10 Tips for the Second Time LA Tourist, Calif.

It’s inevitable that, as a first time visitor to Los Angeles, you will be drawn to its better known sights like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, and Venice’s Muscle Beach. I am all for it; the media and motion picture industries are part of Los Angeles’ DNA, and what we might read about, watch on TV, or see in the movies can greatly influence our itinerary choice. It’s on the second trip that you may want to reconsider the Star Line bus tour and tourist-friendly draws however, and explore the layers beneath LA’s celluloid surface.  What you’ll find is a patchwork of cities and neighborhoods that enrich the county’s culture and communities.

Here are 10 suggestions to help you sidestep the well trodden tourist path:

1. Mulholland Drive – Perhaps one of the most appealing things about LA, aside from its warm climate, is its proximity to the ocean and mountains. To see it from top to tail, rent a car and cruise along the 21-mile stretch of winding Mulholland Drive. The road will take you through the Hollywood Hills, over the Valley, and to the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Tip: GPS is essential in navigating this road as it is broken up in parts.

An overlook on Mulholland Drive - looking at LA's downtown

From Mulholland Drive, looking over LA’s downtown

2. Hollywood – LA looks different when you look at it through the letters of the Hollywood sign. To get to the top of Mt. Lee, Google: Beachwood Drive and Hollyridge Trail. There’s room for parking and it’s about a 40 minute walk, one way. Tip: Keep on track by staying left of the trail.

My sis and me peeking over the fence at "that" sign

My sis and me peeking over the fence at “that” sign

3. Griffith Park – Los Angeles is home to a variety of architecture; Moby even has a blog dedicated to it: Moby Los Angeles Architecture Blog. A beautiful example is The Ennis House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. At once futuristic and historic, the details of its precast building blocks harken to Mayan times; you may also remember the house from the 1980’s movie Bladerunner. Tip: Address is 2607 Glendower Ave, Loz Feliz.

Part of the Ennis House

Part of the Ennis House

4. Echo Park – Echo Park Avenue has the artisan feel. Street art colours the hilly neighbourhood; cafes offer pour over coffees for $5 a cup. Located close to downtown LA, the area feels like it’s on the cusp of something big. Tip: Go to FIX for a pour over coffee – order anything from the “Handsome Coffee Roasters” line. Pazzo Gelato on Sunset Blvd offers $1 scoops during its 4-6pm Happy Hour. The Pear Sorbetto is highly recommended.

Top: European Yoghurt, Strawberry Custard Gelato; Bottom: Pear Sorbetto, Espresso Gelaro

Top: European Yoghurt, and Strawberry Custard Gelatos; Bottom: Pear Sorbetto, Espresso Gelato

5. Silver Lake – More than 500 staircases around Los Angeles used to serve its public transportation system; now they are a good excuse to stairwalk and see a neighbourhood up close. An excellent starting point for the novice is the Music Box Stair Loop in burgeoning Silver Lake, made famous by the movie starring Laurel and Hardy. Tip: Check out Walks @ Secret Stairs-LA for more routes. The website counts the Music Box set to have 133 steps across multiple landings as part of a 2.5 mile loop.

The shaky looking "Music Box" Steps

The shaky looking “Music Box” Steps

6. Downtown LA – Newly built condos in the area have attracted a young entrepreneurial community. The Art District has injected a creative vibe in this part of town, and galleries can be found along Spring and Main Sts between 2nd and 9th. Tip: Check out a couple of the laid back eating spots: go to Urth Caffe on Hewitt St for a Moroccan Mint Latte, or a Belgian Beer at Wurtskuche on East 3rd.

Arts District

Arts District

7. Westwood – In the midst of a cluster of office buildings rests Westwood Village Park Memorial Cemetery. Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Ray Bradbury, Truman Capote, and other stars are buried here. Tip: Located at 1218 Glendon Avenue, the narrow street looks like the entrance to a parking lot – it’s easy to overlook.

Marilyn Monroe is buried in the site at the top right

Marilyn Monroe is buried in the site at the top right

8. Pacific Palisades – For a panoramic scene that spans downtown LA to the ocean, hike to the top of the Los Liones trail. It’s 2 miles each way and not too strenuous but wear your sneakers. Tip: Go on a sunny day for a clear view.

At the top of the Los Liones trail - Pacific to the right, and downtown to left (not seen in this photo)

At the top of the Los Liones trail – Pacific to the right, and downtown to left (not seen in this photo)

9. Malibu – Perhaps one of the loveliest museums in LA is The Getty Villa. High up in the mountains, with the Pacific as the backdrop, it feels Mediterranean – manicured gardens, fountains, and a herb garden surround a villa that houses antiquities and sculpture collections. Tip: Allocate some time to lunch on wine and cheese in the courtyard, but don’t forget to reserve your entry free tickets on http://www.getty.edu prior to visiting.

The grand pool at The Getty Villa

The grand pool at The Getty Villa

10. Venice Beach – The Pacific is alluring, the boardwalk is not. Navigate the Venice Canal Walk in the direction of Abbot Kinney – a retail stretch of road where you’ll build up an appetite as you window shop. Tip: Go to Gjelina for an excellent modern Italian meal, or stop at TOMS for a pair of shoes. Browse as you sip on an espresso made to order from their in-store coffee bar.

Inside the TOMS store

Inside the TOMS store

Urban Vs Natural ~ New York and California

I read some words today that I’ve been reflecting on ever since. You may read them here: mimokhair, Day 2, Vietnam

Energised by the built; energised by the wild. Constantly revved up by a kaleidoscope of impressions, versus quietly meditating on the infinite. Striving towards a balance.

The thoughts shared by the Native American on mimokhair’s post speak volumes about my love for city life, accompanied by the constant pull of the Pacific Ocean.

Looking towards the horizon from Heisler Park in Laguna Beach

View from my apartment building’s rooftop in Brooklyn, looking towards Manhattan. One World Trade Centre in NY’s downtown (background).

Lovebirds in Malibu ~ Los Angeles, CA

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence. ~ Robert Lynd

Being by the ocean is so calming; reinvigorating. It’s got alot to do with that mix of sweet-salty sea smell, the vision of its multispectrum blues, and a feeling of being on the edge of something infinite.

The Pacific Ocean along California’s West Coast is one of the most beautiful shorelines I have ever seen. Along the Malibu Pier, the moments during sunset feel as if they’re yours alone to enjoy. Well, almost…

National Gardens Day: The Getty Villa, Malibu, CA

Traveling with a camera may soon mean doing away with the preplanned itinerary due to a sheer disregard for time; in my case, this is usually attributed to photographing a multitude of details, and not wearing a watch. On a recent trip to the Getty Villa in Malibu I didn’t step foot in the museum as I was too enamored with its gardens. Up until closing, I was experimenting with depth of field on some purple blooms.

A few weeks ago I learned of National Public Gardens Day. On May 11, the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) encourages people to visit their local public garden; to learn about their impact on the greater community.

Sponsored by the APGA and Rain Bird, National Public Gardens Day helps raise awareness of the botanic gardens, arboreta, conservatories and public gardens across the country.*

I came across the information when I was entering a photo competition held by the association. (NB: US residents, you may be interested in entering the competition here. Entries close on May 15.)  Scanning the webpage, I noticed a news bite explaining that The Getty Villa would be participating is some dedicated celebrations on the day.

I immediately thought back to my recent visit to the museum where I spent the whole time in its Mediterranean inspired gardens. Set in the mountains and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Villa’s grounds marry the best of both worlds. Its landscaping is immaculate – the gardens so generous in size as well as in the variety of flora on show.

If you can’t make it to a public garden on May 11, enjoy these photos as a (close) second option. I have written about the Getty Villa – it was one of my first blog posts and you can read it here.

Enjoy!

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Imagine inhaling the sweet salty smell of the ocean.

This is the air that greeted me prior to driving up to the steep driveway to the Getty Villa, located just off of the Pacific Coast Highway. In the image below, you’ll notice Santa Monica and Venice Beach in the far off distance.

The Villa is visually interesting to photograph; here, Italian Renaissance architecture stands alongside Modernism. I took 5 shots of the space below – all, at different angles. I thought I’d experiment with black and white to better show of its lines (below).

The gardens are to the left; the ocean is in the far off distance.

Mid afternoon shadows cast a linear pathway in the direction of the Pacific.

The design of the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater, a classical outdoor theater, was based on ancient prototypes. Even around 2/3pm, the sun was too warm to sit under sans shade.

The Villa’s Roman-inspired gardens showcase symmetry in nature.

The Italian Renaissance Garden: The Medici, the ruling dynasty of Florence, used gardens to demonstrate their own power and magnificence. “During the first half of the sixteenth century, magnificence came to be perceived as a princely virtue, and all over the Italian peninsula architects, sculptors, painters, poets, historians and humanist scholars were commissioned to concoct a magnificent image for their powerful patrons.” wikipedia

Around the corner rests the Herb Garden; it is edged by palms, coloured with blossoms, and displays beds of herbs. In antiquity, these gardens provided the kitchen with medicinal and fragrant ingredients for cooking.

Vines, climbing a pergola, not yet weighed down by bunches of grape goodness.

For a considerable amount of time, this ladybug demanded my camera’s attention.

This was just before the lady bug threw in the towel and flew away, despite a potential career in modelling.

My favourite: experimenting with depth of field. Here, on a corsican helleborus; otherwise known as ‘that purple flower’.

A plum tree on white; when I visited, it was not yet decorated with the red fruit. I do love its  twisted trunk – it looks like a wet towel being wrung.

A branch of the pomegranate tree sported a tiny pop of red. I wonder how much it has grown.

Fragrant lavender is always a welcome sight; here, it adds a provincial touch.

Palms are so ubiquitous in Los Angeles; they are what the eucalyptus tree is to Sydney.

Fields of orange provide a prettied up ground cover.

These are called Stachys Byzantina Leaves – or lamb’s ear, in layman’s English. Their fuzz really is as soft as wool.

Interlude: the museum shop is always a to-do on my list.

I find that many love a good museum shop; it’s where the crowds hang out.

Before leaving, I experimented with some depth of field on this sweet purple-veined flower…

Last call: a quick elevator ascent to the car park. Happy Gardens Day!

*http://www.nationalpublicgardensday.org

Impressionist-inspired Laguna, in memory of Vincent van Gogh

Happy Birthday Vincent van Gogh ~

Having just returned from a visit to the US West Coast, I’ve been looking through my photos and was inspired to pay homage to the great Dutch post-Impressionist artist (30 March 1853-29 July 1890) by sharing with you one of my favourites.

Let me preface this by way of a bit of an explanation:

Van Gogh’s most notable works were painted after he’d discovered the works of the Impressionists in Paris, around 1886. Subsequently, he left for the south of France in hopes of establishing a community of artists in the city of Arles.

Captivated by the clarity of light and the vibrant colors of the Provençal spring, Van Gogh produced fourteen paintings of orchards in less than a month, painting outdoors and varying his style and technique. ~ metmuseum.org

It was during this time that he produced a number of masterpieces including Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers (1888), The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night (1888), Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888), Arles: View from the Wheat Fields (1888), and Still Life: Vase with Oleanders and Books. The latter may be viewed at NYC’s Met Museum of Art.

In the same vein, Laguna’s art scene evolved primarily during the early 1900’s, when artist Norman St Clair moved to the area and attracted an artist-following. Influenced by French Impressionism, the community became known as the ‘open air school’ as they found inspiration in the midst of Laguna’s landscape – rugged terrain, wild colourful flora, sunlight, and sweeping ocean vistas.

This is a photo I took of the fog unfurling over the Pacific Ocean, near Laguna’s Crescent Bay Point Park. In the background, the bark of seals could be heard though they were a sight unseen; a view obstructed by the thick mist and uneven rocky faced cliffs.

It was one of the most beautiful moments of the trip, and I hope you’ll enjoy the image.

If you hear a voice within you that says “you cannot paint”; by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Vintage Inspired California

Sweet life. A never ending stretch of palm fringed coastline. Rolling waves. Salty fresh air and long sunny days. Bougainvillea wrapped terraces. Glorious Pacific Ocean sunsets, from Aliso Viejo to Zuma. A gold-lit horizon. Cocktails served against infinite water views. This is Southern California.

Stretches of grassy spaces. Laguna’s steep cliff faces. Mountains overlooking a beautiful Malibu beach. Santa Monica and its famous Pier. The twinkling lights of a widespread LA. Winding hikes through Runyon Canyon. Ah, those uphill climbs! Don’t despair – they’re worth the million dollar views, once you get to the top.

From Hollywood Hills to Beverly Hills. Immaculate gardens and imaginative homes. Clean architectural lines and ranch designs. All things retro-inspired. Traditional colonial Spanish styles: elegant archways and terracotta tiles. Deck chairs, cabanas; lunch served poolside. A climate that inspires outdoor living. Such a sweet life.

The eternal glitter of The Golden Age. Silver screen and Technicolour. Hollywood stars – always remembered, never forgotten. The glamour and the rock’n’roll.  The music; the movies; and, the awards. A place of Oscars-worthy moments. The buzz of the paparazzi. The bustle of the press – the who’s who, and the best dressed. The show goes on.

Inspired, this is Southern California in monochrome style, with a splash of colour. Enjoy!

Keith Richards and Ron Wood, Los Angeles, CA, 1979 ~ Copyright Henry Diltz

Capitol Records in LA, 1959 ~ Unknown

Night: New Host International restaurant at Los Angeles airport, 1962 ~ Photograph by Ralph Crane

Los Angeles Development Boom, 1953 ~ Photograph by J.R. Eyerman

Actress Martha Hyer talking on the phone in the living room of her luxurious home, Beverly Hills, 1959 ~ Photograph Leonard Mccombe

The two photographs below show a “A landmark image in the history of modern architecture: Julius Shulman’s nighttime shot of Ann Lightbody and Cynthia Murfee in Case Study House No. 22, the Stahl residence in the Hollywood Hills, overlooking Sunset Boulevard. Architect: Pierre Koenig. The photo, taken with a Swiss-made Sinar 4×5 view camera, is a double exposure: Seven minutes for the background, then a flash shot for the interior, the house lights having been replaced with flashbulbs.”

Julius Shulman photographing the Stahl residence

Night time shot of the house, 1960 ~ Photograph by Julius Shulman

Rosen House In Los Angeles ~ Photograph Michael Rougier

Segel House on Carbon Beach, Malibu ~ Photograph by Julius Shulman

Marilyn in Malibu, 1962 ~ Photograph by George Barris

Malibu, 1938 ~ Photograph by Alfred Eisestaedt

Malibu, 1961 ~ Photograph Allan Grant

Seaside Home, CA, 1945 ~ Photograph Nina Leen

President Richard M. Nixon's Residence In San Clemente ~Photograph Arthur Schatz

Actress Singer Doris Day driving Universal Production Dept. golf cart as she waves at a saluting security guard at Universal's movie lot , 1963 ~ Photograph John Dominis

Street set used in production of movie westerns on Paramount Studios ranch, Hollywood, 1937 ~ Photograph Margaret Bourke-White

Gregory Peck at Universal City construction site, 1963 ~ LIFE magazine

Actors (L-R) Gregory Peck, Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman, Sophia Loren, Doris Day (back to camera), Cary Grant, Ronald Reagan and Dorothy Malone listening to director Parker during rehearsals for 30th annual Academy Awards

Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Bob Hope, David Niven during a break from rehearsals for 30th annual Academy Awards show at the RKO Pantages theater, 1958 ~ Photograph Leonard Mccombe

Natalie Wood & Warren Beatty at Academy Awards, LA, 1963 ~ Photograph by Allan Grant

Audrey Hepburn wins Oscar for Best Actress in Roman Holiday, 1953 ~ Unknown

Photographers with Grace Kelly and Marlon Brando, Oscars winners for Best Actress & Actor at the 27th annual Academy Awards ceremony, RKO Pantages theater, 1955 ~ Photograph by George Silk

The 1958 Governors Ball; Elizabeth Taylor with her first Academy Award for Butterfield 8 in 1961 ~ LIFE magazine

Actor Paul Newman as a guest on Hollywood Diary Program, 1958 ~ Photograph Leonard Mccombe

Alfred Hitchcock with the MGM lion, 1958

Looking east towards Hollywood and Vine, LA, 1945

Hollywood Blvd, 1953

I love Los Angeles. It reinvents itself every two days. ~ Billy Connolly

New Host International restaurant at Los Angeles airport, 1962 ~ Photograph by Ralph Crane

'Beatles' arrive at airport on 2nd US tour, LA, 1964 ~ Photograph by Bill Ray

John Lautner’s Chemosphere house, 1961 © Julius Shulman J. Paul Getty Trust

Interior of Segel House (shown previously) ~ Photograph by Julius Shulman

Actress Bette Davis skimming through the morning papers, Beverly Hills, 1939 ~ Photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Hollywood Guides, 1938 ~ Photograph Alfred Eisenstaedt

Joan Crawford at home in LA, 1949 ~ Unknown

Palms, 1932 ~ Photograph Alfred Eisenstaedt

Humphrey Bogart in his Hollywood Home ~ Architectural Digest

Hollywood Hills, 1938 ~ Photograph Alfred Eisenstaedt

Hollywood -Night Beverly Hills, 1938 ~ Photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Schwabs on Sunset Blvd, 1960

Drive-In Movie, LA, 1949 ~ Photograph J.R. Eyerman

Silvertop Hollywood Dawn, 1972 ~ Available at Michel H.Lord Gallery

Happy New Year Wishes ~ an autobiographical Inspiration Post

I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions. Over the years, I have found that a good quote will give me perspective to whatever situation I may be facing at the time.

Closer towards the end of this year, I started this blog so that I could share stories about what I love to do most – travel; to inspire others through writing. Along the journey, my husband bought me a camera so that I could further document my experiences, visually. And with that – another passion was born. The gift was as much about learning a new art as it was about cultivating a new character trait: patience.

Capturing everyday moments in NY is so much fun. Near Radio City Music Hall

Writing and photography have brought me a lot of joy over the past couple of months. I didn’t realise just how much until I started compiling photo-essays and sharing them with others. In turn, I am so grateful to the supportive blogosphere and the talented authors and photographers behind their inspiring posts.

Whether armed with a list of resolutions or not, I hope the following quotes will inspire you for the New Year. All photographs, except those credited to Antony Schuster, are my own.

Wishing you all a very safe, healthy and wonderful 2012!

Celebrate what you want to see more of.” ~ Tom Peters

Wise words featured in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

“Each day is a new life. Seize it. Live it.” ~ David Guy Powers

Global support at Ground Zero

“A misty morning does not signify a cloudy day.” ~ Proverb

Golden Gate Bridge clouded in fog, San Francisco

“For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

Mount Rushmore in Pennington County, South Dakota

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ~Andy Warhol

Warhol monument in Union Square, NY

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~ Andre Gide

The shores of Sydney, Australia

“The world is round, and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.” ~ Ivy Baker

The pier at San Clemente beach in Orange County, CA

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” ~ Plato

On the walls of the New York Public Library, NY

“From small beginnings come great things.” ~ Proverb

St Louis Gateway Arch, Missouri

“The journey not the arrival matters.” ~ T. S. Eliot

Street Scene in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” ~John Lennon

Love on display at The Guggenheim Museum, NY

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which those who dream only by night may miss.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

At the Monaco Montecarlo Railway Station, Principality of Monaco

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, or a new country.” ~ Anais Nin

Our May wedding day in Sydney, Australia ~ Photograph by Antony Schuster

“To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.” ~ Pablo Neruda

Family Love in Sydney, Australia ~ Photograph by Antony Schuster

“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.” ~ Alan Cohen

One of my first outings with the Nikon in Park Slope, Brooklyn

“I took some time out for life.” ~ James L. Brooks

Near Radio City Music Hall at Xmas, NY

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~ Confucius

"Gran Elefandret" by Miquel Barcelo in Union Square, NY

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” ~ Goethe

Vista of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” ~ Brian Littrell

"Holiday Under the Stars" at Time Warner Centre, Columbus Circle, NY

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” ~T.S. Eliot

A treasure trove of time - The New York Public Library

“Drink and be thankful to the host! What seems insignificant when you have it, is important when you need it.” ~ Franz Grillparzer

Drinks with family and friends in Sydney, Australia ~ Photograph by Antony Schuster