Our day trip to LA started off bright and early. We met up with friends to grab brunch (oh brunch how I've missed you) before we headed off to our main activity for the day, Getty Villa.
I saw a few photos of Getty Villa last summer and when we decided we were going to LA, I had to visit. I wanted to see the Hearst Castle, but since that wasn't to be this trip, we decided Getty was a more than adequate substitute. The Getty Villa was never designed to be house, but was a museum that oilman J. Paul Getty built to house his art collection after he ran out of room at the gallery located by his residence. There are definitely worse things to spend your money on than art and building museums. It currently houses a collection of Roman, Greek, and Etruscan artifacts along with its companion campus, the Getty Center.
Getty Villa truly is a beautiful piece of architecture, even if occasionally gaudy. The tile work is detailed and complex and the entire building is almost as interesting as the artifacts it houses. You could easily spend half a day there reading each piece of information. I'd love to go back by myself sometime because its hard to look at anything in detail when you're talking to a friend you haven't seen in 5 years.
We went after lunchtime on a very warm day, almost 80 degrees (26 C). I think this is why the place was extremely busy. It wasn't so busy that we couldn't enjoy it, but if you're going there for photos maybe try making a reservation for early in the morning or on a very cold or very hot day.
Here's a funny/frustrating story about the Getty Villa. On their website it says that you must make a reservation in advance and have the tickets of everyone in your party on you to enter the building and parking lot. No one had access to a printer so we stopped off at a Kinko's Print Center and spent $5 bucks printing out 5 different tickets and were almost late. Guess what? Not a single person checked our tickets at any point in our visit. We kept wandering around wondering when we'd need the tickets the reservation email said we had to have and finally a woman said "oh they already scanned those for you so you don't need them anymore." Erm...ok? It also mentioned on the website that you have to drive a car or get proof you took a bus to get in the Villa. Walking up or biking isn't allowed. There was a bike rack with plenty of bikes in the parking lot as we pulled in. Not sure why their website gives information that's so different from how they actually run the place. If you are planning on visiting, make sure you have the directions for the right Getty because the Villa and Center are on opposite sides of town.
After Getty Villa, no on had any concrete ideas or plans so we just ended up driving down the Pacific Coast Highway (that's one of my dream road trip ideas right here) to Venice Beach. I had no real desire to ever visit Venice, but I'm so glad we did. I can see why it's been so popular for years. The buildings are bit run down and eclectic, there are tons of cute shops and restaurants, and its great for people watching. We got there around sunset and so many people were out just relaxing, talking in groups, or skateboarding. We also got a strong whiff of weed walking around the beach so Venice lived up to its reputation.The light was absolutely dreamy as we snapped pictures of our friends. Unfortunately my 5 minutes of wishing we could live there were dashed when I heard that those tiny little homes we saw walking in cost around 3 million bucks. This actually killed any desire to live in LA at all, haha.
Los Angeles had never been on my travel radar, but I'm glad we went. Hanging out with my friends in such a weird city might just have made me a California person. It was surprisingly fun to see the names and buildings of really famous landmarks like the Hollywood sign or the Staples Center. We need to go back for longer to see some of the city's most famous sites. It's such a huge city and each area had such a distinct feel. It almost felt overwhelming traversing Los Angeles and this is coming from someone who has gone to Tokyo like 10+ times. I think the best way to tackle it is to treat each area as a separate city and to visit one or two districts a day as opposed to cramming in a bunch of things at once which will leave you with very little time to see anything. Traffic is as bad as the movies make it out to be so just accept you will probably be 30 mins - 2 hours later than you planned. Josh and I were like "this place is great!" when we were walking around and "BURN THIS PLACE DOWN" when we'd get on any major road.
After that we were off to one of my favorite parts of the entire trip, Joshua Tree National Park! Stay tuned!