I spent the first day just settling in to my new abode, a lovely house Circa 1880. Small and very much a period property with many original features. There is an outside space too, with table and chairs and a seating area to lounge about in. I knew I was going to have a fair few hectic days ahead so decided not to do much exploration, just take it easy.
Home for the nextb10 days or so.
On Saturday I was meeting with an colleague from my past life, the one were I earned a living instead of swanning around the world. He was travelling through LA on the way back from Tahiti where he had been diving. Chris had promised me dinner and had let me know that we would be going to the rooftop bar of the Beverly Wilshire, dinner at the Ivy and after dinner drinks at the Beverly Hills Hotel. So I looked up rooftop bar and found it on Wilshire Boulevard which was walking distance for me. I though I would go and check it out and that would be my daily exercise, plus I needed to find breakfast.
Looking up the nearest coffee shop took me to a place which served healthy juices and healthy food. The only problem with that was you put your health at risk walking through the door. But I was desperate, so I ventured in got a coffee and a smoothie and left sharpish. I made my way down to Wilshire Boulevard, looking for this hotel with the rooftop pool. At the back of my mind I was worrying that it would be too high up for me to contemplate the thought of even getting into the lift. I read one review which said it has great views and isn’t by any means the highest building in LA. There are some pretty tall buildings Downtown believe me. I eventually reached it and all my worst fears where confirmed. The bar was on floor 73. Trying not to panic, I sent Chris a message saying that I was a little worried as I am not very good with heights. He was very calming, I had already decided that I was going to do this and he promised not to take me near the edge. About an hour later, he messaged me again to say he had got his hotels mixed up somehow, there is another Wilshire hotel on Wilshire Boulevard, which is where we were going. Panic over we were going to the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills and I wasn’t going to have to do 73 floors. It does just go to show though how easy it is to get mixed up with venues using the Internet. I was looking specifically for the roof top bar, so the other hotel didn’t even come up in my search, and somehow he had the same sort of issues.
Now that was finally sorted I got myself dressed up for the occasion and set off in my usual mode of transport, an Uber, and we had a great evening together. Drinks at the Beverly Wilshire was lovely the service was impeccable and on arrival at the Ivy we were given champagne. Dinner at the Ivy was needless to say great and we even had a pudding. We had off and on chats with the couple at our next table sparked by Chris’s choice of wine. They were celebrating their 10th anniversary. Then off to sit on the veranda of the Beverly Hills Hotel for after dinner drinks. Needless to say my head wasn’t at it best the next day, but I am behaving myself for the most part, so one day won’t hurt, will it? Thanks Mr Bruce for a great night out, as you said we certainly painted it red!
On the Sunday I was meeting with Elizabeth. The daughter of my cousin Brenda. Brenda is part of my Auntie Anna’s family. Anna my mother sister left Iceland over 50 years ago to come to the USA. I met Elizabeth for the first time when I visited St Louis earlier this year and we had agreed we must spend some time together when I arrived in California which is where she has been living for the past few years. Our first outing was to visit her apartment in Brea in Orange County followed by dinner and the we had tickets for the Improv Comedy club in Brea to see Jo Koy. A very funny comedian who is Filipino American, and who talks mainly about his relationship with his mother and his son. I have to admit whilst we were queuing up outside I did think that there were a lot of Asians in the queue, but once he started talking it became clear why, they were almost all Filipino. We had VIP tickets because that was all that was left when we booked it, which meant we were on the front row. As the only non Filipino on the front row, Elizabeth was sitting next to me at the table but that meant behind me, he used me a few times to explain certain customs and words. He has a show on Netflix, I would definitely recommend him, I just didn’t stop laughing the whole night. As VIPs we got to have our photograph taken with him, he is certainly the master of the selfie. Evidence below
The next day was Disneyland where there are two themed parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. It was so hot, 103 degrees and a Monday, so we didn’t think it would be too crowded, but it was still pretty busy and lots of children. I asked why they weren’t at school, apparently the school system is broken and lots of children are home schooled. They even have home school clubs in the park for children. We spent most of our time in the adventure park, and had fun riding in Cars for Cars and playing games in Toy Story amongst other things. Elizabeth did the roller coaster... guess why I didn't go on that then! We went for some dinner and then into the other park for a while. But moved back to the first park to watch the water show.
We had had a good day, talked a lot needless to say about life and everything else, laughed a lot. Then Elizabeth got a call from her mother to say her uncle, my cousin Emil had passed away in his sleep. Such a shock. In his fifties, no age. There was nothing either of us could do, but it was good to be together to get the news. The family was six children, they lost the eldest son Asgeir a few years ago and now Emil, the third child. That leaves Orn, Brenda, Peggy and John. Not unlike my family where we lost two sisters both in their early fifties. It’s hard to bear. Emil was also a comedian and quite famous has been very successful on Cruise ships over the last few years, he is known as The Fryman. I didn’t see him on my trip in Feb, and the last time I saw him he was a teenager. So I was looking forward to meeting him in the second leg of my US tour next Feb, alas not to be. He does have some clips on YouTube if you feel like a laugh.
Rest in Peace Emil Fry
Some photos of Disney which was decorated for Halloween. We didn’t take many photos that day, we were far too busy queuing and talking
The following day was a beach day, we had had two quite late nights so decided that we would go around lunchtime. Elizabeth was taking me to her favourite beach Corona Del Mar. It was peaceful and beautiful. However on the way there Brenda called us again with more sad news. Leroy Westlake, who had been my Aunt’s partner and Elizabeth’s surrogate grandfather had passed away that morning. Two in two days. How does that happen!
Rest in Peace - Leroy Westlake
My thoughts are very much with the Fry family at this very sad time.
The beach was lovely and the houses around it beautiful, there were no bars or shops it was just a beautiful place to be. There were a couple of beach volley ball courts, and there was a smaller one where a woman was teaching how to play the game. I found that really surprising at first, but thinking about it didn’t we have it in the 2012 games. So of course people are learning from professionals.
Wednesday the plan was to go the Farmers Market and the Grove shopping centre before heading to the theatre to see Cagney the Musical, James Cagney and tap dancing. His background had been in Music Hall before he got into the movies.
Despite the fact I keep telling myself I must not buy anything because I haven’t got room in my luggage I will record here the purchases I have made this week.
I got a free t shirt at the Jo Koy gig, VIP gift, so I paid for that as part of my ticket. I think that’s ok because I didn’t know I was going to get that.
I bought a mini mouse t shirt and some new flip flops at Disney. I did throw my old flip flops away! I managed to stop myself buying some Minnie Mouse Ears, even though I really wanted them, God knows why!
At the farmers market I escaped with some hand cream and a couple of cards. Phew.
Oh I better admit here I bought a t shirt at the Grand Canyon as well. That’s three t shirts. I have thrown one away so I am in a plus 2 situation at the moment.
The Cagney musical was in a very old theatre In North Hollywood called the El Portal. It was performed on the Debbie Reynolds stage. The theatre was I have to say very down at heel, it’s always such a shame to see theatres in a poor state of repair. At first I though we were going to be the youngest members of the audience, we had arrived quite early after our one hour journey to do nine miles and were having a drink in the bar so we were people watching for quite a while. Clearly a lot of people knew each otherand we were in the minority I.e under the age of seventy. The show had had a successful run off Broadway, but I don’t think it quite made it onto Broadway itself. It was a great show, told his story really well, amazing tap dancing throughout and singing too. We both thoroughly enjoyed the show as did the whole audience and they got a much deserved standing ovation.
The drive home took a mere 20 minutes. No traffic! And so we parted company until next time, thanks again to you Elizabeth for taking me to some of your favourite places in LA.
The next two days were quiet days for me. Spent sunbathing outside on the deck, doing my chores and just resting. I have to remember I am allowed days where I don’t do much, it is a holiday after all. So I am trying to learn to put the “I am not doing anything and wasting my time“, guilt away.
On Saturday I went out on the sightseeing bus, there are actually four routes in Los Angeles but I primarily wanted to do two, Downtown And Hollywood because I had seen quite a bit of the other areas during my first week. I always find these sightseeing tours are a great way to learn about the city you are in and get some perspective on the city as a whole and how it fits together. A throughly enjoyable day, always fun trying to take photographs from the top of an open top double decker bus. Particularly fun driving on the freeway on such a form of transport. Hair going everywhere, make sure you have all your papers etc in your bag or else they going flying off never to be seen again.
So I saw Chinatown in its full glory, Japan town and Korea town.
I also saw the little square I sat in on my first day full of life again as they were celebrating the day of the dead.
The skyscrapers seen from different parts of the city are amazing as long as you don’t have to go up in them! And the iconic buildings that exist, including and amazing LAPD building, the department which looks after all transportation, roads, rail etc., in an amazing building which is described as looking unfinished because their job is never done. The Los Angeles Times building and many old theatres. There is an amazing mixture of old and new as a city I just love it.
The comic con was on and people were dressed up as everything you could imagine, but it was impossible to take any photographs.
In Hollywood I saw the stars names in the pavement, but it was completely mad there so many people that again impossible to take photographs even though I was on the ground so to speak. I did manage to get a snap of the Hollywood sign though from the bus as it stopped momentarily at a bus stop. Couldn’t come home without one of those now could I? I also saw Paarmount Studios which is built on the site of the old RKO studios. One of my photographs has the globe from RKO still on the building, I think it’s the only remaining part of the old studio.
I had seen quite a lot of homeless people and walked past one of their encampments going into town one day, but on the bus I was surprised by just how many I saw. Some of them have tents, and some of them make shelters out of blankets and shopping trolleys against the railings. It’s just so bloody awful that we have so many homeless people in this world, and I know I am stating the obvious, but it kind of puts all my stupid problems into perspective.
On the way back into town it got quite chilly and I wasn’t really prepared for that. I saw a road closed and emergency vehicles in the road. There lying in the middle of the road was clearly someone who had just lost their life, covered head to toe in a sheet. The third time this week that we death had shown itself to me.
I decided it was getting too dark to walk back to the house, it’s not the nicest of walks and I wouldn’t feel too safe in near darkness, so Uber it was, but first I popped into a restaurant and bar for a bite to eat as I was quite chilly. I broke my diet rules and had some pasta, seafood linguine and a couple of glasses of wine. It was just what I needed. There were a couple of young men sitting at the bar chatting and videoing their conversation on their phone which was on a tripod. Eventually we had a little chat and I asked them what they were doing and they said they were doing a web cast of their night out. So I was inadvertently web casted ... umm oh well.
Home to bed. Another rest day and now today is my last full day in the USA until my return next February. So the plan is to go to Griffiths Park. Speak later.