Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 4 - The Getty Museum

January 26, 2016 (continued): On my last day of this trip, I had some time to before my flight back to Hawaii so I decided to check out the iconic Getty Museum.

I decided to indulge in a “hearty” (a.k.a. fat-fueled) meal. Doughboys Cafe & Bakery (now closed), was nearby my AirBnB and looked like it had interesting items on the menu. I ordered the Southern Corn Pudding Special which consisted of half creamy cheesy corn pudding, half pulled pork with grilled onions, corn and potatoes, topped with two griddled fried eggs and broiled in a cast iron skillet. It sounded delicious but I was a little disappointed as it was surprisingly bland and underseasoned for all the richness. I also ordered a mocha and chocolate chip cookie because I had seen they sold cookies the size of people’s faces and I’m all for novelty.

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After finishing my breakfast I immediately made my way to the museum since I was flying out in the afternoon and wanted to have time to explore. Even though I had a few hours there, it was so expansive that I didn’t get to see everything thoroughly, so I recommend giving yourself at least half a day to explore if you are an art aficionado.

The museum is free admission but if you are driving (which I was), the parking fee is a flat $15. I believe you can get a same day deal if you’re also visiting the Getty Villa. To get to the museum, you have to take a tram ride up to the top, it’s a great way to see views overlooking LA.

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Upon arrival you are immediately greeted by the museum’s undulating architecture designed by Richard Meier, it is somewhat reminiscent to me of a swimming pool for some reason.

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As you venture through the main building and head outside you can see expansive views of LA.

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There were many artifacts on display but I only captured a few that piqued my interest, partly because I was a little photo fatigued from the trip and also wanted to be more in the moment when observing the collections.

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One of the highlights for me personally was seeing many of the illuminated manuscripts they had in their collection. It’s always gratifying to see something in real life which you learned about only through books, as this was for me when I was in college. I love how the colors and gilding of each page was still vibrant to this day, and seeing the amount of detail that went into each page.

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This painting of Madonna and Child with Two Hermit Saints by Bernardino Fungai made me chuckle a little because of the child’s expression and posture like he’s saying “Guurrrl, chill...”

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More views from outside.

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I love the playfulness of the trompe l'oeil technique so this Musical Group on a Balcony painting on the ceiling by Gerrit van Honthorst was a fun piece to see.

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Other painted details.

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Portrait of Louis XIV by Hyancinthe Rigaud.

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There were many pieces of furniture dating from the late 1700s. Elaborately ornate details, inlays, gildings, and embroidered materials fit for a king (or queen!).

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I headed outside where I saw different views of LA’s landscape, more of the museum’s architecture, and the desert gardens.

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The Central Garden had a maze like feature as its main centerpiece. Since it was winter at the time, the flora and fauna was a little barren but it was still stunning nonetheless.

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There were still many areas I had yet to explore but I had a flight to catch. This was a fantastic way to wrap up an amazing trip.

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Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 3 (Part 4) - Little Tokyo

January 25, 2016 (continued): The next place I checked out was mainly the Japanese Village Plaza area in Little Tokyo. Making my way from the Go For Broke Monument, I passed by some interesting art along the way.

On the side of one of the buildings in the Japanese American National Museum is a mural entitled, Moon Beholders by Katie Yamasaki.

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Further down the street beside the other building of the museum is the OOMO Cube, a giant rubix-like cube with different facial features from all different backgrounds and ethnicities you can mix and match to show that we are more similar than different. I added my mean “frowning in the sunlight” mug to the equation on one of the mirrored sides of the sculpture.

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I then ventured towards the Japanese Village Plaza. Out in front is a replica of a Japanese fire lookout called the Yagura Fire Tower. It was actually designed by a Korean-American architect David Hyun in 1978.

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Inside the plaza is small but has a mix of Japanese themed shops specializing in nik naks, toys, clothes and beauty. There are also a few restaurants, sweets and bakery shops and a Japanese market.

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In the courtyard are traditional, Japanese wishing trees where people write their wishes on small pieces of paper and tie them to the bamboo tree. In normal tradition the tree is later thrown into the river or brought to a shrine and set fire to in order for the wish to come true. I just thought it was a lovely scene in being able to visually see people's hopes and dreams in colorful, physical form.

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It was starting to get late, and I was getting hungry so I went to try a nearby ramen restaurant Shin-Sen-Gumi which in Little Tokyo is located across the street from the Japanese Village Plaza. At this location there is usually a line of patrons waiting to get in, pretty much any time of day but it usually moves fairly quickly. They sell only one type of base broth and then you choose from a variety of toppings including a miso butter bomb, to tomato paste and mozzarella(!!). I got one of the suggested combinations of kimchi, garlic chips and a poached egg. It was delicious, the noodles were nicely aldente, the toppings added a nice texture and flavor variation that helped cut the richness of the broth.

It was also surreal to see non-Japanese chefs cooking the ramen who conversing in perfect Japanese. At the same time it made me ashamed in my own lack of fluency.

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I finished off the night with dessert at the Mikawaya store back in the plaza, where they have a variety of different flavored Japanese mochi ice cream. Here is the cookies and cream version. 美味しかった! (It was delicious!).

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Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 3 (Part 1) - Eggslut, Grand Central Market, and the Bradbury Building

January 25, 2016 (continued): Day 3 of my trip in LA, consisted of tackling the Downtown area. For breakfast, I definitely wanted to try the much lauded, Eggslut - I’d seen it mentioned by a couple YouTubers and the food looked delicious. Their first and only location at the time was in Grand Central Market, a hub of many different food vendors that you could eat cuisines from around the world and never have left that place.

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Since this was their only location at the time, and as many hyped places tend to have, the line stretched around the block. Usually I just skip it if there’s a line, because most of the time the line wait vs the food in the end is almost never worth it. But I was determined and the line moved fairly quickly so it wasn’t too bad. The menu is pretty simple with only a few selections, so I ordered the Fairfax Sandwich (soft scrambled eggs, chives, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, sriracha mayo, in a brioche bun), it’s namesake the Slut (coddled egg on top of a puree poached in a glass jar, topped with gray salt, chives and served with a baguette), and fresh orange juice.

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Now living in LA I have tried a few of Eggslut’s different items and I feel like most are just ok, tend to be quite rich, and the seasoning is hit or miss, except for the Slut. That is almost worth waiting in line for on its own to me, as when you receive the Slut, you quickly stir the coddled egg into the potato puree and then dip your baguette in. The warm, creaminess of the mixture coats your mouth in deliciousness and the crunch of the bread adds a nice, needed counterbalance to the smooth texture.

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After my big breakfast, I needed some java to get me going for the rest of the day. I stopped by G&B Coffee, still in Grand Central Market and ordered a Mocha and what I thought was a sweet potato pie, but it turns out it was a coffee flavor, so I was double fisting it on to my next locale. While stopping to figure out how to carry all my equipment and 2 coffees, I had a direct view of the famous Angels Flight, which was featured in the movie La La Land.

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While researching the area, I saw that the Bradbury building was nearby and a neat place to visit if you’re into interiors/architecture. It is still a functioning office building, so you’re only able to go in the lobby area unless you have an appointment. Originally built in 1893, it has been featured in several films including Blade Runner and 500 Days of Summer.

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When you walk in, you immediately are transported back in time with all the architectural details of the past. The entire ceiling is a glass skylight, to let the natural light shine through.

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The gorgeous, ornate ironwork staircases are divine, I mean I have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to stairs, so you know I’m a little obsessed with these.

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To top it off they still have a set of working birdcage elevators. I would definitely recommend stopping by if you’re in the area.

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Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 2 (Part 3) - Santa Monica Pier

January 25, 2016 (continued): After briefly visiting Venice Beach, I headed down the road to my other destination on my checklist, Santa Monica. Tip if you’re ever visiting, I mistakenly parked on the pier and paid for parking, but later I found out when I moved to LA that there are several free 90 minute parking lots around Santa Monica. Not only that but navigating, down the pier in your car with the heavy traffic of people walking up and down the ramp is no easy feat.

Once out of the parking lot, I was immediately greeted by a huge color wonderland, the mini amusement park on the pier. A roller coaster, and a few other small rides for the kids, along with the iconic ferris wheel. I don’t know why I have such an affinity for ferris wheels (yet I’ve never rode on one, it’s a heights thing), maybe it’s the feeling it evokes and the atmosphere when you’re around one.  

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On either side of the pier, is the great view of the vast stretch of Santa Monica beach dotted with people along the coast.

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Further along the pier are many buskers and hustlers, from people belting out the latest song, to palm readings, to name drawing. It is almost an overwhelming sensation especially when the crowd is packed shoulder to shoulder shuffling down the pier as one large mass.

I like how this couple inadvertantly posed for this picture.

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I finished my time there at Pier Burger with a cheeseburger, fries and a custard shake.

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Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 2 (Part 2) - Venice Beach & Pier

January 25, 2016 (continued): Since I was in the nearby Venice Canals, I thought I’d pay a visit to the famous Venice Beach. Little did I realize, that this beach spans a vast width along the coast with the pier and boardwalk looking closer together on the map, it was definitely not in walking distance. Having now visited the boardwalk and Muscle Beach a couple times, the two areas could not be more different. My moments on the pier were calm and serene with only a few people scattered across the beach. Plus it was probably because at this time it was winter and the winds were brisker than usual.

I do like how the lack of people in the area, gives the photos sort of a dreamy, chill vibe to it.

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Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 2 (Part 1) - Venice Canals

January 25, 2016 (continued): After many of the heavy, sleep-inducing, carb-laden meals I’ve had throughout the trip I was craving something lighter and cleaner for breakfast. My plan was to explore the Venice/Santa Monica area so I googled juice places near there. I chose Juice Served Here as they had a few food options as well. There were only a couple of parking spaces out front, the building itself looked like a converted garage with a cool, glass roller door. The interiors were clean, modern with a slight industrial feel.

For breakfast, I chose the juice flight which was a selection of their juices in shot sized glasses that were supposed to be a re-invigoration for the day. There was an order to which one you drank first, including starting with Green Easy (Cucumber, Red Apple, Kale, Spinach, Lemon, Romaine, Green Pepper), to things like Charcoal Lemonade (Filtered Water, Sugar Cane Juice, Lemon, Montmorillonite Clay, Activated Charcoal), to finishing it off with the “dessert”, Cream Party (Coconut Water, Coconut Cream). As someone who regularly made their own smoothies and tried similar juices before, I didn’t mind the veggies in my juice thing as I know some people get weirded out and think it’s gross, but honestly the fruit flavors usually balance out any “green” tastes. I thought each juice had their own unique flavor profile, and the flight was a good way to test out which juices you might prefer over others.

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I also ordered the vegan grilled cheese to round out my meal. Usually, I’m pretty wary of vegan imitation products as it’s never quite the same but thought I’d give it a go. As a connoisseur of grilled cheese and lover of dairy (but trying to cut back on it), this was one of the best grilled cheese I’ve had in my life. It was packed with flavor, with some red peppery bits in it, and a nice amount of creaminess to it. The melty, stringy cheese part was a little lacking because, well it’s not cheese but I didn’t really miss it. Since I am so late to writing this post, I don’t think they have it on their menu anymore unfortunately!

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My first sightseeing stop of the day was at the Venice Canals. I’d wanted to visit as it was the scene to several movies, plus a few YouTubers I watched had also been there, the location looked interesting and artistic so it was definitely on my list. Since I had started my day off early the place was almost empty apart from the residents, so I had it all to myself. The interwoven walk amongst the canals was one of the most peaceful, serene, and picturesque places I’ve ever been. I can see why one resident had to post a sign saying that they’d never sell so stop asking!

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I loved crossing the bridges and stopping to take in the scenery of the canals, each one was slightly different and unique. Funny story, there was a young man who went on one of the bridges and sat down with his puppet and started talking to himself, at first you’d think quite odd but then this is LA so I figured he was rehearsing for some project. Not sure why he had to sit on a bridge to do it but whatever helps the process I guess!

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Each house was decorated in their own unique way, which for my curious/detail oriented mind was like heaven just stopping at each home to see what they had done. The architecture was also unique in itself with some resembling quaint cottages, to clean and modern, to artsy/hippie decor, to some that looked like what I’d imagine was out of a Hansel and Gretel storybook.

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There were also several animal spottings like the ducks gliding down the canals, or in someone’s backyard, to doggo’s chilling on the porch, to crows and squirrels getting their feed on.

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In conclusion, this was one of my favorite places I had visited, as it touched on a number of my top things, arts, architecture, animals, nature, water, the peace and tranquility (especially for my introverted self). It was such an expansive place that I couldn’t see everything thoroughly but I knew if I was ever back I’d have to visit again.

Weekly Update: LA - Craft and Folk Art Museum

Been busy, busy - it’s the 2nd week in on my weekly update and already late and didn’t document much of it. Oops!

October 15: I did manage to go to the Craft and Folk Art Museum on Sunday and it was a pay what you can day as opposed to the normal $7 admission. I guess the whole museum consists of one main exhibition that changes every so often, this time it was art regarding The U.S.-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination, and Possibility.

The museum had some interesting and thought-provoking pieces, one of my favorites being Cartonlandia by Ana Serrano which was a sculptural collage created from recycled materials including postcards and cereal boxes to illustrate the slums scattered around Latin America.

This is a very small museum with only a couple floors and while I think supporting art is important, I’d probably recommend going on a Sunday where you pay what you can - as there are a few other free museums with the same amount of pieces available. But you can decide for yourself as you can see below some of my favorite pieces that I saw there.

After the museum I went for a walk around the neighborhood and captured some shapes and street art that caught my eye as I went by.

Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 5 - Mission District & Clarion Alley Murals Super Post

January 23, 2016 (continued): My mission (no pun intended) was to make it out to the artsy Mission District for my last day in San Francisco. In the morning, I caught the BART and headed over there. Emerging from the station, I definitely felt the shift in the type of environment than where I spent most of my time in SF. I wanted to try breakfast in that area since I’ve heard of a lot of good, new, restaurants that opened up. Walking around, I immediately saw that it wasn’t going to be an easy feat getting in for a quick bite anywhere, I couldn’t even fit the whole line in the picture!

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I was going to post a huge long rant about my less than stellar experience at Mission Beach Cafe for breakfast, but I’d rather not tarnish this post while there is the awesomeness of the murals coming up. Lets just say that while researching their site for this post, a disclaimer on Yelp popped up that said that this restaurant is in the bottom 5% sanitation wise. That pretty much encapsulated my time there, and it looks like they haven't really improved since I was there a year ago!

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Following my breakfast it left a pretty bad taste literally and figuratively, but it was washed away when I stopped by the Clarion Alley Murals. It was an explosion of color, intricately painted murals, political messages, and a few <ahem> interesting sculptures. The following super post were all taken on my iPhone, I didn't want to lug around my big camera so apologies for the quality.

Also found in the alley, it looked like a musician wasn’t too happy with his latest songwriting attempts perhaps?

After spending the majority of my time in the alley, I explored more of the district and visited a few shops I had heard about including The Pirate Store. It is what the name suggests, selling pirate / fantasy themed items, but it also had a lot of cool, interactive elements like a mini museum where you pull the rope and something comes down or you can look in the drawers for different specimens etc.

There were many more murals dotted around the district, a green lady, plus those multi-colored Victorian houses that’s so iconic to San Francisco that I love so much. I loved that even their tree grate had a Dia De Los Muertos theme.

Visiting the Mission District was definitely an experience, and was a fusion of new and old coming together in an eclectic mix. If you’re artistically inclined, I do recommend stopping by, as there is a lot to absorb creatively in many forms.

I headed back to downtown to grab my things and ventured to the airport to my final leg of the tour, LA. At the SFO airport was a stunning sunset that emerged after the rain and it was the perfect bittersweet goodbye to one of my new favorite cities.

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Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 4 (Part 3) - Palace de Fine Arts and Golden Gate Bridge

January 22, 2016 (continued): I decided to walk from Lucasfilm to the Palace de Fine Arts, it looked like an easy, quick trail on Google Maps. Alas, that wasn’t the case as the arrow always seems to point in the opposite direction for a while while walking, you start heading the wrong way and then it finally beeps to turn around - by then you’ve gone off the beaten path. That coupled with road blocks and construction at the time, exhaustion from lugging all my equipment, and dodging the rain - I was a hot, frustrated mess by the time I got to the destination. However, my heightened emotional state quickly dissipated as soon as the monumental structure started to come into view.

The architecture and its surrounding environment of the man made lagoon was breathtaking to say the least, photos do not do justice to the magnitude and beauty of seeing it in person. I have been fortunate enough to have visited Italy and viewed many famous Roman architectures, and I feel the Palace of Fine Arts is certainly comparable. Standing under the main dome, the vast height of the structure looms over with it’s intricately carved honeycomb ceiling and statues. I can see why this place was featured as a backdrop to many movies including Vertigo.

I eventually made my way to the most iconic sight to see in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge. As I was walking there from the Palace of Fine Arts, I only made it to the Crissy Field Beach before my legs and exhaustion gave out. Though I only made it to the beach, it still gave a nice, clear, side-on view of the entire bridge. Now that I live in California, I will be definitely making my way back to San Francisco to cross the bridge and another thing off my bucket list!

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Ending off my day back in downtown, I had dinner at Delarosa. I was craving my Italian food, googled and found this spot. They had these delectable and artery hardening deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls that everyone was raving about in their reviews. I got there and it was packed to the brim, luckily as a solo traveler I got a spot at the bar fairly quickly. I ordered the deep-fried balls and a caesar salad to you know, off set the decadence of the balls, but yes I know caesar salad isn’t exactly health food either.

My food arrived, and a couple next to me even commented when they saw the balls like, “whoa what is that?!”. If I’m going to be honest maybe they were too hyped in my mind because they were just ok. Not bad, but not amazing either. Maybe it was a little too rich for me, and even the tomato sauce it came in couldn’t off-set the decadence.