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 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.

Weekly Update: LA - Supermoon, Sunsets, Street Art and Stuffing My Face

October 2 - October 14: I’ve decided to try to incorporate a weekly, visual diary on the blog. I wanted to start documenting things more frequently again, as I did with the photo a day challenge on my instagram last year - it was a nice reminder of what I did on a particular day. I feel like it will also push me to explore again and spark my creativity, as I’ve kind of got into a rut of the daily grind of get up, go to work, get home late, go to sleep and do it all over again. Hopefully it won’t be too boring, though I have a strange fascination of seeing someone else’s day to day life, even the mundane tasks, maybe it reminds me that we’re all human at the end of the day. I also like to mentally bookmark interesting places that they go to for when I someday visit that place. These will most likely be shots from my phone and when I remember to document things so they probably won’t be artistic masterpieces, just random recorded memories.

Let’s begin! Yes, I realize October 2 - 14 is more than a week but I had some images I wanted to share before I thought to start this so I’ve included a bonus round.

October 2: My drive home from work was made a little bit brighter (no pun intended) due to the huge supermoon that hung in the sky at the beginning of this month. I wish I had my DSLR with me to capture the true size of that thing, it was like a bat signal in the sky it was so ginormous.

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I’ve been on a health kick as of late, working out everyday and eating better, so cooking more at home. I tried out this recipe of Roasted Carrots with Farro, Chickpeas and herbed Creme Fraiche. I subbed the farro for brown rice and the creme fraiche for the tahini sauce in the substitution part of the recipe. It came out pretty tasty, I think I overcooked the carrots a little, but the sweetness of the heirloom carrots made it come out caramelized and slightly crispy which was a nice added texture.

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October 3: Supermoon round 2, while waiting in traffic in Beverly Hills.

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October 4: Sunsets and supermoon while leaving work again. I like how in the last picture you can’t easily distinct the moon from the street lights but in real life it was as the song suggests, like a huge pizza pie!

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October 7: Started off the weekend at Black Dog Coffee where my favorite Avocado Toast is. This is the Deluxe Avocado Toast and worth every penny, its size is hefty and you have to hold it with two hands because it is stacked high with goodies. A large slice of bread is covered in avocado, arugula, fresh, soft melt in your mouth burrata cheese, tomatoes and drizzled with pesto and balsamic vinegar - heaven on toast!

Later, I spotted a little Lucille Dog (?) art on a clean up your dog’s poop sign.

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October 8: I treated myself to one of my favorite ramen in LA, the Spicy Vegan Miso Ramen at Jinya Ramen. I feel like if you can make a tasty vegetarian/vegan food, then you’ll be pretty good at making the other items on their menu. Unlike a pho place I tried that shall remain nameless whose vegetarian broth had less taste than if they just put water in there as the soup! Anyway this Vegan Miso Ramen is not missing any flavor and manages to retain the umami-ness that other normally pork-based broths have. This ramen contains soft tofu, onion, green onion, spinach, crispy onion, garlic chips, black garlic oil, chilli oil, sesame seeds and thick noodles. I had to add one of the best things about ramen, an ajitama egg (marinated, soft-boiled egg) to the mix. Even though it is named “Spicy” it is definitely a tolerable heat that doesn’t overpower the meal and you can still taste other flavors.

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October 9: The next couple of days had the most gorgeous sunsets, the sun was like a glowing fireball and the skies hued in pastel.

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October 10: Leaving work, the sunset had set the sky on fire again.

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Earlier, I said I was on a health kick, but I don’t deny myself things that I’m craving and it’s actually helped a lot than when I’ve dieted in the past to not completely restrict myself - because you end up thinking about it more than just having a little taste. SK’s donuts are heaven in a shop as they are open 24 hours, rotating out freshly made donuts throughout the day. Their cronuts are some of the best I’ve tasted as they have a nice crunch to them that most others I’ve tried have failed to capture. I just got a simple selection, a chocolate sprinkle, red velvet, and a cream cheese filled donut with oreo topping. Their cakey donuts are delicious, decadent, but not too heavy.

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October 11: A little bumper sticker wisdom on the drive home from work, “I am a leaf on the wind… watch how I soar.”

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October 12: A serendipitous moment of parallels, a man with a red and white striped shirt standing in front of the red and silver striped Peterson Automotive Museum.

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Later that night, I went to grab dinner in West Hollywood, and spotted Salt & Straw’s ribbon art on the side of their store. I first tried them in Portland last year - delicious, innovative ice cream.

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October 14: Finally working on editing my video diary from my west coast trip last year. I’ve been procrastinating, since it’s been a steep learning curve teaching myself Premiere Pro. I’ve edited videos in the past in iMovie but I wanted more control over certain elements so that’s why it’s been taking a while but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. Any tips would be appreciated!

That’s it for this “week”. I will try to finish up writing for my west coast trip travel diary series and post those as well!

Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 4 (Part 2) - Lombard St, The Presidio, and Lucasfilm

January 22, 2016 (continued): To get from Chinatown to Lombard St, I rode on my first San Francisco tram. It was a slightly traumatic experience, because the seats were already crammed and I had my big gear bag and heavy winter coat so I was trying to sit down but the tram had already started moving. That coupled with the steps slick with rain I slipped and almost fell out, but luckily the other passengers reacted quickly and held onto my arms while I grabbed onto the bar.

After composing myself from nearly having my life flash before my eyes, I got off at my next stop. There were already a few people gathered taking selfies on the top of Lombard St and it’s winding road. It was a cool bucket list thing to see, but am glad it was on my way to other destinations because it is not as big as you expect it to be and not sure if I came here specifically it would be worth my while. It was interesting to see how the cars would have to carefully swerve each tight corner, especially with the wet roads.

After all the walking I was getting a bit weary and peckish, so I stopped for a little lunch and relaxation. I googled nearby spots, and an Indian restaurant, Curry Leaf came up - it sounded like the perfect place, as I was craving something warming to eat. Also having lived in Hawaii for a while, I had missed a lot of the good Indian restaurants I grew up eating while in New Zealand.

Along the way there were a couple more cool street art murals as well as an interestingly named theater.

At the Curry Leaf, I ordered the butter chicken with jasmine rice and a garlic naan bread. It was the perfect antidote to the mixture of cold, wet, and hungry attitude I was feeling, and it hit the spot. The portion could have probably fed two people!

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To work off my huge lunch, I walked towards The Presidio, a former military outpost that was now part of the Golden Gate Park filled with tons of trails, museums, mini parks, and my next destination, Lucasfilm. I’d read during my research that tourists can come by and visit the lobby area where many of the iconic characters are displayed.

Outside Lucasfilm was a fountain with statue of Yoda, there is kind of a special, funny meaning to him for me personally. As a baby, I was nicknamed Yoda, because when my dad first saw me when I was born, I apparently resembled the wrinkly little alien. Hopefully I wasn’t as green as he was! 

Inside the lobby, there were many costumes and statues of all the iconic Star Wars characters, a storm trooper, Boba Fett, and of course Darth Vader himself. Also displayed were many of the awards the company had won. Personally, I would have been excited to see something from my favorite of the Lucasfilm franchises Indiana Jones, but it was a cool experience nonetheless.

Later, I explored a little more around the park - it was so expansive you could almost get lost! It even had its own Starbucks there! Again, I would have loved to walk around more but the rain was picking up and I wanted to get to my other sights to see!

Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 3 (Part 3) - Pier 39 Sea Lions Masterpost

January 21, 2016 (continued): As promised my Pier 39 sea lion masterpost, because I went a bit crazy taking every angle I could of these majestic water doggies.

Approaching the pier, the smell was pungent from a mile away, but it was worth it to witness them in various positions - bathing in whatever small gap of sunlight they could find, soga (sea lion yoga), squabbling, and lying in a row like a sardine can. It was the perfect end to my day!

Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 3 (Part 1) - Blue Bottle & Alcatraz

January 21, 2016 (continued): Being raised in New Zealand - home of many coffee connoisseurs, my eternal search for a great cup coffee in the States continued with Blue Bottle Coffee. I’d heard good things about it, so I decided to start off my day there with breakfast.

I walked to the cafe from my temporary residence, seeing great little snippets of art and architecture along the way.

I arrived there early, yet a line had already formed out the door - thankfully it moved pretty quickly. I made my order of a eggs and toast with I think was a salsa verde sauce, and a mocha. The meal and coffee were a bit on the higher end of cost, but both were well made so I had no complaints. I also liked watching their cool siphon contraption and watching the barista stir the coffee in a beaker over an open flame, it felt like being in a mad scientist’s laboratory.

Finishing up my meal, I hopped on a tram towards my next locale - Alcatraz! Being a tourist in this city, why not visit the No. 1 tourist destination in the States. I pre-booked my tickets through the official site, before I left for my trip as I read that tours are nearly always sold out on the day.

Going into the tour, I only had a general knowledge of it being the most notoriously inescapable prisons, for the most hard core criminals. My curiosity leaned more towards why everyone who had visited previously, encouraged others to do so fervently.

The line for the ferry was snaked around the lot and I can see why you should definitely pre-book your tickets, we eventually hopped aboard and departed from Pier 33. The ferry consisted of indoor seating but of course, most people chose to wrap themselves around the outside decks. It was definitely a brisk, prickly combination with the mix of San Francisco winter winds and the speed of the boat but the view was worth it. We got to witness views of the Bay Bridge, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and the mass of seagulls overhead and diving below - fishing for their next meal.


We arrived at Alcatraz and gathered near the dock where the docent welcomed us in and gave us a little introduction into the history. At the gathering point, you could still see remnants when the Native Americans took over the island. After the introduction we were free to explore on our own, and once inside you could get the guided tour headsets. Walking around the outside, it was a kind of eerie feeling seeing all the abandoned buildings where nature and time had taken over.

In one of the exhibits, they had displayed many of the prisoner’s personal stories of what lead them to be incarcerated. It was incredibly moving and gave you pause to not paint everyone in prison with an “evil” brushstroke. Many of them were in desperate times, stealing to provide for their family, or got caught up with the wrong people and were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I made my way into the main prison area, where they gave you headsets that guided you through with the corresponding numbers above each area. Seeing it in person you got to see how big the prison really was, with stacks up stacks, and rows upon rows of cells that were so tight you could practically touch each end with arms stretched.

It was also interesting to see remnants of the numerous escape attempts by inmates, from widening bars with a nut and bolt contraption and starving themselves to fit through, to the infamous Battle of Alcatraz where prisoners overpowered officers, and gained control of weapons and the hanging key from the gun gallery. You could still see the damage on the floor where security had dropped grenades through the roof in an attempt to corral the prisoners to a certain area.

Out of the Administration building you could see the skyline of San Francisco as well as the Golden Gate Bridge.

Back inside the Admin building, there was this creepy red handprint above the doorframe that wasn’t mentioned in the tour but through later google research is apparently from the Native American occupation.

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I headed into the prison area where the only successful escape attempt took place. Four inmates were in on the plan and they had sculpted dummy heads in their likeness from soap, toilet paper, hair clippings from the barber and paint from the workshop. These were placed in bed the night of the escape. For 6 months they had widened the hole of the ventilation duct in their cells using various tools found discarded around the prison, this lead to the utility corridor behind the walls that was unguarded. Three of the inmates escaped successfully and their disappearance was only discovered the next morning.

I finished off my tour walking through various parts of the prison including the kitchen and underground where they showed a film on the history of Alcatraz. In the gift shop there was a former inmate there promoting his book on his experience.

I ended my tour and got onto the next ferry heading back towards San Francisco. My overall experience of Alcatraz showed me why many recommend visiting, it is thought-provoking, eye-opening, and you get to see humanity or lack thereof that took place. It is also being able to experience a piece of history that has been frozen in time, and how often do you get to do that?

Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 2 (Part 4) - Legion of Honor

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January 20, 2016 (continued): Taking advantage of my same day, dual admission from the de Young Museum, I caught the bus and headed towards the Legion of Honor - a fine arts museum located near Lands End. I wanted to visit this place because I read that it was one of the locations used in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and I have an affinity for Roman style architecture (even though it is a replica of a French building!).

The exterior of the museum is quite stunning in person, the pictures don’t do it justice. In front, it is flanked by two lion statues and a few sculptures scattered about, including in the parking lot. In the distance next to it, I could see glimpses of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge peeking through the cluster of trees and fog (my first sighting!). The long stretches of the column-lined hallways on the outside created a feeling of elegance.

Below are some of my personal highlights, although it was quite a large museum and it was getting late in the day, so I only caught glimpses of a few exhibitions.

While I would love to have come up with something philosophical when seeing this painting, Samson and the Honeycomb by Guercino - my mind immediately went to those classical art memes. What do you think of my attempt?

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It was cool to see they had a gallery full of Rodin sculptures.

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I toured the restored Salon Doré designed during Louis XVI’s reign for the reception room of the Hôtel de La Trémoille. The grandeur of the gilded panelings and richly upholstered furniture transported you to a time of extravagance and luxury.

I’m no stranger to admiring the constellations and the zodiac, so this antique globe featuring a map of these was another favorite.

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Even though I strongly dislike insects, this study - Peapods and Insects by Jan Van Kessel caught my eye. I was fascinated by the minuscule details of the painting that took me back to art class in school where I would make myself go blind by painting with those one-haired brushes.

The detail in this sculpture is unreal, especially when you see it’s size. I liked how the sculptor managed to capture the emotion and action, that makes you feel like the snake could strike at any second.

A serendipitous moment I happened to snap, while trying to be artsy by framing the Monet painting with the doorways. It amuses me how it looks like the sculpture head is peering over trying to perve on the person nearby.

Ever since I was a kid, I had a love of fantasy and mythical creatures so this painting, Fairies in a Bird’s Nest by John Anster Fitzgerald was definitely a favorite. The darker tone of the fairies in his work gave it an interesting twist to the otherwise glittery portrayal that’s so popular these days.

Taking a moment to observe.

A close-up study of Renoir’s Landscape at Beaulieu. The colors and movement of the strokes give the painting such life!

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Still Life by a young up and comer you might have heard of, Vincent Van Gogh.

Moi, wanting to get up close and personal with Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. There’s nothing like getting near one of the most iconic pieces of art - seeing the ridges of the brushstrokes and smelling the paint. One of my dreams is to visit his home in Giverny, you can still see the garden where he drew inspiration from for his most famous paintings.

I had reached the end of one of the exhibitions and there were locked glass doors leading out to the courtyard, the sun was setting and had lit the sculpture and trees in the most beautiful golden glow.

I was a little obsessed with framing the art in doorways. Couldn’t help but capture this moment as I was making my way out.

I may or may not have been a little excited to see a cast of Rodin’s The Thinker statue in the middle of the courtyard and taken a few ridiculous selfies in front of.

The carving detail under the archway was beautiful and transported me back to Rome.

A couple more sculptures outside the museum.

The sun was setting and I saw a few people heading down a pathway nearby so I thought I’d check it out before I left. I’m glad I did because I got a straight shot of the sunset over the rolling hills of the Land’s End trail. To the right, I spotted the Golden Gate Bridge framed by the tops of the trees, it was a perfect end to my day here.

Catching several buses and walking back to the hotel, I got to see more of the whimsically colored homes and magical little alleyways of San Francisco.

For dinner I went to Super Duper Burgers which I’d heard good things about. I just got a regular cheeseburger, garlic fries, and a chocolate shake. To be honest I was a little disappointed, it was an ok meal and a little soggy. I’d still give them a second chance, maybe it was an off night?


I decided to wash it all down with a delicious horchata boba tea from the Boba Guys to cap off the night (I know, a real party animal).

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Travel Diary: Seattle Day 3 - Waterfront Cruise

January 17, 2016 (Continued): The day progressed with a waterfront tour by Agrosy Harbor Cruises. I got discounted tickets through a package deal, called CityPass. I highly recommend using this if you’re visiting a North American city for the first time and want to check out the main attractions / highlights. It’s easy to use as you purchase it online for the city of your choice and you get around four attractions for the deal, print out the little ticket and then exchange it for a booklet with your official tickets at any of the locations that you go to first.

Back to the main event, I was a bit worried as to how much of a view I was going to get since it was the middle of winter and a stereotypical Seattle rainstorm was settling in. Thankfully it held off with only a few drizzles here and there while on the cruise.

We took off from the waterfront with a guide narrating famous landmarks and sights to see as we passed by. It was a large ship with indoor seat with large windows on all sides, a snack and booze bar you can order from, and outside and upper decks for optimal viewing pleasure. We had passed by the waterfront, got views of the downtown skyline, Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Rainier, along where the container ships dock. The whole tour lasted around an hour - I thought it was a great way to cover a lot of ground with little effort, something to consider if you’re tight on time but want to see a lot