We woke up around 6am this morning and Jean did laundry and picked up around the condo while I rolled around in bed for a little while longer. Eventually I got up too and got ready while Jean ran to get us some breakfast. After we ate, she got ready and we headed into LA in her new car…
Like I’ve been saying recently, there are a number of things I’ve been wanting to do in LA, but with the “cheap” gas at $4.49 right now, driving the 35 miles into LA just to piddle around seems too expensive. I decided it would be worthwhile if we could knock out a number of the things I wanted to do in one single day though, so I’d laid out the three places I wanted to go. We’d drive straight into LA on the 60, the 10, or the 210 (we chose the 210 to the 57 to the 10), and then we’d make a small loop around LA and come back the way we came. The loop was literally a perfect circle because if you imagine a clock, the Getty Center was at 9 o’clock between Brentwood and Bel Air, Universal’s CityWalk was at 2 o’clock between Hollywood and Burbank, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall was at 4 o’clock in Downtown LA a little over 1/2 mile south of Dodger Stadium and Chinatown.
I had also wanted to go see the Hollywood Bowl, but today they had a concert going on – The Playboy Jazz Festival. I just wanted to take a little tour of it and check out the small on-site museum, but I figured that would be a no-go while they had an event going on. I may have to wait until winter, but then again I’m guessing they have concerts then too because it still doesn’t get that cold even in December in LA. I was really bummed when we passed the exit for the Hollywood Bowl because it was at 3 o’clock on our loop, just off the 101 as we drove the 15 minutes between Universal and Downtown. Maybe next time…
I hoped we would have been out of here by 9am this morning because the Getty Center was our first stop and it opened at 10am. I wanted to get there at opening to avoid any crowds, even though I guessed there wouldn’t be many people because it isn’t exactly the Hollywood Walk of Fame or Disneyland. We left Ontario around 10:30am and got to the Getty Center around 11:30am. You can visit the center for free, but the catch is that you have to pay $8 for parking – not a bad deal if you have a few people in your car. I had no idea what to expect of this place, and even though I’d heard of the name “John Paul Getty“, I had no idea who he was. I still don’t really have much of an idea who he was (I need to read the wikipedia link in the previous sentence myself!), but I do know he had a ton of art and loads of money. Apparently he was a philanthropist because he’d given this enormous building full of his private collection of art, plus a second massive home/building in Malibu full of art, to the people of LA and they can go check it out for free. He has all kinds of art: paintings, sculptures, ancient European texts, tapestries, etc etc. He also has some pretty impressive gardens on display. This place wasn’t close to the Louvre or Uffizi, but it did have some famous artwork, including pieces by people like Seurat and Van Gogh. The place was massive with 4 or 5 main buildings of at least 3 floors each. We decided not to spend all day here and to just focus on one section.
Jean and I went to what I think was called the “West Building”, which had the photography collection on the lower floor. They were really only showcasing two photographers and oddly they were both from Germany. The photos were great, especially some of the portraits of German farmers from the 1910’s and 1920’s. We spent probably an hour checking all the photos out and then we headed outside. The Getty Center (in LA – not the Getty Villa in Malibu) has two big gardens; one garden is a cactus garden and the other is a sprawling landscape with lots of trees, grass, flowers and a little stream and waterfall. The cactus garden was neat because it had a view looking over part of LA and Jean and I noticed a bunch of the cactus plants that she has collected on our back porch. Check out the pictures below – I liked the squatty round cactus.
The other garden was really impressive. We walked down a big hill using a winding pathway that zigzagged through some trees and over tiny bridges spanning a little stream. On our left side there was a large shaded patio with tons of tables and chairs where people were out having lunch, and all along the grass there were people laying down and talking or reading. At the bottom of the hill there was a sunken area with a little circular hedge design and it was surrounded with thousands of colorful flowers. I was actually blown away by it because usually when people “ewwww” and “ahhhh” over flowers and trees that are changing colors in the fall I can’t enjoy it because they are greens, reds, browns, etc. I’m colorblind! I can’t tell the difference and unless a flower is a brilliant primary color I don’t even notice it. If they’re faint blue or yellow sometimes I can see them but usually only if it’s like a 30 acre field – a handful would never show up on my radar. These flowers at this place were bleach whites, yellows as bright as the sunshines kids draw in kindergarten, deep purples like that dinosaur Barney, bright cherry reds like the apples you see in commericals, and the deepest blues you could imagine. I was loving it and trying to use my cameras macro setting to get close-ups. Unfortunately my hands are about as steady as a 95 year old heroin addict suffering from DT’s. Most were blurry, but a few came out ok. I loved the garden!
Next we stopped for Jean to buy a coke before hopping on the tram to ride back down to the parking lot, then we headed over to Universal Studios. Universal has the main theme park which was the one on tv last week where two famous exhibits burned down. The park costs money, but they have this thing called the CityWalk that is free, except once again you have to pay a pretty hefty parking fee. The CityWalk is really a touristy outdoor shopping center with lots of restaurants, bars, a movie theater and a bunch of stores. I thought I wouldn’t care for this place because I hate malls, but I ended up really liking it because it is nothing like the malls you’re use to. They have huge King Kong gorillas hanging off buildings, indoor skydiving that you could watch through plexi-glass tubes, cool restaurants that we enjoy eating at like Buca di Beppo and Tony Roma’s, and stores devoted to such things as the Raiders and video games.
Our main mission was to find somewhere to eat lunch because we were hungry. We thought about Buca because we love their food and the chianti, but really that’s a place for a group to eat at, not a couple. Next we passed the Hard Rock Cafe and Jean went bonkers. I like HRC and always try to go there when we’re in foreign cities that have ’em. Jean likes to get t-shirts from all the ones we come across and this was no exception. She didn’t insist that we go there, but I could tell she wanted to. We walked a little further and were actually about to go in Tony Roma’s because I love their ribs and haven’t been there since a trip to Tokyo about 5 years ago when I was at the Roppongi store with some buddies from work (Mark, Zach and Nathan, plus a guy from Long Products but I forgot his name). After checking out the menu I told Jean that if she wanted to go to HRC I had no problem with that because they were both about the same type of food as far as I was concerned, plus they’d both put an equal sized dent in my wallet. She wanted to go so we turned around and headed back to the Hard Rock Cafe.
As we were walking up to it I noticed there was a huge crowd just inside the door and I pulled out my cell phone to see what time it was because I thought “holy moley, that’s a massive crowd for a late lunch”. It was around 3:30-4pm. Just when we walked through the second set of doors I looked over to my left and about 15 feet away was a guy on a small stage talking into a mic. He just finished saying something that I wasn’t paying attention to right as we walked in and the crowd started cheering. I thought almost instantly that these people couldn’t possibly all be waiting for a seat and if they were we would be turning around and going to Tony Roma’s because it would have to be a 2 hour wait. People were smashed into all the aisles and surrounding all the people sitting at their tables. Just then some music started and I recognized it immediately – Walk This Way. You all know the first few chords to that Aerosmith tune… It was like a puzzle had just been put together and I knew what it was, or in this instance I knew what in the hell was actually going on. Those people weren’t here to eat, they were here because Aerosmith was blasting and the guy on stage was DMC from that famous rap group that started the entire rap thing back in the early 80’s, Run DMC. I looked over at Jean and yelled “that’s Run DMC!” She was smiling and dancing already. I snapped off a few pictures and did about 10 seconds of video on my little digital camera before the song ended. DMC gave high fives to about 5 of the little kids on stage singing with him and left.
Amazing! Talk about being in the right place at the right time. If we’d shown up 4 minutes later we’d have missed it. The reason they had him there was because this weekend was the 37th birthday of HRC and they were partying. People were going nuts. We put our names on the list to be seated and within 5 minutes the little handheld buzzer went off and they led us to a booth right behind the stage. I kept trying to get a picture of this girl that I thought had to be part of his entourage because she looked like a female Lenny Kravitz, but she ended up being our waitress and just dressed up like someone from 1971 to celebrate to anniversary. We had a great lunch, chicken fingers for Jean and a pulled pork sandwich for me. I got to keep the big glass beer cup and Jean got yet another HRC t-shirt.
After we left HRC we stopped by a little kiosk to check out croc flip-flops (not the normal sandles), and also to watch people doing the indoor skydiving. After that we hopped on the 101 and headed to our final destination, the Disney Music Hall. This was the first time I’ve ever been into Downtown LA. Usually we go to the suburbs around it, like Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Long Beach, etc. We were down there between all the skyscrapers. The only reason I wanted to see this place is because the building’s design is pretty sweet. A modern art looking series of metal shapes. I really wanted to take their free tour, but this was like the only weekend out of the next two months that they aren’t offering the free tours. I’ll need to go back when we do the Hollywood Bowl… Anyhow, the plan was to just pull up on the side of the street and get a few pictures. This place is where the LA Philharmonic plays, plus that have operas and other things like that here (Hollywood Bowl has the LA Phil there too, but mostly concerts like Tom Petty and The Police).
We did exactly what I’d planned – drove by the building each direction and snapped a few pictures. There wasn’t much traffic on the street so I had time to stop next to the red curb without any hassle. There were people in tuxedos getting out of limos so I’m guessing an event was about to begin. We, on the other hand, pressed on home.
We both had a wonderful day and now we’re already thinking about Vegas next weekend… Here’s some pictures from today: