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Old 16 Nov 23, 12:08 PM  
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Travelling From Coast To Coast August 2023: Day 5 - Griffith Park and Downtown Los Angeles

Day 5: Friday 11th August 2023

We were up nice and early as usual again today as we had an early morning hike planned and wanted to do it before it got a) hot and b) busy. We hadn’t had a chance to get to a supermarket the previous day to get some water as planned so Mat took a walk to the closest one bright and early this morning. Albertson’s was less than a ten minute walk from the AirBnB. It opened at 6 am and Mat set off about ten past.

Some photos from his walk to the supermarket:

He bought water for the AirBnb plus some small bottles for us to take on our hike. He also bought some sriracha almonds because he couldn’t resist and we ate them as a snack throughout the trip.

Anyway, we were all ready to head off at 7.20 am. I think I had hoped to leave at 7 am so we hadn’t quite made it. With four of us including two teenage girls all using one bathroom, plus Seren dragging her feet because as per our last hike, she didn’t want to go…I don’t think we did too badly really.

It was less than a ten minute drive to Fern Dell at the bottom of Griffith Park.

As it was nice and early, there was plenty of street parking available on Fern Dell Drive.

We walked for about ten minutes through the Fern Dell nature trail which then opens out into a hiking trail up to Griffith Observatory.

Turtles and big fish:


As soon as we got onto that path we could see the beautiful observatory building up ahead.

There were a few locals on the path but it was still pretty quiet although there were definitely more people here than had been at Brush Canyon for the Hollywood Sign a few days before. It felt a little steeper than the Brush Canyon trail. Just like that one though, the views were stunning and it had that lovely Griffith Park trail smell. I was very much a happy bunny once again.

After about ten minutes on the actual hiking path, we stopped to take some photos. I was faffing around with my phone with Freya trying to get a good shot of the scenery. Mat and Seren were a couple of steps closer inland and were facing the trail. I heard a passer by exclaim ‘Good morning!’ in a very happy and familiar sounding voice. Mat replied ‘Morning’ and the girls and I did the same although, as I was distracted by my phone so I didn’t look at the person I was replying to. Immediately after he had passed, Mat said quietly ‘That was Figgins from Glee!’ Mat’s not great at celebrity spotting, but Seren backed him up and I could tell he was correct from the familiar voice. The actor Iqbal Theba, who played Principal Figgins in Glee, was hiking his way downhill at quite a speed. The girls and I are big Glee fans and we were very excited about this celebrity spot. I was hoping that once we’d had one celebrity sighting it would set off a chain of them but alas this was the only famous person we (knowingly) saw on the trip. I love that this one was so random and that he initiated the ‘good morning’ with us rather than the other way around. Mat says they caught eye contact which prompted the greeting but maybe ‘Figgins’ is just that friendly that he says hello to everyone while out on his walks.

After that exciting moment, we came to a fork where the trail seemed to get a bit steeper. It was almost a bit slippery trying to keep a footing on the dust track in places but I am a bit of a wimp about the idea of slipping and falling over having broken my foot a few years ago so I’m probably a lot more cautious than most people.

By this point we were a little out of breath but still loving the walk. Luckily because Seren knew it was only half an hour up to the observatory she wasn’t moaning today.

35 minutes after setting off at the bottom of Fern Dell, we were at the Griffith Observatory. Like the Hollywood Sign, it was one of those moments where it felt so familiar having seen it in videos and photos so many times. With it being so early, it was nice and quiet up there and we took some photos. It was a shame it was a gloomy morning but as per every other day thus far, it was still probably around 20 degrees even this early.

The observatory wasn’t open with it being so early which wasn’t an issue for us as we weren’t interested in going in anyway but we took a walk around the outside to take photos.

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Old 16 Nov 23, 12:10 PM  
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We were also enjoying looking at the beautiful houses down beneath Griffith Park. If I won the lottery I would have to treat myself to one I think. Absolutely the dream.

The plan had been to hike from here to Cathy’s Corner which is where the ‘A Lovely Night’ scene in La La Land was filmed. Having done some research, I knew it was a 50 minute hike to the spot from the observatory so it was going to add on at least another hour and a half to the hike. I had been really keen to do it as it was a ‘must-do’ for me being such an iconic location in one of our favourite films. Seren was very much not as excited. In the event, I realised my photo of the trail map wasn’t detailed enough and I didn’t have any mobile signal up here to be able to do some more research.

Seren was the only other one of us with US mobile data and she didn’t have any signal either. I knew we had to take the Mount Hollywood Trail but we couldn’t find access to that particular trail where we were. I decided we wouldn’t bother with Cathy’s Corner this trip and we’d put it on the list for next time when I would make sure to get a proper detailed trail plan. When I announced this to the others, Seren said ‘Oh no, I feel bad, are you sure?’. It was enough for me that she cared about me being disappointed and would have gone along with it for my sake. Teenagers (especially those with ADHD) can be a little focused on themselves and not appreciative of others’ feelings so this consideration after the moans about having to hike was compensation enough for not visiting Cathy’s Corner.

Giving up on the additional hike as a bad job, we headed back down towards Fern Dell. The first part, the steepest part of the trail, was a little slidey going down but not as bad as I’d feared.

I would absolutely recommend doing the observatory via Fern Dell especially if it’s hot as the Fern Dell trail is very shady. It’s also good for young children to be able to run around as it’s away from the road and more child-friendly than the steeper hiking paths.

We were back at Fern Dell Drive just before 9 am and everyone was very much up for the next part of the plan: breakfast at the Trails Cafe down at the bottom of Fern Dell. It took us a minute to find where we needed to be as we were on the wrong side of the road when we got back down to the bottom of the trail.

The Trails Cafe is just the cutest little place and another reason why I would recommend visiting the observatory via Fern Dell. The cafe is a kiosk and there is outdoor bench seating. The staff are lovely and friendly. And the food was excellent, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

There were quite a few people already here enjoying coffee or breakfast but we didn’t have to wait long to order. Mat and I ordered the food while the girls got a table. Seren wanted the vegan apple galette, Freya chose a chocolate chip cookie, Mat picked a vegan blueberry and banana muffin from the counter (it’s not often you come across a vegan muffin so he jumped on it) and I don’t really go for sweet breakfast things so I ordered the avocado sandwich which was avocado, soy bacon bits, vegan mayo, vegan cheese, onion, tomato and alfalfa sprouts. Mat and I also got coffees and we picked up some tap waters too. They make the sandwiches from scratch so I took the girls' food over to the table while Mat waited for the sandwich and coffees.

The vegan apple galette looked so good and the noises coming out of Seren when she started eating it meant that I immediately regretted my decision to have the sandwich instead.

I don’t even like sandwiches so it was once again a case of me making a bad menu decision. They also warm up the apple galettes so it’s pretty much a no-brainer. I went back to Mat who was waiting for the food and explained and he said he’d get me a galette. I assumed he’d eat the sandwich as he’s a dustbin but when he came over with the rest of the food, he said he’d told them we didn’t want the sandwich and swapped it for the apple galette. Apparently they were absolutely fine with swapping despite having already made the sandwich which I think is partly because my husband would have apologised profusely and been very nice about it and partly because they were just super sweet.

As I already said, the food was really good. The surroundings were just delightful and we were all loving life. We decided to each rate everything we had done since we’d got here and we had a lovely chat about all the fun things we’d got up to so far on our trip. It was just one of those moments where everything feels perfect. We ended up sitting there and chatting for about 45 minutes. I’m usually impatient on holiday about getting onto the next thing but this moment was well worth slowing down for.

About 9.50 am we headed back to the car.

On the way we passed this:

And these stunning flowers:

At the car, Seren and I switched out of our Nikes and popped on our Converse before we set off on another day of exploring this amazing city. Most of the street parking on Fern Dell Drive was full by this point.

We were heading to Downtown Los Angeles but the plan was to take a slight detour to a location in Silver Lake to take some photos.

We were slightly scuppered by two things. First, it was bin day in Silver Lake and we kept getting stuck behind the bin lorries in these narrow hilly streets which wasn’t the most fun. They have lorries that have a robot arm which picks up the bin and tips it up without any operatives having to get out of the vehicle. It relies on the bins being perfectly lined up and they seemed to skip the ones that weren’t so I don’t know if they go back around and do the ‘naughty’ bins manually. Fascinating.

Our second issue was that the property we were visiting is gated and has a high fence all the way around. It is a hotel but you have to be staying there to have access. It’s the Paramore Estate where My Chemical Romance recorded The Black Parade album. It has also been used in movies such as Scream 3. With us being such big My Chemical Romance fans and Freya loving the Scream franchise so much too, I had considered booking a stay there. However, besides the property allegedly being pretty haunted, they only accept over 18s so it was a no-go for us anyway for at least the next few years. So we knew we were just going to be taking photos from the gate and taking in the vibes. Eventually, after being held up by yet another bin lorry, we believed we had found the place. There was nowhere to park because Silver Lake so Freya and I hopped out to take a photo (basically of nothing) and then got back in the car. I’m pretty sure we were actually at the correct fence / gate but who can tell from these stunning photos?

It does appear to be the only building this colour in the area and the only three storey one so it must be right. There are some very interesting articles detailing its history and apparent haunting if anyone is interested in that stuff.

We also paid a brief visit to the Shakespeare Bridge Garden which is a beautiful bridge. Very randomly the base of the bridge is located at the end of a small, quiet residential cul-de-sac. We got lost a little bit trying to find it and when we did locate the bridge, we felt intrusive pulling up to take photos outside people’s houses so kind of did so without properly stopping. The bridge is stunning but you don’t get a great view of it by actually going over it and it’s definitely best viewed from underneath which is unfortunate for the poor residents who probably get fed up with people coming to take photos.

Another sight checked off (kinda) and a second one even less so, we set off for our next destination which was yet another parking garage. We definitely spent a lot of time in parking garages while in Los Angeles and they are certainly not a cheap place to park. However, for safety and for peace of mind regarding not having to deal with stressful street parking, using garages worked well for us.

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Old 16 Nov 23, 12:12 PM  
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We were back in Downtown today and we were starting at the Arts District. The area where the parking garage is located is called At Mateo. For the redevelopment, they demolished some old warehouses and built a new office complex with open-air plazas and retail / dining units. It is lovely.

As we started to walk towards our destination it seemed to be the case that as per At Mateo, the area here and as we moved what turned out to be south are old industrial complexes in the process of being redeveloped. It was very quiet, in fact once we got off the street we had parked on, Mateo Street, we barely saw another person and only a few cars for the next 30 minutes.

When we had first planned to visit Los Angeles which was supposed to be in 2020 originally, my absolute number one bucket list sight was to go to the part of the Los Angeles River where they filmed the Thunder Road scene in Grease. I googled it back in 2019 and at the time it was pretty much considered a no-go area based on it being unsafe and under construction. The Thunder Road race begins at the Sixth Street Bridge. The original bridge closed in 2016 to be demolished and replaced because it was no longer structurally sound. So I had given up on the idea of going there when I planned our ultimately cancelled due to covid 2020 holiday.

When we knew we were actually going to make it to Los Angeles in 2023, I watched a Scott On Tape YouTube video of Grease filming locations which had been made pre-pandemic. Scott went down to the Sixth Street Bridge construction site and obviously the bridge wasn’t really accessible. To get anywhere near the right part of the river he actually had to cross some railway tracks. So again, I thought it wasn’t going to happen for us and carried on planning the holiday.

But then, in summer 2022 I saw a New York Times article documenting the opening of the fancy new Sixth Street Bridge. The bridge was designed to be pedestrian friendly and is architecturally stunning. We were back on. Visiting the Thunder Road bridge went back to the top of the list and here we now were. We started the walk onto the bridge, passing an art installation of sorts whereby people had stretched brightly coloured material across the chain link fence protecting some as yet to be developed wasteland.

This was a three minute walk from where I had taken the last photo but what a contrast. These places are literally one block apart. Goodness me, I love Los Angeles.

Unfortunately the sky still hadn’t sorted itself out which is a shame as it doesn’t showcase the grey Sixth Street Bridge as well as a bright blue sky would have but I didn’t mind at all as I was so excited to be here. Grease has been one of my absolute favourite films since I was eight years old. Fun fact: it was released the year I was born and ‘Summer Nights’ / ‘You’re The One That I Want’ was number one when I was born. It feels like Grease has always been in my blood.

When we got to the part of the bridge that actually goes over the river, we stopped to take some photos. I once again got emotional. Standing at the spots where some of my favourite films and music were made wasn’t losing its impact on me at all as we continued to visit more locations. And this one really did feel special.

Except, we messed up our geography a little and thought we were looking towards the 7th Street Bridge which would be the wrong direction for the Thunder Road race as they set off from the Sixth Street Bridge in the direction of 1st Street which is where they turn around and come back. I didn’t realise this until I saw the film a month or two ago at the cinema for the first time. I could kind of tell our geography had been off when watching that scene. Watching it for the first time since we’d been back, I cried seeing the locations we’d been to on the big screen in the same way as I had cried when I was actually at the locations that I had seen on the screen.

So as we stood there, (wrongly) thinking we were looking towards 7th Street in the wrong direction, we saw a walkway a little further along that goes under the bridge and brings you up the other side.

Perfect. We didn’t actually want to go all the way over the bridge (it is long) so we could go underneath it and come back on what we thought was the correct (but was actually the wrong) side.

We followed the walkway…

Always harassing my children to pose for photos:

…and came up on the opposite side. This is the view looking to 7th Street which at the time we thought was looking to 1st Street.

I guess at least we covered all bases but I definitely want to go back again and truly appreciate the view looking towards 1st Street knowing it’s the right direction.

As I said it was quite industrial around the bridge and looking south towards Vernon.

We headed back down to Mateo Street having spent a total of 30 minutes on the bridge.

When I had been researching visiting Sixth Street Bridge, I found a restaurant that looked perfect for us and which was serendipitously located just along the road from the bridge and across the street from the At Mateo parking. Perfect.

There were lots of interesting things to see on that one block stretch of Mateo Street:

We entered Zinc Cafe & Market and Bar and there was quite a long line at the counter. We grabbed a menu and then Freya and I went to sit at a table while Mat and Seren stood in the line. Seren likes to be present when ordering so she can discuss her nut allergy with the staff. Zinc is a pretty big space and it has several different rooms / areas to sit plus the option to take out. We sat in the main area with the counter but there were also a couple of casual cafe style rooms, a more upscale bar room and an outdoor patio area which was definitely the most popular. The whole place was pretty busy to be fair.

I grabbed us a bottle of tap water from the water station and we sorted out what we were going to order. Seren chose the Zinc Sunrise juice which was orange juice with peach and raspberry puree, and the vegan burrito which came with tortilla chips.

Freya got a margherita pizza. Mat ordered the black bean chilli soup made vegan with garlic knots.

I went for the guacamole, chips and salsa (obviously) which also came with some sliced raw vegetables. I also got the Zinc mimosa which was raspberry, peach and lemon.

We got two portions of their fries to share, one with truffle salt and one with fresh thyme (they also had a third option which was spicy Za’atar but as my children are pretty spice averse they spoiled it for the rest of us.) After ordering and paying, we were given a buzzer but I think it was a RFID situation so they could locate us as staff brought the food out rather than us having to go and collect it.

Freya’s pizza (obviously not noticeable that she took a bite out of a slice and put it back before I took the photo.)

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Old 16 Nov 23, 12:13 PM  
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absolutely loved our meal here. The restaurant was right up our street both in terms of design and their varied but not over-fussy menu. Their brunch menu runs from 9 am until 4 pm and besides the types of things we ordered, they also had lots of bakery items plus eggs, salads, burgers, sandwiches and pasta as well as a variety of hot drinks, wine and beer. Just a lovely, chill place to hang out with a great atmosphere. All of the food went down well although I do remember one of my dips, either the guacamole or salsa, not tasting great but I can’t remember which and I made zero notes for this trip so no clue.

Once we were all done we took the walk across the street back to the car (this photo shows the patio area for Zinc) :

We took a couple of photos from the parking garage as that’s the kind of quirky people we are.

Then I popped the address of our next parking garage into google maps. We were only moving to another part of Downtown but it took about 10 or 15 minutes to get there if I recall correctly.

We parked up at The Broad museum parking garage and headed out onto the street. There were a lot of tourists out and about here as you might expect with this being the museum-y part of Downtown Los Angeles. We stopped to put on some sunscreen on a little wall beside the museum. The sun was properly out by this point and it had definitely got a bit hotter too.

We had a few things to tick off the list in DTLA including a visit to The Broad but that wasn’t booked until a little later. The plan was to visit all the other locations hopefully before our reservation time at the museum as we’d then be in the right place to head off in the car.

We had a minor google maps hiccup as we set off on foot because my google maps can be a bit naughty but we soon got back on the right track (literally.) After about seven minutes on our route, we walked straight into the top of Angel’s Flight quite by accident.

I had really only planned to look at the other end of it from across the street at Grand Central Market when we were visiting there. Since we were here and we kind of needed to be the other side of Angel’s Flight, we decided to ride the car that was waiting down to the bottom.

It was $1 each and it was a nice little ride that was over within a minute. Sat next to us were a very enthusiastic young couple with a toddler and it was lovely to hear all three of them enjoying themselves on their holiday too.

How can anyone say Downtown Los Angeles is not beautiful? I found the architecture here stunning.

This gorgeous theatre is called the Million Dollar Theater:

Our next stop was the Bradbury Building.

The Bradbury Building has been used in movies and is most famous for its appearance in Blade Runner. Mat loves that movie so this was a must-do for us. The lobby is open to visitors during the day. It’s very beautiful. We took some photos but as the area is small we were only in there for about three minutes.

Pavement graffiti:

It took us about ten minutes to walk to our next destination, the Biltmore Hotel. This hotel has been used in so many movies: Ghostbusters, Oppenheimer, Pretty Woman, Independence Day, Pretty In Pink, Beverly Hills Cop, Splash, Brewster’s Millions, The Rock, Vertigo, Wedding Crashers, A Star Is Born and The Bodyguard to name a few. Originally we were coming here for The Ghostbusters link because who doesn’t love the original Ghostbusters movie. However, when planning the trip I came across the very interesting (to us) fact that Taylor Swift’s Delicate music video was filmed here (as was Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud music video).

The Biltmore is pretty grand and extravagant so we wandered around taking photos of the public areas.

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Old 16 Nov 23, 12:18 PM  
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This is the lobby:


We knew Taylor used one of these little entrance ways in the video but weren’t sure which so we took photos of them all:

While we were in the corridor, an American lady and her young daughters who were wearing Eras Tour T-shirts came over to us to ask if we were Swifties as they were doing the same thing as us. In fact there were a few groups in the hotel who I would assume were Taylor Swift fans taking photos of the location. There were also quite a few guests with luggage coming and going who may also have been in LA for the concerts and were staying here either because of the filming connection or just because it’s a huge touristy hotel not far from So-Fi Stadium.


Walt Disney at The Oscars when they were held at The Biltmore in 1942:

Taylor dances on the reception desk in the video. We decided to not try and recreate the moment but just take photos:

Seren was still not exactly throwing herself into the sightseeing today as you can tell from the lack of her appearance in the photos. Today apparently included too much walking for her. Freya was amazing all holiday with getting involved even when it wasn’t something she was particularly interested in like she was with a Taylor Swift location. She would ask questions about whatever it was we were seeing and seemed interested even if she wasn’t. Teenagers are so interesting and surprising. Last year on holiday Freya wasn’t particularly engaged a lot of the time even though 90% of the trip was Orlando, a place she loves. I was expecting the same this year but she really did throw herself into everything. And Seren, who had been the most interested and involved in the planning of this trip out of all of them, spent a lot of our Los Angeles time that wasn’t Disneyland (so 11-ish days) at best ambivalent and at worst, stroppy. What’s funny about this particular location is that at the time she was in a phase of not really caring about Taylor Swift so I don’t think she really took any photos herself, she just stood and sat around rolling her eyes. But in the last few weeks she’s gone massively obsessed over Taylor so it’s a bit of a shame she was disengaged. There’s a lesson in there somewhere I’m sure.

We were planning to have a drink in the hotel bar as I knew they had some special Taylor Swift themed cocktails to coincide with the Eras Tour being in town, but unfortunately the bar didn’t open until 4 pm which was in an hour and also the time we needed to be at The Broad.

We headed out and set off for our next stop which was The Last Bookstore. It was about a ten minute walk over there.

Mat dropped off his rucksack at the entrance desk as required and we headed in. I’d seen photos and videos of The Last Bookstore but it really is pretty jaw-dropping. It was busy inside and all of the seats were taken by people having a rest.

Seren is an absolute book stan so she suddenly cheered up once we arrived here.

She and Mat began having a serious mooch through the bookshelves whereas Freya and I had a quick look in the sections that interested us and then went upstairs to where the more ‘fun’ parts of the store were.

Spying on the others:

The book tunnel:

I love a good Home Edit-style categorising by colour situation:

The vault (the building is an old bank) where the crime books are kept. It was pretty creepy in there.


I loved the upstairs even more than downstairs but it was pretty busy and the walkways are quite narrow. I think if we went back I’d try to go when the store first opens in the morning so there would be less people to squeeze past.

Freya and I went back downstairs once we’d had a mosey around everything upstairs. Seren was still very much looking around, as was Mat. We had a look around the slightly obscure records section while we waited for them and we were very much ready to go (we’re the same in shops as we are in museums; limited attention span.) Once Seren had chosen what she wanted to buy, she and Mat wanted to have a look upstairs too.

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Old 16 Nov 23, 12:20 PM  
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Eventually, 30 minutes after we’d arrived, she was ready to go to the cashier. Well almost. She had to faff about trying to choose which Last Bookstore tote bag to buy first. I think besides the bag, she bought a couple of second-hand classics (A Room With A View and The Tempest) as she’s recently got into reading that genre.

About 3.30 pm we were back outside and heading to Grand Central Market which was a five minute walk up the road.

It was busy in GCM which wasn’t unexpected. First up, we had to take a La La Land photo at Sarita’s Pupuseria which features in the summer montage scene in the movie.

The plan was to grab a quick drink here before our reservation at The Broad. We found a table and Mat and I lined up for (I think) a smoothie or a juice. It turned out the establishment had sold out of all the flavours bar one that didn’t appeal, so instead we grabbed a couple of Diet Cokes and a water bottle between us.

It was a shame we didn’t have a lot of time here as I’d have liked to have a proper look around and a longer sit down but I’d booked the latest possible slot in the day for The Broad as they close at 5 pm on a Friday so we really were restricted on what we could fit in beforehand today.

It was a ten minute walk back to The Broad and the last part was very much uphill (again, who knew Los Angeles was such a hilly city?) so we got a bit of a workout in before we arrived. As I said our booking was 4 pm which was the last entry slot and we arrived a couple of minutes after 4.

Walt Disney Concert Hall:

There was a long line of people outside the entrance which was a bit of a concern but we soon worked out these were walk-ups for the Keith Haring special exhibition which was running for a few months.

Entrance to The Broad is free but you do have to book a slot online. When I had done that a few weeks before, I’d bought admission to the Keith Haring exhibition as an add-on as I knew Mat would be keen to see it. It was $22 for adults with children 17 and under going free so not too bad since only the two of us needed to pay.

At the entrance, our tickets were scanned and we were told to enter the Keith Haring exhibition from the opposite side to the long line which also continued through the lobby.

It felt a bit like having Genie+ and bypassing the long standby line. I didn’t see how they were possibly going to get through all these people before 5 pm especially with pre-bookers still arriving.

The Keith Haring exhibition was fairly small but interesting and enjoyable. It wasn’t crowded in there or anything and it took us about 20 minutes to walk through it. Admission to the main exhibition was part of our Keith Haring tickets so we headed up this cool escalator to the regular exhibits.

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Old 16 Nov 23, 12:21 PM  
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The Broad isn’t big by any stretch of the imagination and the collection was interesting. I’m not an art fan by any means and neither is Freya but modern art holds our attention enough to walk around a small gallery like this.

Seren was very much done with me taking photos of her by this point in the day:

Michael Jackson:

It helped that there was only 30 minutes until the museum closed and it was a hard 5 pm kick-out. I think Mat and Seren would have gone around everything at a slower pace if there had been more time. What can I say, art isn’t my thing, but this trip involved give and take to comprise everyone’s interests and must-dos and this pretty short trip to an art museum worked for everyone I think.

When Freya and I were done (which was within 15 minutes of starting the upstairs exhibition) we took the stairs down to the gift shop to wait for the others. There were windows on the stairs that showed the storage areas for the art. I think that was actually my favourite part of the whole museum.

Mat and Seren came down to the (very small) gift shop about five minutes after we did. There had been a warning bell at 4.50 pm telling everyone about the 5 pm closure and with us being people-pleasers, we wanted to make sure we were out of the building before it closed and not making a nuisance of ourselves.

Once outside we decided to walk back to The Biltmore for that drink now that the bar was open. It was a ten minute walk back to the hotel.

The lobby bar is called The Gallery Bar and Cognac Room. It’s a proper Old Hollywood type bar.

We were greeted and we took a seat. Our server was a lovely friendly lady who brought us drinks’ menus and popcorn (which went down very well.) We asked her about the Taylor Swift themed cocktails and she said ‘Oh that ended yesterday’ which had been the day of the final LA show. Seems a bit abrupt since concert attendees were still staying in the hotel, maybe they could have just kept offering them for the weekend as I’m sure it wasn’t exactly hurting their revenue but ok.

In the absence of a Taylor Swift themed cocktail, I ordered a gin and tonic (of course). Hendricks. Seren got a pineapple juice, Freya had a Diet Coke and Mat had a Heineken zero alcohol beer. When our server brought our drinks, she also brought a copy of the Taylor Swift cocktail menu for me to take away, bless her.

She asked us if we had gone to one of the shows. She said the hotel had been fully booked all week because of the tour and they had been crazy busy, as had the whole city.

It was lovely to sit and relax in the bar after another busy day but once we were all finished we settled the check. It was $46.33 after a 20% tip for our sweet server, so a bit extravagant but this bar is described on google reviews as ‘classy’ and sometimes on holiday it’s nice to treat yourselves. We headed out after a quick restroom pitstop.

It was uphill again to the car which did not amuse Seren.

I honestly was surprised how much I loved Downtown Los Angeles. It definitely gets a bad rap as it’s not your traditional ‘downtown’ city centre like you would find in other cities like New York or Chicago. I think a lot of tourists go to Hollywood and ‘the beach’ (Santa Monica for example) and don’t bother with DTLA but there’s a lot to love in my opinion, including the architecture. I think part of its bad reputation is some people assume all of Downtown is basically Skid Row and is unsafe. We didn’t feel unsafe once in DTLA.

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Old 16 Nov 23, 12:22 PM  
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We were back at the car about 5.50 pm and it was a bit traffic-y on the route back to Los Feliz.

The freeway was pretty busy as it was rush hour but we were back at the AirBnb within about 20 minutes. When we got back, Mat headed straight out on foot to his new favourite place, Albertson’s supermarket, while the girls and I got ready for dinner. We needed more water (we always need more water as I drink so much) and we also needed some aloe-vera as Freya was suffering with exercise-induced vasculitis on her lower legs which is a heat rash that is also sometimes called Golfer’s Rash or, apparently, Disney Rash. I’ve had it quite a few times when we’ve been on theme park or city holidays in hot weather and I’m guessing it’s hereditary as my mother also suffers with it. So I felt bad for inflicting it on Freya too. Aloe vera can help soothe the itching and soreness and help cool the area so we knew we had to get some for her. Unfortunately I also got it quite bad later on in this trip although I don’t think it really came out until we got to Orlando, but at least we already had the aloe vera by then.

About 7.15 pm we were all ready to leave for dinner. What was lovely about tonight’s dinner was firstly, that we could walk to the restaurant and secondly, that it was a casual diner that doesn’t take reservations and stays open late so we weren’t in any rush to get there.

Los Feliz is always described as a walkable neighbourhood and it really is. The two main streets with restaurants and shops on are Hillhurst and N Vermont and it was the latter we were heading to tonight. I plugged a slight detour into my google maps as we had a Grease location to pass by on the way to dinner, but it only added a couple of minutes onto the route.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Los Feliz is another area I completely fell in love with. In fact we all really appreciated the walkability of the area and said it would be another neighbourhood we would choose to live in if we lived in LA (and money was no object. It’s a cool area but also upscale.)

After about ten minutes we came to our Grease location. This is Frenchy’s house where they have the sleepover in the movie. Obviously they didn’t use the interior as that was a studio but for the external shots they used the driveway (the T-Birds park their car there) and one of the upstairs windows was used for Rizzo climbing down to leave the sleepover. As it’s a regular residential property we just took a discreet photo as we walked past.

A couple of blocks further on, we passed a little print shop on the same street and noticed a couple of pictures of Mickey Mouse in the window. The text by one of the pictures suggested that this building was Walt Disney’s first studio. We googled and found this was the case. Mat and Seren especially are big Disney fans so they were a bit flabbergasted that we had just bumped into this iconic location. Walt and Roy moved into the studio about three months after arriving in Los Angeles in 1923 and operated the Disney animation company out of there for three years until they could afford much bigger premises about a mile away.

We were only a couple of blocks from our dinner destination at that point, Fred 62.

This retro style diner has been going for just over 25 years and once I’d discovered it while researching restaurants in Los Feliz, I knew it was ideal for us. Besides being able to casually drop in as I’d already mentioned, which was just what we needed today, they have lots of vegan options and the food generally looked right up our street. It was fairly busy both inside and at the outdoor sidewalk tables so there was a good atmosphere but they had lots of available tables when we arrived. It did get busier while we were there with it being a Friday night.

The staff member who greeted us was a young guy probably about Seren’s age who took us to a nice corner booth in the front window. He did an introduction as he gave us the menus but he didn’t take his eyes off the girls the whole time so that was fun for us oldies who were the ones actually paying the bill lol.

While the food menu looked perfect for us, I was a little bit miffed that they only have wine and beer as I don’t really like either. The only cocktails they had were mimosas and Marys (yuck.) Mat ordered a glass of red wine and I got a mango mimosa. Seren got an apple juice and Freya had Diet Coke. Food wise, Freya chose tater tots and fries, Seren went for vegan ‘chicken’ tenders and fries, Mat got the Aunt Idy’s vegan ramen and I of course ordered the vegan nachos.

The portions were pretty huge and there was no way Freya was eating all her potato products so we helped her out a bit. My nachos were tasty but I decided I prefer them without a meat substitute and these had little chunks of Impossible meat in. Seren and Mat both really enjoyed their meals.

Mat and I ordered a second drink since we would just be staggering back to the AirBnb on foot. I should have just sucked it up and had red wine with him as we could have got a bottle for $30 instead of the four individual drinks at almost $40 total.

We settled the check about 9 pm and headed out.

Next door but one, in fact the other side of the beautiful Los Feliz theater (opened in the 1930s) was our final destination of the evening, Skylight Books.

Seren being book-obsessed meant we couldn’t have avoided visiting Skylight Books even if we had wanted to, but it’s a really cute little independent bookstore so we were happy to go in. It’s open until 10 pm which I really like.

We all had a little browse. Seren bought a book (of course) and I bought a couple of tote bags. I got the lovely California one in centre of this photo:

And a bright pink Skylight Books one which is gorgeous. We then strolled back to the AirBnb.

Actually, Mat and Seren took off with her Apple maps and as they walk really fast, we kind of got left behind. I cba with google maps by that point in the night. Instead I managed to get Freya and I back with a combination of following them whenever we could just about see them up ahead and remembering the way we had walked earlier on.

Back at the AirBnb, we all got ready for bed and crashed. In writing up today, I’ve been thinking about what a fab day this was. It really was, but it probably only just makes the top five of our LA days as all of them were amazing. What can I say, I love Los Angeles.
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Old 18 Nov 23, 01:27 AM  
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Wow what a packed and very well planned day, with some flexibility! Your love for LA shines thru again
It’s always good to say you are leaving some things “until next time”!
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Old 19 Nov 23, 09:06 PM  
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Just catching up Michelle! What a fabulous 2 days you had, all of those movie and music locations were amazing finds. As a huge Grease fan too I’d love to see Frenchy’s house and the 6th Street Bridge!
I have just found out I’m going to LA on Christmas Day with work and hopefully Jim and the kids are coming with me so going to try and squeeze in as much as I can in the day and a half we’ll have! Definitely planning to do the hike to the Hollywood sign though as we’ve only seen it from Griffith Observatory when we went in 2019.
Looking forward to reading more!
All my previous reports can be found HERE

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The BIG Belated 40th Birthday Tennessee Trip
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