Sunday, August 04, 2013

Back in Los Angeles - Rediscovering LA

Los Angeles - Hollywood sign
Finally, going to Los Angeles and not going to any theme parks, not meeting any relatives and not just a stop over on a long drive to Mexico.

In this trip, this Filipino guy discovered the cultured side of LA. I immensely enjoyed what I saw. It is a different side of LA I've been wanting to experience.

Mijo was heading to LA to take care of a personal and professional business so I decided to tag along with him. My goal in this trip was to discover that side of LA that I haven't seen before. I was on the search for culture in LA. It was something I had been wanting to experience. Just so you know, there was no sighting of either Angelina or Brad.

One of my favorites in this trip was the visit to the J. Paul Getty Center. I even set aside one full day for this one goal.

The Getty Center is perched on top of the hill off highway 405. Techinically, the museum is free of charge but there is a fee to park in the museum's garage. From the garage, there is a tram that hauls the museum visitors to the top of the hill. I took this photo while inside the tram.

Los Angeles - Getty Center

Just like the other big art venues, a day wouldn't be enough to see all its collection. I made a mental note that this place requires another visit. I took advantage of the museum's docent led tours. I figured, it would be an excellent way to get a summary of the museum in such a short time. I planned it so that I can take a couple of museum tours, a quick bite at the museum cafe and a visit to the museum store all within six hours.

Los Angeles - Getty Center front

First, I took the garden tour which lasted a little over an hour. The gardens at the Getty center is a master piece in itself because there is unity and cohesion in the use of plants, trees, rocks, sculptures, fountains and man made creeks. The garden was designed to compliment the white and off white colors of the building complex. If I have one word for it, lavish. I also consider it the epitome of zen. I highly recommend this free tour when you visit the Getty Center.

Los Angeles - Getty Center garden

Even though time didn't permit me to take an architecture tour of the museum, I couldn't help but notice the organic shapes of the building complex. From afar, the complex looks white. On a closer look, I could see the use of white and varying shades of white. The materials used are mixed as well as the texture. Lots of lines.
Los Angeles - Getty Center architecture

The docent led tour of the museum was excellent and it let me see the highlights of the collections without going through the entire museum. Of course, the superstar painting in this venue is Van Gogh's Irises. The museum is also home to a collection of grand furnitures and decorative pieces used by wealthy Europeans in the 18th century. There was an art exhibit called The Gardens of the Renaissance which featured manuscript illuminations. I will need to go back to see the rest of the collections the next time I'm in town.

Los Angeles - Irises

During my very first visit to LA, I remember I too a coach tour with a big group and they drove us around to most of the tourist spots including the homes of the superstars in Beverly Hills. That was uneventful since we all stayed inside the coach. It was really a drve-by tour. That was many moons ago.  

Now that I am a bit experienced traveler and know a little about Hollywood and the Oscars, I was ecstatic to learn that Kodak Theatre (now called Dolby Theatre) has a guided tour. Though taking pictures is prohibited, Mijo and I still went ahead.

Los Angeles - Kodak Theatre

The tour is about the theatre with special emphasis on the Oscars. They basically walked us around the place and showed us each section and how it relates to the Oscars awards night. This is where so-and-so did this-and-that. Sort of like a behind the scenes look of what happens during the Oscars. The highlight of the guided tour for me was when we were led to the main stage and stood where the Oscar winners stood facing the audience. On the seats, they placed portraits of stars on the exact chair where each sat during this year's Oscars. There were pictures of Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, etc. I was thinking being an actor/actress truly has a lot of perks. I also learned from our tour guide that the stars don't get paid appearance money to attend the Oscars. Though they get what they call a goodie bag worth tens of thousands of dollars in value.

Here's the postcard that they gave us at the end of the tour which I sent myself.

Los Angeles - Kodak Theatre postcard

Another venue in LA that I've always wanted to see was the Hollywood Bowl. Luckily, the Los Angeles Philharmonic was rehearsing the morning we went to check the venue out. They let you go in the amphitheatre even during a rehearsal though only a small portion of the venue is available to the public. The rest of the seats are cordoned off and off limits when we went there.

Los Angeles - Hollywood Bowl

A few blocks from our hotel is the LA Live! which houses the Grammy Museum.
I was told by a staff at the Museum Store that the Grammy Museum just opened in 2008. As expected, the place is all about music and everything you need to know about the Grammy awards. It has a lot of interactive booths and video displays. My favorite part is the section about Michael Jackson where they also have on display a few of the outfits he used including the jacket with the letter M which he wore in The Thriller music video.

Los Angeles - Grammy Museum

They do not allow people taking pictures inside the Grammy museum. So this is the only one that I could take with me.

Los Angeles - Grammy Museum tix

I wanted to get inside the Observatory in Griffith Park but we got there a little too early. I decided to just take pictures from Griffith Park since the view of downtown LA from there is spectacular, that is, when the sky is clear.

Los Angeles - Skyline

Here is another view of downtown LA from near Civic Center.
Los Angeles - Skyline upclose

After a tour of the Kodak Theatre and since we were in Hollywood, we decided to join hundreds of tourists to the Mann's Chinese Theatre to once again see these hand prints of famous showbiz people. It was actually nice to be back here.

Los Angeles - Mann's Chinese Theatre

The same thing with the Walk of Stars. It felt good to see it again. I have yet to walk its entire span. Maybe next time?
Los Angeles - Walk of Stars

Off Olvera St., there is a small museum showcasing the work of muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros called La América Tropical and the works on its conservation process.

Los Angeles - America Tropical

The traffic in LA seems getting worse.
Los Angeles - Traffic

One evening, I met up with my former highschool classmate at the Bona Vista Lounge. Pictured below is my drink called Sidecar which is courvoisier, cointreau and lemon juice. The venue is a revolving lounge and it is located on the the 34th floor of the downtown Westin hotel. My former highschool classmate Jade, our former history teacher Christian and I had a lot of catching up to do. It felt as if we were just meeting up at the Holy Child Academy Novaliches school cafeteria.

Los Angeles - Sidecar at Bona Vista 

Mijo and I also had a chance to have a nice sit down dinner in LA. We went to a place called Pinot Cafe and everything we ordered was delicious and well made. Great service as well!

Pictured here is Pinot Cafe's seared scallops with earthy and peppery red sauces.
  Los Angeles - Scallops at Pinot Cafe

Here is another dish from Pinot Cafe. It is a delicious and perfectly cooked duck confit with a semi sweet asian sauce with steamed veggies.
Los Angeles - Duck Confit at Pinot Cafe

A Mexican lunch fare around Olvera St.
Los Angeles - Lunch in Olvera St

And a truly tasting corned beef hash at The Standard.
Los Angeles - Cornedbeef hash at The Standard

However short this trip may be, it allowed me to see Los Angeles in a different light and I truly enjoyed it.


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