Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 3 (Part 2) - DTLA and The Last Bookstore

January 25, 2016 (continued): The next place I wanted to check out was The Last Bookstore which was in walking distance from Grand Central Market.

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On my way there, I spotted another cool electrical box with the Egyptian God Anubis, painted in a way that reminds me of Sanna Annukka’s scandinavian style animals.

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I passed through the Historic Core of DTLA with many beautiful buildings having an architectural style dating back to the early 1900s.

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Upon entering the store, I could see why this was a highly recommended place to visit as it was part art installation/gallery, part bookstore. There were sculptural pieces made of books everywhere in the main room, including the checkout bar station.

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When coming from the front the room to the left is the art/design books section, so of course it had to be filled with little bits of artistic expression. On the walls were these beautiful, largely detailed pencil(?) drawing murals. The back of the room had a large gallery of paintings in different styles, from thrift store chic to modern, contemporary works.

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Even the stairway area had little bits of art thrown in, albeit a bit creepy, even more so when I was editing this image and noticed reflected in the security mirror, that there was a person standing in the stairwell.

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Hanging above the stairs was a gothic-esque sculpture.

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Further up was an art installation reminiscent of something out of Harry Potter, where the books come alive appear to be “flying” out of the bookcase.

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Part of the upstairs has a few mini shops selling cool vintage trinkets, to paintings, to stationery bits and bobs.

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Once you reach the end of the loop of mini shops, there is an entrance to the upstairs part of the bookstore. Here, are even more sculptural book wonders, from little windows, to a lit up cave.

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Also sprinkled throughout are more artsy influenced installations including 3D murals, color categorized bookshelves and various vintage sculptures.

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Their inventory of books is a mixture of new, and secondhand with a few hard to find thrown in. I would recommend visiting whether you’re a bibliophile or quirky art connoisseur!

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On the way back to my car, I spotted a few more representations of DTLA’s eclectic mix of artistic inspiration like this pretty black and white building.

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To the *ahem* creepy.

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To the amusing.

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 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!

Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 2 (Part 2) - Haight-Ashbury

January 20, 2016 (continued): When going to San Francisco, with an interest in the funky and artistic, you must visit the iconic Haight-Ashbury district - birthplace of the hippie movement.

Getting there early, a lot of the shops weren’t open yet so it gave me time to explore the street as a whole. I was instantly attracted to the vibrancy and vibe of the street’s facades, with enough interesting street art to fill my camera roll to my heart’s content, colorful Victorian architecture, and bits and pieces of the weird and wonderful.

Once the shops started opening I visited a few including Wasteland where I found the exact Jean Paul Gaultier jacket Cher wore in Clueless.

Also paid a visit to the original Amoeba Music store, widely known for being one of the biggest independent music chain stores. It felt like they had every music, movie, poster known to man - their catalog was huge and slightly overwhelming!

All images taken by me and opinions are my own.