RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Deck the Halls of DTLA again – with views from the Wilshire Grand Hotel

christmas downtown los angeles

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Two days before Christmas I repeated the Downtown Los Angeles Christmas Tree & Decorations Tour. Click on this link for last week’s walk. This time there were five of us. I know there were other people who wanted to come but due to illnesses, injuries and other commitments, could not make it.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Don’t know what kind of tree this is but the red berries made it very festive. At California Plaza.

So I’m thinking maybe I should do this again in 2018! I’m also thinking about a Christmas Decorations walk through Beverly Hills. I did a photo walk a couple of years ago, see the post here.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Another view of the red berry tree

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

California Plaza includes two skyscrapers, both of which are shown in the above photo.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

My four companions on the walk at California Plaza

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Lobby of the US Bank Building with the Central Library in the background.

In February or March I’m hoping to put together a tour of the Central Library and then use the 50% off coupons I have to visit Skyspace, the open air observation deck at the top of the US Bank Building.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

A view of the Central Library with the new Wilshire Grand Hotel (with the mast) peeking up behind it.

The US Bank building (also known as Library Tower) was able to build to 72 floors by trading air space with the Central Library. So the library can never build higher than its present height.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Millenium Biltmore Hotel lobby

Yup, you saw the above tree in my previous post. But it’s so gorgeous it’s worth seeing again! Do you recognize that ceiling? It was used in The Poseidon Adventure.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations  

Hands-on dad assisting his daughter with the Penguin helper at Pershing Square

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

There’s construction going on everywhere these days. More people, more traffic.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Hotel Clark as seen from Pershing Square

The Hotel Clark was built sometime around 1912-ish. It was a transient hotel for many years and in pretty bad shape. It’s really good to see its new life as a boutique hotel with a rooftop restaurant/bar. I have to see if I can get up there at some point.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Tree on 70th floor of Wilshire Grand

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

View from the 70th floor of the new Wilshire Grand Hotel

If you read my previous blog post, the first time I made it to the 70th floor lobby of the Wilshire Grand Hotel I had a terrible case of vertigo that crippled me, so I couldn’t take any photos. This time I was still a little queazy but I was able to wrap my brain around the fact that I was up so high and it was okay. The above view looks out to the Santa Monica Mountains and towards Malibu.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

The main part of LA is known as the Los Angeles Basin. You can see how the name originated as we are surrounded by mountain ranges. On the other side of the mountains is The Valley… still a part of the City of Angels.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

And then there are the freeways. Pretty light traffic for a Saturday. Everybody has parked their cars at the shopping malls for Christmas shopping!

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

The ocean on the horizon… from Palos Verdes to Santa Monica. The ocean is about 15 miles (24 km) from the Wilshire Grand.

I know the color is awful on these photos. I’m still having problems with color calibration and Lightroom… and reflections through the windows didn’t help. A triple whammy.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

You might notice the heli-pad on the building next door. Until recently there was a requirement to have a helicopter landing place on every building in downtown for emergencies. Since that ruling has been lifted we are seeing some more architecturally interesting rooftops.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

This last photo is a zoomed-in look at Echo Park Lake, approximately two miles (3.2 km) from the hotel. That white object sticking up in the center of the lake is the Olympic Fountain installed for the 1984 Olympics. You can see photos of the lake on my blog post here.

Be sure to see my post about the previous week’s walk-through of downtown decorations at Deck the Halls of DTLA.

 

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Deck the halls of DTLA

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Los Angeles City Hall at right mirrored with Christmas tree

Thanks to my friend SB for walking around Downtown Los Angeles (otherwise known as DTLA) with me today. It’s no secret I love downtown and I especially love it at Christmas… otherwise know as “The Holidays.” As anybody who knows me is aware, I embrace all religions and follow none. But I was brought up with Christmas, so that’s the way it is!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

The above photo advertises El Dia de Los Muertos which is celebrated at Grand Park with installations honoring the dead, a Mexican tradition. The N.Y.E.L.A. poster is for the New Years Eve party hosted at Grand Park. At right is the reflection of the fountain.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

A reflection in a window of the fountain with Christmas decoration on the left half. I always love Christmas with palm trees! After being too hot, today the temperature was around 70F (21C), my perfect temperature!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

We walked over to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. This was the window of the gift shop. We assumed the colorful tubes represent the pipes of the organ in the hall. And you can see the reflection of City Hall peeking up behind the pipes.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Decorations in the window of the gift shop with reflections of clouds and palm trees. How Southern California is this?

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

The exterior of the Broad Museum mirroring a reflection of the building next to it.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

We walked over to California Plaza to look at the decorations. The Angels Flight train was coming up the track.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

City Hall in the background.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Christmas trees reflected in the pool at California Plaza.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Christmas tree and wreath inside the building with reflections from outside.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Another tree inside lobby of a building with reflections from outside. Obviously I’m obsessed with reflections!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Decorations inside the lobby, yes, with more reflections!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Looking upwards from California Plaza

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Next we moved on to Grand Central Market. Loved this neon ad for Frontier Whiskey!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Grand Central Market Christmas Tree

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

One Bunker Hill didn’t disappoint with their decorations. But the coffee bar was closed for the weekend.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations
One Bunker Hill is one of my favorite buildings any time of the year.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

A very decent tree at the US Bank Building, the “real” tallest building in LA.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

We then transported ourselves over to the Biltmore Hotel. We had lunch there at Smeraldi’s. We each ordered the mushroom bisque.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Absolute heaven. And we split the prawn sandwich. Equally as good. Just enough food. Would do that again for sure!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

I adore the Biltmore. I could live there!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Now this is what I call a Christmas tree. The photo really doesn’t do it justice. Sorry.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations
They do a really great “tea” in the afternoons.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Christmas in LA cannot be complete without a visit to the skating rink at Pershing Square. The little kids have “penguins” to hold on to. It’s great to see them fall and get up again and still enjoy themselves. A lesson there for all of us!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Looking up from Pershing Square.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Pacific Mutual always has some good decorations. I love all the 1920s buildings in downtown but this one is special to me as when I did my LA Conservancy training this was the building I had to present in order to become a docent. It’s hard for me to believe now but I was so nervous I almost decided to quit the program before I had to give my talk. Glad I didn’t!

After this we visited the brand new Wilshire Grand Hotel. We took the elevator up to the lobby on the 70th floor. I had a bad vertigo attack looking out of the windows as there are no railings to hold on to. Why not??? In any case it was horribly hazy from all the fires so I could not have taken any photos anyway. But it would certainly be an impressive view on a clear day. Some other time, for sure!


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A quick visit to San Francisco from Coit Tower to Pier 39

coit tower

In July I visited my good friend Judy who moved from Orange County in Southern California to Walnut Creek in Northern California a few years ago. Every year I said I was coming up to visit but you know how that goes. So this year I said this is it, I’m going.

I flew into San Francisco International Airport and took the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train to Walnut Creek where Judy picked me up. Simple! Why couldn’t things be that easy and civilized in Los Angeles? By the time we get a direct connection into LAX I probably won’t still be on the planet! Good thing I live fairly close to the airport so it’s a relatively short ride by taxi.

coit tower muralsI had read about the renovations of the 1934 murals at Coit Tower so I wanted to visit there as part of my trip up north. Fortunately, Judy was willing. So one day we took BART back into the city. I love San Francisco. Although it’s totally different from London, when I’m there I feel the same vibe.

coit tower murals

The bad news was the line for the elevator up to the top of Coit Tower was long. The really good news is that while you are waiting you have the opportunity to see the fabulous murals up close.

coit tower murals

Also some nice views out of the doors at the ground level. Of course, Coit Tower is at the top of a steep hill. So even though you may be at the base, there are still commanding views of the bay.

coit tower murals

So it was a toss up which was more fabulous… the spectacular views or the amazing murals.

coit tower

How often do you have choices like that?

coit tower murals

And on top of everything else, I had the privilege of spending time with my lovely friend Judy!

coit tower murals

From the website: The murals inside the tower’s base were painted in 1934 by a group of artists employed by the Public Works of Art Project, a precursor to the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and depict life in California during the Depression. When violence broke out during the 1934 longshoremen’s strike, controversy over the radical content in some of the panels became quite heated. Some of the most controversial elements were painted over, and the tower was padlocked for several months before the frescoes were finally opened to the public in the fall of 1934.

coit tower murals

The artists (including Maxine AlbroVictor Arnautoff, Ray Bertrand, Rinaldo Cuneo, Mallette Harold Dean, Gordon Langdon, Clifford Wight, Edith HamlinGeorge Albert HarrisOtis OldfieldSuzanne Scheuer, Hebe Daum, Jane BerlandinaFrederick E. Olmsted Jr., Jose Moya del Pino and Frede Vidar) were committed in varying degrees to racial equality and to leftist and Marxist political ideas strongly expressed in the paintings. (Wikipedia.)

coit tower

When you get out of the elevator at the top of the tower there are a few more steps. Then some good views of San Francisco. I was having a little problem with my vertigo but managed to get a few good shots with my point & shoot anyway.

I purposely left my DSLR at Judy’s place that day as before I left LA I read that a 70-year-old photographer had been murdered near Coit Tower recently for his camera equipment and I wasn’t taking any chances! Apparently there are roving gangs of thieves in San Francisco attacking tourists for their photography gear. I have a very basic Canon DSLR but in the moment a thief may not have time to check out my model number!!!

coit tower

We had walked up to the tower but were in no mood to walk all the way down. We saw car after car (presumably Uber or Lyft) arriving to pick up groups of people. But we had already determined we could get back down to the waterfront for just a few cents by public transportation. And pretty soon the bus arrived. I don’t understand why anyone would want to pay taxi fare when the cost of a bus ride is so cheap. Most people are too hung up on riding in cars!

Some info from Wikipedia: Coit Tower, also known as the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower, is a 210-foot (64 m) tower in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San FranciscoCalifornia. The tower, in the city’s Pioneer Park, was built in 1933 using Lillie Hitchcock Coit‘s bequest to beautify the city of San Francisco; at her death in 1929 Coit left one-third of her estate to the city for civic beautification. The tower was proposed in 1931 as an appropriate use of Coit’s gift. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 29, 2008.

pier 39

The bus took us all the way down to the waterfront and we had a nice walk to Pier 39. It was pretty crowded.

I really enjoyed seeing all the sea lions and the crowds of spectators appreciating them too. We had a lovely seafood lunch and afterwards another nice walk to the Ferry Building and back to the BART station.

Along the way we saw these vintage trolley cars still doing their duty.

san francisco

I’ve always loved San Francisco and just wish it was possible to visit more often. It’s just a matter of time and money!


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My day in DTLA

carole garland

I’m not ashamed to admit I love downtown Los Angeles. So when I heard that Carole Garland was showing her paintings of downtown at the TAG Gallery on Wilshire Blvd (near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) I had to go. I took the Culver CityBus line #1 to the Metro line #217.

TAG gallery

This was my first visit to TAG since the gallery moved from Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

I really like the space. It gives the artists a chance to spread out. There’s also a second level.

The photo above is all Carole’s DTLA show.

Carole Garland

Los Angeles Union Station

It was difficult for me to pick her three best paintings. I just had to be arbitrary or I would have ended up showing you all of them!

Carole Garland

Bridge spanning the LA River

BTW, all Carole’s images are shown with her permission.

carole garland

The heart of downtown with new Wilshire Grand building in foreground as it was being constructed.

After this I jumped on the Metro #720 bus thinking it would take me along Wilshire Blvd all the way downtown. Surprise, it was only going to Vermont. Fortunately, the bus turned the corner and dropped us all off at the Wilshire/Vermont Red and Purple Line Station.

angel's flight

Looking upwards to the station at the top of the hill

That actually worked out better as I was able to take the Purple Line all the way to Pershing Square for my next adventure. Angels Flight, the world’s shortest railway, had reopened recently (this was September 20, 2017) and I wanted a ride. I won’t go into the whole history here. It’s been pretty rocky. You’ll have to Google it.

The price is one whole dollar for the ride. As I have a TAP card it only cost me 50 cents each way.

angels flight

I’ve ridden this little railway a million times over the years. I never get tired of it.

One Bunker Hill

Having gotten my jollies on Angels Flight (up and down), it was time for coffee. I had read an article in the LA Times (I subscribe to the digital version) that a coffee bar had opened in the lobby of one of my favorite buildings, One Bunker Hill. Don’t have to ask me twice!

One Bunker Hill

My coffee and the view from where I was sitting.

One Bunker Hill

The building was originally called the Southern California Edison Building when it opened around 1930. It was on the very first architectural tour I took with the Los Angeles Conservancy in 1988 and when I saw the interior I decided I had to become an architectural docent. So I took the training and led LAC walking tours for sixteen years.

One Bunker Hill

I think my little Canon point & shoot camera doesn’t do too bad of a job, does it?

One Bunker Hill

I love the subdued light that comes in through the pastel-colored window panes.

One Bunker Hill

This is the most elegant coffee bar I have ever had the pleasure of spending my time in.

One Bunker HillThe very friendly and personable barista.

When I was doing the tours I seem to remember there were something like 30 different kinds of marble used in the building. This was just before the Wall Street Crash of 1929 which hit the West Coast around 1930 as the building was opening.

One Bunker Hill

Travertine, a porous rock formed in surface waters. If you ever go to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone, you will be walking on it as it is forming. A fabulous experience.

cabbage patch

So now it was lunchtime. I had read a review about Cabbage Patch so I decided to try it out. Mmmmm. I ordered two sides, mashed potatoes and cole slaw. Both were heavenly.

downtown la

I was so happy, sitting at my window table watching the world walk by. What a lovely day. I was so grateful for my life.

pershing squareI walked back over to Pershing Square to discover it was farmers market day. We have these pop-up markets all over the LA area on different days. I go to the Culver City farmers market on Tuesday afternoons to buy all my veggies and fruit.

downtown la

Biltmore Hotel, Library Tower,  Gas Company, California Plaza

And it was time to go home. Downtown is an endless source of enjoyment for me. This was a super day.


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Culver City photo walk

sony studios

Yesterday was the inaugural walk of my photography Meetup group, Walk & Talk Photography. It was a good group and an interesting experience.

Although I’ve taken photos of most of these places before, every time I look through the lens I see something new and different.

Following are some of the photos I took on the walk. Click on a photo for the slide show.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Southwestern Law School at the former Bullocks Wilshire

Bullocks Wilshire

Some weeks ago B, G, E and I (as in me) went on the self-guided tour of the Bullocks Wilshire Building. Several months ago G mentioned that once a year, the Southwestern Law School opened its doors to the public. So I was looking forward to a look inside this Los Angeles icon.

Bullocks Wilshire

The text in italics is from the tour literature and copyright 2014 Southwestern Law School.

Designed in 1929 by renowned Los Angeles architects John and Donald Parkinson, the Bullocks Wilshire Building operated as a luxury department store for more than 60 years.

Bullocks Wilshire

Ceiling of the cactus lounge.

In 1994, Southwestern purchased the landmark [building] and set out to convert it into a dynamic academic venue, while retaining its historic character.

Bullocks Wilshire

A decade and $29 million later, the gleaming property features cutting edge scholastic, professional and social resources that represent the heart of the Southwestern community.

Bullocks Wilshire

I remember enjoying an afternoon in the tea room with my mother in the 1960s when we first arrived in Los Angeles. I don’t believe the tea room has changed very much since that time.

Bullocks Wilshire

Replica of one of the gorgeous art deco serving stations.

Bullocks Wilshire

Exterior building detail seen from  the window of the tea room.

Bullocks Wilshire

I love light fixtures and these art deco beauties really caught my eye.

Apparently the light fixtures, serving centers, tables and chairs are exact replicas of the originals.

Bullocks Wilshire

This original mosaic tile floor was in a passageway off the tea room.

bullocks-073116-017-C-550px

Bullocks Wilshire

John Bullock’s Suite, his private office and apartment.

Bullocks Wilshire

The office leads out on to a rooftop garden.

Bullocks Wilshire

This wonderful tile drinking fountain was discovered behind a plaster wall. Note the child’s step which was replaced during the restoration.

bullocks-073116-027-C-550px

Bullocks Wilshire

I am a big fan of art deco design so I was in heaven on this tour.

Now, where patrons once shopped for women’s sportswear, students study in the school’s beautiful and expansive Leigh H. Taylor Law Library, which occupies about one-third of the building.

Bullocks Wilshire

In what was once the first floor shoe salon and accessories department, the Julian C. Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center provides the most technologically advanced facility of its kind.

Southwestern has received numerous honors from preservation groups for its sensitive restoration of the structure. Blending elegant architecture with state-of-the-art educational resources, the Bullocks Wilshire Building epitomizes Southwestern’s commitment to excellence.

I am grateful that Southwestern is willing to allow public tours of the campus. The Bullocks Wilshire Building is a Los Angeles jewel and a fabulous example of art deco design so popular in our city in the 1920s. And most important, the building is an outstanding model of successful reuse.

Bullocks Wilshire

Department stores have played a big part in the history of LA. See my post here on the Virginia Robinson Gardens and the home of the heir to the Robinson Department Stores.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Gardens of privilege – Virginia Robinson Estate

virginia robinson gardens

View of the main house

The informative text in italics is taken directly from the Virgina Robinson Gardens website.

As long as I have lived in Los Angeles (all my adult life) I am still learning about and discovering new places. This is one such place.

virginia robinson gardens

Lawns are no longer bright green in LA due to the severe drought.

It was a hot day so I decided against taking the bus and struggling up the hill behind Sunset Boulevard… and Cinnamon Girl needed an outing. So I drove my car with the lovely air conditioning.

virginia robinson gardens

Pool house is undergoing renovation and pool is drained.

Built in 1911, the Robinson mansion was one of the first homes in Beverly Hills. Known for hosting the areas most legendary parties—it was not uncommon to catch famed individuals entering and leaving the estate.

virginia robinson gardens

Today, the garden is recognized as not only a historical landmark, but also as an exotic paradise that all sightseers are invited to enjoy.

virginia robinson gardens

When Virginia Robinson died in 1977 just before her 100th birthday, she was arguably one of the last grand dames of the Hollywood era. Nevertheless, she left her legendary home and gardens in serious disrepair. A leaky roof and a dangerous electrical system threatened the very survival of this cultural landmark.

virginia robinson gardens

“The Friends of Robinson Gardens” was founded in 1982 with a Board of Directors and a general membership of over 75 committed women.

virginia robinson gardens

A great deal was accomplished in a short period of time. The Friends of Robinson Gardens raised enough money to begin crucial repairs, establish docent programs, and begin educational seminars. Coincidentally, Robinsons Department Store, originally known as the Boston Dry Goods Store in downtown Los Angeles and owned by Harry Robinson’s family, was celebrating its 100th anniversary.

virginia robinson gardens

A letter from President Reagan that year called the Friends of Robinson Gardens “a fine example of what can be accomplished through cooperation between the private and public sector,” and congratulated the group on its significant accomplishments. Since its inception in 1982, the Friends have restored all of the historic buildings on the property according to the strict standards set by the Department of Interior and the Friends are contributing one quarter of the Gardens annual operating budget.

virginia robinson gardens

Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open by appointment to the public. Located behind the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, the beautiful six-acre property contains a breathtaking display garden, mansion and pool pavilion.

virginia-robinson-073016-027-C-550px

virginia robinson gardens

The Robinson Gardens was once the site of lavish Hollywood parties. Mrs. Robinson was known as the first lady of Beverly Hills and her triumphs as a hostess are legendary: her diverse guests included royalty such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich and Fred Astaire; her neighbors were Glenn Ford, Lillian Disney and Elvis Presley. She sipped champagne cocktails with Sophia Loren and challenged Charlie Chaplin to a spirited game of tennis – all with her signature elegance and class.

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

She was equally renowned for her philanthropy. Among the many benefits she hosted, the Hollywood Bowl Patronesses Benefit was a favorite. Each year, after the opening of the Hollywood Bowl season, the orchestra would repeat their performance on the estate’s Great Lawn, to the delight of her guests.

virginia-robinson-073016-037-C-550px

virginia robinson gardens

Shortly before her death in 1977, Mrs. Robinson bequeathed her estate to Los Angeles County. The County, along with the not-for-profit organization Friends of Robinson Gardens, preserves the estate for future generations to enjoy.

virginia-robinson-073016-044-C-550px

virginia robinson gardens

As the first luxury estate built in the world’s most famous residential neighborhood [Beverly Hills], the multi-faceted historic property provides an opportunity to experience the world of privilege in early Los Angeles.

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

This cat was not at all disturbed by the visitors intruding on his shady nap. I believe his name is Henry or Harry, just can’t remember which!

virginia robinson gardens

A couple of very fancy bird houses… well, they are Beverly Hills birds!

virginia-robinson-073016-065-C-550px

virginia-robinson-073016-066-C-550px

virginia robinson gardens

The potting shed

virginia-robinson-073016-075-C-550px

virginia-robinson-073016-079-C-550px

virginia-robinson-073016-090-C-550px

virginia robinson gardens

It’s Southern California so you gotta have a palm tree forest in your garden!

virginia-robinson-073016-086-C-550px

virginia-robinson-073016-087-C-550px

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

The perfect location for a mid afternoon cup of tea!

virginia robinson gardens

And of course, a pink tennis court. Why not?

We were able to tour the interior of the house but not allowed to take photos.

Traffic was pretty bad driving through Beverly Hills back to Culver City on a Saturday afternoon but my chauffeur had the day off, so what could I do?

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Belated birthday bash

union station

Looks like the original ticketing area is being renovated. In the station’s previous hey day each of those window openings would have lines of people purchasing tickets. Now tickets are purchased in a less glamorous location… or mostly online!!!

It’s good to have the computer up and running again. Still haven’t re-installed all my programs or properly recalibrated my monitor but I’m slowly working on it… and I have my fingers crossed!

On Saturday my friend B and I visited Union Station… my favorite building in all of Los Angeles. B and I met a couple of decades ago when we were neighbors. She stayed put. I moved. But only about 1.5 miles away, so we are still almost neighbors!

Union Station

Looking through the waiting area to the trains at the end.

Her birthday is in June, mine in May. For several years we have been talking about taking the Expo and Red Lines to Union Station and eating at Traxx Restaurant to celebrate our mutual birthdays. Although we meet for dinner at least once a month, we never seemed to be able to make it to Traxx.

Union Station

To make a longer story short, we couldn’t get a reservation at Traxx Restaurant for the day we wanted. So we decided to take the train to Union Station anyway and improvise. Turned out to be a better situation than getting a reservation. The bar opened at 11:30 (ish) and we were the first customers!

Union Station

B suggested a Bloody Mary which sounded good to me! Tasted delicious so we ordered a second round. Well, we were celebrating our birthdays! To balance out the alcohol we shared shrimp tacos and chicken quesadilla. Perfect.

We sat there for a couple of hours people watching and gazing at the beautiful architecture. This is just how I had imagined it.

union station

In the waiting room there is a piano that anybody is invited to play. This guy was obviously a professional as (fortunately) his playing was definitely melodious. I imagined he was a studio musician having his moment in the spotlight!

downtown-LA-070216-008-C-600px

downtown-LA-070216-017-C-600px

Just looking around at the walls and ceiling from where we were sitting.

Los Angeles Plaza

It was hard to leave Union Station. Really I could have sat there all afternoon. But we needed to move on. We walked across the street to the Plaza area where people were dancing to a Latin beat.

Los Angeles Plaza

Then we watched as a group performed traditional Indian dances.

Methodist church

I’ve never been able to see inside the Plaza Methodist Church before. This was built in the 1920s. I learned that the Methodist church was the founding agent in Southern California for Goodwill Industries (where most of my unwanted “stuff” ends up).

We ambled through Olvera Street looking at the stalls and the stores. I’m always fascinated and intrigued by the Mexican goods available on this tourist street. No need to drive all the way to Tijuana!

Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles

We stepped across the street to Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles (Our Lady Queen of the Angels), the oldest existing church in LA, founded in 1781. The first Europeans, the Spanish, arrived in 1769. Everything changed!

Nuestra Senora

We couldn’t get into the main church. The door with the sign “Always Open” was locked. But I think the little chapel is much more interesting anyway.

Union Station

View of Union Station from La Plaza across the street

wilshire grand

The new Wilshire Grand which was “topped out” in March. It will replace the US Bank Building (Library Tower) as the tallest building West of Chicago. I’m sad about that but it had to happen one day.

I always appreciate the opportunity to show friends living in Los Angeles or visitors from faraway lands everything there is to see in this city. I have to say, it always amazes me how people who have lived here for decades, or were even born here, know so little about Los Angeles. But then it makes it so much more fun for me!

I’ve never trekked through the Amazon jungles or ridden a camel across the Saharan Desert, but I still consider myself to be an explorer. An urban explorer to be sure. But I certainly enjoy excavating every nook and cranny of my adopted city.

downtown los angeles

For those of you who know downtown, this is the newly re-opened The Bloc on 7th Street, across from the 7th Metro train hub, formerly the bricked-in enclave known as Macy’s Plaza

One interesting phenomena around Los Angeles these days is the redevelopment of the major shopping centers. At locations all over the city they are being transformed from closed-in fortresses to airy complexes open to the sky. What day did somebody wake up and say, hey, we have sunshine in LA, maybe customers could enjoy it while they are shopping!

Always worth peaking into Bottega Louie to salivate over the macaroons and other delightful pastries. No tasting now, just looking!

Our final destination in downtown this lovely afternoon was Clifton’s. As many times as I have been there since it’s re-opening, there is always one more soul who hasn’t visited yet. So I have to drag myself in there again.

Clifton's

We sat in the bar sipping an expensive glass of really bad Merlot. You don’t go there for the wine, evidently. But the ambience is definitely worth it as far as I am concerned. Another place I enjoy just sitting and people watching.

At this point B had a craving for apple pie à la mode. While I didn’t share that particular craving, we took the Expo Line back to Culver City and B drove her car over to the Marie Callender’s in West LA. As soon as I opened the menu my eyes were drawn to the tuna melt. The previous week with my other friend B (from England) I had a very disappointing tuna melt at what used to be my favorite restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier. I can no longer recommend it. But this tuna melt more than made up for it.

It was a happy ending to a beautiful day with a very good friend. What more can you ask for in life than that?

(Photos brought to you by my faithful point & shoot Canon G16 camera).

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Finding new places – the Endeavour

endeavour

My friend B was here from London for a few days. I met him in the mid 1980s when he was based in Los Angeles. Since then he’s visited many times so he knows the city pretty well. That was my challenge, to find something new and different to show him.

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Tiles on the underside of the shuttle

The space shuttle Endeavour turned out to be the perfect answer. Better yet, we took the Expo Line train which he had never ridden on. And the cherry on top was that just a couple of weeks ago, the shuttle fuel tank arrived at the California Science Center. (See my blog post here).

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Final… and 25th… flight of the Endeavour.

I’ve seen the Endeavour a million times but I never fail to be excited that first second I walk into the hangar. It’s impossible to comprehend this beat up old vehicle chased around the planet at over 3,000 miles an hour!

The first time I saw the Endeavour was back in 2012. You can see my post here.

bob and rmw

I’m really terrible at taking photos of people and I forgot to take a photo of my friend on this visit. I know I have better photos but I can’t find them right now. This was taken in Spain 2001. I look a lot older now, but he never ages. All I remember about this was that I had a ghastly hangover and B insisted if I drank beer I would feel much better. I did not…

Getting back to the present, after the Endeavour, we jumped back on the Expo Line and then the Purple Line to MacArthur Park to have lunch at Langer’s. Another first for B… whoopee! I have mentioned this restaurant several times in my blog, and if you’ve been following along, you know I love the kippers and scrambled eggs. You can see my photo of said dish on this post.

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Clifton’s bar area

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Line outside Clifton’s the first month it re-opened

Back to downtown on the Red Line and we headed to Clifton’s Cafeteria. Clifton’s was closed for many years while the new owner renovated it. I’ll have to write a post about Clifton’s one of these days as it is an icon in Los Angeles. We had a beer at the bar.

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1930s Central Library with 1990s Library Tower behind

 

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Really great rendering of the Central Library showing 1980s extension at right

Next stop was the Richard Riordan Central Library. My second favorite building in downtown Los Angeles (first: Los Angeles Union Station). You can see one of my posts about the library here.

downtown LA

At center is the newest and tallest (73 floors) building in downtown LA nearing completion.

We were experiencing a heat wave with record temperatures. So we just walked a few blocks and headed back to the train station.

We were meeting a mutual friend for dinner in Culver City. The next day we were riding to Santa Monica on the new extension of the Expo Line.

I felt really good that I was able to show B so many venues in downtown that he had not seen before!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

 


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My private island – part one

catalina island

Catalina Express offers a birthday promotion of a free ride to Catalina Island as long as you travel there on the day of your birthday. You can stay for as long as 30 days.

Since visiting the island with friends last September (see post here) I have thought about taking advantage of this offer. So I made the decision, booked a hotel room and requested my free ticket.

Rather than pay the $34 parking fee for two days, I decided to make the trip to San Pedro by public transportation (Expo Line to Silver Line). There are some things I learned the hard way but I made it just in time to run on to the boat… fortunately on an off-season Monday morning the boat was less than full! Next time, hopefully, I will know not to get on the wrong bus!

As it was my birthday I figured I would treat myself to fish ‘n chips. Many years ago I remember ordering this dish at the same restaurant on the pier and was very happy.

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Well, nothing remains the same. I was not expecting fish rolls and shoe string potatoes… not quite my idea of fish ‘n chips!

But I couldn’t complain about the view (see photo at top of page). Although the island was experiencing typical “May Grey” (or May Gray, depending on what dictionary you use) I was feeling the magic of Catalina nonetheless, and sucking in the fresh sea air.

catalina island

This fellow came over to say hello. Or so I thought… Suddenly there was a flurry of wings and next thing I knew one of the fish rolls, the container of tartar sauce and several of the shoestring potatoes disappeared as I was looking at the backside of the gull flying off. I should have known better!

I really didn’t mind that I lost half my lunch but I did feel bad for the seagull. With that kind of diet on a regular basis he would not be looking forward to a long, healthy life.

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Compared to my photos from the last trip, these look pretty murky. But, nothing I could do about the weather. I’ve been to Catalina in every season and never before seen it without the sun.

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Because it was off-season (I believe the season begins next month in June) I was able to book a nice room for a great price at the Hotel St. Lauren. If you look at the top floor you will see a deck that is for the use of all guests with a view in all directions. I would have no problem staying there again.

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Out in the bay you can see the cruise ship Carnival Imagination. Too bad the passengers had to experience Catalina on such a dismal day.

I walked around with my little point & shoot camera snapping a few photos here and there. Even without the sun, I always feel like this is my special, private island and I was more than happy to be there.

Click on an image below to start the slideshow:

Part Two coming up when I have had a chance to look at the photos from my other camera.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!