Los Angeles, Day Two

I’m in LA for a week. I’m going to try to write something about my trip every day. I hope you enjoy it.

I may have written about day one a bit prematurely. I had a few hours to kill before my friend Dmitry arrived, and I figured that would be a good time to get something down. So let me continue with day one, part two:

We grabbed lunch at a restaurant called Hummus House, and it was delicious. They served their beef shawarma in a pita as if it was a wrap, which I wasn’t super-keen on, from the standpoint of eating utility. I like wraps, but I always make a mess with them. I’d have preferred it served IN the pita. All the same, it was a fantastic meal. The decor was fun, as well. It was very middle eastern: textiles were hung across the ceilings and walls, and many seats were benches accented with pillows. It had a very inviting feel. I’d go back.

This dinner adventure was followed by a trip to the beach at sunset so we could try to capture some good photos. Dmitry made a point of telling me that visiting the ocean is nothing like the beach at Lake Michigan, and he was right. I’d assumed that, because one could not see the end of the beach in either case, the feeling would be similar. But the waves along the Pacific Ocean carry enormous weight. The tide's roll is slow and heavy, their size dwarfing anything I’ve seen in Chicago. And I’ve seen some heavy stuff in Chicago. I’d like to see the beach during the day. I’ll be visiting the Getty Villa tomorrow, and it’s right along the coast, so I will at least see the ocean in daylight.

As we left the beach, we ran into a woman walking her dog and had a nice quick conversation. It was incredibly dark, and if it weren’t for her dog running up to us, I don’t think it would have happened. I would never approach a woman walking through an alley in the dark of night — it just seems like the last thing they’d want. Her little Westie made for the perfect close to a wonderful evening.

One thing that’s taken some getting used to is driving up and down hills. I’ve only driven once outside the midwest. I was sixteen or seventeen, visiting family in Colorado. My uncle let me drive a bit, teaching me some tips that I still use to this day. Most of my driving then was confined to simple roads, though, so it was still a new experience for me. The steep inclines of California roads are unlike anything in The Windy City.

Always the game master.

So that was last night. Today started with a walk to Denny’s, because that’s the closest restaurant besides the one in the hotel. I haven’t had breakfast food since my friend Christina made me some several months ago, so I still enjoyed it. While we waited for the meal, I solved the crossword puzzle on the placemat.

We followed that with a trip to LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. We foolishly missed out on a great deal of art there; we only explored single building on the campus: the Ahmanson Building. It’s an interesting space filled with several types of art. Their Art of the Pacific gallery was small but engaging. There wasn’t much in the way of information about the art, which was disappointing.

The second floor featured Modern Art and German Expressionism, and presented some gorgeous works. I took a few photos, but I didn’t take down the names of the artists, and I wish I had. From there, I headed to the fourth floor to see Islamic art and South/Southeastern Asian Art. It was interesting to see art from cultures that don’t normally get highlighted in the US, and I especially liked learning that calligraphy is regarded as a fundamental part of Islamic art. I have always thought that Arabic script was beautiful. The South and Southeast Asian Art exhibit was also interesting; it featured some very ornate weaponry, and awe-inspiring sculptures of Hindu gods.

From there, I met back up with Dmitry and we checked out the third floor’s exhibitions: European art and Art of the Ancient World. It was amazing to see art that had made it through centuries surviving war, political and social upheaval, and just time itself. The religious aspect of it held little interest to me, but it was still enthralling. Dmitry and I compared the poses and heavy emotions of many of the paintings to the artwork seen in comic books today.

We finished up our tour around one-thirty, and both of us were quite hungry. At first, we were going to hit one of the cafes on-site, but then Dmitry suggested a local pub. As we walked to the pub, we happened upon a fleet of food trucks, and decided to try those out instead. We grabbed sliders from Street Kings, which were fantastic.

Our next stop was the Griffith Observatory. The drive alone was interesting; we passed beautiful homes and headed up a winding path up Mount Hollywood. We hadn’t realized the observatory was right across from the Hollywood sign, so we took some pictures and the landscape before heading in.

We looked at the observatory’s exhibits while waiting for a showing of Light of the Valkyries, a presentation about the Northern Lights. It was probably the least exciting part of the day. I was interested in seeing it because I have always wanted to see the aurorae in person, and thought this would cool. While exciting from a technical standpoint, I found the presentation itself to be lacking. The presenter herself was wonderful, but the content was bland. When the show finally got to displaying aurorae, they were hastily presented and interrupted with silly CG warriors. It felt like a presentation aimed solely at children. Maybe it was.

Following that, Dmitry and I stopped at the Arclight to see Chef, which is a wonderful film that I highly recommend. The theatre itself was nice. The crowd there was small, perhaps because we missed the Friday night rush. I wasn’t impressed with the concessions, but that wasn’t why I was there. The presentation of the film was excellent, and there wasn’t a single moment of interruption from the crowd. It was a great moviegoing experience.

Sunset from my hotel window.

The sun began to set as we drove back to our hotel, and upon arrival I started writing as Dmitry took a FaceTime call from his wife and ordered a pizza. All in all, a good day.

Posted on May 16, 2014 and filed under Travel.