LA Partie Deux, Hollywood

Hello friends! :)
Hollywood Boulevard
So on Tuesday July 29th I got to experience my first Taco Tuesday in San Diego with Scott and John, the residential life interns at USD. We went to Cafe Coyote, which was a pretty touristy restaurant but a lot of fun! The place is huge, tons of rooms, at least two floors, and it has a few random shops inside it like a Birkenstock shop. The tacos were delicious and I was able to try horchata!

Horchata, which is a traditional beverage that according to Wiki, is made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, or tigernuts (chufas). It is found in Spain and Latin America, and some places in the USA now. According to my friend Scott, it tastes like milk at the bottom of a bowl after Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and he was right. :) So good!
After our tacos we walked around Old Town. Old Town is the oldest settled part of San Diego and has a little historic park you can walk around in with little shops and restaurants.  It also has a few streets of tourist shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants that you can explore. We decided to walk around a little bit and found a cemetery called El Campa Santo, which I later learned on Yelp is the perfect place for dates… which I really doubt, at least not at night!

 

 

This was just chilling on the curb of the sidewalk as we left. What!?

That weekend, the first weekend of August, I went up to LA to visit Jillian, my high school friend! :) I took the Coaster up to Oceanside, and then I transferred to the Pacific Surfliner to take that the rest of the way. I met Jillian at Union Station – it was wonderful to see an old friend! Our first stop was to drive to a bookstore called the Last Bookstore. It was beautiful – two floors and a few different areas dedicated to different mediums, genres, or types of books. There were even little artists studios on the second floor, and served as shops where you could buy their wares on certain days of the week.

So get this, on my way to LA, I saw… my friend Shan?! No, not really, but I saw what had to be her identical twin, at least from the side. I was so flabbergasted that I decided to snap a picture and send it to her immediately. :)

 

The Last Bookstore – really beautiful inside! Lots of warm colors, art installations, and books. :)

 

 

After the Last Bookstore, we had lunch at this little creperie. I had a pretty delicious Nutella crepe with icecream. :) Then we drove home and took it easy. We caught up for a while, had dinner, and then we tried to go to the Griffith Observatory. However, the traffic, and the amount of people that were also trying to get to the Griffith Observatory made parking unbearable and we figured we’d go the next night. We came home and got shaved Hawaiian ice instead!
My first and last view of the Hollywood sign, flanked by palm trees. :)
My first Hawaiian shaved ice! It was blue hawaiian (I am not sure what flavor that is), mango, and blue raspberry over vanilla ice-cream covered in condensed milk. VERY sweet with the condensed milk, but good! Not sure if I will have it again though – a little too much on the sweet side for me.
The next morning we went to Culver City to see Jillian’s play, the Quibbling Siblings by the Culver City Public Theater. :) It’s this cute little play about four siblings that all have one thing that’s really annoying, but they learn to hone those things (like stealing, asking too many questions, etc) to eventually save the kingdom. The kids loved it, and the second day there was even a birthday party.
Jillian lent me her Game of Thrones book while I was waiting for the play to start. Ahhh!
The play! :)

After the play we headed over to Santa Monica to see the pier and walk around.  I was really struck by the amount of homeless people hanging out on the grassy areas near the boardwalk. I guess I have been surprised by the amount of homeless people in general in California. More on my reflections on LA and California will follow at the end of the post, because a lot of things struck me as odd about the city. Anyway, we walked up and down the pier, and then we took a stroll down Third Street Promenade, and finished our day off with dinner at a burger place. :)

The pier in the distance.

 

 

 

 

…BARRACUDAS?!
Third Street Promenade!

 

They had a Polish restaurant! This only one I have seen in all of SoCal! Ahh!
Some cool street art I saw!

That night we once again tried to go to the Griffith Observatory… and once again failed. The traffic up to the observatory was HORRENDOUS! I have never seen anything like it! We would move one car length every 3 or 4 minutes, and we had forever to go! Jillian’s car’s transmission started to overheat, so we turned around and decided that it was not our destiny to go. Pro-tip: if you want to get up to the Griffith Observatory, head up there well before 7:30. Maybe 7. Or 6. Or hell, go up at 2 pm to make sure you are safely inside in time to see the sunset that night.

The next morning we headed out early to make it to Hollywood Boulevard before Jillian’s play again. Hollywood Boulevard was very interesting… I guess I should start with what I was expecting. I thought I was going to see what you see on TV when it comes to movie premiers, maybe what you see in movies. All glitz, glamour, and perfection.  And although it was very clean, instead of the stars and cameras there were homeless individuals huddled under awnings trying to keep out of the drizzle and a slow trickle of tourists.  Maybe it was the cold, filtered light of the morning, or maybe I just pumped it up in my head to this unreachable peak, but I just couldn’t shake off the feeling of sadness as I walked along and took pictures…

Anyway, it was very cool to be able to walk down Hollywood Boulevard and see the stars’ names, put my hand in handprints, and imagine what the place must look like at 5pm before a movie premier. :) Afterwards we went  to a Farmer’s Market (got some life-changing fresh raspberry lemonade!), and Jillian’s show again.

Now for some pictures!

 

 

My hands are the same size as Tom Hanks’!! :’D
… but much bigger than Daniel Radcliffe’s were when he and his Harry Potter costars got to imprint their hands here! This face is the face of somebody who is about to be swallowed by a large group of asian tourists.
Get it? I am kicking in honor of Chuck Norris.
Jillian with Stan Lee. :)

 

Me with Elvis, trying to make a star but really just looking silly. :)
Farmer’s Market!
The mountains after the rain as we were dropping off Jillian’s friend. This traffic on a good day…

After this Jillian and I hung out some more, went to another bookstore (the Iliad I think?), and I had to head home.

My final impressions of LA from both this trip and my first one:

  1. traffic impedes both freedom and daily activities,
  2. there is a very strange and in-your-face juxtaposition of wealth and poverty that doesn’t quite sit easy in my stomach,
  3. it is a place of dreams where reality is blurred and people are pushed to their limits in all kinds of ways
  4. there are lots of different pockets throughout the city with their own culture waiting to be discovered
  5. the weather is a little hot, but it isn’t bad at all
  6. totally inland, for some reason I thought it was on the coast!
Would I ever live in LA? Maybe if my patience grew tenfold and I had a strong reason, but the city didn’t quite capture my heart. I can see the allure, but seeing signs saying that “Fame is Fleeting”, and looking at the homeless individuals, wondering if they came here to follow their dream only to be left in the dust left me feeling anxious.  It has it’s beautiful parts, but I don’t quite thing it is for me. To anybody that loves LA, lives there, or disagrees, I hope I didn’t offend.
However, I like to leave on a positive note, and I will leave here a quote from Thomas Bangalter, one half of the Daft Punk duo:

It’s the city where you go to fulfill your dreams. There’s only a one in a million chance of it coming true. But people are still going there with dreams. Failure here is easier to accept than anywhere else because expectations are too high. That after so many people end up biting the dust on Hollywood Boulevard they still come by the hundreds everyday to try their luck says fascinating things about human beings.

A

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