"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted." -- Bill Bryson

Monday, June 20, 2011

The City of Angels: Day 3

My alarm goes off at 8:30, but now that we're adjusting to West Coast time we decide to trade the Continental breakfast for a couple more hours of sleep. At 10:30 we wake up and prepare for the day before heading to 'downtown' Manhattan Beach for lunch. We park and head towards a place called Sharkeez where we grab a couple sandwiches. The food is good, but the whole restaurant is open to the outside air so it's a bit cold. After lunch we hop back into the car and head up to Sherman Oaks to meet up with our buddy, Greg. Sherman Oaks is in The Valley so it's a bit of a drive (ie it's on the opposite side of LA). Luckily, we switch into Greg's car so he can give us a driving tour of all of LA. First stop is a really nice view of the Hollywood sign where we take obligatory photos.

Greg takes us on a winding drive through the hills to show off some very impressive houses and we end up at the Griffith Observatory.

It's packed, so we have to park way down a hill and then hike to the top. Luckily the views are astoundingly beautiful as we walk, so it's bearable.

The view from the top is also amazing. The entire city is strewn out below the observatory; it was a great vantage point to see everything.

The observatory is fascinating inside as well. It's full of exhibits on space, weather, moon phases etc. All of their findings from the observatory are also on display and there are plenty of cool interactives.

Here is Greg under a heat sensor.

There's also a hilarious video in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater narrated by Leonard Nimoy himself. The video discusses the history of the observatory. Mr Nimoy is hilarious in the video as well and completely adorable.

After the movie we head to the cafe for snacks before heading out for more driving tours of the city. We head through Hollywood and pass by the Kodak Theatre, Grauman's Chinese Theater, and the Walk of Fame.

Onward we go to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive.

Rodeo Drive is beautiful and the amount of over-the-top cars is amazing. Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Lambos, Maseratis. It's almost out of this world.

Beverly Hills is just as crazy. The houses are impressive, as are the giant walls that cover obviously more impressive houses. But eventually we must go back to the real world and Greg's modest apartment to get our car. He has a birthday party to go to so Nyla and I head to In-N-Out Burger for dinner.

Afterwards we head to Trader Joe's in search of some legendary 'Two Buck Chuck.' This wine is an amazing $2 a bottle (actually called Charles Shaw), thus making it a favorite of all those broke young people living in LA. Our plan for the evening (or so we thought) involves this magical beverage. We head back to our hotel to change for the evening. While we're changing we find that our new plans involve meeting up with Greg at a bar in Los Feliz called Harvard & Stone. Traffic on the way is awful, as is the line outside the door and the fact that it's cold. Plus, the doorguy is mildly rude & full of hipster pretentiousness. AND once we get to the front of the line he lets a small gaggle of girls in before us. We finally get in and head immediately to the bar. The place is actually quite cool and huge but it seems that the entire population of LA assholes has gathered here.

Greg manages to find us and we take our beverages to a nice little corner near a fireplace. At one point I get us another round of drinks and come back to find a couple guys standing directly in my way. I politely ask them to move. Their response is to completely disregard me. After requesting that they move a couple more times, I am forced to literally climb over the couch that Nyla and Greg are sitting on. When I finally reach my friends Nyla points out that one of the guys happens to be Chris Masterson. Interesting. That brings an end to our evening and back we go to our little spot on the beach.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The City of Angels: Day 2, Part 2

After some much needed rest, we prepare ourselves for a night out. We head back up north to meet up with our old friend Greg at a place called Mother Dough in an area called Los Feliz

We arrive and are surprised by a table full of 10 people, half of which we know (all ex-Austinites). Dinner was fabulous. The pizza was all natural, all the ingredients were imported from Italy, the place itself was eclectic and well designed and the conversation was excellent as well.

We also had excellent wine with out dinner. At one point though, Nyla gave me her glass and asked what was going on with her wine. It looked mildly strange, so I assured her it was probably just a bit of floating sediment. When I took a whiff of the glass I realized what had actually happened...a piece of sausage from her pizza must have fallen into her glass. Instead of the usual fruity smell...it smelled straight up like sausage. She fished it out and continued drinking, like a champ, but it definitely added a bit of mirth to the already pleasant evening.

After dinner, half of the dinner party parts ways with us and Nyla and I and the guys we know head around the corner to a bar called Public Work. Oddly enough, Public Work doesn't exist on the internet, or I am not remembering correctly. It was a very cool place though. We had a very chill time, had a couple drinks, chatted, and then were all headed home by 1am. I was definitely ok with that, considering we had a 30 minute drive back to the hotel! Back to bed we go, in preparation for the next days adventures.