Los Angeles and Santa Monica, 28 December 2014

Having finished making mochi, it was time to venture to other parts of Los Angeles to give Noël a taste of the surrounding area. First on the agenda was The Getty Museum, followed by Santa Monica.

Having had a long night's sleep, Melody felt better when she woke in the morning, which was good news. We had a more leisurely breakfast since The Getty doesn't open until 10am, so it was nice to get something to eat, read and catch up on the news, and gather our things for the next few days.

The Getty Museum

It had been several years since Melody and I last went to The Getty Museum so it was a good time to make a return. Traffic wasn't bad at all, even though we chose probably the most traffic-prone route (the 105 to the 405), and it also didn't take us too long to find a place to park.

As soon as you exit the garage, there are people directing you into the tram line. There was the expected line of people waiting to board, so we decided to walk the mile up the hill. Before the path, we wandered through the sculpture garden. The sky was deep blue with lots of streaks of white clouds, so Kellen, Noël, and I took lots of photos (which would be ongoing throughout the trip). We also got great views of Los Angeles on the way up.

Once we got to the museum, we decided to split up and meet for lunch. After picking up a map and the day's schedule Melody and I caught tour of the Getty's architecture. The docent gave us lots of little tidbits of Richard Meier's design process, including how he integrated his grid system (square panels are all over the place, based on a multiple of 30"), white (mostly inside, but the sides facing Brentwood and Bel Air were more off-white to not be as distracting), and travertine from Bagni di Tivoli (flooring, walls, and accent panels, including one 80,000-year-old piece, all made of the material). She also pointed out a helicopter pad which was only to be used for fire helicopters working on the Getty grounds. The pad was all grass, and when you first see it, you wouldn't think that's why it's there.

We then went to take a look at the Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist, which included several huge tapestries. You could get close enough to examine the individual threads, and they had displays which put the different panels into context of how they may have been displayed in the Clares de Descalzas Reales monastery in Madrid.

It was time for lunch, so the four of us met in the Café which was set up like a cafeteria with several different stations. It was a good time for a break, anyway, since we knew there were a few more places we wanted to see.

Next stop was the photography area, and we first went through Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful. They were pretty creative with the arrangement, where in addition to connecting rooms with works hung on the walls, there was a low, narrow divider with photos in it which spanned multiple rooms. There were a couple photos where he held his arm in front of the camera so you could see his watch as well as a city scene in the background, and a woman was trying to take a picture of the print with her own arm and watch in the frame. One of the guards quickly stopped her.

Around the corner was In Focus: Play, showing culture and leisure. The most amazing piece was a daguerrotype of Niagara Falls. It's understandably quite faded, but haunting nonetheless, knowing the shot was taken over 125 years ago.

We were ready to head outdoors, so we wandered around the Central Garden where lots of people were milling around. On the way out we followed the zigzagging path up towards the main campus and went back down to the cactus garden, where we also had commanding views of the city.

There was still a bit of time before we were going to meet up with Kellen and Noël, so we grabbed a quick snack, then watched the introductory movie in the Entrance Hall. We were glad to get a chance to see it, since last year at the Getty Villa the line was always so long, even towards the end of our visit.

Having walked the grounds so much, we took the tram back down to the parking lot, got into the car, and even though there was a line to get out, we got lucky (partly because of where we ended up parking) and people let us in and we were soon off to Santa Monica.

Santa Monica

Since Melody and I were just at Santa Monica (and stayed in the same hostel), it wasn't difficult for us to find the place, as well as the parking garage. It was getting later in the afternoon, so we dropped our stuff into the room and walked the couple blocks to the beach. We got great views of Santa Monica Beach and the Pier, but didn't linger too long so we could get down to the water.

We made it to the sand while the sun was still a good way above the shore, and Noël got to dip her feet into the water, which she said was pretty warm. The timing worked out perfectly, because before long the sun started to get close to the water, and we watched it go completely below the horizon, but not before lots of photos were taken. After that, we made a quick trip through the pier and amusement park, then went to find dinner, walking through the Third Street Promenade.

Melody and I enjoyed our dinner last year at the Sea Salt Fish Grill so much that we wanted to go back again. The place wasn't very crowded, and it wasn't hard for us to get a table. Melody and I ended up ordering the same thing as last time, fish tacos and an order of catfish and chips. Very good.

We didn't last very long after we got back to the hostel, and were quickly asleep.