2024, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Los Angeles Day 4

We woke up and walked down to Sunset to find breakfast. We walked up the remainder of the hill and then walked down a long hill. We didn’t know the LA Marathon was on so we were very confused by the traffic patterns and the randomly blocked streets.

We found the place we were looking for and Jenn had a breakfast burrito and I had a lox plate. (I am a sucker for lox anything.) It was basically empty when we got there but eventually got busier.

After breakfast we were going to go somewhere so Jenn could go shopping but the Ubers were so much more expensive than normal, presumably because of the marathon. So, instead, we walked down to Echo Park to check it out. It’s a pretty park that is mostly a lake. It was the only park within an actual residential area.

We walked back to the Airbnb and managed to find a way up the hill that was much less bad than the way we had come down. Given the traffic in LA we decided that we should do the thing we all wanted to do most and then see how much time we had afterwards.

So we drove towards the Griffith Observatory, driving from some pretty nice areas of Franklin Hills and Los Feliz. The traffic on the main road was absolutely insane but we mostly took back roads.

At the observatory, there is free parking at the bottom of the hill and paid near the top. We decided we would go up to the top to see how much paid cost. It was roundabout lunch time I think. We drove up and learned that the main paid parking areas were all full, but there were spots on the road as it went back down the hill. We drove and drove past numerous cars and soon realized we would be doing a lot of walking if we could even find a parking space. Eventually, the spaces ran out.

We realized we could go back down the hill and park down there. Then we realized that parking was free, like it was on the other side, on the way up. We found a parking space literally next to the trailhead and decided to hike up.

Me at the trailhead

It’s an easy mile-long hike up to the top, but be warned there is basically no shade, at least in the middle of the day. (It’s a firebreak so that’s why there’s no shade.) Fortunately, it was March and so it wasn’t super hot. I’m glad we were able to hike up, as I wanted to hike in either San Diego or Los Angeles but figured we wouldn’t have enough time. It does seem as though (parts of) LA is a hiker’s paradise, with all the hills. I could easily spend a week here just hiking, if I could manage to get to any of the trails in sufficient time.

Near the top of the trail at the observatory

The views are pretty great from the observatory and it’s a great place to whether you want walk, like we did – and it’s easy! – or if you can find parking. For example, you get pretty good views of the Hollywood sign:

Hollywood Sign

The observatory is free! You have to pay for some of the shows but otherwise entry is free. This is a great thing for the City of Los Angeles to do but it also makes the place a bit of a zoo. I imagine that a more popular time of year for tourists, it’s probably even more of a zoo. But it’s a great thing that it exists and I highly recommend taking the hike up to check it out. (I would have walked to the top of Mount Hollywood if we had more time.)

As we walked back down from the observatory, we saw all these free spaces. For whatever reason, the peak seemed to be right around lunch or just after and we accidentally visited it during the peak. (Or a peak.) It worked out, as I was glad for the hike, but it was a little weird that it was lunchtime that was the popular time.

We got back down and drove to the store that Jenn had wanted to get to earlier in the day. The traffic was okay to start and then got bad again. Regardless of where we went, the GPS kept sending us on the interstates. (We were going far enough, usually.) And I started to wonder if setting the GPS to “No highways” would actually be better for navigating at least nearby parts of the city because the highway rarely seemed to move faster than a city street. Though sometimes the big city streets weren’t any better. Who knows? All I know is the traffic here is among the worst I’ve ever experienced.

Jenn shopped for a bit, and I played solitaire, and then we walked a few doors down to a soft-serve place. Most of it was vegan and I was worried about the texture of vegan soft serve but I found some dairy and it was delicious. It was so good I sort of wondered if I should have tried the vegan stuff.

We then headed over Homage Brewing, which was popular enough there was like one table left. There I had one of the most interesting saisons I ever had in my life. It was dry hopped with strata, a hop you never find in saisons, which gave it the kind of tropical fruit palate of an IPA but it was unmistakably a saison. It was clear this is what they did well however their table bottles, of their older stuff, were hilariously expensive and so we didn’t buy any. (I mean, like, the kinds of prices you pay in bars and restaurants for table bottles in Toronto but in USD. And they were their own bottles!)

We didn’t love their IPAs and soon figured that the reason to drink here was their saisons. Not wanting to spend money on their big bottles – and not being buzzed enough – we decided to head to Highland Park at the other end of the block.

Highland Park was even more busy – though it was larger – and it was even more evidence it was St. Patrick’s Day. Even though they had green beer as an option at Homage, it was laidback, I’d say. But Highland Park was full and many people had green on and were already fairly intoxicated.

We sat on the patio and there we had another pretty damn good saison, which we were happy about. We also had one of the weirdest beers I’ve ever had in my life, a fir-flavoured saison which tasted like fir trees and tomato leaves. It was very, very strange. We also had one of these new RIS-barleywine blends that have become so popular in the last year or two, and it was maybe the best one we’ve had. It was absolutely fantastic.

Then we headed back to the Airbnb. There we ordered pizza and played Shanghai. Before we started playing cards, we headed down to the local convenience to get beer and playing cards, as I had not anticipated playing Shanghai on this trip. The store had just an incredible selection of liquor – as good as some LCBO’s, perhaps better – and was yet another reminder that the province of Ontario is stupid, even if they are slowly (very slowly!) moving towards liberalization.

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