We've been here in Los Angeles for just over a week now & have been enjoying the great weather, the clear blue skies & most of all, just being together as a family unit. Living separately makes this time together all the more precious.
It's been several years since I've been in Southern California. We've done all the usual Disney/Universal/Legoland theme parks before, when the kids were much younger. This time around, these places are not as appealing as before. Instead, we visit the less
hyped about places in Los Angeles like Venice Beach & the Griffith Observatory.
Venice Beach, with its bohemian atmosphere, is a great place to people-watch. Apart from the
touristy souvenir shops, one can also visit a "doctor" to get medical marijuana (and I am
assuming that one would need a legitimate prescription to do so!), as well hookahs & shisha pipes & other such similar "herbal" paraphernalia!
The Griffith Observatory is located on a hill in Griffith Park not too far from Beverly Hills. Apart from the exhibits inside the observatory, you can also see amazing views of
Los Angeles & its surrounding areas, including a nice shot of the Hollywood sign.
We watched an amazing panoramic presentation titled "The Center of the Universe" which gives a history of astronomy, and an explanation of how the universe began. We were treated to a view of the night sky, the planets & the galaxy with occasional vertiginous views as we "flew" through space to see these wonders of the universe.
An unintentional detour up a twisty hillside road through the Hollywood Hills brought us as close as legally possible to the Hollywood sign! This was an unexpected treat which resulted from Z pressing the wrong button on our GPS unit. Some of the homes we drove past probably cost millions of dollars & belong to celebrities but I can't imagine living in a house perched on the side of a hill (magnificent view notwithstanding) in an earthquake prone area.
Anyway, here's a picture we took when we hit the dead end. The only way up was a dirt track which had numerous warning signs telling us that it was a restricted area, no trespassing, no stopping etc etc etc. In any case, we were thrilled to be so close to this almost legendary landmark.
Another beach which is featured quite commonly in TV shows & movies is the Santa Monica beach & the pier located on there.
With music-crazy kids, we HAD to visit the Grammy Museum located within a complex called LA Live. Here, one can learn about the history of the Grammy awards, and about how music is written & produced & recorded with hands on exhibits which musician wanna-be's can try, from "playing" a musical instrument to recording to mixing a track. Basically, it's paradise for music lovers. For me, the most fascinating part of the museum was a special exhibit featuring John Lennon. Included in the display were actual lyrics of some of his famous songs handwritten on note paper & envelopes during the songwriting process. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside, so I didn't take any pictures of this museum.
I must say that I am surprised at how much I have enjoyed L.A. The weather has been great (check out the blue skies in the pictures!), the people friendly, and a lot more laid-back than the East Coast grittiness one gets when one visits NYC. We have been staying in a hotel in the Marina Del Rey area, which is right by the ocean so we get the coolness of the ocean breeze. There are lots of restaurants, supermarkets & coffee bars around (at last count, at least 4 within a one block area, including our favorite, Peet's Coffee).
W is doing a four week college course at USC. Both he & Z have hinted at how they would not mind living in LA. They like the cosmopolitan feel of the city, as do I. So, who knows....