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 2 (Part 1) - Union Square

January 20, 2016 (continued): My day started off walking around my temporary neighborhood and seeing it for the first time in daylight. It was just as colorful and vibrant as it was at night. In contrast, one of my favorite buildings I came across was a black and white one that had such a cool graphic quality to it.

I ate breakfast at a nearby restaurant, Sears Fine Food. It was pretty cool as they give you a token to play the slot machine for your next free meal. Unfortunately, it was no dice for me.

After filling up on food, I went down to catch my ride at the tram stop nearby and while I was waiting I got to see a cool mix of old and modern architecture.

All images taken by me and opinions my own.

Travel Diary: Seattle Day 4 - Belltown

January 18, 2016 (continued): Walking back to my hotel from my day about town, I got to go through the trendy Belltown neighborhood. I enjoyed the colorful (literally and metaphorically) stores, restaurants, architecture, and art. Below, are some of the highlights of my walk through, including a mannequin sporting a new clothing trend perhaps? ;)

Travel Diary: Seattle Day 4 - Space Needle

January 18, 2016 (continued): First stop of the day was at the iconic Space Needle tower, a major tourist hotspot, but where else could I see a sweeping 360 degree view of the city? Ironically, I’ve lived in Auckland for most of my life and never visited the top of its sister scraper, the Sky Tower.

Tip: Get there early to avoid the lines as there are only a few elevators that can fit 25 people at a time, especially if you don’t pre-buy the tickets. However, the ride was at a blink and you’ll miss it speed, rocketing to the observation deck at 520 ft in a matter of seconds!

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The view was pretty spectacular, and I was lucky enough that the weather had cleared up nicely so that I could see Mt. Ranier in the distance.

Tip: Your ticket also allows one free digital picture at the “selfie” machine on the observation deck, where you scan the barcode of your ticket at the self automated machine and it will take a tall angled shot of you and the view below.

Since I had the City Pass for this particular visit, I did have a discounted ticket but I will say if you’re a first time visitor to Seattle, it’s definitely worth going for the views alone.

I spotted these giant daddy long legs on a rooftop that I thought was a 3D sculpture at first. Later I found out it was actually a mural created by Marlin Peterson who was commissioned by the Washington State Artist Trust to paint somewhere in the city.