open.

Back at the hotel I found out that there is a Starbucks not too far, I was saved from having to wait for my morning coffee! No more caffeine-crashes for me. The Starbucks just so happened to be located near a pharmacy called Brent-Air which I spent way too much time giggling about.

We took the free hotel shuttle to the Bel-Air hotel where we were having dinner at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. I was more excited about getting to see the fancy hotel (where celebrities stay when they are in town) than the restaurant. I can’t help it; Wolfgang Puck has so many restaurants (including one I saw in the airport when we flew in). We had been anticipating traffic so we left early for the hotel. Of course when we leave an extra buffer of time, there is no traffic at all. We slowly wandered around the hotel grounds gawking at all the fanciness. I was less than thrilled as I was in heels and a sleeveless shirt- it was surprisingly cold out. There was a pool shaped like an egg, seemingly just for the sake of it. In the small lake there was a swan and we wondered if it had clipped wings but we decided against running up and scaring it to see of it would fly away. During our second round through the hotel (we had a lot of time to kill) we encountered drunken newly-weds. I knew they were newly-weds because: they were intoxicated at 5 in the afternoon, they were all over each other, it was pretty clear that they had splurged on the hotel and were more than enjoying the time spent there. If they weren’t in gag-inducing country-club wear (think khakis and sweater wrapped around shoulders, knotted at base of neck) it would have been cute.

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The restaurant was outdoors but with a tent-like covering and fancy heaters. I called dibs on sitting beside the heater. I would soon come to regret this decision as it got insanely warm. I went from being too cold to too hot without any of the good middle part. The amuse-bouche (or as they called it: amuse from the chef) was beets and pomegranates. I stared at it for a while, stared at the beets, the gross beets. As it turns out beets (at least when prepared with pomegranates and served in tiny quantities) are not all that bad. To start we split a bluefin tuna tartar wrapped in cucumbers. It was delicious, very light and not that heavy on the fish taste. As usual we swapped our main courses when we were halfway through. I traded in my enormous- really, it was bigger than my head- schnitzel for Brent’s braised beef short ribs. It was hilarious when our plates arrived. I was presented an enormous (but thin) slab of meat and Brent was given a small plate of potatoes and a pot of ribs in sauce, which the waiter poured over the potatoes. My giant plate of meat versus Brent’s small fancy dish, and somehow Brent won. Hands-down the ribs were much better than the schnitzel. This is not to say that it was awful, it was really good but no better than schnitzels I have had before. The ribs were saucy and succulent and they just fell off the bone. It is debatable if we had made a mistake in ordering an appetizer; we were too full for dessert. The appetizer was delicious and we did get a small mini-dessert with the bill (little puff pastries with cream).

Brent asked the concierge if he could call our hotel for the shuttle. She seemed a bit thrown off for a second; she had assumed we were staying there. We were told it would be about a 30 minute wait until the bellhop would arrive. We set off wandering around the hotel yet again. This time we found the swan nestled all cozy and snug by the lake- with another swan. Driving back we passed a few more mansions. All in all I thought I would see more and bigger mansions in Bel-Air, I also did not expect to see so many mansions being constructed. I was exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel- and it was barely even 9pm. I tried to decorate my notebook with my In N Out stickers… and I somehow managed to fail. It turns out that the back of the sticker sheet serves as a background to stick the characters on.

Day 2 celebrity sightings: zero, again.

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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel


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