Three Days in L.A.

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, February 26, 2012

We had an uneventful overnight flight into Los Angeles, having managed to sleep for about six hours. Arrived at 11am local time, and were very pleasantly surprised to be met at the airport by an old friend of Rob's from his teenage days in Bushey. Gill has lived in LA for over 30 years, working as a landscape architect, having married George, an American scientist from Florida. Rob has kept in touch by letter and e mail over the years, but not seen her since university days! Gill, very kindly took us to our hotel and on to our hire car and then we went in search of some typical LA life.
We went to Venice Beach which is easily one of the wackiest places I've ever been to. It is a long stretch by the beach, maybe a mile long, with people on skate boards, stilts, bikes, pumping iron, selling artwork, crafts, offering to read palms, tarot cards, performing street theatre, begging or just being generally over the top! It was certainly a brilliant place for people watching!
Every few yards it appeared that "Green doctors" were at hand to assess one's need for " medical marijuana". Evidently marijuana is legal in California for medicinal purposes such as chronic pain and to help alleviate symptoms of chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis. Hence all these dubious "Green doctors" have sprung up to sell weed on a seemingly legal basis.
After lunch and a good couple of hours of taking in the bizarre sights on Venice Beach we returned to our hotel. We ventured out in the evening to Redondo Beach for a fish supper at a cafe before coming back for an early night. We were also feeling rather cold as although during the day it had been in the 20s, the temperature had dropped markedly once the sun had gone down.
It also transpired that we had arrived in LA on Oscars Night! We had flirted with the idea of nipping along to Hollywood to try and see some of the stars on the red carpet, but in reality we would probably have ended up in a traffic jam and nowhere near the action! So we watched it on TV. Shame that " War Horse" didn't get an Oscar.
We had an exceptionally good night's sleep, not least because our bed had a " comfort dial" to allow " the perfect balance between comfort and support"! I must say it was certainly the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in.

(Incidentally I am actually writing this blog on the plane on the flight from LA to Miami! The wonders of modern technology. In fact most of my entries have been written in airport lounges whilst waiting for flights, largely because of the availability of both time and wi- fi.)

On Monday morning we left the hotel at 10am to try and avoid the worst of the morning traffic, and headed out to Hollywood. The traffic here is appalling, but with an inadequate public transport system everyone drives. We hit the highway, which had about five lanes on each side - glad I'm not driving! The names of these massive roads evoke memories of hits from the 70s like - Ventura Highway!
We parked near the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, scene of last night's Oscar ceremony. No celebratories here now - just a clean up operation and the paparazzi wagons moving off. We took a stroll along the Hollywood " Walk of Fame" where signatures of famous actors along with their hand and shoe prints are impregnated into the pavement. Great names such as Humphrey Bogart and Fred Astaire feature here. Further along are the stars sunk into the paving slabs which feature the names of dozens of well known personalities from the world of entertainment such as Michael Jackson and The Simpsons!
This area is surprisingly seedy and rather tacky, not at all the glamorous scene I had expected, so we didn't hang around for too long. We then headed off to Sunset Boulevard, naively thinking that we would walk to Sunset Strip and Rodeo Drive which are at the further end. What we hadn't realised was that Sunset Boulevard is about five miles long. Hence we did as all good Americans would do and took the car!
Once we had reached the Beverly Hills area things looked a lot more opulent with large, gated mansions set back from the roads with Porsches and Ferraris parked on the driveways. Sadly we didn't see any of their owners, no doubt they were all still recovering from the post - Oscar parties!
Rodeo Drive was definitely out of our league as a shopping precinct with stores such as De Beers, Cartier and Gucci. Again no famous faces to be seen here either!
From here we drove up to Mulholland Drive for a good view of the iconic Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Bowl and a general view across LA, before driving back to our hotel. Despite the GPS we did go wrong a couple of times, but as U - turns are accepted practice here we soon got back on track!

That evening we met up with Gill and George for a Mexican meal and enjoyed good food and conversation over a Margarita! Rob and Gill managed to do a bit of catching up and reminiscing; filling in on about 25 years' worth of news! Hopefully we will now keep in touch on a more regular basis.

On Tuesday we drove out to the Getty Center which is situated in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, on a plot owned by the Getty Trust which spans some 750 acres. This amazing group of buildings was built in the 80s and houses an enormous collection of artwork, sculptures, photographs and beautiful gardens. An electric tram takes visitors high up from the car parking area up to the museum, where an array of large white exhibition buildings and stunning gardens await. The views across to downtown LA are breathtaking.
We went on a guided tour for an hour which was very interesting and informative, and our knowledgeable guide talked us through, in some detail, the aspects of four or five individual artworks. We looked at some astounding 13th century illuminated manuscripts which were both beautifully preserved and illustrated with bold, bright colours and inlaid with gold leaf. She also talked us through a Dutch master, Van Gogh's " Irises" and a collection of modern photographs with a conceptual art theme. Having whetted our appetites, we then set off to do our own thing and spent some time wandering through different galleries taking in the various genres. For myself, I was content to admire the impressionist artwork housed there.
Mid-afternoon, having had a good injection of culture, we set off back to LA and a bit of retail therapy! Our aim was to try and find some clothes to fit Rob, not always easy bearing in mind his height and long arms!! However Macy's came up trumps and Rob bought 3pairs of Levi's and a couple of shirts. I resisted all temptation!

For our last evening here we were recommended to eat at " Rock 'n Fish" at Manhatton Beach, which certainly didn't disappoint! It was a very lively bistro which was completely packed out and with a great atmosphere and excellent food. Rob went for the steak and I had fish which was very tasty. From here we headed back for an early night in preparation for our flight to Miami first thing in the morning. We will have one night there before going on to St. Lucia which will be the final leg of our epic journey!
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Paul & Adell on

Good to see that all's well; takes a while to read all the entries but it all sounds fantastic; keep the news coming through and enjoy the sailing;
all fine in Cape Town; check out Kirsty's Face Book for some great photos of her holiday here; she turns 31 tomorrow; Love to you both

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