I have been in Los Angeles for two weeks this time and finding my way around the city pretty well, on foot, buses, trains and as a Land Rover back seat passenger with my son and his family of five. It’s a much more interesting city than it appears on the surface. We so often get just the LA celebrity news, blockbuster films and cop TV shows in Australia and not the other side to this lively city.
Last weekend we visited the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena which are absolutely beautiful – masses of roses, tropical gardens, avenues of classical statues on sweeping lawns, a children’s garden, Chinese, Australian and Japanese gardens – the children were pretty excited by the massive Koi fish they found there. Pasadena itself is a well off area – I kept thinking of the Beach Boys song….’The Little Old Lady from Pasadena’ – she must have had money as well as enjoying driving fast!
I have really enjoyed walking – up into Griffith Park and around Los Feliz – usually pushing a pram to settle a baby. Everybody is very friendly and says ‘hi’ or smiles. On my hike up Griffith Park the other day I saw the ‘watch out for Rattle Snakes’ sign and was reminded how close the old Wild West is – my son and family used to live in the Hollywood Hills and there was a Rattle Snake on the front door step one day, we could hear Coyotes howling in the distance and one night Owen saw a mountain lion casually strolling down their street!
But back to Los Feliz – we visited a famous local restaurant – ‘Little Dom’s‘ which has a great vibe and authentic Italian food. I was also introduced to a few nice coffee shops – ‘Stamp‘ on Hillhurst – I watched a movie being made from a table outside and could hear all the instructions from the Assistant Director over the radio to the motorcycle cop outside the cafe who had to stop the traffic at regular intervals during a ‘take’, there was ‘Dinosaur’ on Hollywood Boulevard and ‘LA Mill Coffee Shop’ at Silverlake.
Caught the local library for baby story time – I was about the only grandmother there – most children come with their nannies, but it was a lot of fun and we sang ‘Old MacDonald had a farm in Spanish. One day caught the Metro train to downtown and spent some money in Macy’s but scored an 80% off sale, so didn’t part with a lot of cash. Another train to East Los Angeles took me into Little Tokyo and the Arts District where I enjoyed Mr Ramen’s food and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Some things I have noticed – no news agencies – I miss them! Not a lot of outside ‘al fresco’ eating/drinking but the Australian cafe and classy bar culture is slowly catching on, although I wish I could just go into a sandwich shop and pick my simple ingredients – like egg and lettuce or a plain old salad sandwich without onion. There is the terrible state of the footpaths – really difficult sometimes to negotiate with a pram – I pity people in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters – it really is the city of the motor car. The large numbers of homeless living in encampments around the streets is shocking – quite horrific for an apparently wealthy nation.
I have enjoyed the preschool run in the mornings, shopping at Albertson’s and Trader Joe’s for food and wine – some excellent California wines and I’m loving the long warm evenings – not looking forward to getting home for winter short days!