|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. :)|
|My first and last view of the Hollywood sign, flanked by palm trees. :)|
|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.|
|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. :)|
|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:
- traffic impedes both freedom and daily activities,
- there is a very strange and in-your-face juxtaposition of wealth and poverty that doesn’t quite sit easy in my stomach,
- it is a place of dreams where reality is blurred and people are pushed to their limits in all kinds of ways
- there are lots of different pockets throughout the city with their own culture waiting to be discovered
- the weather is a little hot, but it isn’t bad at all
- totally inland, for some reason I thought it was on the coast!
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.