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 3) - Go For Broke Monument

January 25, 2016 (continued): One of my must visit places I had to see for very personal reasons when I came to LA, was the Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo.

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My paternal grandfather, Takao Matsuoka was a second generation Japanese American living in Hawaii, and on December 7, 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the Americans distrust of anyone with Japanese ethnicity grew exponentially. Even though the second generation Japanese Americans were citizens by birthright, during this time many questioned their loyalty and allegiances.

 My grandfather, Takao Matsuoka (right), with his father (left).

My grandfather, Takao Matsuoka (right), with his father (left).

Over 30,000 Japanese Americans served in the U.S. military during World War 2, despite having family still in internment camps, despite the American anti-Japanese propaganda, and from personal anecdotes from my grandfather - being called racial slurs by fellow servicemen while fighting alongside each other.

My grandfather was part of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated in U.S. history to this day for their size and length of service. To honor those Japanese Americans who served, and recognize their loyalty despite the prejudices they faced, a monument was erected with the unit’s motto “Go For Broke” as its name. “Go For Broke” is Hawaiian pidgin English used when describing going all in on something and giving it everything you’ve got.

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Inscribed on the front is the quotation from a 100th Infantry veteran:

“Rising to the defense of their country, by the thousands they came – these young Japanese American soldiers from Hawaii, the states, America's concentration camps – to fight in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. Looked upon with suspicion, set apart and deprived of their constitutional rights, they nevertheless remained steadfast and served with indomitable spirit and uncommon valor, for theirs was a fight to prove loyalty. This legacy will serve as a sobering reminder that never again shall any group be denied liberty and the rights of citizenship”. – Ben H. Tamashiro

Below are more quotes from others recognizing the history these Japanese Americans achieved:

"You not only fought the enemy . . . you fought prejudice and won." – President Harry S. Truman as he welcomed the 100/442 RCT home

"Never in military history did an army know as much about the enemy prior to actual engagement" – General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, Pacific Theater, referring to the MIS

"My fellow Americans, we gather here today to right a grave wrong . . . now let me sign H.R. 442." – President Ronald Reagan, Civil Liberties Act of 1988

"The Nisei saved countless lives and shortened the war by two years" – Charles A. Willoughby, General MacArthur's Intelligence Officer, referring to the MIS

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On the back of the monument, inscribed are the names of 16,126 Nisei soldiers that served. One of them being my grandfathers’.

It was incredibly moving being there, seeing his name on this monument. Not only because he was part of a significant point in history but also thinking of the difficulties and hardships many faced at that time while just soldiering on through because there was no other choice.

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I’m a proud granddaughter, but this is not the only reason why I would highly recommend visiting this monument and the museum next door where you can learn more about this part of history. I think it’s more relevant than ever as this cycle seems to be repeating itself again in current day, just with different players. We can all take into account how our own attitudes can affect others, even on a day to day basis.

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: 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 4) - Sunset Blvd Street Art

January 25, 2016 (continued): I decided to finish off my day with a walk around Sunset Blvd. I thought things would be open at night but only a few restaurants were still going. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to be wandering around at night alone, but I enjoyed the walk and came across some interesting street art along the way.

An amusing switcheroo.

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Love this message, and I do believe in signs. This was most definitely one of them since after this trip, I decided to move to LA.

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Was this a tribute to Zombie Boy?

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I passed by the famous celeb hub, Chateau Marmont.

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I had also spotted this eerie scene of a stuffed animal hanging upside down from a telephone wire. Later googling reveals conflicting theories, either it’s by a girl gang or artist Manny Castro and Hearts Revolution are behind it.

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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.

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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