Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 1 (Part 2) - Griffith Observatory

January 24, 2016 (continued): After my visit to LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits, I decided what a nice idea it would be to watch the sunset from the Griffith Observatory. Turns out, I was not the only one with that bright idea since it was a Sunday, the traffic snaked around the mountain to the top a few miles back. People were already parking on the side of the road that far back so I was slowly losing hope that I was going to be able to live out my plan. As I reached the top I was surprised to see that there were a few parking spots open and I guess everyone just assumed it would be taken since they saw other people parking further back, I lucked out and got a front row spot.

At the top of the hill, there are 360 views of LA, where you can spot the iconic Hollywood sign landmark off in the distance, the rolling hills, and the contrasting grid-like structure of the city.

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That day, the sun was radiating, casting this golden glow and making me fall more and more in love with this town. After taking a bazillion pictures of the view, I headed towards the observatory building. What makes this place even better is it’s free, apart from maybe a few shows they have which I think is worth it.

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The way to the observatory is lined with the orbital paths of the planets which I thought was a nice touch. I have the sense of humor of a 12-year old so 1000 guesses as to why I chose this planet to take a picture of?

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There is also the Astronomers Monument Figures that feature the main founding fathers of astronomy, Hipparchus, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Herschel. Apparently Einstein was also considered but it was thought to be strange to include someone who was living (at the time). At the top of the monument is an armillary sphere, which was the device mainly used to track the celestial positions before the telescope was invented.

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The building itself is in the Art Deco style, which if you have been reading this blog know that this is one of my favorite art movements due to its graphic, geometric style.

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Once you enter the building - immediately in the center of the foyer is a Foucault Pendulum to show the rotation of the Earth.

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Above, is the ceiling with murals painted by Hugo Ballin. The murals were inspired by the myths based on what people saw in the sky in ancient times.

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Just below the ceiling are 8 panels of murals also by Hugo Ballin, based on the advancement of science throughout time.

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There were many mini exhibits including a Tesla Coil, as well as a Periodic Table of Elements with the actual elements within each box.

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I eventually made my way outside on the upper deck of the building and staked out my spot to watch the sunset. It was a good thing I got there early because by the time the sun was setting, you could barely find an opening around the perimeter. During this time it was still winter, so the winds were brisk and harsh against my skin but it was all worth it to watch the sun go down over the city. The sky changed many colors from bright golden yellow, to the dusky hues of pink and purple after it set. This was a perfect end to my sightseeing tour for the day.

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For dinner, I grabbed my first ever In & Out Burger. I had heard it was THE thing to get in California so I just got a regular cheeseburger and “animal style” fries where they smother it in their special sauce, caramelized onions and cheese.

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Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 4 (Part 1) - Chinatown

January 22, 2016 (continued): I began my fourth and final full day in San Francisco, with a little rain and getting my Art Deco fill at 450 Sutter St. When I was researching places to visit in SF, this came up as a must see and it was perfect that it was near my hotel. It is known for its “Neo-Mayan”, Art Deco architecture and was designed by Timothy L. Pflueger. The golden interior in the lobby is stunning! I wanted to take more pictures but the security guard was giving me a suspicious side-eye so I quickly snapped a couple and then left for breakfast.

For breakfast, I decided on something lighter since I’d been having my fair share of heavy comfort foods - my body was craving something a little healthier. I yelped places in the nearby area and came across Native Juice Co. it was the perfect choice since it was literally down the road. I ordered their You’ve Got Kale smoothie (consisting of kale, pineapple, banana, coconut milk, and coconut water) and the ultimate millennial choice, Smashed Avocado Toast (pain au levain, maldon sea salt, lemon zest, micro greens, and chili flakes). I also got a coffee for the road to keep me going for my big adventure for the day. Verdict on the food - the smoothie had a nice flavor and I know some people get put off by having vegetables in their drinks, but having had a few smoothies in my day you don’t really notice it with the inclusion of banana which kind of neutralizes most flavors with its creamy sweetness. The Avocado toast was definitely decent but I think the large chunks of sea salt kind of left of an inconsistency in the general bite flavors as some were too salty and some not enough.

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My first big exploration of the day was the nearby Chinatown. I’d heard how iconic it was before visiting and why not connect to my Chinese roots while here. Walking through, you could see many of the familiar local vendors hawking their wares from China that you see in many other Chinatowns.

Had to get a pic of this interesting, yet creepy form of advertisement. I saw another fellow photographer grab a snap as well after me hehe.

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Further into Chinatown, I saw what set this one apart for me personally - it was the multitude of vibrant art and architecture adorning each street you turned down. My art heart was in love.

While I did enjoy visiting this neighborhood and wished I had time to look around a little longer, the rain had started to pick up, my gear was getting heavier with every step and navigating the narrow, steep, crowded sidewalks while also trying to avoid getting impaled in the head by everyone’s umbrella was wearing on me a little. So I decided to move onto my next destination, Lombard Street!