KJ (owlmoose) wrote,

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"This scepter'd isle, this other Eden, demi paradise... this Los Angeles"

Last Thursday night, T and I left for four days in Los Angeles. The stated reason for the trip was T's ten-year architecture school reunion on Saturday, and he very much enjoyed reconnecting with his old friends, but it was also an excuse to spend some time in LA. T is an Angeleno by birth and upbringing, and he is quite fond of his home city. For many years, I had the typical Northern Californian attitude of smug superiority toward Los Angeles, but the more I visit, the better I like the place. I never expected LA to become one of my favorite cities, but it really is.

We started our Friday with a trip to downtown LA to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the new cathedral, Our Lady of the Angels. We started by driving from our hotel in Marina del Rey to the concert hall, a trip that T described as the quintessential LA experience: we drove from freeway to freeway, took an exit leading to an underground street, then immediately turned into a parking garage. We could literally have been anywhere. After leaving the garage, we picked up our tickets for a tour of the building, then walked (yes, walked) the three blocks to the cathedral.

The cathedral is a simply gorgeous building designed by Spanish architect Jose Rafael Moneo. The palette of the building is brown, inside and out -- very few other colors but many shades, from beige to the darkest copper. It sounds dull in print, but actually it is quite beautiful. Restful, in a way. Perhaps most stunning were the windows. They are not stained glass -- they are alabaster.

I've made a whole gallery of just cathedral photos. (All photographs were taken by T.) If anyone ever has some time to spare in downtown LA, I highly recommend a visit.

I could probably have spent literally all day here, but we had a tour to take, so we walked back to the concert hall.

This building is by Frank Gehry (who else?). The tour was worth taking because you can't get past the lobby otherwise, but it was a bit disappointing -- it was only half an hour, which barely scratches the surface, and we couldn't visit the performance space because of rehearsal schedules. Still, it was an interesting visit. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Gehry does interesting things with curves and angles.

Afterwards, we headed down to Huntington Beach to visit T's family. His folks drove up from San Diego, and we all met up at his cousin's house -- he has two cousins and an aunt who live in that city, all within a five-minute drive. The mass of us (parents, cousins and their children, aunt, and the two of us) went out for a delicious Chinese dinner and then dropped by the beach for the last few moments of sunset. I get on well with my family-in-law, and it was nice to have a chance to spend time with them outside the chaos of Christmas or a big family reunion.

Saturday we spent with T's friend SK (she was his best person at our wedding), having lunch and then a visit to LACMA. The reunion dinner was that evening, at a Greek restaurant in Malibu. That was great fun, and I got to see a side of T that rarely presents itself -- he's generally shy and somewhat withdrawn in large groups, but he relaxed with his old classmates and became talkative and social. There was no awkwardness in him as he approached and chatted with his friends and their spouses. It was perhaps the first time that we attended a party that he willingly closed out, that he was reluctant to leave. Fortunately, the group as a whole was social enough that I got drawn into conversations as well, both with his classmates and with other spouses. Really a nice evening.

On Sunday, we had lunch with a couple of those classmates, then went for tea with luvmoose and grue23, both in town for work. Afterwards, T took off for dinner with yet another school chum while the rest of us went geo-caching. I had never done that before, and it was fun, if somewhat frustrating to spend what seemed like over an hour walking around a dumpster looking for a particular clue. This adventure was followed by a tasty Italian dinner, then gelato at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

We had some time before our flight on Monday afternoon, so we paid a visit to Exposition Park, where we checked out the new ScienCenter school, the Rose Garden, and the Butterfly Pavilion. This last bit was an enclosed garden just full of butterflies:

Another place where I could have spent hours, but it was time to head home.

The complete photo gallery is here. This is my first experiment with using the gallery so I hope it all came out all right.
Tags: city/architecture, travel

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