I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the city - after years of hearing how you don't want to fly through the airport because it's so big and difficult to get around and the traffic in the city is crazy and the smog is a killer I had decided it was a place I really didn't want to visit - in fact I'd originally tried to get flights through San Francisco to bypass LA all together.
But the universe decided otherwise and LA it was. It even cancelled my original midday flight so I had 14 hours to kill.
Which is where Laura at Architecture Tours LA stepped in. We had arranged for me to take a 2-3 hour tour in the afternoon, meeting at the (unfortunately closed that day except for the gift shop) Museum of Contemporary Art. Just across the road from Gehry's Disney Hall (also unfortunately closed for tours that day except for the gift shop) which I had time to explore the outside of (and have a very fine lunch at Mendocino Farms which I highly recommend if you're looking for good food round MoCA.)
Originally we weren't sure if I was going to be able to see everything I had on my list as they were scattered from one end of the LA to the other. But Laura managed to get me round all of it and more, and even extended my time happily by an extra hour to accomodate it all. Even better, I didn't feel I was on a "tour" at all but rather hanging out with a friend who shared an interest with me - which made it a very enjoyable day indeed and caused me to completely change my attitude to LA. Yay to Laura!First (and possibly the most exciting stop for me) was the Eames House and Studio which was just a magic place. Unfortunately you're not allowed to take photos of the inside so I had to content myself with outside only. And those of you who know me well will be very pleased to hear I was very very restrained and did not collect a stone from the garden to add to the collection I have in the downstairs toilet! I did go a little crazy with the souvenirs though and bought the DVD set of Eames Movies I have been lusting after for a while, a couple of books (including a postcard book which had a photo of the Revell dolls house Eames had built a prototype of - which the women at the house says they are considering putting into production. My name is so on that waiting list!) And the lovely woman at the house gave me a limited edition Eames designed spinning top as a belated birthday present (possibly the best souvenir of the whole trip)
Back in the van I could have happily gone back to the airport feeling the tour was a worth it. But we were just beginning the afternoon's adventures.The next destination was Pasadena. No, not to pay homage to the Depeche Mode film 101 (which ended at the Rose Bowl) but to visit some Greene and Greene homes.
On the way we saw many interesting things, the most striking being the toilet where George Michael was arrestedand the other end of Route 66 (so I may not have driven the length of it but I saw both ends which has to count for something, right? I made sure to hum Depeche Mode's Beatmaster's Mix of the song while taking the picture). I first discovered Greene and Greene through articles in Nutshell News (a magazine about miniatures) about a couple called Noel and Pat Thomas who make the most breathtakingly exquisite 1/12th scale models of their homes. I knew the houses fitted into the whole Mackintosh/ Lloyd Wright arts and crafty area but not much more and was keen to fill in that gap.But as we drove up to The Gamble House the only thing I could say was "Isn't this the house?" which Laura finished off with "Back to the Future? Yes". And, of course, both the house and gift shop were closed for the day. Typical!Just round the corner was Frank Lloyd Wright's Millard House (La Miniatura) for which he invented a new system of concrete block construction which was exciting to see (and touch!) even if the view from the gate wasn't that extensive.Laura showed me and gave me the background to many other districts and buildings before dropping me back at the airport. Five stars and mucho recommendations to Laura and Architecture Tours LA!
Long wait at the airport for my flight - by the time I boarded I'd already been awake for 20 hours and by the time I got back to Sydney it was 33 hours with a couple of cramped naps on the plane. Do I need to mention I was still wearing the same clothes I'd climbed into 33 hours beforehand? Let me say I was very happy to see the shower and a fresh outfit!
(Blogger's picture loading has been playing up for the past 36 hours - I'll have pictures for this and all my other holiday posts up as soon as they sort themselves out...)