Griffith Park, The Getty, Venice and Santa Monica

Trip Start Jun 05, 2010
Trip End Jul 25, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We started the day earlier and after picking up Anthony, Devi and Cerys. I volunteered to drive for the day and we headed to Griffith Park for the views of the Hollywood sign and Los Angeles.

After driving north to the hills above Los Angeles we entered the park and followed the winding road to the top. We could immediately see the Hollywood sign, it's just a sign, but it’s almost compulsory to see it so we took the obligatory photos!

The centrepiece at the top of the park is the Griffiths observatory, named after Colonel Griffith J. Griffith who gifted the land the park occupies to the city. He made his fortune in a mining syndicate and was originally from Bettws, Bridgend, Wales! The observatory was closed so we walked around the terraces on the outside where you could see the sprawl of Los Angeles. The city sprawls for miles in every direction. Los Angeles is more a collection of small cities than it is a typical large city. Through the haze you can see the silhouettes of the skylines of Santa Monica, Westwood, downtown Los Angeles and a number of other neighbourhoods separated by miles of low rise buildings. The grid road system makes it all look very organised from up here.

Just before we headed off for lunch the observatory opened and we took a quick look inside just at the right time to see them fire off their tesla coils which they do once a day.

We stopped at a small restaurant for lunch where we sat outside an enjoyed the sun. Up to this point we have still not been impressed by the temperature in California. The coast seems to have some quite strong winds which can make it feel quite cool even when the sun is blazing down on you. We realised after 10 minutes of sun that despite the cool temperature the sunlight was actually very strong so moved into the shade. It seems to be quite a dangerous climate where you can burn badly without even feeling the heat.

After lunch we headed to the Getty museam. Our friends had recommended this the previous evening if only for a coffee and the view. This is exactly what we wanted and after paying a hefty price to park the car and enter we got free roam around the grounds which were really spectacular. The architecture was a stunning mixture of the modern with a twist of ancient Rome. It was littered with fountains and had another great view over the city and Santa Monica. We relaxed for a bit in the sun and got that coffee before heading back to Venice Beach.

Venice Beach is full of everything that is not mainstream. Hippies and homeless to the cool and trendy all mix in this area. A section of the beach near where we are staying was dedicated to a large skate park where we watched people from 7 to 40 pulling tricks on the boards. We take a walk along Venice Beach boardwalk which is fully of stalls selling clothing, art, skateboards, surfboards and just about anything else. We pass the muscle beach weightlifting section. Usually filled with bronzed bodybuilders, it is actually empty when we pass.

We drop the others back to their house as Van has found a Salsa evening that she wants to go to tonight, they have a live band too so it should be fun, especially so close to Cuba and South America. We head into Santa Monica and take a walk down 3rd Street Promenade. It’s a much more upmarket area that Venice, nothing compared to Beverly Hills but somewhere you can feel comfortable and more at home. It is a typical shopping street, but nicely done with restaurants seating people outside on the pavement. We come across an apple store with a queue of about fifty people and growing camped outside with tents, thermos flasks and their iBooks and iPads. They are all going to camp overnight for the iPhone 4 release tomorrow. Forget iPhone 4, where’s my iPad?

We find a nice looking Mexican place to eat where we are served enchiladas fit for 6 and enjoy a couple of cocktails. After dinner we head to the Monsoon Cafe which was recommended for the Salsa. It’s very busy and after a few drinks the band comes on and we get to break out those rusty salsa skills. The place is mostly full of South Americans, Mexicans I suspect, and Spanish seems to be the first language here! Van is very impressed with the quality of the dancing. I make the assumption that she means me and after enjoying the excellent band for a little longer we call it a night in preparation for our journey tomorrow to Las Vegas.
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Jas on

Colonel Griffith J. so bettws......Its hard to believe ..what can u say!

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