This was the view from our room on Marina Del Rey. It wasn’t overcast, just really sunny. So much nicer than at home.
We had breakfast with Matt’s coworkers, then drove over to the site of the conference at Pepperdine University (not the main campus, but the one near Howard Hughes Center). I dropped Matt off, then headed towards Griffith Park. On the way there, I saw a car burst into flames on the 405. Oh, California.
I ended up driving around Hollywood for a while looking for a place to get more caffeine and use the bathroom. This resulted in me using one of the scarier gas station bathrooms I’ve ever been in. Refreshed, I headed into Griffith Park.
I was hoping to do the same hike my sister and I had taken before, which climbs a steep hill and ends up overlooking the observatory and the rest of the valley. When I got there, though, I realized that was a lot harder than it sounded: there wasn’t one trail, there were many, many trails. And many, many people hiking them, which meant no parking spots. I decided to keep driving up the hill, to see if anything looked familiar. It didn’t, but I did end up at the observatory itself. Which was awesome.
There were a ton of people up there, since it was very nice outside. I climbed up to the top of the observatory to see the overlook first.
I then went inside the observatory and took in some science. There are a lot of great displays there, but it was way too crowded to spend much time in there. My favorite part was getting to see the actual telescope.
From Griffith Park, I decided to head into downtown LA for the Museum of Neon Art. It was around lunchtime at that point, so I was kind of half-heartedly on the lookout for food as well. As I turned down a street, I saw a bunch of food carts a few blocks away, so I headed that direction. It ended up being the Fashion District, and it was mobbed.
The Fashion District seems to contain several square blocks of stall after stall selling clothes, accessories, and pretty much everything else you could ever want. It reminded me a lot of every Caribbean port town. There were a million hot dog trucks, too: no other food, just hot dogs. I’d have stopped to do some shopping, but there was nowhere to park, and it took me a good half-hour to just circle a few blocks in that neighborhood. I decided to head to the Museum of Neon Art instead.
The museum was small, but awesome. I talked to the lady at the front counter for a while, then went in to see the exhibits. They had a good combination of classic signs and new pieces. She said they were building a new museum in Santa Monica that would be open next year; I really want to go back and see that, because the drawings of it looked amazing.
It was getting close to time to go pick Matt up, so I drove over to Kassava restaurant to pick up some Jamaican patties to go. They were way faster than I expected, so I ended up with time to kill. I drove through Beverly Hills, then got on Sunset Boulevard headed back toward LAX. At that point I was glad I had spare time, because there was an insane accident that had me sitting in the same spot in traffic for over half an hour. I was glad when Matt texted that they were running late, too.
I got back to Howard Hughes Center before they were done, so I parked and got a coffee at Starbucks. This allowed me to sit outside and soak up the California sun, which was glorious. Matt joined me after a bit, and we went to check into the hotel.
The Millennium Biltmore is hella fancy, and its lobby is famous for being in several movies, including Ghostbusters. The rooms aren’t anything super-extravagant, but it was very nice, and very conveniently located in downtown LA. Also, you can avoid the $40/night valet parking fee by parking in the garage across the street, which is only $15/night.
After dropping our stuff off, we headed to one of the greatest bars in the world: Tiki-Ti. Though it was only 5:30pm, it was already a standing-room-only crowd inside. (That was probably to do with their 50th anniversary celebration, which was just kicking off then.) The doorman was Ken, the same guy we sat and talked to the last time we were there. We only had to stand for a bit, and then a table opened and some people moved, so we got seats at the bar. The bartender let me fondle the 50th anniversary tiki mug, too. (We came home and ordered one a few weeks later.)
We needed some food, so we headed over to El Carmen (mostly because we knew it was full of luchador memorabilia and good drinks). The host told us there wouldn’t be any open tables for a few hours, but we were welcome to hang out by the bar. We grabbed a less than optimal spot and started to look at the menu. Soon afterward, the host came back and told us they had a cancellation, and we could have a table. Score! Our food was excellent, as were the cocktails. Matt had a mezcal that tasted like scotch. We’d have stayed longer, but that would have meant taking a cab back to the hotel, so we headed back to the Millennium and parked the car for the night.
From the hotel, we walked the mile or so to Caña Rum Bar. We’d been reading about it forever on the internet, and needed to go. You enter it through a parking garage, and it’s very small. The tables were full, so we went out to the enclosed patio (it was kind of like a greenhouse), which we had to ourselves for a while. The cocktail menu there was amazing. We had a couple drinks, then decided to go inside the bar because it was getting chilly outside. There, we were served by Allan Katz, the GM and rum-nerd celebrity (I think Matt was a little star-struck). He poured us a personal tasting flight that was fantastic.
We would have stayed all night, but we’d probably never have found our way back to the hotel.