Playing amid the palms in Los Angeles
Hitting the halfway mark of our six month road trip, we sought to take a week-long breather from our life on the road.
We've journeyed through the remarkable Redwoods of California, travelled throughout the wonders of Oregon, experienced the beauty of The Badlands in South Dakota, explored another side of Nevada's sin city, and now we've come full circle, as we find ourselves back in the city of angels.
L.A. not only offers that always-perfect weather it's renowned for, it also spoils you with an endless amount of things to do and see. With that, we booked a week's stay at a quiet little RV park, just 30 minutes outside of the city. Giving our motorhome another well earned rest, we hired a car for the duration of our stay, this allowed us to go in and out of the city as we pleased.
During our first night, we headed to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the resting place to many of Hollywood’s founders and stars. It's also the location where movie-lovers come flocking in, toting folding chairs and picnic blankets, for a movie night under the stars. The screening we attended was for Sunset Boulevard, a classic 1950's film about Hollywood itself. With snacks and wine packed, it made for a great start to our visit.
Venice is a buzzing beach town that has a heartbeat of its very own. Having spent time along the bohemian boardwalk during our prior visits to L.A., I wasn't at all surprised to find quirky shops, street performers and colourful murals all around.
Deciding to dig a little deeper into this eccentric neighbourhood, we walked three blocks away from the beach and found ourselves for the first time at the picturesque Venice Canals — where beautiful beach houses hug a man-made canal and rowboats are parked at the front of homes instead of cars. We took a stroll along its pathways, crossed over the arching bridges and played the 'which house would you prefer' game. Side note: I'll take any, please.
Every Sunday, hundreds of stylish Angelenos head over to Fairfax High School for the beloved Melrose Trading Post, better known locally as the Fairfax Flea Market. And so on a particularly hot Sunday afternoon, we made our way here, spending many hours meandering around under the California sun.
Although it was tempting to buy bits and bobs for our motorhome, the reality of tiny living is that there's only so much you can fit in. Sooner or later we grew tired and made our way to the garden area where some live music was playing. We grabbed some ice cones and sat on the set out blankets in front of the stage. And there we whiled away the rest of the day beneath the shade.
One thing I've always wanted to do L.A was to stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel, affectionately known as the ‘Pink Palace’ for the rich and famous. Although our travel budget would not allow wiggle room for such a lavish stay, a visit for brunch would have to do.
To add to the hotel's allure and exclusivity, taking photos inside is not really permitted. However, I was still able to get a few shots here and there, but none really capture the dreamlike appeal of its quintessential grounds. The lobby had hanging chandeliers, gilded edging and palm-print wallpaper. The gardens had overgrown green palms, colour blocking with the façade's fanciful pink shade. The Cabana Cafe where we sat to eat, overlook the pool area, with its private cabanas and surrounding rose bushes. It was tempting not to leave after our meals, but eventually the clock struck 12 and the ball was over.
One evening during a drive around the streets of Silver Lake, we pulled up to see the art installation by French artist Vincent Lamourou, consisting of the derelict Sunset Pacific Motel, having been painted all in white. Even the nearby palm trees were not spared, giving the scene a ghostly look.
"We experience something every day in a city that is full of signs, advertisement and colours — lots of things that always capture our attention," says Lamourou. "By adding this white, a blank colour, it draws attention by being a kind of rest or quiet moment in the urban landscape."
Leaving the best till last, we reserved a visit to the Griffith Observatory for our final night in L.A. Sitting on the edge of Mount Hollywood, I love this attraction for its views over the city and beyond. I love it for its ability to remind people to look up and admire the stars more often. But for me, the real star attraction is the building itself, both inside and out. Built in the 1930s, the building’s art-deco splendour is what makes it a truly stellar attraction.
Our goal over this past week was to get off the road and reflect on where we've been so far, and in leaving, we're delighted to have done just that, and then some.
Tomorrow we will find ourselves back on the road, but grateful for our time spent amid the palms of sunny L.A.