Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Three days in Santa Monica and touring LA

Santa Monica is really nice – at least the seafront area of it is. The first view that greeted us after arrival was that of the pier, somewhat spoilt by the large car park on the sand in front of it

Santa Monica Pier

but it is easy to imagine the scene some 80 years ago

SM Beach

although the beach view is very different due to the large office blocks and hotels.

Santa Monica Pier Entrance

One of the numerous ends to Route 66 is on the pier – the end has

End of Trail-1 

been moved quite a few times to suit local business.

SM Route 66 Pier Kiosk 

The pier is doted with Route 66 memorabilia

SM Route 66 Tribute

all of which are surrounded with people thinking what it

End of Trail

would be like to travel the road and a few who have or really are intending to travel it.

Also on the Pier is a Carousel

Carosel SM

dating back so long that it is now a National Historic Landmark. Its big claim to fame is that it appeared in the film “The Sting”.

Looffs Sign

Luckily, they encourage grown-up children to ride on it

Pat on Carousel Paul on Carousel

and so for the princely sum of $2 each, one got to ride on a horse and the other (very appropriately) on a White Rabbit.

Soda Bar 

and then to help us recover from the experience,


a soda at as near a replica as possible in modern day USA of a 1950’s Soda Counter.

Tucked away amongst all of the modern buildings in Santa Monica are quite a few old buildings

Clock Tower Building in Santa Monica Georgian Hotel SM

such as The Clock Tower building; the Georgian Hotel

Town Hall building SM  Town Hall SM

and the first brick building in the city, built in 1875 as a Tavern and which doubled up as the Town Hall for a time. Council meetings must have been interesting and probably short.

SM CinemaSM Building

Two other buildings which pleased me are an old cinema (left) and an unknown usage building (right).

SM Barbie's House

This purple creation was introduced to us as “Barbie and Ken’s House” – its colour scheme makes it most memorable.

 SM Windy Tree

Many of the trees along the promenade have suffered from the wind in a similar way to those we saw in in Grenough Western Australia.

Dino Dino-1

Third Street has been turned into a pedestrian precinct most of the day and there are a number of topiary dinosaurs sitting in the middle of the street. The top one seems to be a two horned triceratops – not sure where the third horn went to. At night, the street has buskers every 70 yards or so and most of them were very good and it is packed with people out for the evening.

SM Sunset 

And so the sun sets behind the mountains overlooking Santa Monica.

We chose to have three days based in Santa Monica because the thought of staying in the hot smoggy heart of LA was not very appealing. To get an overview of LA, we decided to go on a tour organised by “A Day in LA Tours”. In their colourful Rasta Bus we saw a lot of the areas surrounding LA although the tour

Rasta Bus and building Hollywood

was a little over the top with “breathless star factoids” for us – we are used to the more classical type of tour where you are provided with lots of information about the development of the city, its cultural and political highlights etc. Anyway, during the tour we saw

Star House-1

numerous houses where stars were said to live – they look like ordinary houses and of course they are not standing at the windows waving to us as we go by. It must be quite an annoyance to have tour buses slowly driving past the front gate every few minutes and hearing commentary about oneself.

Rodeo Drive Sign

Rodeo Drive is of course famous for its shops and the cost of everything. All of the expensive brand name shops were there

Rodeo Drive Dior Window 

but I chose the Dior window display because of the subtlety of the colours

Rodeo Drive Porsche Dealer

and the Porsche Shop because of its unusual design as memories of the Drive.

Rodeo Drive $3m car

As an indication of money. outside one shop was a Bugatti worth $3 million.

Rodeo Drive $3m Car-1

There are only three in the world and the owner of this car drives it to work in the morning, parks it outside of his shop as a publicity gimmick and then drives it home in the evening – he also has to feed the parking meter all day, the cost of which would be small change compared to the cost of the car.

Hollywood Fire Engine

Of more iconic interests were a couple of Los Angeles fire engines which went past, the pump escape had someone at the rear also

Fire Engine Hollywood

steering the back end.

We went to Farmers Market for lunch – lots of

Farmers Market Clock Tower 

stalls trying to ensure that people never go hungry. Above is the Clock Tower of the original market when it was a Farmers Market (now it is simply a tourist attraction)

Farmers Market Filling Station

and here is an old petrol station dating from when petrol (or gas as we know we should call it) was 17cents a gallon (currently it is around $4.25).

The best place to see the fabled Hollywood sign is from Griffith Observatory. One cannot get to the actual sign because it is fenced off and of course if you are too close, you cannot see it all.

Hollywood Sign

The observatory is a lovely piece of architecture as well as

Grifith Observatory

a working observatory although it is scarcely high enough

LA through smog from Grifith Obs LA Smog  LA Smog-1 

to be above the smog which blankets the city and can clearly be seen as a haze layer in the above photographs.

The observatory was a film location in a James Dean film,

James Dean

hence a bust of him is there

James Dean Explanation

with an explanation underneath. The bust attracts all sorts of females who want to have their picture taken with him.

Grifith Observatory 1930s Statue

Of more interest to me is a statue of six leading names in Astronomy – this was carved relatively recently but is a lovely piece of work.

Hollywood Cinema Sign

Downtown Hollywood was packed with tourists and all things entertainment. I chose a couple of signs, one above a cinema and another above a shop as a memory of classy design.

Hollywood Store Sign

Everyone who goes to Hollywood has to see the Walk of Fame.

Hollywood Star

There are about 2600 stars along the walk and more are being added every week. The criterion for being included in the walk is that your work has earned $250 million for the industry

Hollywood Hands

and to be included in the hand / footprints section, it is at least $1 billion.

Hollywood Hands-1

We chose three we thought were particularly memorable to be included in our blog list of fame.

Hollywood Hands-2

Hollywood is full of weird characters and in this picture

Hollywood Freaks-1

you can see someone dressed as Spiderman and someone as The Hulk.

Hollywood Freaks

There were also two dressed as Transformers and one as a clown. One cannot get too close to them with a camera because they try to make money by either charging you to pose with them or trying to get between your camera and whatever you are photographing in order to spoil the picture unless you pay them a fee.

Greystone Manor-1

Most of Hollywood also doubles up as a film location is numerous films since if they can film on location in Hollywood it is cheaper than going elsewhere. So here is Greystone – a house on the outskirts of the city which is now owned by the City Council and has appeared in films including The Muppets, Jane Austin’s Mafia (which I am sure you have heard of), Batman and

Greystone Manor

Robin, The Bodyguard and many many more.

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